Tips for Going Green at Dinnertime

The idea of switching to a vegan diet is nothing new. Unfortunately, the Western diet centers virtually every meal around meat. This can have harmful long-term consequences, including an elevated risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity, and more.

Even if you have been an insatiable carnivore your entire life, it’s never too late to make changes to your diet and focus on sustainable foods that will improve your health without taxing Mother Earth. Keep reading for information on the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet and practical advice on how to get started.

Diet Does Not Replace Exercise

First and foremost, it’s crucial that you remember that simply changing your diet is not enough to completely improve your health. Although you may lose weight, look better, and feel healthier than ever after dropping animal-based products from your plate, you still have to take care of your body in other ways. This is especially important if you’re a senior citizen. Don’t forget that many Medicare Advantage plans provide no-cost access to more than 13,000 SilverSneakers programs throughout the country. If you don’t have Medicare and cannot afford a gym membership, walking, swimming, and biking are all excellent (and free) ways to exercise.

Why Go Green?

The benefits of a meatless diet are many — improved digestion, healthier skin, effortless weight loss and a natural boost in energy are all appealing perks. Furthermore, eating less fat can reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. And if all of this is not enough, eating more produce reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is overall better for the environment. If you’re still on the fence, this article from DoctorsThatDo.org dispels many common myths about plant-based diets.

Adding More Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet

If you don’t like the taste of vegetables, you are not alone. Many people claim that certain lettuces taste like dirt while others are turned off by the texture of things like mushrooms. It can take time to retrain your brain to enjoy and even crave foods that have not been genetically modified to trick you into wanting them. But it is possible, and there are ways you can eat more vegetables and fruits while still enjoying the flavors that you love.

A few tips are to:

  • Mix cauliflower with mashed potatoes
  • Slowly increase the number of peppers, onions, and tomatoes in tacos and homemade Chinese food
  • Swap peanut butter and jelly for garlic and avocado sandwiches (This recipe from Mom’s Dish is excellent)
  • Sprinkle carrots, celery, or sliced radishes with dry ranch dip mix for a healthy crunch that’s full of flavor
  • Leave the meat out of spaghetti and other pasta dishes
  • Look at other cultures for inspiration — meat is not a central element of food in many other countries
  • Check the label at the store, as many ostensibly vegan foods, such as bread, are made with dairy products
  • Eliminate meat in steps — start with red meat and then move on to chicken and pork
  • Give yourself a sweet treat by indulging in a frozen banana instead of eating ice cream
  • Add vegetables to sandwiches
  • Eat at least one food of every color of the rainbow each day

By changing your diet now, you are looking out for your future. More importantly, you model for your children that positive eating habits are sustainable for both your lifestyle and the environment. Remember, even if you can’t quit cheeseburgers cold turkey, there are plenty of ways to eat more fruits, grains, and vegetables while slowly overhauling your diet.

 

Image via Pixabay

 


Summer Green Bean Saute from Priscilla Warshowsky

This is a quick and simple side dish to make for warm summer evenings, as it only requires the briefest time on the stove top. Even better, there’s no need to stress about measuring ingredients – you can let the daily harvest from your home garden, or your favorite farmer’s market be your guide, as well as the number of people you expect to feed. Likewise, you can adjust the basic recipe to your own tastes. Any leftovers can be reheated, served cold, or at room temperature – you can even add some sliced, fresh tomatoes, toss it with your favorite vinaigrette and turn it into a summer salad!

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The Booming Market for Meat Alternatives

| by Cheryl Shainmark

White Castle and Fat Burger now feature Impossible Burgers, Del Taco has Beyond Meat on the menu, and Burger King is about to roll out a Beyond Meat Whopper. Hard Rock Cafes in Europe carry a veggie burger now, (though you’d have to skip the cheese to make it a vegan meal), and they expect to offer it in their US locations next year. As Phil Shainmark, our columnist for The Unlikely Vegan noted recently, “It’s quite possibly the best time to be a Vegan. There are so many amazing choices and places to go.” Even if you’re not a vegan or a fast food fan, the variety of meat alternatives is great news as many grocery stores and regular restaurants have also added plant based options to meet growing customer demand. According to Market Insider, the $14 billion dollar meat alternative industry is expected to grow to $140 billion over the next decade.

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The Unlikely Vegan Rides Again by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

My good friend’s riding club was having an event and I was invited. They were hosting a “St. Paddy’s Day in Summer” event. It was a BLAST, and my friend. (being the main cook for her club), made me vegan shepards pie. I think she used Beyond Beef as the filling, and it was delicious. Here’s yet another entree I LOVED before I became vegan, and really thought I’d never eat again. I can’t express how nice it was to have an amazing vegan version of a food I love.

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A Year Milestone for the Unlikely Vegan by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

What a year it’s been – or pretty close to a year. I’m not 100% sure I can nail down a solid date. But we’ll call it a year. This Vegan thing has certainly been an adjustment, but now I don’t even think twice about it. And as I go out and do more and more things, I continuously think to myself, “Gods, I’m glad I don’t eat that stuff anymore.” I’ve been to a few new (for me) Vegan restaurants in town. One was VegeNation (S. Eastern Ave. Henderson, NV). The staff were awesome and the food was excellent. I had cauliflower buffalo wings, which I always thought was ridiculous, but it was really tasty.

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Feeding Body & Soul

| by Cheryl Shainmark

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I’d be following a virtually wheat free, 90% vegetarian — hell, 90% vegan diet, I’d have said, “That’s nuts.” Now I’m likely to say, “That’s raw cashews to you, and by the way, do you know how many recipes you can make with them?” It’s safe to say that I’m not alone in making a big diet and lifestyle change, either. Based on the latest bestsellers, opinion pages in the New York Times , increase in vegetarian and vegan websites and buzz on the Internet, it seems we have reached some kind of “tipping point” toward a radical change in the way we eat and what we will accept from the food industry.

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The Unlikely Vegan Gets His NY Fix by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

So, my brother-in-law Dan and I went to NY, and it was an awesome trip from start to finish. My father picked us up at the airport and took us to Royal Palace in White Plains, NY. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth talking about again. Dan and I were famished, so a buffet was definitely the way to go. We loaded up our plates and went to town. The staff there is so great, asking us what we liked and didn’t like, and talking to us about India and where the foods come from when we expressed an interest. I will go there any time I’m in the area. The next day we went to Long Island to see my grandparents, and go to Town Bagel (I needed my NY bagel fix).

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Happy New Year from the Unlikely Vegan

| by Phil Shainmark

While texting back and forth with one of my friends in Texas, we got on the discussion of sandwiches. I was lamenting that one of the only foods I genuinely miss is an Italian combo. Not that stuff you get out west where it’s a little ham and salami and some oil and vinegar (they put mayo on them out here!! MAYO!!) I mean a legit east coast, 10 types of meats with banana peppers and provolone, ITALIAN COMBO (which, if you ever find yourself in Hawthorne/Valhalla, NY, check out Pops Deli. Get menu option C4 – best Italian combo ever). So I was on a quest to get as close as I could to those flavors, and I feel that I’ve come pretty close….

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The Unlikely Vegan Visits New York by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

So I went to NY to visit family, and while there I had some GREAT food. Got in on a 7 something flight that evening, and my Dad took me to an excellent Indian restaurant, with a buffet. They had a whole set up for Vegan/Vegetarian food. Not a surprise. But it was nice to walk into a place that wasn’t specifically a VEGAN restaurant, and not only have a ton of choices, but also have meat food for those who want. Yes, yes, I know, I’m supposed to be fighting the industry and trying to convince people that they shouldn’t be eating meat… But, I don’t want to. It’s a stupid move. And no one wants to listen to you tell them all the bad stuff about the food they’re about to eat. (More about this later.)

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The Unlikely Vegan – Part Two, by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

So after another month I can say that this is no longer even an “adjustment,” it’s now just the way I eat. And the benefits just keep coming – my energy levels are higher than they were pre-cancer. Hell, I barely drink coffee in the morning anymore. If I have a cup it’s because I like the taste, not because I need it. I found out this week that there’s a 100% Vegan doughnut place near the only other shop I ever worked at. Gonna have to head over there at some point. It’s not near anything I normally go to, but I LOVE doughnuts, so it’ll be worth the trip.

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