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Is Going Plant-Based an All-or-Nothing Proposition When It Comes to Quitting Meat? An RD Weighs In

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It’s no secret that eating more veggies is key to a healthy diet. But exactly how dedicated to the green stuff do you need to be?

With the growing popularity of eating styles that eschew meat in favor of plants (vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, oh my), you might be wondering if a “more is more” mentality is the right way to go when it comes to boosting your vegetable intake for the sake of your health.

That’s why we teamed up with Lightlife to get the scoop on all your most pressing plant-based questions (including whether you can eat meat on a plant-based diet), and registered dietitian Vanessa Rissetto, MS, RD, CDN had the answers.

According to Rissetto, eating more plants is, in fact, a ticket to an overall health boost (namely because more plants mean more fiber, more satiety, and more gut support, to name a few benefits), but that doesn’t mean you need to ditch animal products entirely.

“People think plant based means you can’t eat meat, chicken, or fish,” Rissetto says. “Plant based means eating mostly plants and beans as your source of protein, but high biological value protein (coming from animals) is also allowed.”

Okay so some animal products in moderation are still cool (that sound you hear is meat lovers taking a collective sigh of relief), but exactly how much?

A good rule of thumb to follow is to aim for two meatless meals per day.

By Rissetto’s standards, you can eat meat on a plant-based diet as long as you’re making an effort to reduce your intake and opting for plants as your primary fuel source when possible. (Of course, if you want to take your plant-based diet a step further and go vegetarian or vegan, that means you’d forgo meat altogether and only allow dairy products if you’re vegetarian.)

What that reduction looks like will vary from person to person (and how much meat you eat is ultimately up to you—it is your diet after all), but a good rule of thumb is to aim for two meatless meals per day.

“For example, if you’re eating animal protein at every meal—eggs for breakfast, chicken for lunch, steak for dinner—switch to oats for breakfast and chickpeas and greens for lunch, but keep the meat for dinner,” Rissetto says. “However, instead of eight ounces [of steak], decrease to three ounces, plus additional greens. To me, then that is considered to be plant-based.”

If you’re looking to switch up your sources of protein, plant-based proteins can come in clutch—especially if you’re hesitant about ditching the ground beef on your taco salad or a juicy burger off the grill. Subbing Lightlife Plant-Based Ground or Burgers gets you 20 grams of protein from real, recognizable ingredients like peas and beets, with all the savory deliciousness your tastebuds crave. So you can have your burger and eat it too on a plant-based diet—just as long as it’s usually a plant-based one.

Top photo: Stocksy/Tatjana Zlatkovic

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