One of the best ways to get healthy is to eat a more plant-forward diet, often referred to as going "flexitarian." What's the upside of at least half your meals being built around fruits, veggies and plant-based proteins?
Diets rich in plants, like the Mediterranean diet, help lower the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and certain cancers. As an added bonus, this kind of diet can also help you shed a few kilograms.
Going flexitarian means giving plants a starring role while enjoying meat as a supporting player.
Go as a garnish
Sprinkle some chicken on top? You bet! Whether you're building a grain bowl or a hearty salad, think of options like pulled chicken or sliced hard-boiled egg as an accent to deliver flavour and protein. If you're looking for even more protein, sprinkle on some seeds.
Save it for last
According to dietary recommendations, three-quarters of your plate should be focussed on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you always think about your meat option first, try flipping it around and think about what mix of fruits, veggies and grains will satisfy you. Then add in meat as the side dish.
Halve the deck
A serving of meat should usually be about 150g, or about the size of a deck of cards. Take your favourite and simply cut the serving in half. Complement it with a plant-based protein. For example, if you love chilli, try cutting the mince by half and adding a new kind of bean.
Eggs all day
Eggs are an incredibly versatile food that deserve billing far beyond breakfast because they can complement meals in many ways. Add some scrambled egg into a rice stir fry, use eggs to make a silky carbonara, or make egg bites that bind together veggies with just enough beaten egg to bake in a tray then cut into pieces to eat through the week.
Seek out stock
Invest in good-quality beef or chicken stock to add flavour and depth to plant-forward dishes. Even better is to make your own stock. This allows you to control the salt levels. Keep it frozen in different portions so you can grab a single cube or a whole container depending on what you're making.
Beyond meatless Mondays
Everything about flexitarianism is, well, flexible. If giving up a full serving of meat at dinners feels like a hard place to start, think about adding more plant-forward breakfast or lunches to your diet during the week.
Adopting a plant-based approach doesn't mean giving up meat altogether. You can still have it and enjoy it with most meals. For overall health and performance, the added benefits brought by vegetables, fruits and grains can't be overlooked. Valuable micronutrients like magnesium are abundant in plant sources, so there's no reason to be concerned that your intake might suffer.