Going plant-based on occasion doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to juicy hamburgers or smoky chargrilled steaks forever. Plant-based meals are often rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which allow you to achieve a more balanced diet when combined with the occasional meat dishes.
Just take a look (and perhaps a leaf) from the Okinawan and Mediterranean diets – those unique diets with an emphasis on plant-based foods that have produced some of the world’s oldest and healthiest people. Meats and sweets are only had occasionally in both blue-zone diets. Adults on either diet have lesser chances of developing heart-related diseases and diabetes, while staving off weight gain and cognitive decline.
Need an extra nudge to move towards a more plant-based food approach? Here’s how plant-based meals can benefit your heart, body and mind:
Layer a patty with lettuce, tomato and pickles for a fresh, zesty crunch. Photo: unMEAT
Plant-based foods with high fiber, lower cholesterol and saturated fats can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 16% and death from it by 30% (Journal of the American Heart Association, 2019). In contrast, the high levels of salt and saturated fats in red and processed meats increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 18% for every 50 g higher daily intake for processed meats such as bacon and sausages and 9% for red meats like beef and lamb (Critical reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2021).
Switching your white buns to whole grain burger buns plus beef patties to plant-based patties like unMEAT Burger Patties can go a long way to keeping your heart happy. Unlike normal meats, their burger patties are trans-fat free, cholesterol-free while high in protein and fiber. You can also layer your burger with a heart-healthy avocado smash that’s brimming with good monounsaturated fats.
This flavorful Chinese-style yam rice is wholesome and tasty enough to eat on its own. Photo: Asian Food Network
There’s no point in living to a ripe old age if you’re stuck in bed all day. Ask the spritely centenarians in Okinawa, Japan or Ikaria, Greece what’s their secret to their active senior years and they would probably hand you a sack of sweet potatoes or a head of broccoli. Vegetables play a big part of the blue-zone diet, and adhering to such a diet can lower the risk of all causes of death by up to 25% (British Journal of Nutrition, 2018).
Munch on unMEAT’s finger-licking nuggets that are 100% plant-based and cholesterol-free. Photo: unMEAT
Shifting to a mostly plant-based diet can reduce your “bad” cholesterol – the ones that clog up the walls of your blood vessels (American Journal of Cardiology, 2009), and the fiber content of plants also help to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Vegan diets are particularly good at reducing blood sugars and cholesterol levels (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009). Reap these plant-based benefits without sacrificing your favorite snacks by swapping out fried chicken nuggets with meat-free, 100% plant-based and cholesterol-free unMEAT Nuggets for a more balanced diet free of preservatives.
Other yummy options include vegan versions of popular dishes like One Pan Vegan Krapao Fried Rice and Sate Tempe Pedas Manis (Sweet and Spicy Skewered Tempe).
This rich Broccoli Spinach Soup uses a variety of vegetables to thicken the soup, with just a tablespoon of sour cream: Photo: Asian Food Network
Chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases including diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Plant-rich diets which include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seafood like the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower levels on inflammation (Advances in Nutrition, 2018), with particular vegetables and herbs like turmeric, ginger, spinach and collards being exceptionally anti-inflammatory.
Reducing inflammation also reduces your chances of getting high-blood pressure, so why not load up on these goodies with herbalicious plant-based meals like Healthy Broccoli Spinach Soup and Turmeric Cauli Rice?
unMEAT’s Burger Patties, a soy-based protein burger, uses much less water than a regular hamburger. Generally, soy-based patties take about 150 litres water to create. Photo: unMEAT
Imagine this – a third of the world’s water goes to the meat and dairy industry alone, and reducing our meat and dairy consumption can go a long way on preserving our natural resources and combating global warming. It takes a staggering 2000 liters of water to make a single quarter-pound hamburger patty, while a soy-based protein burger like unMEAT’s Burger Patties, for instance, generally takes around 150 liters of water to create.
You don’t have to give up meat altogether, but just enjoying a Meatless Monday or going meat-free once a week can have great consequences for the environment. According to Earth Day Network, if all of the USA skips meat and dairy once a week, the impact would be equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
Plant the best food (or foot) forward by including more plant-based options in your meals – you’ll help save the Earth for future generations while enjoying a more balanced diet!