Before we can go into the benefits of eating a plant-based diet it's important to know the definition we are talking about.
Plant-based or whole food plant based means consuming majority or all your foods from whole food (so that means not processed, or minimal processed foods) and come from a plant. So vegetables and fruit, beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and very minimal (if any for some people) processed foods.
Even with all the fad diets out there I don't think anyone would argue with you the benefits of eating mostly vegetables and fruit. Eating whole foods, plant-based is not a diet. It's giving your body the most nutrient dense foods you can, ensuring optimal health, and it's sustainable. It's not as if you need to consume a certain % of fat or completely avoid all carbs. There is no certain formula you need to follow. If you want to eat for optimal health, then fill your plate with plant-based foods.
And so it's important to know that this is not a diet, this is your life! You can choose to slowly integrate more plant-based meals into your life, or maybe you wake up and decide today is the day I am going to go all in. Everyone is different as to what works best for them. But once you start to make the switch to more of a whole foods, plant-based way of eating, you will notice changes in your body, your energy levels, how you feel, and possibly how you look. Those benefits will start to snowball, and it will become a lot more clear as to why you are eating this way.
So let's get into the benefits of a plant-based diet
A plant-based diet is rich in phytochemicals, which help protect cells from damage and may reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. A plant-based diet has proven to aid weight loss in many cases. A wide variety of colorful plants provide the highest number of phytochemicals and nutrients, ensuring adequate nourishment.
Usually those on a plant-based diet consume less protein than those who are eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and in some cases this could mean reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. When eating a plant-based diet, you can easily consume the recommended daily amount of protein through grains, nuts and seeds, beans, and vegetables.
A plant-based diet is also thought to be more sustainable for the environment since it requires less energy, land, and water, among other resources.
I know some people like a little more guidance when making changes (I am one of them!) so below are foods to include, and a sample day of meals.
Foods to include:
Vegetables Fruits Whole grains Beans Nuts Seeds Oils some people include meat such as poultry, and fish some people include eggs some include small amounts of dairy
As I have mentioned, it isn't a diet, so there is no right or wrong way to eat this way but generally speaking, for optimal health you would want to avoid:
Processed food Sugar Excessive animal protein
May reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity May promote weight loss May increase quality of hair, skin, and nails Balances the blood sugar by eating more fibre Regular bowel movements Supports gut microbiota because of higher fibre content Increased energy, not bogging the body and digestion down with such heavy foods
Everyone can do this! The most important thing is to listen to your body. We are all unique and require different combinations of food to thrive. There is not a one size fits all approach to health, but we all do require the nutrients found in vegetables and fruit so it's a great place to start!