Have you heard the term “plant-based diet,” but aren’t sure exactly what it means? (Hint: It’s not the same as being vegan.) Are you interested in trying a plant-based diet, but aren’t sure where to start? Or maybe you think eating plant-based is actually a little crazy, but still want to know more.
Regardless, you’re in the right place!
Every Friday this month (plus one), I’ll be covering plant-based diet basics in a 6-part Plant-Based 101 series. From defining the term to tackling myths, for
6 weeks you’ll get the low-down on this increasingly popular way of eating, including:
- What is a plant-based diet? (This post!)
- 6 Proven ways a plant-based diet supercharges your health
- What no one tells you about protein
- 21 Plant-based protein sources
- A day of plant based meals
- Easy steps for getting started
I’m delighted to share this information with you, because after reading hundreds of studies and completing a certificate in plant-based nutrition, I’m convinced that this way of eating can help people lose weight and reclaim their health.
The funny part? I used to think that eating a plant-based diet was not only crazy, but possibly unhealthy. After all, any diet that required a supplement (vitamin B12) had to be bad for you, right? Turns out the evidence proved me wrong—but more about that in the next post.
For now, get ready to have fun learning about the specifics of plant-based eating—and why doctors, nutritionists, and even former president Bill Clinton are embracing the plant-based plan!
Plant-based diet defined
So, what is a plant-based diet? It’s a way of eating that focuses on nourishing, whole plant foods. It means excluding or minimizing animal products like meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and fish. It also means cutting way back on processed stuff like refined sugar, white flour, and oil.1
How is “plant-based” different from being vegan?
Vegan diets eliminate all animal products. While this is helpful—vegans do tend to be healthier2—some vegan diets include a lot of junk food. For example, Oreos, Twizzlers, Coke, and potato chips are vegan, but they don’t exactly promote health.
A plant-based diet, on the other hand, is the “Cadillac” version of a vegan (or nearly vegan) diet. Plant-based eating emphasizes foods that are whole, natural, and unprocessed—just the way our bodies like them.
Plant-based diet staples
So, what do people eat on a plant-based diet? Is it leaves and berries 24/7?
Thankfully, no! Plant-based diets include an enormous variety of delicious foods. Specifically, plant-based diets are rooted (ha) in the following five food groups:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
Eating a variety of foods from these groups gives you all kinds of good stuff—including plenty of protein! In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of nutrition professionals in the world, says the following:
“…[Plant-based] diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. [They] are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” (3)
Specifically, plant-based eating can help you slim down and slash your risk of disease. What’s more, a low-fat, plant-based diet is the only eating pattern I know of that’s clinically proven to reverse heart disease. Indeed, that’s why Bill Clinton jumped on the plant-based bandwagon—he was having serious heart problems, and he wanted to live to see his grandkids.
The only catch? On a plant-based diet, you need to supplement with vitamin B12. This vitamin is made by microbes and isn’t present in substantial amounts on plants. Given the many health benefits of plant-based eating, though, I’m more than happy to take vitamin B12.
Two side notes: First, I eat a lower-fat diet, as this helps with my breast pain. (A low-fat, plant-based diet has other benefits as well, but that’s for another post.) Second, I also choose to be gluten-free. No, I don’t have celiac disease. However, wheat and the other gluten grains (rye and barley) don’t agree with me, so I steer clear. However, if you can eat wheat without problems, please keep eating it! It’s a great source of fiber, protein, many B vitamins, and more.
Now that you have a good understanding of what a plant-based diet actually entails, are you ready to learn the 6 ways that plant-based eating can supercharge your health? If so, click here to see how eating plant-based can help you get—and stay—slim and healthy.
Now it’s your turn:
- Would you eat a plant-based diet?
- If you already eat this way, why did you make the switch?
- If you still think eating plant-based is kooky, what part of it bugs you?
- What questions do you have about plant-based eating
Leave me a comment—I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays.Click here for references
2. Le LT, Sabaté J. Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts. Nutrients. 2014;6(6):2131-2147. doi:10.3390/nu6062131. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073139/
3. Craig WJ, Mangels AR, American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.027 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864