5 habits to live plant-forward

Whether you identify as a self-proclaimed carnivore, flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian or vegan, there’s no denying that plants deserve a prominent place on the plate. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and plant-based oils aids in both human health and environmental sustainability. Unsurprisingly, more and more consumers are shifting towards a plant-forward plate. You might also have noticed increased plant-forward options sprouting up in grocery store aisles and on your favorite restaurant menus.

Contrary to restrictive diets, plant-forward eating has no rules. Instead, it acts as an adaptable framework to allow for personal food preferences. Navigating this nuance can feel a little tricky. If you are looking to reduce your intake of animal-based foods and replace them with more plant-based fare, we’d recommend keeping these five nourishing habits in mind:

  1. Eat your veggies. Non-starchy veggies should ideally make up half of your meal plate. If you are currently falling short, work towards this overarching goal by adding a variety of colorful veggies to omelets, stir-fry, pasta, salads, soups and grain-based side dishes.
  2. Love legumes. Legumes include peanuts, beans, fresh peas, lentils and soybeans. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommends eating half a cup of legumes three times per week. Try adding any form in salads or soups, adding a half a cup white beans or fresh peas in your favorite pasta dish, or utilizing a combination of tofu, non-starchy veggies and peanuts in a meatless stir-fry.
  3. Make half your grains whole. There are so many choices out there! Add oats or millet to a granola recipe, prepare a roasted veggie and whole grain salad with quinoa, barley or bulgur, or substitute refined bread, pasta, or cereal with whole grain varieties.
  4. Go nuts! Nuts and seeds fit in at every meal with minimal effort. Add them as a topper to oatmeal, yogurt, or cereal at breakfast. Pair with dried fruit or cheese for a portable snack. Add a sprinkle on salads, pasta or your Buddha bowl at lunch or dinner.
  5. Serve meat as a garnish. If you are a meat-lover, there’s no need to remove it. Instead of thinking of meat as the mainstay, use it as a garnish. Add a small piece of chicken to your salad or fajitas. Serve a slider with a salad, prepare kabobs with lots of colorful veggies or have a pasta dish filled with fresh herbs, veggies and a few pieces of shrimp.