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4 Easy Ways to Start Going More Plant-Based

- Danny Kim for TIME
Danny Kim for TIME

If you aren't ready to give up meat entirely, but want to eat a little healthier, or reduce your carbon footprint, a reducetarian diet may be for you.

Maybe you’re not ready to make the plunge into full-on vegetarianism or veganism, but you want to dip your toes in the pool. It’s a good idea: plant-based diets can be healthier for you, and may help prevent chronic disease in the long run.

By being a reducetarian—or trying to reduce your consumption of animal products—you can also help protect the environment, and save farmed animals from cruelty.

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Full disclosure: I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I’ve been making simple switches to cut animal products from my diet. I’m not ready to give up bacon just yet, but I will say that eating plant-based isn’t hard—and it can be really tasty!

Here’s how to cut animal products out of your diet, even if it’s just once a week. I promise, these solutions are so yummy, you won’t even be able to taste the difference.

Try a Plant-Based Milk

It seems like every time I go in the grocery store, there’s a new plant-based milk on the shelves. Between almond milk, soy milk, pea milk, hemp milk, and more, there are a ton to choose from. To help you select the right one, we’ve created a handy guide to determine which type is best for your taste preferences and nutrition needs—check it out here.

Once you’ve found an alt milk you like, just use it like you would cow’s milk: in smoothies, in cereal, in overnight oats, or in your morning coffee! The only downside? Alt-milk doesn’t pack the calcium or protein that cow’s milk does.

Make #MeatlessMonday Part of Your Weekly Meal Plan

Confession: I’m a meat lover, and I grew up believing that for a meal to be “complete” it had to have meat. But this is so far from true, and there are plenty of Cooking Light recipes to prove it. Some of the tastiest—and most filling—meals we have are free of meat!

Check out these meatless meals for inspiration—the Fettuccine With Seared Tomatoes and Burrata is on steady rotation in my house. Cutting out meat won’t just save you calories, it’ll save you major bucks on your grocery bill.

RELATED: Try Our 3-Day Plant-Based Meal Plan for Beginners

Grill a Meatless Burger

One of the most interesting days in the office is when we tried a bunch of “bleeding” veggie burgers. Though the bleeding ones aren’t my personal favorite, I love a good veggie burger. The ones we’ve developed are chock-full of protein and fiber, so you’ll be satisfied until your next meals.

My personal favorite is the Kicky Black Bean Burger (it’s spicy, and topped with melted Pepper Jack cheese!), but you can’t go wrong with any of these veggie burger recipes. Want to keep it totally plant-based? Top your burger with a slice of vegan cheese.

Make Meat Your Side

Not ready to give up meat just yet? That’s totally fine! Something that’s helped me dial back my meat consumption without giving it up entirely is making meat a garnish instead of the star of the meal. Some delicious ways to try this? Try this Creamy Hummus With Spiced Ground Beef or Grilled Mushroom-Beef Burgers—you’ll still get some of that protein and taste, but with a healthier helping of produce.

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