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A Flexible Approach to Vegetarian Eating

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

For the 40th Canadian Nutrition Month, dietitians across Canada will help you Unlock the Potential of Food and discover Ingredients for a Healthier Tomorrow. It is about the ways we can create sustainable change when it comes to food systems. We can focus on ways that ensure people have access to culturally appropriate, quality affordable food to boost our health and the health of our planet. One approach of eating to incorporate all these factors is plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, and more, in our diets. Eating plant-forward does not mean completely avoiding meat, fish, and other animal products. But simply, prioritizing plant options more often. By eating in a plant-forward manner, we can create an infinite number of culturally appropriate dishes made with traditional ingredients and spices, that are affordable, nutritious, and more sustainably produced.

Are you ready to add more vegetarian options to your routine?

Check out these 5 plant-based tips for making plant-forward choices:

  • Take it slow: Eating more vegetarian options doesn’t happen overnight! Try starting off with Meatless Mondays, where you go one meal or one whole day without eating meat, whatever matches your goal. Try finding substitutes for your favourite meat dishes. For example, if you really enjoy a nice Spaghetti Bolognese, try swapping the ground beef for red lentils (or even a mix of red lentils and minced mushroom for a meaty texture). Start off slow and when you get more comfortable and confident, your choices will become that much easier!

  • Explore new recipes: One of the greatest things about vegetarian eating is that there are recipes from all cultures and cuisines that we can enjoy. Alongside finding swaps for some of your favourite dishes, try searching for vegetarian recipes with new ingredients and spices to expand your palate. Try asking friends and family for some of their favourite recipes, or ask Google “what vegetarian meal should I make tonight?” There is an endless list of delicious recipes at your fingertips and in your kitchen.

  • Discover the world of pulses: Pulses (such as beans, lentils, and peas) are great sources of protein, fibre, iron, and other vitamins and minerals that nourish our bodies. There are many kinds of pulses that you can discover in your kitchen. You can cook them (or buy them canned) and add them to your salads, chili, and pasta sauces; you can roast them and use them as croutons or snacks; you can blend them and make dips, like hummus. Pulses are versatile and they absorb any flavour you add to them!

  • Pay attention to key nutrients: As you start to make more plant-based choices, it’s important to keep key nutrients in mind so you aren’t missing anything. Especially for longer-term, it’s important to focus on getting enough protein, iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D. To make this easier, look at the nutrition labels on packaged foods and opt for products that are richer in these nutrients (hint: if the label has 15% or more of a nutrient, it is a great choice). It is possible to get all the nutrients you need from a plant-based diet, it just takes some practice.

  • Opt for nutrient-rich choices: One big misconception about vegetarian eating is that all vegetarian options are “healthy.” While many options are incredibly nutritious, products like imitation meats, desserts, and sodas aren’t as nutritious when eaten regularly. So, enjoy foods in moderation, and opt for nutrient-rich options more often, to nourish your body.

Eating sustainably has become a big topic of conversation, and Flexitarian eating can be a great way to enjoy the foods we love, explore new ones, and be mindful of our planet. If you’re interested in learning about more ways to begin a plant-based journey, sign up for The 30-Day Flexitarian Challenge!

During this challenge, you’ll team up with a FSEAP Registered Dietitian who will support you and guide you toward reaching your nutrition goals. Whether you want to dip your toe and be flexitarian for 30 days or go all the way vegetarian for the 30 days, this challenge offers the opportunity to learn and create lifelong habits. Having a FSEAP Registered Dietitian in your corner can not only help you make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need but can also provide you personalized recommendations to your lifestyle and help you stay accountable and motivated.

The 30-Day Flexitarian Challenge

This March, sign up for the 30-Day Flexitarian Challenge. Your FSEAP Registered Dietitian will tailor a nutrition plan to your needs and guide you with tips and resources to help you succeed!

In this 30-Day Flexitarian Challenge, you will:

  • Establish your main goal and learn how to break it into manageable tasks.

  • Discuss your progress with your FSEAP Registered Dietitian in 30-minute weekly conversations.

  • Be supported and coached throughout the entire 30-day journey.

  • Receive practical information, recipes and mindful tips to keep you motivated, focused and successful!

Challenge Accepted? Call FSEAP to sign up for The 30-Day Flexitarian Challenge, or to find out about the Nutrition Counselling Services.


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