I switched to a plant-based diet almost 30 years ago and I can remember my apprehension in doing so.
What would I eat on a plant-based diet?
An obvious answer seemed to be plants, but was that it? Why should I even eat this way?
If you are thinking about making the switch to a plant-based diet, or you just want a few ideas on the benefits of adding a few more veggies to your diet, then this is for you…
What Can You Eat?
I learned fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are all part of a plant-based diet. These foods didn’t seem so bad. In fact, they sounded pretty good, and healthy too.
A quick meal plan can be as easy as a fruit smoothie with some greens and flaxseed meal for breakfast, a large raw vegetable salad with chick peas for lunch and a veggie burger on a whole grain bun with all the fixins accompanied by a sweet potato for dinner.
Snacks can include hot air popcorn, sorbet, or hummus with veggies or whole grain crackers.
Why Should I Eat This Way?
There are so many benefits to this lifestyle approach I can only touch on a few here.
I think it’s no surprise to most of us that the leading causes of death in this country are heart disease and cancer. What you may not be aware of is the link between diet and disease.
Animal products are full of cholesterol and saturated fat, while most plant foods are not.
Eliminating animal products from your diet and replacing them with plant-based options will unclog your arteries, lower your cholesterol and drastically lower your risk of heart disease.
A healthy plant-based diet (healthy is the key word here) also provides the antioxidants and phyto-chemicals necessary to help prevent many kinds of cancer.
Obesity is another diet related health concern.
Maintaining a healthy weight is much easier on a plant-based diet. Whole plant foods are naturally lower in calories and fat while supplying an abundance of energy. Hypertension and type 2 diabetes are often side effects of a poor diet and excess weight.
When healthy weight loss occurs these diseases can often be eliminated.
Your Optimum Diet
Over the years, and after a lot of research, I realize the optimum diet is a whole foods, low-fat, low-protein, high-carbohydrate approach.
This approach ensures adequate amounts of macronutrients along with good sources of:
- omega-3 fatty acids
Everything else you need is in there too, with the exception of Vitamin D and B-12.
Vitamin D can be found in fortified foods or through skin exposure to direct sunlight. A B-12 supplement must be taken by those on a strict plant-based diet and those over 50.
This is not a deficiency of the diet, but rather a result of the increased sanitation of our food system — B-12 is actually a bacteria which resides in the dirt.
Wondering where you can find out more?
There is a lot of information out there, especially in this computer age. One of my favorite on-line resources for FAQs and recipes is The Vegetarian Resource Group.
The VRG provides information about pretty much anything related to a plant-based lifestyle. Another great source is the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) website. Discover the possibilities of a healthier (and a happier) lifestyle.