March is nutrition month and the Dietitians of Canada plan and implement unique themes and campaigns each year for the occasion. This year the theme is in making small changes, one meal at a time.

It may be overwhelming to consider changing your eating habits or creating a meal plan in an attempt to adopt a healthier lifestyle, however, making a simple and subtle change can be relatively easy. An example of a small change you can make is to substitute a typical meat -based dinner with a vegetarian dish, or committing to make one day per week a vegetarian, meatless day.

Eat Right Ontario suggests that going meatless once a week offers many protective benefits. In addition, The Healthy People 2010 report recommends lowering consumption of meat by 12%, which conveniently works out to be one day per week of meatless eating. These recommendations are given because of the potential health benefits of exchanging meat with other nutrient rich foods such as vegetables, which contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Another major benefit of this small change in diet is decreasing intakes of saturated fat, which may, in high quantities, increase your chance of heart disease and stroke. In addition to the nutritional benefits of meatless meals, the Food and Agricultural Organization suggests that consuming a plant-based diet can be beneficial for the environment through fewer greenhouse gas emissions used in meat production. If you are concerned about the potential loss of protein from your diet, there are plenty of plant-based foods that are packed with high quality protein such as soy (tofu, edamame, soy milk), and quinoa. An example of a quick and easy vegetarian stir-fry is shown below. Other examples of vegetarian meals include curried lentils, sweet potatoes, cauliflower dishes, a mango black bean salad, and a quinoa lentil pilaf.

For these recipes and to learn even more information about eating vegetarian visit eatrightontario.ca.

By: Allison Brown, Dietetic Intern

References:

1) http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-Month/Campaign-Plans.aspx
2)http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/going-meatless
3)http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/training-and-recovery/building-muscle/build-muscle-no-steak-required
4)https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Recipes/Vegetarian/Sweet-Chili-Tofu-Stir-Fry.aspx#.VjjQm7TKYlI