Whether you identify as a self-proclaimed carnivore, flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian, or vegan, there's no denying that plants deserve a prominent place on the plate. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and plant-based oils aids in both human health and environmental sustainability. Unsurprisingly, more and more consumers are shifting towards a plant-forward plate. You might also have noticed increased plant-forward options sprouting up in grocery store aisles and on your favorite restaurant menus.
Contrary to restrictive diets, plant-forward eating has no rules. Instead, it acts as an adaptable framework to allow for personal food preferences. Navigating this nuance can feel a little tricky. If you are looking to reduce your intake of animal-based foods and replace them with more plant-based fare, we'd recommend keeping these 5 nourishing habits in mind:
- Eat your veggies. Non-starchy veggies should ideally make up half of your meal plate. If you are currently falling short, work towards this overarching goal by adding a variety of colorful veggies to omelets, stir-fries, pastas, salads, soups, and grain-based side dishes.
- Love legumes. Legumes include peanuts, beans, fresh peas, lentils, and soybeans. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommends eating ½ cup legumes 3 times per week. Try adding any form in salads or soups, adding a half a cup white beans or fresh peas in your favorite pasta dish, or utilizing a combination of tofu, non-starchy veggies, and peanuts in a meatless stir-fry.
- Make half your grains whole. There's so many choices out there! Add oats or millet to a granola recipe, prepare a roasted veggie and whole grain salad with quinoa, barley, or bulgur, or substitute refined breads, pastas, or cereals with whole grain varieties.
- Go nuts! Nuts and seeds fit in at every meal with minimal effort. Add them as a topper to oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal at breakfast. Pair with dried fruit or cheese for a portable snack. Add a sprinkle on salads, pastas, or your Buddha bowl at lunch or dinner.
- Serve meat as a garnish. If you are a meat-lover, there's no need to remove it! Instead of thinking of meat as the mainstay, use it as a garnish. Add a small piece of chicken to your salad or fajitas. Serve a slider with a salad, prepare kabobs with lots of colorful veggies, or have a pasta dish filled with fresh herbs, veggies, and a few pieces of shrimp.