Plant Based Diet For Beginners
NEW YEAR NEW YOU
It’s a new year (hello 2019!) and with a new year brings new resolutions, new goals, and new diets! The past couple years have brought about many new diets and new ways of eating. We’ve all heard of the paleo diet, the keto diet, veganism, the Mediterranean diet..the list goes on and on! But one diet has been gaining popularity because of its emphasis on whole, fresh foods and minimally processed ingredients and that diet is the plant-based diet!
WHAT IS A PLANT-BASED DIET?
You might just be a little curious about what a plant-based diet consists of. According to Forks Over Knives, a whole-food, plant-based diet consists of natural foods that are not heavily processed, meaning whole, unrefined or minimally processed ingredients. Foods that come from plants and that do not contain animal ingredients such as meats, milk, eggs or honey. (1) Sounds a little like vegetarianism or veganism, right? Wrong! Think of a plant-based diet as a sister of a vegetarian or vegan diet, it’s a little more flexible!
Vegans abstain from all animal by-products, including the use of leather goods. Vegetarians mainly do not consume meat but oftentimes will still have dairy, eggs, and honey. Veganism and vegetarianism both have their benefits, but one of the things lacking from those diets can be the absence of eating well-rounded, minimally processed whole foods! Plant-based dieters are also very conscious about what goes into their body’s; think locally sourced and organic foods.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GOING VEGAN
So, now that you have a little background information on a plant-based diet, you may be wondering some of its health benefits. The number one benefit of going plant-based is the facilitation of weight loss! Because of tons of fiber (thanks legumes and grains!) and the exclusion of refined and processed foods, you can oftentimes see significant weight loss.
In a recent journal study from NCBI, it found that more than ⅔ or 69% of the U.S. adult population is overweight. They looked at multiple different diets, like vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and plant-based. What they found was that people eating fruits, vegetables and legumes were gaining significantly less weight than omnivores and were even more protected from weight gain! (2) Eating plant-based foods has also been shown to help with a multitude of other health conditions like heart problems, fighting certain types of cancers, diabetes and reducing the risk of cognitive-declining diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
PLANT-BASED DIET FOR BEGINNERS
Now that we know what this diet consists of and some of the great health benefits you can achieve from it, we’re going to break it down and focus on what you can actually eat on a whole-food, plant based diet! Some of the best whole foods for this cleaning eating diet include:
- Fruits like apples, bananas, strawberries, avocado, blueberries, raspberries, pears, etc. (organic when possible)
- Vegetables like leafy greens (kale, collard greens, lettuce) peppers, carrots, string beans, peas, etc. (organic when possible)
- Tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beets, turnips, etc. (organic when possible)
- Whole grains like quinoa, oats, whole wheat, etc.
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, soybeans, lima beans, etc.
- Nuts, seeds, nut butters, whole grains, tofu, and a variety of plant milk
- Healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil
If you’re in need of a list of foods to AVOID on this diet, we’ve got you covered on that front too! Typically, plant-based dieters avoid:
- Animal products like fish, poultry and meats
- Refined sugar and fatty foods like soda, candy, cakes, and ice cream
- Foods with artificial flavorings or colors like cereals, salads dressings, and many “instant foods”
PLANT-BASED MEAL PLANNING
If you’re someone who enjoys cooking, plant-based meals are easy to make! From all your favorite comfort foods like pasta and hearty soups to lightened up meals like wraps and salads, to five minutes snacks like hummus and smoothies, you can still enjoy all your favorites while going plant-based!
If you’re someone who enjoys pasta, there are many plant-based kinds of pasta’s available now that are made using chickpeas, lentils, sweet potatoes, and even beets and edamame! Bulk up your chilis and soups with quinoa, black beans, and kale. If you need a five-minute snack, why not whip up some hummus which is PACKED with plant-based protein like chickpeas and tahini! If you’re in need of some inspiration, look no further for a day of plant-based goodness below!
- Breakfast: Overnight oats with almond milk, chia seeds, mashed bananas, berries, and nut butter
- Lunch: collard green wrap with hummus and veggies roasted with coconut oil
- Snack: apple “nachos” with cashew butter, unsweetened coconut shreds, and cacao nibs
- Dinner: loaded buddha bowl with spicy, baked tofu, quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes topped with an avocado “cream” dressing
- Snack/Dessert: coconut milk ice cream
GOOD FOR YOU AND GOOD FOR THE PLANET
Not only is this diet full of health-boosting benefits for you, but it’s also great for Mother Earth! According to Dana Hunnes, PhD., eating a plant-based diet can reduce carbon emissions and waste by-products, all while reducing water consumption by almost 50%! These reductions would directly reduce the threats against the Earth. She further goes on to explain that one pound of beef requires between 2,000-8,000 pounds of water to produce, to really put this into perspective. (3) Imagine if one person (you!) chose to go plant-based, how much it could help the planet! Reducing our carbon footprint, anyway that we can, can help benefit the health of the Earth.
PLANT-BASED MADE EASY
Even if you’re starting out slow and participating in “Meatless Monday’s”, transitioning to a plant-based diet is fun, easy and the health benefits you’ll receive will make you a full-timer in no time! Many people find themselves feeling better, looking better and even sleeping better with this diet and that’s why it’s been gaining popularity. So, why not give it a try and reap some of the awesome benefits of a plant-based diet!