In a region where beef often is what’s for dinner, it’s hard to make the case for vegetables, much less convince people to forgo meat altogether.
However, heart disease and obesity are problems of epidemic proportions in America, so more people are finding ways to cut down their meat intake. One way to do this is to make vegetables the star attraction of the dinner plate.
Lexi Moore, a volunteer with Goode Food-Delivered, has been a vegetarian since she was 19 but is engaged to a meat eater. She knows it’s difficult to embrace meat-free meals, so she’s glad that many vegetables are hearty enough to fill you up without feeling like you’re missing something.
“Once you broaden the idea of a satisfying meal, the possibilities for a main course (are) endless,” she says.
Mushrooms, eggplant, squash and cauliflower are a few examples of vegetables that can hold their own in an entree. They tend to have a thicker, “meatier” texture and absorb whatever savory flavors they are paired with. Barley, quinoa and other grains also are filling without having added fat or cholesterol.
Hy-Vee dietitian Sheri Caldwell says that while every food group has nutritional benefits, the bulk of a human diet should be centered around fruits and vegetables. In some cases, plant-based diets have been proven to reduce inflammation, reverse signs of kidney and heart disease and even slow tumor growth.
“People who eat a variety of grains, vegetables and fruits may have protective benefits against certain diseases and conditions,” she says.