How to Seamlessly Add More Plants Into Your Diet

The average American consumes about 222 pounds of red meat and poultry per year, according to a recent estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

However, many people are looking to reduce meat in their diet, mostly for health reasons, but also due to the production restrictions caused by COVID-19, meat shortages are becoming more common, and people are starting to seek out alternative protein sources. Reducing meat and adding more plant-based options to your diet is especially important now because many plant-based ingredients possess nutrients necessary to strengthen your body and your immune system.

In an interview with CNN, Dr. Robert Graham, who is board certified in both internal and integrative medicine, explained the importance of incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and legumes into your diet as a way to avoid getting sick.

“Eighty percent of chronic diseases we face are preventable and reversible by eating a more plant-based diet. This [pandemic] is a call to action to switch to more plant-based meals and to cook more. They are the two silver linings,” said Graham, who is also a chef and co-founder of FRESH Med, an integrative health and wellness center in New York City.

But how does one transition from a diet loaded with chicken, beef, and pork to one more focused on plants? First, start off by making some simple swaps like eggplant parmesan instead of chicken or lentil meatballs instead of beef. Next, try dedicating one day to eating only plant-based foods, like Meatless Monday. Lastly, experiment with different ingredients. You’ll be amazed at the flavors you can create using fresh herbs, spices, condiments, and other seasonings.

For an even easier way to introduce more plants into your diet, search your local supermarket for ready-to-eat entrees or premade veggie burgers/meat alternatives. These items are often easy to prepare and are made with a combination of familiar flavors, easing the transition from an animal-focused diet to one that is more balanced.