Health Tip: Try Eating Vegetarian Sometimes

By Leo Babauta

The simple act of replacing meat with something healthier, like soy protein, can make a big difference to our health. Doing this on a regular basis, perhaps once a week or more, can add up to a lot in the long run. Meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and it’s much better for your body if you can avoid it. I became a vegan last year, and I’ve never eaten healthier. You don’t need to become vegan (although I highly recommend it!) to eat healthier, but trying vegan or vegetarian dishes now and then can be a good and healthy experience.

I suggest trying out an easy-to-make vegetarian dish at first, something simple yet delicious. There are some good soy protein replacements out there, for ground beef, chicken, sausages and more. Like spaghetti? Try using the soy ground round instead of ground beef.

To get you started, I’ll give you one of my favorite, yet easiest to make, vegan recipes. This is my original recipe, so if you like it, you are obliged to close your eyes, and savor the deliciousness.

Zen Habits Three Bean Vegan Chili
1 package Yves Meatless Ground Round (or any vegan ground beef replacement) – optional
one 14.5-oz. can each: black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans
one 14.5-oz. can corn
one 29-oz. can each: stewed tomatoes & tomato sauce
half a yellow onion, diced
half a green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
2-4 cloves garlic, diced (depending on how much you like garlic)
black pepper, salt, chili powder to taste
olive oil

Dice up the veggies first, because the cooking will go fast. On medium high heat, heat up some olive oil, then saute the onions, then the garlic and bell pepper. Throw in the ground beef replacement (still frozen is fine), and let it brown. Add a liberal amount of chili powder and black pepper, and a bit of salt (I never measure, sorry).

Now dump in the beans and corn, one can at a time, stirring as you go along, making sure the bottom doesn’t stick and burn. Add more chili powder and black pepper. Spice it up nice! Throw in the stewed tomatoes, stir, and then dump in the tomato sauce. Done! Lower the heat and let it simmer for as long as you can resist. You can actually eat it right away (prep and cooking time: 10-15 minutes) or you can simmer it for 30 minutes, an hour or more. The longer it simmers, the better the flavors will all mix together. Taste it and spice it as needed. I like to add a lot of chili powder and black pepper. To crank up the heat, feel free to add your favorite red peppers early on in the cooking process.

Serve with brown rice, good bread, or blue corn chips.

This is a favorite at every party, whether people are vegetarian or not. They’re often amazed that it’s vegetarian. Enjoy!