Tips for Incorporating Meat-Free Meals Into Your Diet

People decide to reduce their meat intake for a variety of reasons. Maybe you took a trip to a farm and had profound eye contact with a beautiful bovine or watched a hot dog documentary. Maybe you want to reduce the cost of your grocery bill or need to eat less meat for health reasons. Whatever convinced you that it was finally time to make the change, it didn’t give you instructions on how to go about it.

While eating less meat is easier said than done, it’s also not as hard as many people think. It’s a more intentional way of living, yes, but one that is deeply rewarding. Whether you’re tapering off or cutting out meat entirely, here are four tips to help you incorporate alternative meals into your diet.

1. Eat Alternative Proteins

One of the biggest ramifications of reducing your meat consumption is that you’re also often reducing your protein intake. It’s no secret that animal meat is one of the most straightforward ways of ingesting this vital nutrient. Protein plays a large role in helping your body repair its cells and generate new ones. So it’s important to make sure yoTips for Incorporating Meat-Free Meals Into Your Dietu’re not just replacing chicken with a salad. While meat may be one of the most straightforward ways of getting protein, there are plenty of others.

Some of the best alternatives are easier to access than you might think. There’s a good reason many people eat eggs for breakfast — there are about six to seven grams of protein in each one. Most nuts, soy-based foods like tofu, and complex grains like quinoa are also great sources of protein. Plant-based protein has recently become more popular. You can even get a plant-based meal at fast food restaurants ranging from Burger King to White Castle. With all these options, it’s easier than ever to add meat-free meals to your diet.

2. Buy a Plant-Based Cookbook

Admittedly, reducing your meat consumption and increasing your protein intake from alternative sources can take a lot of research. The initial switch is where most of the work takes place, and it is likely one reason why some don’t change. The good news is you don’t have to do it all alone. In addition to the plethora of excellent resources online, you can use a plant-based cookbook to help start your journey.

These books have healthy, filling, and delicious recipes contained within their pages. You can also use them to help you set goals that will develop your plant-based cooking prowess. For example, you could set out to make one meal from your cookbook a week, then two, three, and so on. Eventually, you could even host a dinner for friends and family composed entirely of plant-based dishes you’ve made. No matter your goal, once you taste a few of these cookbook meals, you might never crave meat again.

3. Practice Meatless Mondays

New habits have the potential to revolutionize the way you live your life. The tricky thing about new habits, though, is that they themselves have a habit of not sticking around. For example, have you ever tried to make a New Year’s resolution last for more than a month? Usually, the first week or two of any new habit is the easiest, when your motivation is at its peak. The secret to long-term habit formation is using proactive techniques that work even when you just don’t feel like it.

Scheduling is one of those proactive techniques. Many people who eat less meat choose to do so on Mondays for the cheeky alliteration of “Meatless Mondays.” But you don’t have to restrict yourself to eating meat alternatives on just the first day of the week. The core idea here is to create a repeating expectation of what you’ll eat on a certain day of the week. You can plan your meals ahead of time for this day, so you’ll be less tempted to betray your intentions.

4. Try New Restaurants

Have you ever wanted a good excuse to eat out more? Well, incorporating more meat-free meals into your diet is one of the best you could ask for. As more and more people begin to seek meat-free alternatives, the demand for delicious veggie-based restaurants increases. While finding these kinds of restaurants can still be a bit tricky, some cuisines focus more on the green goodies than others. Indian cuisine, for example, is famous for its incredible, vibrant flavors and spices in its mainly plant-based dishes.

You can also use specific websites that specialize in searching for veggie-based restaurants in your area. Admittedly, this tip is much more location-dependent than the others. People who live in bigger cities will likely have more access to these kinds of restaurants. But it’s still worth doing a quick search online to see what you can find. You may be surprised how easy it is to enjoy a great meatless meal out on the town.

Make a Mental Shift

While changing your diet to eat less meat, you’ll likely notice how prevalent meat is in American society. From restaurants to grocery stores, meat is easily accessible almost everywhere you go. So it’s important to make sure that you prepare yourself for this mentally. Focusing on eating alternative proteins and using resources like cookbooks and dedicated websites will help greatly ease your experience. With enough time and effort you’ll do the justice those beautiful animals deserve, and you’ll likely experience benefits too.