Earth Day is a good time to think about how you can make a difference in protecting our planet. Eating a plant-based diet can slow down the pace of climate change by reducing animal-related food production, which is responsible for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
At this time, when our meat supply has been compromised by the closure of plants within several states due to COVID-19 infection among workers, eating a plant-based diet makes more sense than ever before.
Plant-based does not equal vegan or zero animal products. It just means less of these, a lot less. Research supports a link between plant-based diets and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. A plant-based diet is also cost-conscious; animal meats are the most expensive ingredient in most dishes.
To help reduce financial stress, keep healthy, and celebrate Earth Day, here are some simple plant-based recommendations:
- Pick up some plant-based proteins, from lentils, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, seeds, quinoa, rice, and beans.
- Utilize frozen vegetables.
- Canned foods can be a nutritious, low-cost option when fresh produce is unavailable. One thing to keep in mind is that chemicals are used in canned foods including BPA and BPS/F, which have been associated with some health concerns. If you are going to use canned foods, try not to include them at every meal.
- Dried beans and lentils are usually the most cost-effective.
- Organic produce is preferred, however, most studies showing the health benefits of consuming produce were done with conventional produce – so do not avoid conventional produce if you cannot find or afford organic produce.
The following recipes are packed with nutrients and come in at less than $3 per serving. Most are less than $2 per serving.
Debbie Bessen, MS, RD, CSO, is a registered dietitian specializing in oncology, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal health, and weight control.