October is Vegetarian Awareness Month
As the weather starts to cool down, many of us begin to crave hearty, fall dishes. The summertime abundance of fresh fruits and salads makes eating a vegetarian, plant-based diet easy. But sticking to this healthy diet is possible in colder months too, and you don’t need to avoid warm, comforting foods to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.
The health benefits associated with eliminating or reducing meat intake are clear. When combined with other lifestyle factors, vegetarianism can help people avoid heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Thankfully, there are many easy ways to incorporate more vegetarian and plant-based foods into your diet.
- Dried or canned beans are a great way to add fiber, iron, and protein to soups and salads.
- Eggs are versatile and can be included in almost any dish to increase protein.
- Fresh or frozen vegetables can be cooked together to make filling sauces and stir-fries that are delicious paired whole-grains like quinoa or brown rice.
- Sliced mushrooms, eggplant and cauliflower can be grilled, roasted, stewed, marinated or sautéed to serve as flavorful substitutes for meat products in many of your favorite recipes.
Like any healthy lifestyle, vegetarianism is all about balance, and you can reap the benefits of a plant-based diet without necessarily eliminating meat. If you are not already a vegetarian, we encourage you this October to include several vegetarian meals throughout your week. Challenge yourself to use fruits, vegetables, whole-grains and calcium-rich foods to create high-fiber, high-protein meals. You may not miss the meat at all!
Try one of these healthy recipes and see just how easy it is to get more plant-based foods into your diet.
Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas (featured below)