10 Ways to Eat More Plant-Based Foods

Happy October 1st! Today’s the first day of fall in my book. I actually like fall; I just don’t like what comes afterwards. So I hang onto #endlesssummer as long as I can.

But, what’s not to love about pumpkin spice lattes, cozy blankets, hearty soups, leggings, and scarves? More on that later…

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October 1st is also World Vegetarian Day. Don’t worry. I’m not going to advocate that you go completely vegetarian. But the science shows again and again that people who follow a mostly plant-based diet live longer and have reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

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Eating mostly plant-based foods is also better for the environment. According to UCLA Sustainability and studies conducted by UC Davis: 

“1 pound of beef requires anywhere between 2,000-8,000 gallons of water to produce.”

“1 gallon of cow’s milk requires 1,950 gallons of water.”

“Conversely, 1 pound of tofu requires 302 gallons of water to produce.” 

Following a plant-based diet also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, pollution in oceans, habitat destruction, and erosion. 

Another benefit? It’s cheaper.

Some people follow a vegan diet, which eliminates all animal products. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to check in with a dietitian to make sure you’re getting essential nutrients that you may be missing by not eating animal products. 

I don’t advocate that everyone goes vegan or vegetarian, although I’ve worked with many people who follow this eating pattern. I’m not vegetarian myself. However, I do recommend eating a mostly plant-based diet, reducing intake of animal products (especially meat and processed meats), and trying to go meatless at least one day per week.

If everyone in the U.S. swapped one chicken meal for a vegetarian meal each week, “the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads,” according to Environmental Defense and as reported in the Huffington Post.

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Okay so maybe I’ve convinced you to go vegetarian. Or maybe not. Either way, we could all use more plants in our diets, so here are my top 10 tips for easily adding plant-based foods every day:

  1. Have at least one fruit or vegetable at breakfast

    Add fruit to oatmeal or overnight oats

    Mix berries into Greek yogurt

    Scramble spinach into eggs

    Top your toast with avocado

  2.  Snack on nuts

    Nuts are packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats and have been shown to curb hunger keeping you full longer. They’re also associated with healthy cholesterol levels.

  3. Make half your plate vegetables at lunch and dinner

    As my dietitian colleague and friend, Jenn LaVardera, MS, RDN, says, “Instead of having a big bowl of pasta with a little bit of vegetables, have a big bowl of vegetables with a little bit of pasta.”

  4. Swap chicken and beef for tofu, beans, or lentils

  5. Add chia seeds, flaxseeds, or hemp seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, and salads

  6. Make a vegetarian chili instead of beef

  7. Buy protein-packed pastas like Banza pasta, which is made from chickpeas & skip the meat in your pasta

  8. Eat more whole grains – swap pasta and rice for quinoa, barley, or wheat berries for more fiber and protein

  9. Go vegetarian for Taco Tuesday! Don’t know how? Check out my Sweet Potato & Black Bean Taco recipe here.

  10. Make homemade veggie burgers 

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Plant-Powered People to Follow:




And for all things pumpkin this season and year-round: