Western diets are notoriously lacking in abundant portions of vegetables. The rule of thumb is that half your dinner plate should be filled with vegetables. One quarter of the plate should be reserved for the starch, and the last quarter of the plate is for the protein source [be it vegan or animal].
Too many Americans fill half their plates with animal protein, and the other half is shared by the starch and vegetable which are often laden with butter, oil, and/or salad dressing. This style of eating is a risk factor for “the diseases of affluence,” a term coined by Cornell’s T. Colin Campbell, PhD in his famous book, The China Study. Those diseases are Type II diabetes, certain cancers, obesity, and heart disease. These assaults on quality and length of life are now thought to be caused by changes in our microbiomes, triggered by the way we choose to eat. If we fertilize our countless bacterial colonies with vegetable-rich diets, friendlier strains of bacteria flourish, keeping us in a healthier state of being.
The following are suggestions for incorporating vegetables in our diets as we reduce the amount of animal protein. Stir canned pumpkin into marinara sauce, or stir it into pudding or soups. Spread baba ganoush [eggplant spread] or hummus on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise. Add finely chopped celery and carrots to salmon or tuna salad. Add frozen, riced cauliflower to pasta and/or potato dishes. Make a large pot of vegetable or bean soup, adding the canned pumpkin or riced vegetables to the usual ingredients. Try preparing stew-like ethnic dishes from India, Mexico, Ethiopia and Morocco.
I suspect you will enjoy eating adventurously and colorfully. And, your health may well reflect the positive changes you make.
Dateline: Latham, Albany County, New York