PREPARE: Plant-based meal alternatives for your living room kitchen

Inside ABC Family’s smash hit “Black-ish,” Dre is a vegan — and it’s the only thing he can really eat. What’s the one food he can’t kick the habit of eating? Stuff on a…

Inside ABC Family’s smash hit “Black-ish,” Dre is a vegan — and it’s the only thing he can really eat. What’s the one food he can’t kick the habit of eating? Stuff on a stick, everything that’s on a stick. “You can’t be without things that come from the ground,” he says.

Dre’s resolve to eat vegan while his children are growing up stands in stark contrast to his children’s views on food. “But I made a promise,” Dre tells us. “I can eat any kind of meat I want, as long as it’s vegan. And I’m an athlete; I’ve got a lot of protein, so I can work out, so I can do sprints to get up the hill and then I can eat. And I love my veggie stick, so I can have that.”

The fact that millennials can’t afford to eat a plant-based diet and can’t feed their families a diet full of fruits and vegetables should be a reason to worry, says Dee Eckert, RD, BSN, MS. “A vegetarian diet can be healthy — especially if you’re eating lean meats — but it should be paired with whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts,” she says. “Eating healthier foods on a budget can be a challenge, especially since all that stuff cost money. A plant-based diet in the budget can help combat that, especially if it’s free of added sugars and calories.”

To help satisfy a plant-based lifestyle without breaking the bank, the acclaimed Michael Pollan says plant-based options for everyday meals can be low- or even non-calorie. “Sometimes healthy food costs money, but this should never be an excuse to not eat,” he says. “In America, we want our food to taste amazing — which is why most of us enjoy high-calorie-dense fare at the movies, for example. Because eating plant-based isn’t about not being able to enjoy a few treats, but rather about making good food smarter.”

Like eating one plant-based meal a day — whole, whole, whole — to reap the benefits, Eckert shares her five recommendations for easy, affordable, plant-based meal alternatives.

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