5 Tips to Start a Meatless Diet (Bonus: Earth Day Veg Challenge)!

  All right foodies, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room: we need to eat less meat. It’s no secret that adopting a vegetarian diet can have numerous benefits to your health (including lower cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease and cancer AND better moods), but did you know that eating a plant-based diet is much better for our planet as well? In addition to causing mass deforestation, pollution and contamination of water sources, livestock farming also accounts for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (that’s more than transportation!). Growing fruits and vegetables is also a more efficient use of resources than livestock – it takes the same amount of land resources to feed 16-20 vegetarians as it does a single meat eater!   What’s one of the easiest ways to cut down your carbon footprint? Go Veg!    We know that adopting changes to your diet can be a little intimidating, so we’ve put together these five helpful tips for you to keep in mind as you begin your plant-based journey.

  1. Stick to organic and non-GMO Foods.

    While it’s well known that organic and non-GMO foods are better for our bodies, they have numerous environmental benefits as well. Organic farming enriches our soil, increases biodiversity, keeps toxic fertilizers and pesticides out of water sources and can even slow global warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.(8)
  2. Buy local produce!

    In addition to supporting your local farmers and economy, buying local also cuts down drastically on transportation costs! Find a farmer’s market (or small community grocery store) near you and purchase seasonal, organic produce. Buying straight from the source ensures that your fruits and veggies are fresh and haven’t been frozen. If you have the space, grow your own food! Can’t find a product grown locally in your area? Purchase fair trade and organic alternatives (like Alter Eco’s fair trade quinoa!)! While fair trade certified companies are typically known for their advocacy for fair wages and ethical working conditions, many are deeply committed to protecting the environment as well(7). Do some research and support companies that meetrigorous environmental standards.
  3. Have fun cooking!

    It’s great when you find a great meatless dish at your favorite restaurant, but the only way to fully know what’s going into your meal is to make it yourself. If you’re new to cooking and don’t know where to start sign up for a vegetarian cooking class with a friend or family member! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and flavors and you might just find your new favorite go-to dish (check out our plant-based recipes below)!
  4. Plan your weekly meals ahead of time.

    This is an important part of adopting any new diet! Avoid last-minute decisions by creating a weekly meal schedule to make sure you’re diversifying your diet and getting all the protein that you need (the recommended dosage is 40-60 grams of protein per day, depending on your body size).
  5. Always read the ingredients and nutrition facts!

    Some products like to sneak in hidden animal products that could compromise your diet. Other products compensate with an unhealthy dose of sugar. When in doubt, speak to a professional!

  Needing a bit of veg-spiration? Check out these easy (and delicious) vegetarian recipes to get you started! Warning: vegetable addiction may follow.

 1) Carrot Cake Quinoa Cereal

2) Black Quinoa Fiesta Bowl

3) Italian-inspired Tofu Quinoa Bowl



Luckily for us it’s now easier (and more delicious) than ever to go veg! Say goodbye to boring, tasteless options: there are trendy vegetarian restaurants popping up across the country, meat substitutes that are actually edible, and a plethora of plant-based protein sources (like black beans, lentils, chia seeds or Alter Eco’s heirloom quinoa) that are sure to be staples of your new eco-friendly diet!   To celebrate all things veg this upcoming Earth Day we’re challenging YOU to shed meat from your diet and adopt plant-based alternatives! To participate in Alter Eco’s Earth Day Veg Challenge we ask you to eat a meatless diet for three days between now and Monday 4/24! Two winners will win an awesome prize pack of Alter Eco’s vegetarian quinoa, rice and chocolate!  

To enter our challenge:

1)     Share your plant-based meals (homemade or not) on Instagram 2)     Tag @AlterEcoSF 3)     Use the hashtag #FeedYourEco   It’s that simple! Check out our Instagram Stories on Monday April 24th to see if you’re a lucky winner! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!   *fine print: Sorry, open to U.S. residents only. Not affiliated in anyway with Instagram or Facebook. Must be 18 years or older to participate. Contest closes Sunday, April 23rd at 11:59pm PST.  


1) Bitman, Mark. “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html, January 27, 2008. 2) Carrington, Damian. “Giving Up Beef Will Reduce Carbon Footprint More Than Cars, Says Expert.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/21/giving-up-beef-reduce-carbon-footprint-more-than-cars, July 21, 2014. 3) Chait, Jennifer. “Environmental Benefits of Organic Farming.” https://www.thebalance.com/environmental-benefits-of-organic-farming-2538317, February 2, 2017. 4) Sifferlin, Alexandra. “7 Reasons Vegetarians Live Longer.” http://time.com/9463/7-reasons-vegetarians-live-longer/, February 24, 2014. 5) Stevens, Kath. “Thirty Days, Thirty Reasons, Thirty Ways: Go Vegetarian in October.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-stevens/thirty-days-thirty-reason_b_1923921.html, September 28, 2012. 6) Vidal, John. “10 Ways Vegetarianism Can Help Save the Planet.” https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/18/vegetarianism-save-planet-environment, July 17, 2010. 7) "Why Fair Trade Means Protecting the Environment, Too." http://www.triplepundit.com/special/future-of-fair-trade/protecting-people-protecting-planet/, April 30, 2012. 8) Worland, Justin. “How A Vegetarian Diet Could Help Save the Planet.” http://time.com/4266874/vegetarian-diet-climate-change/, March 21, 2016. 9) Zelman, Joanna. “Vegetarianism Cuts Your Dietary Carbon Footprint a Ridiculous Amount, Study Finds.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/27/vegetarian-carbon-footprint_n_5538914.html, June 27, 2014.

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