In the 1980’s I remember the commercials that asked “Where’s the beef?” and “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner!” They promoted meat as a primary source of protein in our diets and got us thinking that no meal is complete without meat, preferably red meat. As we are learning more about how diets can affect our health and how our food choices can affect the environment, we are realizing that plant based diets are both better for the earth and for our health. Here are 10 reasons why you should prepare more plant-based meals
- Plants are easier to cook. Almost all meats take more time to cook. In our busy schedules, cooking plants and plant based proteins take much less time.
- Less concern for salmonella. Bacteria such as salmonella can exist on poultry but not so easily on vegetables. Cleaning up after preparing chicken requires thorough rinsing of the cutting board, knives and cooking bowls with hot soapy water. Cleaning up after cooking vegetables is a snap, just some warm water and minimal soap, with no risk for bacterial contamination.
- Plants are cheaper. You can easily prepare meals with about 50% less money when preparing plant-based meals. If you are on a budget, going plant-based would be the way to go. Even when you eat at a restaurant, the vegetable options are almost always less expensive than meat or fish dishes.
- Vegetables, herbs and fruits are delicious and provide natural flavors. I rarely hear people say that the “boiled chicken was so flavorful.” Most meat intrinsically has little flavor. In contrast, most vegetables and herbs have strong flavors that can stand on their own. Not convinced? Try roasting some fennel in the oven and drizzle some high quality extra virgin olive oil on top and a sprinkling of sea salt.
- Vegetables are a great source of fiber and can actually LOWER bad cholesterol.
- Ounce per ounce, vegetables take up more room in our stomachs without providing a lot of calories. Granted, I realize that french fries are also plant-based, but what I am talking about is eating healthy plant-based foods such as salads, roasted vegetables, and stir fries with minimal oil.
- Longer shelf life. Most meats spoil within a few days after you buy them. On the other hand, vegetables such as onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots can easily last a week. Frozen vegetables can last months and are so easy to prepare. There are even some packages of frozen vegetables that you can microwave in the bag.
- Plants are a blank slate. Add your favorite seasonings from any cuisine. Make it spicy with curries, or add mediterranean seasoning. They are very versatile.
- You can grow your own food! Gardening is amazing exercise and provides a connection between you and your food. You can be sure that there are no chemicals or pesticides when you grown them yourself. By growing plants, you will also be removing carbon from the atmosphere and adding precious oxygen back to the world.
- You will feel better! Many studies have found that eating meat can cause inflammatory chemicals called cytokines to form in our body. Some people who have switched to plant-based diets have noticed that their joint inflammation, irritable bowel, and even depression have noticed their symptoms improve dramatically.
Try a few plant-based diet this week in honor of Earth Day. If you’re not good at cooking, here are some suggestions on how you can eat more delicious plant-based food. Plants, it’s what’s for dinner!