7 meatless meal ideas

Think beyond the butcher section and try these tasty and satisfying food ideas.

Meat doesn't have to be the only source of protein in your diet. In fact, studies show that eating red meat and processed meat can increase your risk of developing heart disease and cancer.

Since meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and grains, they offer many nutrients, including protein. Eggs and low-fat dairy foods also are good protein sources. Eating a variety of these foods throughout the day can give you all the essential amino acids — the building blocks of protein — that your body needs. In addition, protein from meatless sources can be just as filling. Another bonus: Buying less meat can also help you spend less on food, as meat usually costs more than its healthy alternatives.

Meatless recipes can offer a world of enjoyable possibilities, including some fun meals from international cuisines. Start exploring your meatless options — and your cooking creativity — with these ideas:

  1. Substitute part or all of the meat with extra vegetables when making lasagna, pasta and stews.
  2. Order a mushroom and cheese or veggie pizza.
  3. Stir-fry vegetables with tofu instead of meat.
  4. Make vegetable kebabs.
  5. Choose bean burritos or tacos.
  6. Make chili or spaghetti sauce with soy-based vegetable crumbles instead of ground meat.
  7. Grill portobello mushrooms in place of hamburgers.

Instead of building your meals by focusing on meat, think about the colorful and satisfying meals you can create by starting with vegetables and whole grains.

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