Making plant-based eating palatable

Ahead of his event for the Center for Healthy Living, Where’s the meat? – an introduction to plant-based eating geared toward men – Samuel Martinez. RD, CD, shares more on the importance of plants and how to make them part of your everyday diet.
Why is a plant-based diet (or incorporating more plant-based dishes into your diet) so beneficial?

A plant-based diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes and healthy fats. Incorporating more plant-based dishes into your routine helps provide additional fiber and phytonutrients that are known to help prevent chronic disease and contribute to a well-balanced diet/lifestyle. Eating more of these foods means eating less harmful foods, like highly processed foods, fast foods, high calorie-high fat foods, etc. Plant-based foods also help prevent nutrient deficiencies and insufficiencies. They are usually rich in antioxidants as well, which can help combat a wide variety of diseases! For anyone interested in losing weight and building muscle, a plant-based diet is very low calorie, low fat, but high protein approach, if done correctly.

What would you say to someone who is skeptical of shifting to this way of eating? 

Just be open. If we aren’t willing to step out of our comfort zone, how can we expect to grow, or improve? Keep in mind a “plant-based” diet is not the same thing as a “vegetarian” diet. In fact, it’s encouraged to still eat plenty of lean meats. So this lifestyle change is much more about all the whole foods you can eat, rather than the foods you can’t. And any lifestyle change is about improving your quality of life, so what’s not to like about feeling healthier, stronger and more confident?

Why do you think the idea of plant-based eating is challenging for people, particularly men?

Guys, we love our slow cooked BBQ pulled pork and brisket sandwiches and poblano mac’n cheese too much to think about cutting back. As a man who lived in Louisville, Kentucky, for the past year, surrounded by bourbon and BBQ, I can tell you that the key is to enjoy the foods you love (whatever it is) in moderation, rather than not at all. 

What are some simple changes people can make to ease into plant-based eating?

One of the easiest ways is to set very simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive (SMART) goals. This could be something as easy as starting to eat one apple every day for a week. See how that goes, and then add in something else, or take out something else.

What are some tricks for incorporating more plants into your daily diet?

Well, to any of the ladies reading this, let’s be honest, sometimes men are kind of like children (you’re welcome), and there’s no better way to incorporate more plants into our diets than by sneaking them in. Personally, I love putting a can of drained black beans, sautéed onions, peppers, and garlic into my ground beef to make a delicious hamburger pattie. Another easy way is with prepackaged snacks. I enjoy simple carrot or bell pepper slices, or something more creative like pre-pitted pomegranate berries or a zesty Thai coleslaw to munch on at work.

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