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Friday, October 25, 2019

Happy National Vegetarian Month! 11 Tips for Eating Less Meat as a Family

Photo by congerdesign (pixabay)

Animal proteins, including beef, chicken, lamb, and fish are mealtime staples for many families, but some are choosing to refocus their diets to reduce the amount of meat consumed. With so many benefits of going vegetarian, it's often a shift worth exploring. Trying a vegetarian diet is a great way to expand your recipe repertoire and can help to stretch your grocery budget just a little further. Below are some ideas to help your family to eat a little more green and a little less red (meat).

Start with one designated day: Meatless Monday

Making the decision to eat a vegetarian diet can be a shock. Starting slow and designating one day for vegetarian eating may be a good way to quell the uprising from those in your household who might need a bit more convincing. A designated day like Meatless Monday can also be helpful when planning out your weekly meals; plan ahead to make sure that you don't overbuy meats and plan on a delicious veggie-forward dish.

Supplement with supplements

Animal proteins provide us with specific nutrients, including B12, D3, Omega 3s, and iron. To make sure that all nutrients are still received, many vegetarians choose to supplement with a multivitamin. It may also be advisable to speak with your doctor is a vegetarian lifestyle is something you are considering on a more consistent scale. They would be able to recommend supplements to ensure you remain healthy and strong.

Shop local markets

Shopping local farmer's markets offers you a chance to connect with the farmers and purveyors who know the most about their produce and can help point you in the right direction as far as the preparation of new vegetables. Many are more than happy to offer suggestions to help you enjoy their selection.

Make beans your new BFFs

Beans and lentils are popular staples of a vegetarian diet. They are a filling and nutritious way to build out a vegetarian menu. Beans come in countless varieties and are very versatile.

Mock "Meat"

Sometimes "tricking" our brains can be a good way to expand the palate and transform vegetables into something familiar. Many of us are familiar with the idea of bean burgers and similar vegetarian options that have found their way onto the menus of many casual dining chains. Similar dishes can be prepared at home. Try black bean burgers or a lentil loaf as ways to reduce the amount of meat on the menu.

Mix things up with marinades

Marinades can work miracles on meats, and they can do the same for vegetarian alternatives. Marinating "meaty" alternatives, especially mushrooms, can impart a ton of flavor.

Classic comforts revamped

Replacing the meats in favorite dishes can help ease the transition into a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism isn't about cutting out your favorite dinner dishes; it's about finding healthy, delicious, and sustainable alternatives to animal products. Finding new ways to recreate family favorites can be fun and offer a sense of familiarity that may be beneficial if you are dealing with selective eaters.

Go nuts

Adding nuts into a dish is another great way to beef up a vegetarian dish. Cashews, for example, are very meat and offer a firmness to dishes. They can also be used in a variety of vegan dishes as a way to remove cheeses and creams from select dishes.

Cook up a new cuisine

Some global cuisines lend themselves very well to vegetarian diets simply because meat is not a staple of the cultural cuisine. Indian food, for example, includes a variety of flavorful vegetarian dishes, as does Israeli, Taiwanese, and even Italian cuisines.

Don't call it meat (the opposite of #5)

Embrace the change. Rather than faking meat, calling things "steaks", and so on, just embrace the idea. Instead of trying to find the best ground beef replacement, try to find the best way to use the red lentils in your pantry; make a lentil loaf and just call it lentil loaf, not meatloaf.

Trying something new can be nice

Seek out new vegetables you have never cooked with before. Never had Romanesque cauliflower? Try it. There are so many beautiful and delicious vegetables that offer us something new. Pick up some new produce, then search for recipes that feature it and go from there. You never know what you might come across.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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