Plant-based eating has been the latest craze, and for good reason. Research shows many benefits to choosing this way of eating.
What’s a plant-based diet? Does it mean you have to eat like a rabbit all the time?
Absolutely not! A plant-based diet is very close to a vegan lifestyle, focusing on foods that come from plants and eating minimally processed foods. If you’re interested in getting started, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to following a plant-based diet and tips to help you stick to it.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Why make the move to plant-based eating? Some of the science-backed benefits include:
- Disease Prevention – Science shows that plant-based diets have been linked to lower risks of chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Studies have found that following a plant-based diet can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and other studies have linked it to increased overall longevity. Choosing this lifestyle can be a great move for your overall health.
- Weight Management – Adding more plant-based foods to your diet can also affect your weight. Studies show that eating more plant-based foods and fewer animal-based foods are linked to a lower percentage of body fat and a smaller waist. It doesn’t even have to be all or nothing to reap the benefits. Simply adding more plant-based choices to your diet can offer great benefits.
- Planet-Friendly – Animal products have a significant environmental impact. In fact, raising animals for dairy and meat produces a large amount of all greenhouse gas emissions. Shifting to a plant-based eating plan is better for the planet and is one thing we can all do to help fight climate change.
Food Groups in a Plant-Based Diet
The main food categories you’ll get to enjoy while following a plant-based eating plan include:
- Vegetables – Lots of veggies like peas, spinach, corn, collards, peppers, lettuce, kale, and more.
- Fruits – All types of fruits, such as citrus fruits, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and bananas.
- Legumes – Any types of beans, as well as pulses and lentils.
- Whole Grains – Cereals, grains, and starches that come in their whole forms, such as millet, oats, quinoa, barley, whole wheat, and brown rice.
- Tubers – This includes root veggies like sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc.
Tips for Getting Started
If you’re new to plant-based eating, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. How do you get started with a new eating plan? We’ve put together some easy tips to help you get started with your new plant-based diet.
- Tip #1 – Gradually Add in More Veggies and Fruits – Instead of initially focusing on foods you should cut out, start thinking about how you can add in more plant-based foods. Try getting more veggies and fruits in your diet. Add a side salad to dinner, top a sandwich with a few grilled veggies, or sprinkle some spinach in your morning eggs.
- Tip #2 – Try Some Pre-Cooked Options – Trying out new plant-based recipes when you’re just getting started can feel tough. Enjoy getting to know the possibilities by trying some pre-cooked plant-based options. Plenty of stores and meal delivery companies offer delicious plant-powered meals.
- Tip #3 – Commit to Some Meatless Days – You don’t have to start out cold turkey. Begin committing to a day or two each day where you don’t eat animal products. It’s a great way to start.
- Tip #4 – Add Plenty of Frozen Veggies and Fruits to the Freezer – Having plenty of frozen veggies and fruits on hand makes sure you never have an excuse to not add more of them to your diet. And, they don’t go bad as quickly as fresh produce does.
- Tip #5 – Overhaul Your Breakfast – An easy way to start is to overhaul your breakfast. Tofu scrambles, oatmeal packed with fruit, or buckwheat pancakes all make great plant-based breakfast choices that help you skip the animal products for your morning meal.
- Tip #6 – Know Some Easy Swaps – Transitioning to plant-based eating is all about learning how to make some easy swaps. Some great substitutions include:
- Almond, coconut, or oat milk instead of dairy milk
- Chia or flax egg instead of chicken eggs
- Black bean patties instead of beef patties
- Nutritional yeast instead of parmesan
- Chickpeas, lentils, or beans instead of ground beef
- Olive oil instead of butter
- Granola or oatmeal instead of sugary cereals
- Avocado, hummus, or pesto instead of mayo
- Oyster mushrooms instead of chicken
- Tofu, tempeh, or jackfruit instead of meat
- Blended frozen fruit instead of ice cream
Making changes to your diet is one way to pursue healthy living, and a plant-based eating plan has many health and environmental benefits. With these helpful tips, you can go all-in or start moving toward eating more plants and fewer animal products over time. Either way, it’ll benefit your health.