Meal Plan Created By: Amanda Kostro Miller
Trying new foods and building variety into your diet has been shown to help make your lifestyle more healthy.1,2 To help you keep on top of a healthy diet, we’re bringing you 12 months of healthy eating with handy cheat sheets, meal plans, and tips to help you eat healthy, easily.
ICYMI: 12 Months of Healthy Eating: Colors of the Rainbow
This month, we’re focusing on plant-based meals. One of the quickest and most tasty ways to improve your diet is to build more plant-based protein into your diet.3 Eating veggie-forward meals can put some folks off, but the truth is that, when done correctly, diets which intentionally incorporate lots of plants or veggies are intensely flavorful, full of nutrients, and provide protein. Not only that, but going plant-based means reducing your personal carbon footprint. This month, we’ve partnered with a registered dietician to bring you a tasty, plant-filled diet full of delicious and nutritious snacks, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Try our 7-day plant-based meal plan today!
Download The Printable Meal Plan
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
If you’ve never tried a plant-based or plant-forward diet before, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re getting into. Are plant-based diets the same as vegetarian diets or vegan diets? They can be, depending on how you like to eat, but plant-based diets don’t always have to be fully vegetarian. Depending on your amount of fruit and vegetable intake, a pescetarian diet, which favors fish and seafood as a protein source, can be considered plant-based. Even a popular diet, like the Mediterranean diet, can be considered plant-based if you appropriately center fruits and vegetables in your daily intake. So what are the benefits of a plant-based diet? There are planty—oops, we mean plenty—to choose from.
Benefits Of Plant-Based Meals
Plant-Based Diets May Reduce the Risk of Developing Type II Diabetes4
One great benefit of building up to a more reliably plant-based diet is that these types of diets tend to have lower sugar content, especially when you focus on consuming plenty of nutrient-rich leafy greens. Because plant-filled diets offer more blood sugar control, these diets have been associated with a lower risk of developing type II diabetes. For this and other reasons, certain types of greens-focused diets have been shown to reduce body fat and are less likely to contribute to obesity,5 which may help mitigate the risk of cardiovascular disease.6 Most healthy folks of any age would do well to incorporate more plant-based meals into their regular diet to support heart health.
Plant-Based Diets Are High in Fiber, Which May Lower Cholesterol
A plant-based diet also tends to be high in fiber, meaning that you feel full sooner, which makes it easier to regulate how much you’re eating.7 High amounts of fiber also help slow the absorption of cholesterol. For this reason, plant-based diets can help lower cholesterol more effectively than meat-based diets.8
How to Incorporate Protein Into a Plant-Based Diet
Unlike strictly vegetarian or vegan diets, eating mostly plant-based foods doesn’t mean that you can’t eat any animal protein. Instead, going plant-based means focusing on plants as your main source of nutrients. If you’re cutting down on your meat intake, one concern you might have is that a plant-based diet doesn’t provide enough protein. Our meal plan includes both plant-based proteins and some fish as viable protein sources, but there are also plenty of other healthy protein sources to consider out there.
Plant-Based Substitutes for Protein in a Meatless Diet
When considering good plant-based protein options, consider nuts and legumes, such as peas and lentils. You can also eat limited amounts of eggs and other sources of animal protein on some plant-based diets, but just be careful not to eat too many egg yolks—especially if you are concerned about cholesterol. One large egg yolk has about 186 mg of cholesterol and experts recommend limiting cholesterol intake to under 300 mg per day. There are always plant-based protein alternatives like tempeh, seitan, or tofu. Beans and protein powders can also help supplement your plant-based diet.9
Related: 7 Important Nutrients You Can’t Miss
Healthy Recipes for Plant-Based Meals
Most importantly, fruits and vegetables offer significant depth of flavor and variety, meaning that your plant-based meals will be just as delicious as they are healthy. If you’re looking for more heart-healthy recipe inspiration, there are many heart-healthy recipes to try out. This month’s meal plan includes scrumptious breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Why not begin your day with a warming apple lemon oatmeal, or try out a Greek-inspired roasted chickpea gyro for lunch. There are so many mouth-watering options to try, and all full of heart-healthy nutrients.
Craving more heart-healthy meal ideas? Download our heart-healthy cookbook for a dozen more quick and easy dinners to try out.