5 simple plant-based swaps for meat eaters
It’s never been easier to give plant-based eating a whirl – yes, even if you’re the type who can’t imagine a meal without meat. And that’s a good thing, because plant-based diets have many health benefits.
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or just trying to cut down on your meat intake, eating more plants can benefit heart health, prevent certain types of cancer, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and slow heart rate. of cognitive decline, says Kim Rose, RDN, a consulting dietitian based in Lakeland, Fla., with the food-tracking app Lose It!.
This way of eating can also benefit the environment. A review published in November 2019 in Advances in Nutrition found that greenhouse gas emissions from vegan and egg-vegetarian diets (a person who follows a vegetarian diet that includes eggs and dairy) are approximately 50% and 35% lower, respectively, than diets based on of meat.
“That’s a major plus,” Rose says. “This reduced environmental impact preserves natural gases, helping to save the planet we live on.”
Maybe you’re not ready to fully commit to a plant-based diet, but want to incorporate more plant-based foods here and there. Adding these five easy plant-based substitutes to common animal products is a great way to start.
1.DMilk without aeration for dairy milk
There are tons of dairy-free milks available – almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, to name a few. “People may choose a dairy alternative for a variety of reasons; it could be due to an allergy or an intolerance,” says Brittany Scanniello, RDN, founder of Boulder, Colorado-based Eat Simply Nutrition. Others may choose dairy-free because they are not a fan of the taste of milk or the use of animal products.
Nutritionally, dairy-free milk tends to have the same or slightly fewer calories than whole cow’s milk, but is generally lower in fat and sugar, according to the American Society for Nutrition. . Next time you’re at the grocery store, browse the milk aisle – you’ll find that’s often true, but at the end of the day, each type of dairy-free milk has a slightly different nutrient profile. Compare the nutritional information of dairy and non-dairy milk options available at your local store to help you decide which milk is best for your diet.
One advantage cow’s milk has over most dairy-free options is that it’s a good source of protein, as data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests. “When looking at dairy alternatives, I always try to emphasize the importance of finding one with a similar protein content.“, said Scanniello. Rose suggests soy or pea milk for comparable protein.
Alternatively, if you’re concerned about carbs, look for unsweetened cashew or almond milk, Rose says. Both will offer far fewer carbs per serving than dairy milk.
Scanniello also says it’s important to look for plant-based milks fortified with calcium and vitamin D. She served an unsweetened pea-based milk to her daughter who had a milk allergy: “The Peas had similar protein content to cow’s milk and was fortified with both calcium and vitamin D.
One other note: these milk alternatives will likely be more expensive than cow’s milk, according to the American Society for Nutrition.
2. Aquafaba, flax egg or just an egg substitute for egg
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, potential reasons for choosing a plant-based egg over a chicken egg are ethical reasons or an allergy. “Eggs are a common food allergy, so replacing a recipe with aquafaba or flax egg is a viable option for cooking and baking,” Rose says.
Have you ever heard of aquafaba? Check your pantry. Aquafaba is the liquid in which chickpeas are cooked and canned, according to US News and World Report. Since it contains only trace elements, it has less calories, sodium, cholesterol and fat than egg, and you can replace it with tablespoons – 1 tablespoon (tablespoon) for a yolk, 2 tablespoons for an egg white and 3 tablespoons for a whole egg.
A flax egg, on the other hand, incorporates flax seed meal (ground flax seeds) and water to make an egg substitute that offers protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Jessica’s flax egg recipe in the kitchen will show you how to get started. Flax eggs offer more nutritional value than aquafaba and contain 37 calories, 2 milligrams (mg) of sodium, 3 grams (g) of fat, and no cholesterol, according to the USDA. A large chicken egg contains about 70 calories, 5g fat, 0.5g carbohydrate, 6g protein and 207mg cholesterol, according to the USDA.
“On the other hand, the Just Egg brand substitute is a good [plant-based] a take-out egg substitute if you want a chewy egg-like texture for breakfast or lunch entrees,” Rose adds. It also has the most similar nutritional profile to real eggs. A serving of Just Egg contains 70 calories, 5g fat, 1g carbs and 5g protein, according to the Just Egg website.
3. Jackfruit for Pulled Pork
Try jackfruit as a low calorie substitute for pulled pork. Its chewy and slightly stringy texture makes it a simple swap. “I love incorporating jackfruit because it really gives a similar texture and appearance to pulled meat,” Scanniello says..
It will also significantly reduce your calories. A 1-cup serving of pulled pork with barbecue sauce (about 249 g) has 418 calories, while a 1-cup serving of jackfruit (about 150 g) has 143 calories, according to the USDA.
That being said, it’s not a perfect substitute: “Jackfruit doesn’t have enough protein to replace pulled pork or tofu, although it could be considered a great option if you’re looking to stick to Free Mondays. meat,” Rose says.
The thought of cooking with jackfruit, however, can be daunting. You do not know where to start ? Try the recipe for BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Avocado Salad from Minimalist Baker. You’re bound to have most of the ingredients in your pantry already — sourcing jackfruit can be the hardest part, though it’s widely available at Whole Foods, Amazon, or Asian grocery stores. You can also check out these 10 RDN Approved Jackfruit Recipes for Beginners.
4. Impossible or beyond meat for Minced meat
You won’t have to look too far for a substitute for your burger addiction. You’ll find plant-based meat alternatives from Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat on grocery store shelves and even on fast food menus across the country.
You might be motivated to make the switch for environmental reasons. “Meat substitutes may be a better option than real meat because they’re environmentally sustainable,” Rose says. “That’s important, especially if you’re concerned about where the planet is heading.” But they’re not perfect: While plants are more sustainable than meat, meat-alternative companies aren’t as pure as they seem. These companies are major food processors, after all, and producing, packaging and shipping to grocery stores harms the environment.
Plus, meat alternatives may not be a better option than a traditional beef patty when comparing nutrients, she adds. They have similar levels of saturated fat, which in excess can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart problems or stroke, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
At the same time, a randomized crossover study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in November 2020 suggested that participants’ cholesterol levels and weight were lower when they ate a diet containing plant meat than animal meat. (Keep in mind that Beyond Meat funded the study, though, and industry involvement in researching their products may influence the results, as Vox reported.)
“If a customer is looking to really cut down on red meat but really want the mouthfeel and flavor of the burger, I suggest Beyond Meat because it’s lower in saturated fat, yet still high in protein and vitamin B12,” says Scanniello. “If someone likes to tinker in the kitchen, I’d rather recommend a less processed approach and steer them towards making their own black bean burger patty instead.” You can find other homemade burger options online.
5. Vegan Cheese Enriched with Protein and Calcium for Cheese
For some people considering switching to a plant-based diet, the thought of giving up cheese is a deal breaker. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to give it up completely. If you’re eating plant-based for ethical reasons, you can sometimes swap out vegan cheese, which can use cashews, seeds, or tofu as a creamy base.
Nutritionally, it’s hard to say which is the best. Vegan cheese, especially those made with potato starch, can save you fat and calories compared to conventional cheese, suggests Rose.
But vegan cheese may also contain fewer healthy nutrients such as protein and calcium. That’s why Scanniello isn’t a fan: “I haven’t found any vegan cheese whose nutritional profile I like,” she says.
To protect your ticker, avoid cheese made with coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat and salts and not significantly lower in calories, according to a review of plant-based cheese options in Spanish supermarkets. published in September 2021 in Nutrients. The review also suggested that cheeses made with cashews and tofu were lower in saturated fat and the latter were lower in calories.