Happy New Year! Wondering how you can plant power your diet in 2016? You're not alone—22.8 million Americans now follow a "vegetarian inclined" (though not completely meat free) diet, according to a survey from Vegetarian Times. And while the broad strokes of going veg are pretty basic (you know, don't eat meat), the steps it takes to get you there—or to find the exact style of eating that works for you—can be a little tougher to navigate. That's where we come in.
With so many people looking to eat a more plant-centric diet but not exactly sure how to get there, we created a 7-day starter guide with tangible, "I can do this" tips to help you inch your way to vegetarian (or mostly veg) meals and snacks that are right for you. Try a new goal out every day for one week, and by the end you'll be a little more plant-strong than you started—and ready to take on the year.
Already plant-based? Follow along, you just might learn a few new things.
Are you ready? Us too! Let's go.
Day 1: Celebrate Meatless Monday
You can do anything for one day, right? Great. So, make this Monday a meatless one. That's (in our interpretation) no beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish, or seafood.
What we love about the Meatless Monday movement is that it has no goal other than getting you to go sans meat one day a week. And while giving up meat for one day and realizing how easy and delicious it can be can put you on the road to a longer-term commitment to vegetarianism, we find that the no-pressure attitude of Meatless Monday makes it palatable (ha) to even the most uncertain critics—a parent who might not be so supportive, for instance, or a picky sibling who is afraid that hamburgers for dinner will go the way of the dinosaurs. Meatless Monday is a great experiment for you, but it can also help the people around you appreciate plant-based meals—and as a result, ease up and give you the support you need (or at least not make your life quite so difficult).
As for what to eat on Meatless Monday. Here's a meal-by-meal breakdown.
Breakfast: Chances are, you eat a vegetarian breakfast without even thinking about it. Oatmeal, cold cereal with milk, eggs and toast, a green smoothie, peanut butter and banana on English muffin...the possibilities are pretty much endless. Here's a recipe for one of our regular go-tos, avocado toast.
Lunch: A little bit harder than lunch for many, but still totally doable. Peanut butter and jelly, hummus sandwich with shredded carrots and lettuce, black bean or lentil soup, yogurt with fruit and granola, Greek salad with feta cheese, Here's one of our old favorites, a quinoa, black bean, and corn salad that you can toss together and easily tote to school, work, or wherever.
Dinner: Hands down, the toughest meal for many to make meatless. Fear not: SmartGirlVeg is here. Roasted veggie tacos or fajitas, chipotle bean burritos, edamame fried rice, pasta with broccoli and white beans, mushroom pizza, Indian saag paneer, falafel with hummus, veggie burgers...we could go on and on. And we didn't even say "tofu" once (nothing against tofu...it can actually be quite delicious. But it is not, contrary to popular belief, a prerequisite for a vegetarian diet)! Here's our tip for dinner: Our creamy, dreamy pasta sauce. Toss it with whole wheat spaghetti and roasted cauliflower or zucchini, and you've got one delicious meal made.
Snacks we'll leave to you, since it's pretty easy to think of meat-free snacks.
And there you have it: Your Meatless Monday.
For loads more ideas, check out the Meatless Monday website, or search the hashtag #MeatlessMonday on Instagram, or look for it on Pinterest. There's a great community of Meatless Monday-ers out there sharing ideas and inspiration.
Join us tomorrow for day 2 of 7 Days To Veg!