During these modern times, many people like to argue which diet is truly the best for all. There is no one diet that fits all, especially considering the vast variety of cultures in our society today. You may have heard a friend, family member, or colleague mention that they are going plant-based, but what exactly does this mean?
Plant Based 101
This lifestyle, or diet, is called a plant-based diet where your diet is primarily composed of foods from plants such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. However, this does not mean that you are vegan, vegetarian, or choose to never eat meat or dairy! You are simply choosing to eat most of your foods from healthy plant sources! Focusing on eating more healthy plant foods can provide many benefits to your health.
A plant-based diet can decrease your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. Studies have also found that populations that followed plant-based eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, had lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, depression, and had improved mental and physical health!
No more meat?!
The majority of Americans are meat eaters and many would find it difficult to give up meat. The great thing is that you don’t have to! A study suggested that eating just 3% less animal protein and substituting it with healthy plant proteins was associated with a 19% lower risk of death! Plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. These special nutrients can help negate toxins that some meats may contain. Like any other healthy diet, a plant-based diet has all the essential nutrients you need for a long healthy life!
How do I start?
- Fill half your plate with vegetables during lunch and dinner
- Flip your plate so that your vegetables are the star
- Include healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado
- Dedicate one night to have a vegetarian meal around beans, whole grains, and vegetables
- Start the morning with whole grains, like oatmeal and quinoa; add in fresh fruits and nuts
- Add dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach to your meals
- Try out salads and spice them up with spinach, tofu, beans, lettuce, and peas for variety and taste!
- Reach for fruit as a dessert to satisfy your sugar cravings after a meal!
Authored by Allen Rong, Dietetic Intern