plant based diet

Plant Based Diet: Basics & Getting Started

It seems like everywhere we turn these days someone is raving about the benefits of the plant based diet. Have you considered it? Wondering what exactly it is or what you’ll be eating once you make the switch?

We’ve covered the basics and given you a list of the foods you can enjoy! Plus, it always helps to understand why so many people are turning to plant based proteins to fuel their days!

A Plant Based Diet: The Basics

A plant based diet is just that, a diet based primarily on foods from plants. For some, that means a vegetarian or vegan diet, and for others it just means choosing mostly plant-based foods. It just depends on what your preferences/goals are. Here are a few of the common variations:

  • Vegetarian Diet – may include eggs and dairy, but no meat
  • Vegan Diet – no animal products at all (including milk, cheese, and honey)
  • Pescatarian Diet – a vegetarian diet (no meat), but with the addition of fish and other seafood
  • Flexitarian Diet – much more flexible. Most cut down their meat intake and eat more plants with some animal products here and there.

Why is this type of diet becoming so popular? For a variety of reasons actually.

  1. Health Benefits – There’s a growing body of research that shows many chronic diseases may be controlled or reduced by a plant based diet. This includes reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer. THere’s also evidence that eating a diet hit in plant based proteins can lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of stroke, and boost brain health. Others report increased energy, better sleep, and weight loss.
  2. Eco-friendly Benefits – Animal agriculture uses a lot of resources – water, land, and it releases a significant amount of greenhouse gases. A plant based diet can reduce your carbon footprint, reduce water usage, and help save the land and forests.

How to Get Started

Here are just a few of the things that are included in the plant based diet:

  • Fruits: any type of fruit
  • Vegetables: any type of vegetables
  • Tubers: root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, etc.
  • Whole grains: grains, cereals, quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, oats, barley.
  • Legumes: beans of any kind, peas, lentils, pulses.
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Plant-based oils
  • Non-dairy cheese or milks
  • Plant based protein source: tofu and tempeh

And if you worry that, by switching, you’re sacrificing, just note that so many different companies are now making plant based options for sale in the grocery store. Plus, lots of fast food chains are also adding plant based offerings on their menus!

If you’re thinking about switching to a plant based diet, it’s relatively easy. First, decide which approach suits your lifestyle and goals – from vegan to flexitarian. From there, it’s easy. Here are some tips to help you make the move:

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner.
  • Pick a few nights – even 1 to start – to have a meat-free dinner.
  • Enjoy plant-based snacks like veggies and dip, hummus, fruit, guacamole, nuts, etc.
  • Consider different sources of fat – olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds, avocados, coconuts, etc.
  • Get creative with your cooking – trying new recipes is a great way to expand your usual use of fruits and veg.