Plant Based Diet 101
Many Americans like to argue which diet is truly the best for all. There may not be one diet that fits all, especially considering the melting pot of cultures in our society today. These days, people are adapting to eating more vegetables, fruits and other plant-based foods. This lifestyle or diet is called a plant-based diet where you focus on foods primarily from plants such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. A plant-based diet does not mean you are vegan or vegetarian or never choose to eat meat or dairy. You are essentially choosing more of your foods from plant sources and does not mean you have to eat plants exclusively, but are rather aiming to eat more healthy plant foods in your diet.
According to the Harvard Medical School, a plant-based diet can help lower your risk of developing a variety of diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and death from any other causes. Researchers have also discovered that in plant-based eating patterns like the mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet, those populations had lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, depression and had improved mental and physical functioning. Most people in America are meat eaters and a majority of them would not give up meat. The extraordinary thing is that you don’t have to! One study indicated that eating just 3% less animal protein and replacing it with healthy plant proteins was associated with a 19% lower risk of death from any cause! In a plant-based diet, you can still eat meat and reap the benefits of the diet. A plant-based diet can also protect our bodies when we do eat meat! Vegetables and fruits have special nutrients called antioxidants that can help neutralize toxins that meat may have. Just like most healthy diets, a plant-based diet contains all the essential protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for a healthy life!
How do I start?
You can start by eating lots of vegetables and filling at least half your plate with vegetables during lunch and dinner! While getting a majority of your foods from plant-based foods, have smaller amounts of meat instead of having it as the main dish. Include healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado. Each week, dedicate one night in having a vegetarian meal around beans, whole grains, and vegetables. Start off your morning with oatmeal and quinoa as whole grains and add in fresh fruit and nuts. Include dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. Try including salads as meals and fill them with romaine lettuce, spinach, tofu, beans, and peas for variety and taste! Have a fruit as dessert to satisfy your sugar craving after a meal!
Katherine D. McManus, M. (2020, September 15). What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it? Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760
Monique Tello, M. (2018, November 29). Eat more plants, fewer animals. Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eat-more-plants-fewer-animals-2018112915198