Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Lesson & Week 5 Goal

Week 5: Strategies for Success Part 1

Goal: Try a new plant-based recipe every day

We can all benefit from a little more plant protein in our diets. Whether you want to go completely meat free, animal-product-free, or maybe just reduce your intake down to a few times per week, there are numerous health benefits of replacing meat with plants.

Aside from the reasons you learned about in week 3 (namely the absence of synthetic ingredients, the cost, the sustainability, and the superior nutrition) here is some more evidence to inspire a diet makeover.

These benefits were found from two papers published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and The Permanente Journal, both of which are published for the medical community. Visit the citation if you’d like to read the whole article!

  1. Plant-based diets are associated with higher fiber content, important for healthy gastrointestinal system and reduction of colon cancer risk (1).
  2. Total amounts of folic acid, vitamin C and E, magnesium and potassium are all higher in plant-based diets (1).
  3. Plant-based diets also contain less saturated fats and cholesterol. When compared with other diets, plant-based eaters have lower serum cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease (1,2).
  4. Plant-based eating is also associated with lower blood pressure when compared with other eating patterns (1,2).
  5. Plant-based eaters are often thinner than their meat-eating counterparts, have a lower BMI (body mass index) and are much less likely to be overweight or obese (1,2).
  6. Whole food, plant-based diets can help prevent and manage diabetes (2). 
  7. A plant-based diet is highly effective for weight loss (2).
  8. People who follow a plant-based eating program can experience some level of regression of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) (2).
  9. Plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality compared with non-plant-based diets (2).
  10. Low meat intake has been associated with longevity (2).
  11. Plant-based diets are a cost-effective and low-risk intervention for many health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and excess body weight (2).
  12. This way of eating can also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases (2).

The list of health benefits can continue on, but now let’s focus on how. How can you get these benefits, and more by becoming a plant-based eater? It isn’t easy to jump into a new way of eating, especially if you don’t know where to begin. In order to be successful, you will need the necessary tools, tools we will be helping you gain in the next two weeks. The first tool you will need is a recipe collection. This week’s goal is to try one new plant-based recipe each day.

This will help you build a large arsenal of great, delicious recipes day by day and meal by meal. Eventually, you will have a collection of dishes you love and can turn to when you are feeling hungry. Adding delicious plant-based recipes into your list of go-to meals will make the transition easier. It goes along with the concept from week 2, adding enough of the good stuff automatically pushes out the less desirable foods so you are able to change your diet effortlessly. 

Focus on finding delicious foods that you know you can enjoy and branch out from your old meals. Try different preparation methods such as roasting, pureeing, or slow cooking. Don’t think you are stuck having steamed vegetables with rice and beans each night. Get creative! Another great way to branch out is to try different Cuisines from other countries. Many populations around the world are plant-based eaters and they do it deliciously.

Try creamy Thai peanut sauce or bold curries for your next meal.  Middle Eastern dishes are also full of great foods with hummus, curry, baba ganoush, or other plant-based options! Japanese and other Asian cooking is another great, vegetable-packed way to eat. 

Go out to new restaurants, there are many that boast vegetarian menus and will inspire your cooking at home!  Get creative with spices, herbs, and other flavors for your dishes. Basic knowledge of spices and plenty of experimenting at home will ensure you have diverse, flavorful meals so you aren’t just relying on cheese or meat for flavor. As a bonus, spices, and herbs are full of amazing health compounds that will benefit you far past adding flavor to your meal.

There are many other ways you can get inspired with new recipes! Try a cooking class offered in your community. There are many clubs, restaurants, and even grocery stores that offer classes and share recipes. There are also great references online, a quick google search for “plant based dinner ideas” pulls up hundreds of tasty recipes! You can also follow recipe blogs (there are many devoted to plant based eating) cooking websites, or download recipe e-books! Or if you like to sit down and thumb through a hard copy, there are great recipe books you can buy at book stores, health food markets, or online.

In short, the more creative you get, the more you will enjoy this week’s challenge. This collection of recipes is for YOU so include things that you know you’re going to like. If sweet potatoes and black beans are some of your favorite foods, start there! If you hate spicy food, don’t even attempt making recipes calling for 3 jalapenos! If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few of my tried and true favorites that will get you thinking outside the [hamburger helper] box!

  1. Craig W. Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):16275-16335
  2. Tuso P, Ismail M, Ha B, Bartolotto C. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. Perm J. 2013 Spring 17(2): 61-66.