There’s no shortage of information available about how adopting a whole food plant-based lifestyle is not only good for the environment, but also optimal for our health. But still, there are so many of us who, despite our own desire to make healthy choices, just can’t seem to take the plunge. What’s holding us back?
For many, it’s the fear of missing out on some of our favorite classic dishes once we’re no longer eating meat. What’s a Sunday dinner without Spaghetti Bolognese or a summer Saturday without a BBQ?
The great news is, you don’t have to stop making memories or miss out on your favorite flavors just because you’re skipping the meat! Sound crazy? Allow us to explain.
It’s all in the flavor! And it doesn’t all come from the meat.
If we’re being honest, the appeal in our favorite meat dishes is rarely the meat itself. We love meatballs in an amazing marinara sauce, and what’s a beef stew without a thick, hearty broth filled with potatoes and veggies? While you could eat a plain burger patty, why on Earth would you skimp on pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and special sauce?
If our favorite meaty classics are truly the sum of their parts, why are we so hung up on just that one part? More importantly, why are we giving enough power to one ingredient to prevent us from doing the best possible thing for ourselves and our health?
Fake meat vs. whole foods
Now you may say, “Great, I’m sold!” and run out to buy a cartful of processed meat substitutes. “That’s easy!” You think. “I’ll get an Impossible Burger or pick up some ‘Chik’n’ Nuggets.”
Sure, processed meat substitutes may feel like a no-brainer swap, but why make a healthful choice like removing meat from your lifestyle and replace it with heavily-processed foods?
Making vegetarian or even vegan choices is excellent for your health, but the best way to heal and support your body is by eating whole food plant-based meals. Artificial meat substitutes are full of preservatives and additives that just aren’t good for us. Many processed meat substitutes actually contain up 6 times more sodium than their animal-based counterparts not to mention artificial coloring, excess sugars and bulking agents.
It’s clear that the healthiest options are whole food plant-based alternatives, but you may still be wondering how you’ll be able to recreate your faves with nothing but fruits and veggies.
It’s all about technique.
The simplest way to invoke the flavors of your favorite meat-forward dishes is to prepare your ingredients in the same way you’d prepare your meats! While it’s true that lentils will never be ground beef, when you lovingly prepare and season your fresh, whole food ingredients, you’ll be able to recreate the flavors and experience you love.
- Seasoning – This one’s a no-brainer- season your food! For Italian dishes, be liberal with oregano, basil, and garlic. With Mexican food, don’t be shy with your cumin or chili seasoning. At the end of the day, food is both fuel and a vessel for flavor. Identifying and nailing down your desired flavor profile allows you to achieve the meat-free entrée of your dreams.
- Marinating– Hand-in-hand with seasoning, don’t shy away from marinating your food. A portobello mushroom marinated in a delicious balsamic vinaigrette is a main dish superstar any day.
- Smoking– This one’s a little more advanced but definitely doable. Just like carnivorous grill masters love to smoke their meats, you can wood smoke any number of ingredients like sweet potatoes, mushrooms, or jackfruit – you name it. Don’t have your own smoker? Try glazing a hot skillet with some maple and chipotle to evoke a smoky flavor.
- Accessorizing! – This is an easy one. Accessorize your dishes! Top that black bean burger with all your favorite condiments. Make a zesty slaw to top your tacos, and don’t forget your sides. Garlic fries, saffron rice, pickled veggies – an amazing, memorable meal is made up of all its components, not just the star.
Whole food plant-based swaps
Now that you’re thoroughly convinced, here’s a short list of some whole food plant-based substitutes for some of your favorite foods.
Pulled Meat or BBQ– Both oyster mushrooms and under-ripened jackfruit are great swaps for carnitas or pulled BBQ. Oyster mushrooms have a hearty texture and can be pulled similarly to pork or chicken, while jackfruit’s stringy texture is a perfect swap!
- Beef Stew– Mushrooms or tofu are great options for a beefless stew on a cold night.
- Ground Beef– Lentils are a hearty and nutritious addition to any sauce whether poured over spaghetti or even in your favorite lasagna. They can be also shaped into “meat” balls fit for any Italian feast.
- Burgers– Black beans are a vegan burger staple. They can be mixed with a number of other ingredients and seasoning blends to provide a hearty, protein rich patty fit for any summer barbeque.
At Whole Harvest Kitchen, we want to provide a nutritious and delicious options for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s why we offer an extensive menu of 100% whole food plant-based meals including classic comfort food favorites!
We’re so excited to share our deep and flavorful whole food plant-based entrees when our first restaurant opens in late ’23 in Kansas City! Visit our website to sign up for our mailing list and be the first to know when we open!
Wherever you are on your whole food plant-based journey, there’s no such thing as too much education. If you’re curious about whether whole food plant-based
Every day, growing numbers of people switch to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. It’s hardly a brand-new concept, so why does it suddenly feel like