“Try a plant based diet to improve your health”. You might have heard this advice quite often in the recent past. It implies that your diet should mostly consist of plant foods. That being said, you need not eliminate meat and eggs. Just cutting down on the quantity works well for this diet.
A plant based diet can be of different types. While opting for this lifestyle, you can be a vegetarian. Then you can eat eggs and dairy products along with plants. A vegan omits anything that comes from animals, including milk. Raw-vegans eat only raw plants. Plant based diet can also be flexible. It allows you to include meat in limited amounts along with plants.
To follow a plant based diet, you need to be aware of certain basic rules. The diet mainly focuses on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and so on. You would need to give up most of the animal products, if not all. Refined foods like white flour and processed oils also need to be rejected. Quality is most important in a plant based diet. Therefore much of what you eat should be locally grown and not processed much.
Health Benefits of a Plant Based Diet
You benefit from a plant based diet because it helps in –
People who eat plants weigh less. Those who prefer meat tend to put on weight easily. Eating meat regularly also leads to obesity. So, anyone who is keen on losing weight must try a plant based diet. As per studies, the body mass index of meat eaters exceeds that of plant eaters by a wide margin. Because meat adds to your body mass index, it should be eaten in moderation. Plants lower body mass index and hence are healthier.
If your diet contains more fiber, it would also take longer to digest. This holds good for a plant based diet which consists of whole grains and vegetables. Therefore, replace the meat in your diet with plants to get rid of the extra pounds.
Avoiding Health Conditions
A plant-based diet can help you avoid serious health problems. Eating more plants than meat keeps your blood pressure within safe limits. This in turn protects you from diabetes and heart disease. When you eat whole grains, legumes, and healthy oils, your heart functions better. A high-quality plant-based diet also cuts down the fatty tissue in the body. This in turn lowers the risk of diabetes.
Chemicals in fruits and veggies can fight cancer. So by choosing plants over red meats, you can cut down the risk. You can include fish in your plant based diet. But steer clear of meat and you would be safe from cancer.
Good for the Planet
How do you feel about leaving a carbon footprint? Doing so proves that you have not cared for the planet much. If you like meats in your diet, then chances are that your footprint would be deep. Usually such a diet leaves a negative print on the planet. You can improve on it by shifting to a plant based diet.
Compared to a meaty diet, plant based diets help the planet more. Such a diet requires less land. Harmful emissions also remain minimal. When you purchase fresh produce, the money sustains the local farms. So, choose a plant based diet to help improve the planet.
Your nutrition levels jump with a plant based diet. Plants contain fiber, which benefits the body in many ways. The more fiber you eat, the better your gut functions. The level of sugar in your blood also remains normal. In this way, a diet full of plants is healthier. It builds your health must faster and makes you more robust.
Getting Started On a Plant Based Diet
Assuming that you have decided to shift to a plant based diet, what is the next step? You can start by filling your plate with lots of veggies.
Try and include as many different veggies as possible. That way your plate looks colorful and your meals become interesting. More steps that you could take include –
Choosing Healthy Fats
Not all fats are born the same. Some benefit your heart more than others. So you must include these in your plant based diet. Oils of olive, avocado and nuts come from plants. Other options include flax seeds and chia seeds. Use these instead of lard and butter and enjoy the goodness of plants.
Increasing Your Veggie Intake
While eating a plant based diet, you must include plenty of vegetables. Start with breakfast wherein you can have a veggie smoothie. You can also try a veggie salad for breakfast. Adding spinach or corn to eggs is another suggestion.
During lunch and dinner, focus on having veggies which you did not have at breakfast. Snacking in between meals should also include veggies, Celery sticks and carrots with a dip make a good option.
Being a Pure Vegetarian
It might sound impossible to you. However, try it out and soon you will get used to it. On any one day of the week, eat only vegetarian food. Do not include any meat, eggs, milk or curd. Doing so will enable you to get used to a plant based diet. Over a period of time, you might even look forward to this meal.
Having Fruits for Dessert
Everyone likes to have dessert after a meal. These could vary from cakes to puddings and so on. Most of time, however, these contain eggs and refined raw materials. Since you plan to shift to a plant based diet, avoid these options. Instead have a variety of fruits. These bolster your health and also conform to being plant based.
Adding Variety to the Menu
Make it a point to try a new veggie every week. This will make your plant based diet more interesting.
You can choose an exotic veggie which you have never had before. What you can also do is try new recipes. By adding variety, you will enjoy the plant based diet and not miss the meats.
You are the best judge of what you must eat. That being said, starting a plant based diet does improve your health. In case you feel skeptical, try taking baby steps. Gradually raise the bar by omitting meats and adding veggies. If you feel good, continue to move forward. Otherwise, strike a balance and maintain a healthy diet.
Ultimately, you must also enjoy what you eat. A plant based diet should not be forced. It is a choice that you make for long term good health.