There’s a diet getting tons of attention and for good reason. Following a plant based diet has been shown to have a positive impact on health.
There always seems to be a fad diet on the go and there’s usually something extreme about that diet, something that makes it difficult to follow long term. These fad diets often eliminate or limit a specific food group, usually due to its believed impact on weight.
Unfortunately, what many people don’t realize is that this can also have a detrimental impact on health. There’s evidence to support that a plant based diet can help promote overall health and decrease risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
What is a plant based diet?
A plant based diet focuses on eating whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and root vegetables . A person who follows this diet focuses on reducing or eliminating meat, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs.
Is a plant based diet the same as vegan?
No, because a person who follows a vegan diet does not eat any animal products. If someone is following a true vegan lifestyle, they don’t even eat honey as it is an animal by-product.
Is a plant based diet healthier?
The emphasis on fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes allows this diet to be high in a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all which have a positive impact on health.
Following a plant based diet has been shown to improve both physical and mental health. Emphasizing plant based foods and sources of plant protein can aid in digestion, energy level and sleep, while also improving depression, anxiety and fatigue. Plants are simply a natural way to detox without the diet hassle.
In 2015, the World Health Organization put out a statement regarding the potential risk of eating red and processed meat. The evidence that was presented highlighted the link seen between intake of processed meats and colorectal cancer.
However, there is little evidence to show that red meat increases colorectal cancer risk, a diet high in red meat has been linked to other chronic health conditions such as heart disease.
Recommendations were made to increase intake of fruit, vegetables, plant based sources of protein such as legumes, nuts and seeds all while reducing overall intake of red meat and processed meat to improve health.
What are examples of plant based foods?
- barley, millet, quinoa
- beans, lentils
- sweet potato, white potatoes
- beets, carrots
- tofu, tempeh
- nutritional yeast
- walnuts, almonds, pistachios
- chia seeds, flax seeds
- almond milk, oat milk, soy milk
How do you start a plant based diet?
If you are someone who enjoys meat and other animal products, the thought of following a plant based diet may seem daunting. The good news though, is that there are no rigid rules with this way of eating.
The overall goal is to incorporate more plant based foods over animal products. Start off with small and achievable goals and work your way to eating more plant based foods. Here are three simple ideas to get you started:
- Implement Meatless Monday – Aim to include meals with plant based sources of protein like beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds. The main reason for this is to simply focus on one day without animal protein.
- Start replacing some of your weekly routine recipes containing meat, chicken, eggs, fish or dairy with plant based sources of protein. For example, try a vegetarian shepherd’s pie with lentils instead of ground beef. Or use edamame and mushrooms instead of pork in a stir fry.
- Limit other refined foods including processed foods, take out, or restaurant meals and anything that contains refined starches, oils and sugars.
Reducing your intake of meat and other animal products while incorporating more plant based foods can promote better health and have you feeling great!