Get More Plants On Your Plate

A whole-food, plant-based diet is having its moment in the sun- and it’s planting much deeper roots than other so-called “fad diets”.  More and more people are calling themselves vegans or vegetarians and the research in favor of a more plant-focused diet is mounting. Even the newest Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommend more plants on our plates.

Here are three new ways to make room for more plants on your plate:

Crowd out animal-based foods.
Substitute kidney beans for half the ground beef in your favorite chili recipe or load tacos with black beans, leaving less room for shredded chicken. Shift plant foods to the center of your plate and think of animal foods like meat, cheese and dairy as the condiments.

Try something new! Once you’ve shifted the focus of your plate, you are ready to embrace some new plant-based recipes. Swap the cheese in lasagna for a simple tofu ricotta recipe plus a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, mix up a batch of black bean burgers, or blend raw cashews with water, spices and a splash of vinegar for a creamy plant-based salad dressing. Approach plant-based cooking as a chance to play and express your creativity. Peruse food blogs (we’d love to see you over at our blog!) and cookbooks for inspiration.

Involve friends in your pursuit of more plants. Everything is better in the company of friends, eating included! Think about it: if all of your friends and family ate healthy plant-based meals, would it be easier for you to eat more plants too? Of course it would! The company we keep influences all aspects of our health. I host supper clubs and potlucks through my company Gather. The communities that form over plant-based meals forge healthier habits and new friendships. Help cultivate healthy eating in your social circle by hosting a plant-based potluck or supper club with your friends! Need menu inspiration? Visit my blog Plant Eaters’ Manifesto for a sneak peek at our plant-based gatherings!

A few additional hints:

Afraid of your refrigerator turning into a compost bin? Rely on a few frozen and canned fruits and veggies so you always have produce on-hand. Frozen greens and frozen fruits are my secret to blend-and-go weekday breakfast smoothies.

Busy workweek? Batch cook grains and beans on the weekends. With big pots of cooked quinoa, lentils or a veggie-filled soup in the fridge, weeknight dinners are only a few minutes away. Round it out with a garden salad and you are in business.

Kayli Dice, MS, RDN is a plant-based dietitian, writer and founder of Gather, a series of plant-based cooking classes, workshops and supper clubs. She co-writes the recipe blog The Plant Eaters’ Manifesto with her husband.

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