Plant based diet? Yes we mean vegetarian and vegan diets, so first lets distinguish between the two. Vegetarian diets eliminate all meats and some vegetarian diets often eliminate all or some animal products such as eggs, dairy and honey. Vegan diets allow for eating only whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and anything produced by plants only.
A plant based diet will provide healthy benefits for your body
In contrast to a vegan diet, a plant-based diet is also more likely to result in more weight loss. The reason is that vegan diets eliminate animal products but do not restrict calories, fats or sugars, whereas plant-based diets use little oil, include few added sugars, avoid processed ingredients and focus on whole foods.
Pros and cons to help you decide whether to adopt a plant based diet or not.
Plant-based diets are low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to research, by following this type of diet you will lower your risks of:
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Digestive disease
- Colon and breast cancers
A plant-based diet can help to lower body weight and reduce total and LDL cholesterol.
If you have decided to follow a plant-based diet you must avoid all animal products. Of course, that’s easier said than done for many people.
The other thing is that if you don’t plan it correctly, you may not meet all the needs of your body for protein, vitamins and minerals. Due to nutritional deficiency you may not feel or look your best. The less fruits and vegetables you are currently consuming the more planning will be required for you to switch to a plant based diet. You should make the switch gradual by including more and more greens in your diet until you can go for several days without any meat or processed foods.
How to get enough protein
Here is a list of foods you can incorporate in your diet to supplement your daily recommended dose of protein:
- Chia seeds
- Quinoa seeds
- Other seeds
- Split peas
- Soy products: tempeh, tofu, soybeans, soy milk, etc.
How to get enough vitamins and minerals
- Drink a milk alternative such as soy, almond, rice or hemp milk, which contain both calcium and the vitamin D needed to absorb it.
- Eat plenty of dark green leafy lettuce and beans, which contain calcium.
- Eat mushrooms and fortified cereals, which contain vitamin D. Take a vitamin D supplement if necessary and go out in the sun.
- You also need enough zinc, iron and enough vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This means you need to:
- Eat whole grains, beans and fortified cereals for zinc and iron.
- Eat fortified cereals, soy products and nutritional yeast for vitamin B12.
The secret to starting a plant-based diet is to keep it simple. Eliminate animal product a one at a time.
- First, replace all milk and dairy products with soy, rice, almond and hemp alternatives. Use vegan cheeses, soy or rice yogurt, “vegannaise,” soy or coconut-milk coffee creamer, vegan sour cream, etc.
- Next, replace chicken, turkey, beef, pork, veal, lamb and fish with plant proteins. Stock up on legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and vegan meat alternatives (tofu; veggie burgers, dogs or sausage; seitan; and tempeh).
Make sure to include all four food groups at each meal — plant protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grain.