Plant-based eating has swept into vogue, and not a moment too soon. Cattle farming uses up a ton of arable land farmers could use for growing food for human beings. Plus the production of meat leads to the unimaginable suffering to our animal cousins.
Switching to a plant-based diet makes sense for both human health and the health of the planet. Multiple studies indicate eating more fruits and vegetables helps people maintain a healthy weight and ward off common diseases like heart disease and type II diabetes. But many people erroneously believe that it takes a monumental effort to create cheap, plant-based meals — and in reality, that’s not true
Why Switch to Plant-Based Eating?
The reasons for switching to plant-based eating are numerous, not the least of which is the benefit to human health. One study performed on 4,500 participants in Brazil found people who consumed a primarily plant-based diet were 60 percent less likely to develop fatty deposits in the arteries than those who got their protein from meat. People who eat a diet consisting primarily of veggies and fruit had lower blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) score and cholesterol.
Eating more plants could help combat world hunger. Nearly one out of every seven people worldwide go to sleep at night without knowing where their next meal is coming from. Demands for more high-quality plant foods will encourage farmers to produce more for feeding people, not feeding cattle and pigs. Additionally, runoff from meat factories poisons local water sources (remember the photos of ocean contamination after runoff from the disastrous 2018 hurricane season?).
Raising food animals adds to the destruction of the rainforest. Animal agriculture accounts for 91 percent of the destruction of the Amazon. Humans have lost countless species of animals, and cattle ranchers heedlessly destroy plant species which may possess healing properties.
Conditions in factory farms horrify animal rights activists. Ranchers force pregnant sows into gestation crates so tiny, the animals cannot even turn around and develop painful sores. Terrified cattle spend their entire lives confined to concrete only to meet their demise in the slaughterhouse.
Obviously, switching to a plant-based diet helps solve multiple problems. But in a nation where a burger costs $2 and a salad costs $6, how can people create cheap, plant-based meals that don’t leave them feeling deprived and hungry? Here are some ideas.
Ideas and Recipes for Cheap Plant-Based Meals
Get the shopping list handy! Here are eight easy, cheap plant-based meals that won’t break the bank.
- Barbecue bean tacos with pineapple. Beans represent the perfect cheap, plant-based protein source. and the flavor combo of this meal delights taste buds. Those who like things spicy can add in some peppers as well, although the radishes add a nice tang already.
- Roasted balsamic red potatoes. Potatoes are inexpensive and filling. Instead of swinging through the drive-thru for overpriced, lukewarm french fries, prep these in minutes, pop in the oven and enjoy!
- Mushroom and broccoli soup. Those who love cream of broccoli who are counting their calories will love this tasty soup. And with less than 70 calories per serving, diners will fit into that summer bikini in no time.
- Quinoa and edamame salad with citrus vinaigrette. Both quinoa and edamame are chock-full of plant-based protein, and the tangy vinaigrette makes this the perfect light summer meal.
- Cauliflower with roasted almond and pepper dip. Cauliflower tastes good raw, but it transforms into pure magic when cooked and paired with this delightful sauce.
- Skillet vegetable lasagna. Lasagna doesn’t need smothering with meat sauce. This quick and easy meal cooks in a pan, so there’s no need to run the oven during hot days.
- Collard green spring rolls and sunbutter dipping sauce. Want to wow folks with a Southern-Asian fusion dish? These spring rolls pack a nutrient punch and look elegant and colorful.
- Garlic and white wine pasta with brussels sprouts. Garlic tastes awesome and it’s healthy, too! And while the sauce looks creamy rich, this dish is vegan-friendly, too.
Other Ideas for Getting More Veggies
Veggies can make a healthy snack all on their own, too. Take celery with peanut butter along to the office for noshing. Strive to get more veggies with every meal. If an ovo-vegetarian, add peppers and onions to morning omelets. Chop broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and baby carrots for a quick snack with dip or an easy steamed side dish.
In the future, going meat free will prove easier with the help of science. Previously, vegan “meats” tasted little like the real thing. But Impossible Foods has developed a plant-based heme, the substance that gives beef its signature texture and taste. Other companies plan to launch chicken grown not from animals but from stem cells in a laboratory by the end of 2019.
Going Plant-Based for a Healthier Body and Planet
The reasons for switching to a plant-based diet include improving human health, reducing animal cruelty and protecting the planet we all share. And eating well on a plant-based diet need not mean paying more. Join the diners of the future by creating a cheap, plant-based dinner