What You’ll Do: Meat, like dairy, is really not that good for you. Meat provides your body with protein, but not much else. Meat contains saturated fats (the bad fats), chemicals, hormones and other things that your body doesn’t need. Nuts, on the other hand, contain protein as well as good fats. Nuts also contain omega-3 essential fatty acids that help regulate your cholesterol and may improve your brain functioning.
How It Works: Vegetarians have the healthiest arteries of anyone. If you want to eat healthier, you’ll need to eat less meat. This week, you’ll reduce one protein source (meat) and replace it with another (nuts). This will help keep your protein in balance while greatly improving your arteries.
Get Motivated: Some people have real difficulty cutting back on meat –- nothing seems like a meal to them unless there is meat involved. If that describes you, this week may be tough. Get ready and be determined to try this for at least a week.
Continue to double your vegetables and eliminate dairy while you:
- Demote Meat: Meat has been the center attraction in your diet for too long. It is time for vegetables to be the main course. Think of meat as a side dish, an accessory for your veggie stir-fry, if you will. Use no more than half the amount of meat you are used to eating, opting only for low-fat meats like chicken and pork. If you can, eliminate meat entirely from your diet this week.
- Go Nuts: Nuts are a great source of both protein and healthy fats. Eat walnuts, almonds, and pecans. These are high calories, but also provide your body with excellent nutritional essentials. Nuts are the perfect snack. Learn to love them unsalted and in their pure form.
- Remove all temptation. Get a big garbage bag and throw away all the lunch meat (the preservatives!), frozen chicken parts, ground beef or other foods that might tempt you. Have a meat-free kitchen for one week. Instead of throwing the items away, you can also consider giving them to a friend, if you wish.
- Go on a shopping spree. You can find good nuts in almost every grocery store now. Try to find a place that roasts and toasts them onsite. Nuts can be expensive, but one week's worth of purchases shouldn't dent your wallet too badly. Buy whichever nuts sound good to you. You can also buy freshly-ground almond butter, which tastes great (try it with a little bit of honey).
- Put nuts everywhere. Have little bags of nuts in your car, at your desk, around your home. Eat a few when you are hungry. They do have a lot of calories, though, so be careful about eating too many at one time. A handful per sitting is a good amount to aim for.
- Examine your “likes” and “dislikes.” If you think, “I don’t like nuts” or “I need meat,” then you will make this diet very difficult and increase your chance of failure. Billions of people in the world like and eat nuts and mostly vegetables. There is nothing wrong with how these foods taste, it's just that you might need to give them more of a shot to fairly determine if you really like them (or which ones are your favorite). Suspend any negative attitudes you may have toward these foods for a week.
- Stand up for your health. Your family members may be supportive of your new diet, or they may try to undermine it. You must stand up to them if they are not helpful. This is not selfish – you are doing this so you can live longer and spend more time with your family. You are doing this to have more energy and feel better to make your home and family happier. Be strong and just do it. Take things one week at a time. After a couple of days, they’ll be used to it.
Beans are another great meat-free source of protein. Beans are a very healthy food. Tofu (soy beans) can add protein to vegetable dishes without altering the taste. Lentils, while not beans (they're legumes), are also good sources of protein. Try making some soups or ordering bean-based dishes in restaurants. Be careful of refried beans, though -- they are often made with lard.