cnn.comShop for substitutes: Stock up on at least three foods that can replace meat in many dishes. Combine proteins: In as many meals as you can this week, swap half the meat with an equal serving of plant protein; mix chickpeas with half the usual amount of chicken, say, or black beans with half the ground beef. Week 2: Embrace meatless meals Your goal this week is to add in five purely vegetarian dishes.

Cutting down on animal protein does more than slash calories -- it lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as your risks of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The vegetables, legumes, and whole grains that will replace the meat help shield you from developing these chronic diseases, too. "Plants are nature's pharmacy," says Kate Geagan, RD, author of Go Green Get Lean ($5, "They're brimming with protective nutrients and antioxidants that you just can't get from animals." You don't have to go full vegetarian -- our plan ups your plant protein without depriving you of that Saturday-night steak.

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