Why & How to Choose Healthy, Meat-Free Snacks
Eating meat free may sound daunting at first, but — contrary to what you might think — tasty, meatless foods do exist in abundance. And not only do they taste great, but they’re also good for your health.
Whether you already follow a meat-free diet and need some fresh ideas or you’re simply curious about trying meat-free snacks, you’re in the right place! There are plenty of delicious meatless options out there, and plenty of reasons to choose them over their meat-centric alternatives.
Read on to learn more about the health benefits of choosing meat-free snacks, as well as some meatless snack ideas to try.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, eating a lot of meat — especially red meat and other processed meats — can increase certain health risks. Furthermore, any nutrients you would get from consuming those meats, such as iron, calcium, and other vitamins, you can find easily in other plant-based sources.
Conversely, while certain health benefits aren’t guaranteed, transitioning to a meat-free diet has been linked to reduced risk of health issues like heart disease and even cancer. Eating meat-free is especially beneficial if you’re intentional in planning your meat-free diet to ensure that you get enough key nutrients.
Plant-based diets also tend to prioritize more healthy ingredients such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans, leading to overall healthier eating than a typical meat-centric diet might supply.
Considerations for Meat-free Snacking
Keep in mind that simply removing the meat from your snacks doesn’t automatically make said snacks healthy. You’ll need to replace the meat with healthy, nutrient-packed ingredients, especially ones containing protein, iron, calcium, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin D.
You’ll also want to avoid replacing the meat with other unhealthy choices like processed foods, sweets, and other junk food. Instead, choose whole grains, plant-based sources of protein and other nutrients, and, of course, fruits and veggies.
Delicious Meat-free Snack Ideas
If you’re resisting the idea of meat-free snacks because you’re worried about losing out on flavor, worry no more! The following snacks are not only meat-free, but also great-tasting and packed with the vitamins and nutrients that you need in a meat-free diet.
Pig Out Pigless Pork Rinds
Yes, you read that right. These are pork rinds with no pork involved. In fact, they have no meat at all — and no gluten, GMOs, soy, or trans fats, for that matter. What they do have is bold, addictive flavor and lots of protein.
Roasted chickpeas give you a satisfying crunch, lots of nutrients, and plenty of delicious options. Flavor them to your taste (but go easy on the salt), and you might just find yourself craving this healthy choice instead of potato chips.
If you think tofu is tasteless and boring, think again. The thing to remember about tofu is that it absorbs whatever flavors you put on it — so flavor it well! Try baking bite-size tofu cubes with your choice of sauce or seasoning for a high-protein, meat-free snack that just might convert you to a tofu lover.
For another flavorful, meat-free dish that doesn’t lose out on protein, stuff some mushrooms with your favorite veggies, spices, and any other healthy ingredients you want to add. Many mushroom varieties have a natural meat-like flavor, so they’re a great choice to help you phase meat out of your diet.
Cut Back on Meat, Not Flavor
Whatever your reason for eating meat-free, there are plenty of ways for you to get all the necessary nutrients without sacrificing any flavor. Use these meatless snack ideas as a jumping-off point from which to explore the wide world of meat-free snacking, and you’ll likely find you have no desire to turn back.