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The Healthiest Foods to Eat When You Take Meat Off Your Plate


It’s not always easy for everyone to give up meat. Over the years, our culture has taught us that meat is a necessary and normal part of the human diet. Luckily, that’s all changing very quickly as we learn the damaging effects of animal proteins (especially from meat) in the body, and as we learn more and more through research that it’s not essential to eat a healthy diet. In fact, meat contributes to a variety of health problems it’s time to start addressing with ease, knowledge, and a fearless attitude in what we might have to change about our lifestyles and ways of thinking.


Meat reduction and elimination has been linked to lower risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, digestion problems, inflammation, high cholesterol, and more. Meat consumption is also one of the leading causes of antibiotic resistance in our food supply and a large contributor to unhealthy offerings at fast food and supermarket chains everywhere. While you could easily go to a doctor and get a medication to treat one of these health issues above, consistently eating an unhealthy diet will eventually lead to problems.

Why Going Meatless is a Win for Your Health

Instead of masking the problem and bandaging the symptoms, we’ve got to start treating the problem directly. That starts with our ability and privilege to choose what we eat every single day. We do have a choice and it’s much easier than we realize.

However, giving up meat doesn’t mean turning to unhealthy meat alternatives or just eating vegan junk food. It means turning to real foods that supply the body with essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals to not only improve the heart, blood, and immune system, but also keep your energy up and digestion working well. All of these are key to a healthy body.

Let’s take a look at some of the top foods to eat once the meat is off your plate …

1. Complete Plant-Based Proteins


For those concerned with protein, don’t sweat it … it’s really easy to get enough of in a plant-based diet. Most people know this, but some still worry they’ll come up short. Though all foods have protein, we should focus on at least eating 1-2 complete protein sources a day, then adding in other sources (even if not complete) throughout the rest of the day. Some of the best options of complete protein include: tofu, tempeh, hemp protein, quinoa, chia, amaranth, buckwheat, spirulina, and whole soybeans (edamame).  These are much better alternatives and sourced from whole foods versus chalky protein bars or overly processed veggie burgers (here’s how to pick a good one if you enjoy them). Try all of our protein-rich recipes for many types of meal ideas and more.

2. Nutrient Dense Greens

kalesalad (1)

Kale isn’t just trendy and spinach wasn’t tied to Popeye all for marketing (not completely, anyway). Nutrient-dense greens satisfy the body like no other food, they heal and repair, and ultimately, they prevent disease. You cook them, eat them raw, juice them, blend them, whatever you want. Stir-frying greens is a great way to enjoy them when you first give up meat, especially with some garlic, onion, maybe some lentils or beans, or some quinoa. It makes a smoky, rich dish that really satisfies and heals the body. Or, try this protein-rich kale salad that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and satisfaction. Don’t focus on what you can’t have … focus on adding foods that you can and are choosing to have instead. Choose leafy greens — they never disappoint.

3. Meaty Veggies


Meaty veggies are important to keep on hand because they have a dense, chewy texture and provide amazing flavors to your food. Artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are all some of the best. These foods are also rich in vitamins and minerals your body needs for good health and can help support detoxification that happens when the body quits eating meat. These foods are also great sources of fiber to improve cholesterol and all offer anti-cancer support. Here’s some more tips to add heft and heartiness to your meals when you give up meat that really work wonders!

4. Mineral-Rich Foods


Mineral rich foods include all foods that are high in magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, copper, and more. Magnesium is crucial to optimal energy levels along with muscle repair, lowering blood pressure, digestive regularity, and optimizing your mood. Iron is essential to a healthy metabolism and is quite simple to get enough of on a plant-based diet. Calcium can keep your nails strong, prevents bone loss, and unlike calcium found in animal sources, plant-based options don’t cause inflammation. Eat these mineral-rich foods: almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, mulberries, quinoa, amaranth, teff, oats, walnuts, raisins, goji berries, millet, flax, kale, spinach, broccoli, beans, legumes, bananas, figs, dates, oranges, cacao, avocado, and coconut. Talk about variety!

5. Healthy Fats


Healthy fats support the body’s membranes and can help relieve inflammation, along with keep insulin levels healthy. Research has shown that insulin increases with a higher intake of low fiber, high carbohydrate foods and improves when a moderate amount of healthy fats are eaten. The key is to choose the right type of fats that offer anti-inflammatory properties to the body. Healthy fats from plant-based sources include: avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, olives (or olive oil), durian and acai fruit. Healthy fats satisfy the palate, the brain, lower the glycemic response, and add texture and flavor to meals, even in just a couple tablespoons per serving. See our Plant-Based Nutrition 101 Guide: Healthy Fats for more tips, recipes, and info on plant-based fat options.

The Main Focus: Eat Whole Foods


Instead of focusing on just certain foods to eat, overall, base your diet off whole foods as much as you can. They’re more filling than processed foods and will reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods that so often accompany our cravings for meat and animal products (especially if you eat out at restaurants, fast food joints, or eat junk food where sodium and oils are commonly added to enhance the taste). Your taste buds can and will adapt to whatever you choose to eat. The cravings go away and eventually, you learn to love new foods. And in the process, before you realize it, you’re a much healthier (and happier!) you. Not to mention, the world, animals, and even food cost production also benefit too.

Let’s shift our focus away from meat as the main source of fuel for our bodies. When you think about it, we don’t need to go through an animal to get the nutrients that come straight from nature. Also, be sure you check out our Meatless Monday ideas for the Beginner Cook for menu suggestions and more. What will you make first without the meat?

Lead Image Source: Meatless No-Fu Love Loaf

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0 comments on “The Healthiest Foods to Eat When You Take Meat Off Your Plate”

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Rick Bauer
3 Years Ago

I quote a friend of mine, a published fitness author and nutritionist, "Vegan diets are fine as long as you add meat to it."

12 May 2015

Your friend is very uninformed and not at all as funny as you and he/she thinks.

Beverley Estes
05 Sep 2017

I have been allergic to fruit or should I say the sugar in it as it makes my throat close. So I have eaten very little fruit, pop, candy or any kind of sugar, fack or any kind. I am allergic to milk but can have butter as it is the fat of the milk. I can not eat almost any fats. I can have olive oil, butter, and the other two I can not remember. I do not eat pork, or any food God call unclean. I eat fish about 3 times a week. I am a nutrition and Home Ec. Teacher and found a book called "Eating according to your blood type and then watched students get well as they chose to go on the diet. Evey one can not eat the same thing. I read that there are several things we do to gain wight. One is eating what we are allergic to. I got Malaria in Africa and died and the LORD raised me from the dead and when I got on the medical Air plane to be taken back to America the LORD said "Eat anything green. Then I found in the Bible that God said "I gave you the HERB\'s of the field for your medican.. I broke my leg in 5 places and I ate a T. of herbs every meal and went back to the Dr. for my next apt. in 10 days and he caom into my room and said "What did you do your bones are all healed.? I just pointed to heaven and said don\'t I have a good Dr. He just laughted and said I guess you do.

3 Years Ago

Uhh, maybe just stick with eating meat.

12 May 2015

Why? There is no need to consume rotting carcass!

Blue Oceans Forever
04 Sep 2017

Why do you feel the need to come on this site and troll? Your negativity isn\'t welcome. Please go eat some more nitrate laden processed rotting corpse. Good bye.

3 Years Ago

Very informative - good foods to help meet nutrient requirements without meat. I take special care of my diet now that I know that diet and exercise work to help cure heart disease and even diabetes, which I learned after reading the 3 step heart cure book (here is a review of it here: http://steamspoils.com/3-Step-Heart-Cure-Review the book is highly recommended.) I still remember when I was ignorant of heart disease, unaware that dizziness and nausea were symptoms. I woke up one morning in April a year ago feeling like someone was pushing down of my chest. I couldn’t get out of my bed. My left arm started to feel heavy, the pain in my chest grew, and I felt an urge to urinate. I had to go to the ER for them to finally tell me I was having a heart attack. They told me I had several blockages and needed a triple heart bypass. I went through the procedure was prescribed a ridiculous amount of meds, as well as told to “eat healthy and exercise often”. But I felt like there was more I could do. That’s when I stumbled on this book and read it cover to cover in one day. The information just made too much sense for me to stop reading. Since adopting the practices of the book, I’m now med free and going all natural to keep my heart ticking. I’ve regained control.


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