If you’ve heard some of the science about plant-based eating, it’s likely you’ve considered going meat-free. A plant-based diet offers tremendous benefits, from increased heart health to diabetes prevention and weight loss. Some studies even show plant-based diets may even be the best way to live the longest life.
Eat a plant-based diet for just one week. Want to see if you can follow a plant-based starter diet for seven days? Check out my free One Week, 100-Veggies printable and give it a whirl!
So, the science is amazing. But, the reality can feel daunting. How do you go from meat-loving to meat-free eating without missing all of that hearty, filling, animal-based protein? The answer: Transition yourself slowly into a plant-based diet plan.
What can vegetarians eat?
The best way to stop eating meat is to really understand how many alternatives there are on a plant-based diet plan. Sure, you can make a quick meal with meat, fish, or poultry, but there are so many simple swaps that you’ll learn to love! Here are a few of my favorites.
Nature has provided more meat-free alternatives that you might guess. Leafy greens, legumes, and a variety of veggies like spinach and kale offer filling fiber — and more proteins-per-calorie than some meat sources. For example, eat 100 calories of beef and you’ll get 6.4 grams of protein; enjoy 100 calories of broccoli and you’ll get a whopping 11.1 grams of protein!
Of course, 100 calories of broccoli is a lot more to eat than beef, so you can rest assured you’ll be feeling full on a plant-based diet plan. No worries about going hungry without meat!
Try these plant-based swaps
It’s easy to make your favorite meals without the meat. Try these swaps, instead and see if you don’t love the plant-based version as much as the original!
- Instead of ground turkey: In a food processor, pulse 2 cups of mushrooms, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 egg until finely crumbled. Swap in for a 1/2-pound of ground turkey.
- Instead of ground beef: Swap in black beans or lentils instead. Season and enjoy!
- Instead of bacon: Toss sweet potato slices with coconut oil and Liquid Smoke. Bake until tender, salt to taste, and enjoy!
One of the easiest ways to stop eating meat is to replace it with dairy. Rich and filling, cheese, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt offer a simple stand-in that will keep you from feeling hungry. Though it’s best to limit your dairy intake to two to three times weekly, feel free to add it to a meal or two each week as a vegetarian-approved indulgence.
Try these high-protein dairy swaps
It’s easy to make your favorite meals without the meat. Try these swaps instead and see if you don’t love the high-protein dairy version as much as the original!
- Instead of grilled chicken: Check the deli or gourmet cheese section for “halloumi,” or grilling cheese. A hearty, slow-melting cheese, you can actually toss it on the grill or fry it up in a skillet instead of meat!
- Instead of sausage: Use pepper jack or sharp cheddar cheese to add delicious flavor and richness to gravy, lasagna, and breakfast omelets.
Meat-free frozen foods
We’re lucky enough to live in a time when vegetarian eating has gone mostly mainstream. Hit the freezer section of your favorite grocery store and try a few of the meat-free products there. See which are your favorite and keep them on hand for last-minute meals. As with dairy, you want to limit these foods to two to three times per week. They may be vegetarian foods, but most of them are still processed foods. So, enjoy them in limited amount with a focus on raw fruits and veggies.
A few meat-free frozen favorites
- Chick’n patties: Several companies make a variety of breaded chick’n patties and most of them are very good! Serve between buns topped with lettuce and mayo for a super quick, delish dinner.
- Meat-free crumbles: Ideal for spaghetti, sloppy joes, and tacos, having a package of meat-free crumbles in the fridge can be a lifesaver on busy nights.
The easy way to go vegetarian
To help you try out vegetarian and plant-based eating, I’ve created a one-month eating challenge that will help you go meat-free.
It starts with a seven-day swap. Each day for the first week, you’ll focus on adding one new vegetarian staple to your diet, while slowly eliminating meat. For the next 21 days after that, you’ll focus on enjoying filling high-protein diary, nuts, seeds, and other meat-free alternatives, tracking your progress every day on my handy calendar printable that you’ll find below.
One of the simplest ways to successfully complete one month of meatless eating is to plan your weekly menus. Find the dishes that look best to you, then write down the ingredients, get them in your kitchen and learn how to cook vegetarian style!
To get you started, here are a few ready-to-go plant-based resources
- Breakfast: Every one of these 8 breakfasts for under $1 can be made without meat. Plant-based and budget-friendly? You better believe it!
- Lunch: Give these 21 deliciously simple vegetarian lunches a try. They’re kid-approved, so even picky grown-ups are guaranteed to love ‘em.
- Dinner: These 8 heart-healthy recipes offer some awesome vegetarian dinner ideas. These are great starter recipes that are foolproof and family-approved.
Ready? Print out your plant-based diet plan now!
Get my easy vegetarian shopping list and countdown calendar now. It’s all ready for you to print and enjoy. Click on the image below, download, print, and Pin it — and enjoy a whole month of meatless eating!