If you are like most people in developed countries, your diet consists of an abundance of meat and processed carbs but lacks in fruits and vegetables. Ever since we were young we were told to eat our broccoli or we won’t get dessert. In adulthood we know we should eat our fruits and vegetables yet still do not. Our rare choice to consume a piece of fruit gives us a God-like boost that lessens others to mere mortals on the path to chronic disease.
So how do we get ourselves to consume more fruits and vegetables? They can’t compete with delicious Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce dumped all over your ribs and outside of the celery that came with your wings you probably don’t have an extensive artillery of vegetables. The answer? Plant-based meals.
I know. I KNOW! Before you cry, “Hippie,” and close out the page, please know that this is a pro-meat/pro-fruits/veggies article, not a “you need to be a Vegan or I’m going to tie myself to a tree” article. The real message here is that cooking plant-based foods increases your fruit and vegetable intake, decreases your total caloric intake, and resets your tastebuds, leading to a brand new appreciation for food. You will begin to taste poor quality food for what it really is. Deep fried foods will taste like breaded crap, restaurant meat will taste like the salt-sticks that they are, and processed foods will be recognized as unnatural and poor for your health.
In order to get all the benefits of plant-based eating while still getting your fix of meat, try this one simple strategy: just add meat. Find plant-based meals that interest you and then add some your steak or your chicken. It can either be directly to the dish or on the side. Making that vegetable lasagna? Add some ground turkey. Find a nice sweet potato and quinoa salad? That will go great with a few pieces of steak! What you will find is that the portions of the meat you require will be significantly less due to the filling, fibrous fruits and vegetables, which also taste amazing and will lessen your reliability on the meat as the main satiety factor in your meal.
When you cook healthy plant-based meals you are eating a plethora of fruits and vegetables. You will experience flavors that you have never encountered before. Amazing, quality, hearty meals that both fill you up and leave you satisfied. You can eat as much as you want (within reason of course) without having to park yourself on the couch in a food-induced coma. You will not be eating hyper-palatable sugar-based foods that give you a false “high,” trick you into thinking you’re eating something delicious, and leave you wanting more.
I found that when I started to reintroduce meat into my meals that the meat lacked in flavor. I had gotten so used to the full on explosion of flavor from the fruits and vegetables that meat really had to be spiced up for me to enjoy it. This is not to say that I did not enjoy a nice steak with my meals, but the size that I craved were significantly smaller. I did not want the 26 oz cowboy ribeye. I wanted the 6 oz filet to compliment my large portion mashed sweet potatoes with sautéed veggies.
When you look at my portion size change, its a wonder that more people don’t adopt this style of eating. In developed countries, meat and processed carb intake is excessive while fruit and vegetable intake is too low. By flipping the tables we find a more sustainable diet that is beneficial for your health and is very hard to over consume calories. That, my friends, is called a win!
FYI: Vegan meals are not limited to endless plates of salad. You do not have spend 90% of your day grazing on grass and other green things. Vegetable lasagna, sweet potato and black bean burgers, eggplant parmigiana, and so much more are powerhouse plant-based foods. With the power of the interweb you can find endless amounts of meals that increase the fruits and veggies and still fit into your lifestyle. My favorite recipes are usually geared towards the Crockpot as they are usually simple, easy, and require doing minimum dishes!
How do you get more fruits and veggies into your meals? Let us know! Leave a comment below!