Throughout 2015, it was hard to go even a few days without seeing another headline decrying the impacts of our over-consumption of meat on the environment, our health, and on animals. In response to this, giving up meat, eggs, and dairy fast became the New Year's resolutions of choice as the confetti fell at midnight. Now, more than a month into 2016, many people are looking for guidance to make their new plant-based diets stick.
The rewards of eating conscientiously, healthfully, and humanely aren't exclusive to the planet and animals; happily, for everyone joining the meat, egg, and dairy-free movement this year, plant-based eating has never been easier or more enjoyable -- especially if you keep a few important tips in mind.
The healthiest, most compassionate and eco-friendly diet you can choose is a diet that you can stick to.
Whether you're a die-hard meat lover who can perfectly barbecue a medium rare steak or a health-conscious yogi celebrating ten years of Meatless Mondays, the guiding principle for your new meat-free resolution should be this: if the food isn't delicious, don't eat it. Today, there are far too many mouth-watering, plant-strong recipes and restaurant menu items out there to settle for anything less. If you're switching out your chicken and ribs for tasty plant-based burritos, pastas, curries, veggie burgers -- you name it -- you'll be surprised at how quickly old cravings will change along with your menu selections.
For people new to the concept of moving plants to the center of their plate, it's also important to remember that it's totally fine to ease into plant-based eating rather than give up all animal-sourced foods at once. The healthiest, most compassionate and eco-friendly diet you can choose is a diet that you can stick to. So rather than jumping into the deep end of a plant-based lifestyle, you can start by joining the growing group of conscientious eaters known as 'flexitarians' or 'reducitarians' by going veg one day a week á la Meatless Mondays, becoming a weekday vegetarian, or only eating meat after 6 p.m. Whatever rule works for you is the one that you should adopt to get yourself started.
After a few days, weeks and months of replacing animal products in your diet, it won't just be your regular breakfast order that changes -- you'll start to feel better, both mentally and physically. You'll discover the pleasure and personal satisfaction that comes with devouring a plate of cashew cream fettuccine Alfredo with wild mushrooms and knowing you replaced an unhealthy meal that would have contributed to animal suffering, climate change, and a host of other environmental problems.
As your favourite plant-based recipes and vegetarian-friendly restaurants fill up the bookmarks page of your internet browser, you'll notice what restaurant critics and food writers have been pointing out with increasing frequency in recent years -- that meatless, eggless, and dairy-free options are now so plentiful you can't even find the time to try them all, and there will simply be no more room for animal products in your meals.
Beyond being fun, low stress, and packed with the nutrients your body needs, new plant-strong recipes will give you a chance to explore meals with a wider variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains than any meat-based diet can offer. Along with familiar veggie burgers, dairy-free cheesy lasagnas, and bean burritos stuffed with seasoned peppers and guacamole, you might also find yourself swept up into a new world of culinary tastes, trends, and treats. And for dessert, there is now an endless array of equally delectable plant-based versions of all your favourite cakes, pies, cookies, puddings and ice creams.
It's never too late for a plant-based New Year's resolution, so even if you missed January 1st, anytime is the right time to opt for a personal eating revolution that chooses compassion, health, and sustainability over a less healthful, more harmful diet. Go at your own pace, and remember that doing the right thing for your body, the planet, and animals can and should also be the most delicious choice.
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