Before I began a vegetarian food lifestyle, I have to admit that my plate didn’t look much different from day to day. Usually it was potato or rice and chicken. Rarely did a vegetable show up. Fruits? Almost never. But, still, as I shifted towards my new lifestyle, I wasn’t sure what my plate would look like, and that was the source of some initial worrying.
Eventually, though, I landed on a fairly simple way to think about my plate. It was my ideal model, and I didn’t (and still don’t) always reach the ideal, but it gave me a way to think about things.
Here’s how it works.
I think about my plate as being divided roughly into quarters, with the protein part being more slight (too much protein tends to be adverse for health). Then I plan a meal accordingly, with the following parts:
• a protein like eggs, tofu, beans, lentils, peas, or nuts
• a starch like potatoes, pasta, rice, or barley
• a vegetable
• a fruit (tomato counts, which makes it so much easier!)
Tonight, for instance, I am going to make coconut curried red lentils with lemon-scented rice. For greens, I’ll go outside and pick wild mustard and violet leaves and dandelions. I don’t have any fresh fruit right now, due to not going to the grocery store during quarantine. But, wait! Coconut is a fruit. Perfect.
And suddenly I’m reminded about how eating ethnic dishes is so very helpful in plate planning. All I’m doing tonight is making a classic Indian meal—the result being that I don’t have to think too hard. Many ethnic meals are already worked out in regards to the four quarters of my ideal plate plan.
Following this simple planning method means we can forget about the old fears of finding “complete proteins.” Including the “four quarters” will give us everything we need, because the foods work together beautifully. Plus, they tend to be pleasurable and tasty combinations. And, truly, many people have too much protein in their diet, which contributes to disease.
So, let the “four quarters” planning (and eating) begin!
Consider the usual makeup of your evening meal. What parts does it consist of, regarding “the four quarters”? What could you add to make your plate a more healthy vegetarian ideal?
Write a poem about the four quarters of a healthy vegetarian meal—either the quarters in general or a specific meal you’d like to try or you already make.
makes for me
that fits the bill
for taste and health
and, oh this too:
a lovely view