Regardless of your dietary preferences, lentils and beans are a real powerhouse of nutrition for everyone.

And if you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, then they are particularly important to include in your meals on a regular basis.

Whenever I can, I really enjoy sharing inspiration for meat-free meals. Even if you’re not vegetarian, it’s a great idea to designate one or two days per week where you don’t include meat in your meals. I can understand that it’s not always easy. It takes a bit of grocery planning and discipline. But I promise you that once you get into the swing of it, you will have fun coming up with healthy meal ideas for your meat-free days. More importantly, your body and sense of well being will be impacted in a positive way.

It takes a lot longer for your body to digest meat and fatty foods compared to plant-based foods. In general, consuming less than 30 grams of fiber per day is associated with slower transit times, while eating more fibre helps move food through your intestines at a more rapid rate. In general, vegetarians consume more fibre than meat-eaters likely because plant foods are the only sources of dietary fibre. Faster movement of food through the gut promotes a healthier colon.

Most animal products do, however, deliver the most complete protein sources available. They typically contain all the essential amino acids, whereas plant foods require greater variety to get all of the essential amino acids.

On the other hand, scientific research indicates that plant food proteins are more digestible than animal proteins. More stomach acid secretion and more bile synthesis and secretion, and more pancreatic enzyme secretion is required to digest meats, and all of these “mores” mean digestive energy, digestive process, and digestive complexity. On top of the added energy requirements and digestive complexity, animal products are generally more acidic. This also puts additional stress on the pancreas to secrete sufficient enzymes to buffer the acids.

Furthermore, research has shown that plant protein is not, as some have thought, less usable by the body than animal protein. It is not only “as usable” but more easily digestible, generally less acidic and comes with added benefits such as fibre, healthier fats and other nutrients.

Recipe link: So here’s this week’s meat-free recipe to inspire your meal planning.

We had this salad for dinner last night and it’s absolutely delicious! Packed with high quality plant protein from the lentils, chickpeas and tofu. Very satisfying and highly nutritious with lots of protein, fibre, vitamins A C K, iron, folate and many other phytonutrients.

This recipe makes 2 generous sized dinner portions or 3 smaller ones. Each serving contains approx. 25 grams of protein.