On a student budget, it’s easy to get into a repetitive food routine. Whether that means you stock up on certain reliable products or cook the same meal three times a week, sometimes buying and making food is done on autopilot.
There’s something to be said for breaking free from habits and trying something new, and that can start with choosing to purchase and consume less animal products.
According to recent studies, avoiding meat, dairy, and eggs is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact. If you approach this lifestyle change the right way, you can lower grocery costs too.
Even Canada’s updated food guide favours plant-based protein, promoting “protein foods” instead of the “meat and alternatives” group of the past. Meat and poultry now share the spotlight with legumes, beans and nuts, encouraging Canadians to branch out with their food choices and kickstart a more balanced diet.
Despite a wealth of tasty options, changing old routines can be difficult. Hopefully, these three tips will inspire you try out some new meatless recipes in lieu of defrosting yet another chicken breast.
Cut your daily serving size of meat
Although people often rely on meat and eggs as their major sources of protein, a variety of foods—seeds, soy, greens—pack just as big of a punch.
Swapping protein sources can be as simple as adding flaxseeds or peanut butter to your smoothies, or walnuts instead of chicken to your salad. Choosing a veggie burger every once in a while, or adding ‘meaty’ flavours to dishes with mushrooms and BBQ condiments, can also help stave off cravings.
While building most meals around vegetables might require more planning at first, with long-lasting—and often cheap—staples in your cupboard, it’s never hard to find the star of your next meal. Easy vegetables to add into your diet include sweet potatoes, canned beans, and brown rice.
Experiment with different proteins, grains, and veggies
Weaning yourself off meat, eggs, and dairy can be a lot easier when you rely on convincing alternatives. However, while products like almond milk and cream cheese substitutes can hit the spot, sometimes they can be costly.
Instead of constantly seeking out expensive pre-made alternatives to meat or dairy, try experimenting with products you already have on hand. The Internet is full of plant-based recipes that turn everyday ingredients into flavourful and filling meals.
Researching the plant-based cuisines of other countries, like India, can also provide some great ideas. Given the right inspiration, an 88 cent can of chickpeas can be transformed into a curry that will last you the whole week.
Choose a meatless day of the week for you and your housemates
Having one day a week where you don’t consume any meat can be a fun and productive project to take on with your housemates.
Taking turns cooking house meals on that day can help you stick with it, while also shouldering off some of the responsibility. Working as a team to prep and cook will leave you with a full arsenal of meatless dishes. If you’re ever stuck for an idea, joint meatless takeout every now and again is a great way to keep your pledge.
If you’re tackling a weekly meatless day as a lone wolf, you can join the worldwide Meatless Monday campaign and pledge. Their website provides plenty of tips and free recipes to help get you started.
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