Moderation is a key element to how I live my life.  I try to workout every day in some shape or form but it doesn’t have to be in the gym, it doesn’t have to be the hardest workout every time or the longest run each night.  This goes for my nutritional philosophy as well.  I don’t cut out all alcohol or never have pizza but I make sure that the indulgences are small and spaced apart.  Moderation also extends into eating occasional healthy, lean meat.  There is a lot of evidence that giving up chicken and red meat would be incredibly healthy for me.  I also get a bunch of questions from clients and friends asking whether or not they themselves should go vegetarian or vegan to create their own healthiest lifestyle versions.  For that reason, I have searched and tried to find every alternative to traditional meats so I could find my own answers to this great debate!


So if you’re looking for a healthy alternative, interested in a new lifestyle or simply curious, here is a great start to that search!


1: Seitan:  At is very root, seitan is flavored gluten.  Taking the protein from wheat and adding in the spices that you want your food to be flavored with.  If you have some gluten intolerances, this may not be your most comfortable option.  It does have a great meaty texture!


2: Tofu: This is a very common word for everyone considering or practicing veganism.  Tofu is made from soy beans and honestly, is kind of made like cheese.  It’s versatile, nutrient dense and cheap.  Watch out for the sodium in the heavily processed versions! If you get your own, plain tofu and season it yourself, you’ll be much better off. Bonus: tofu has its own festival.


3: Lentils: Another great nutrient dense food from plants, lentils are beans/legumes and are a great option to get good plant protein and an excellent source of fiber.  This food can really land a healthy punch instead of your pasta options which have much less fiber within their carbohydrate profile. 


4: Portobello Mushrooms – A longtime go-to when you’re itching for a burger!  As long as you have a smart mushroom farmer and she exposes the mushroom to a little UV/sunlight, you’ll end up with a daily serving of vitamin D in a serving of mushrooms!


5: Cauliflower – This is one of those dreaded childhood vegetables that deserves its time in the spotlight now that you’re older and more knowledgeable.  They might not be as nutrient dense as the previous all-stars in this list but if you’re looking for a mix-up of your main ingredient then don’t look further! Great for dinner when you take a large cut and make it into a steak.  It’s all about the seasonings and a little skillet time and you have yourself a nutty, dense and delicious meal. 


With just a little bit of preparation these 5 powerhouse foods will give you the motivation to give up the meat! However, there’s always another way.  Somewhere out there, someone has done all the work for you and all you need is a quick trip into the microwave.  Looking for an easy meategetarian (see what I did there?) dinner is on the radar of quite a few modern, busy adults.  Try these out and make sure that you read the labels in back.  Sodium in processed foods adds up quick!


1: Gardein – A smorgasbord of different faux meat options will make you feel like you entered a grocery store for the first time.  Options are everywhere!


2: Morningstar – Another plant protein company that’s made its way into a bunch more stores and has been around for a while (1970s!).  They’ve been through GMOs and soy arguments and still adjust their brand to reflect the current veggie lifestyle.


3: Amy’s – Another great option as long as you keep yourself informed of the ingredients.  Never just trust the “healthy” signage on the front of any frozen box.  Watch for high sodium and sugars but try this brand out.  I’m pretty sure they have more frozen meal options than weightwatchers.


With just some simple modifications, you too can try out the meatless approach.  Just doing this on Mondays is its own phenomenon!  So go ahead and change your routine this week, try out meatless Monday and have a go at these high nutrient options!