Understanding Plant-Based Diet
Many people believe that a plant-based diet is not as healthy as a balanced diet. The fact is that a plant-based diet is a lot healthier and has higher nutritional value. The principle of this diet is to get the maximum amount of nutrition from plant-foods and minimize consumption of animal-based or animal-derived foods.
When seen the long-term impact of a plant-based diet, it is found to cause lesser health issues. Plant-based foods are comparatively lighter on our digestive system. So, when the food is digested and assimilated well, it constitutes a healthy body. It contributes to the proper functioning of the body.
Animal-based products have a high-cholesterol level and lead to inflammation in the body. In the longer term, they can become the cause of adverse health issues such as heart ailments and strokes in the body. Meat is one of the animal-products which has an abundance of toxins that causes inflammation in our systems. (1)
A plant-based diet implies that plant foods, such as whole grains, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, etc. are the prime foods that make up this diet. A person on this diet can occasionally consume dairy, meat, or fish products. This diet focuses to healthful whole foods, in place of processed foods.
A plant-based diet focuses either completely or majorly on foods that are derived from plant sources. By focusing more on plant-based foods, you should also reduce dairy and meat intake. This diet not just gives you a healthy body but also conserves the planet. Before you start implementing this diet, there are a few nutritional considerations that are important to consider
Components of Plant Based Diet
A plant-based diet is rich in vitamins. This is because it comprises of plenty of fruits and vegetables that are packed with this nutrient. Fruits like orange, lime, amla, strawberry are high in vitamin C. Papayas, leafy greens, cabbages, and butter has plenty of vitamin A. Foods like peas, bananas, tomatoes, lemons, potatoes, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc. have good amounts of B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12), vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. By including these foods, you can easily to get adequate amounts of vitamins in your diet.
Many people have this opinion that a plant-based diet lacks protein. So, to fulfills the daily dietary needs of this nutrient; you need to turn to animal-based foods like meat, eggs, chicken, and fish. The reality is that several plant-based foods can help you meet your daily protein needs. These are peas, peanut and almond butter, tofu, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds, edamame, tofu, quinoa, oats, almonds, lentils, beans, broccoli, chickpeas, etc. They are all high in protein.
Let us show you how a plant-based diet can easily meet your protein needs:
An average man requires 56 g protein a day, and a woman needs 46 g of it daily.
- A cup of lentils has seventeen grams of protein.
- A cup of boiled peas has 8.5 g of protein.
- A cup of soybeans has 28 g of protein.
So, it easily meets your dietary protein needs using vegetables alone.
A plant-based diet is dense in minerals too. Plant-based foods are the source of almost all nutrients that includes magnesium and potassium. Some of the abundant sources of it are tomatoes, bananas, eggplants, and yellow bell peppers.
If you are worried that you won’t get the necessary amounts of iron from the diet, then you are worrying unnecessarily. Nuts, kale, jaggery, collard greens, avocados, lentils, spinach, mushrooms, and swiss chard, are high in protein.
Collard greens, cashews, leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale, okra, and arugula are all good sources of calcium.
In addition to this, a plant-based diet also gives you the right amounts of other minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, etc.
High fiber content will stimulate digestion and help you manage body weight. It prevents insulin resistance and keeps hormones under control. Looking at the nutritional composition of plant-based foods, this is a healthy diet that provides all the essential nutrients to your body to keep it in the best shape.
There is a plant-based substitute available for every single macronutrient that your body requires for its optimal functioning. All you need is to include a wide range of these foods in your diet.
Health Advantages Of A Plant-Based Diet
Now that we have seen that a plant-based diet offers all the necessary nutrients to your body let us look at the health advantages that it can offer to a person. This diet believes in showing high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature that helps lower inflammation in the body.
Being rich in healthy fats, low cholesterol levels, this diet has the ability to lower high cholesterol levels, reduce weight or maintain weight, prevent dementia, high blood pressure, heart ailment, high cholesterol, specific types of cancer, stroke, Diabetes, and migraine. Doctors also recommend a plant-based diet to those who are either diagnosed with prediabetes or suffer from Type 2 diabetes.
Better weight management
Research shows that people who eat only plant-based diet were seen to have low body mass index and healthy body weight than the ones who eat meat. This diet is loaded in fiber, water content, and complex carbs that keep people fuller and energized for longer. Also, the slow-digesting carbs in the diet increase the resting metabolic rate wherein calories are burnt even in the resting state.
This diet is effective in the treatment of obesity. After implementing it for four months, people noticed a substantial weight reduction of 6.5 kilograms. They shed more body fat, observed enhancements in their insulin sensitivity, and reduced BMI than those who consumed a regular animal-based diet.
Lower risk of heart disease and other conditions
Based on the study performed on middle-aged adults, it was found that those who ate a diet that was low in animal-based products and rich in healthful plant foods have shown lower risks of heart disease.
Helps in prevention and cure of Diabetes
The research findings also concluded that a plant-based diet help prevents or control Diabetes by lowering insulin resistance and enhancing insulin sensitivity in the body. People who eat vegetarian diets had lower chances of developing Type 2 diabetes than meat-eaters.
Vegan and vegetarian diets were helpful for diabetics to lower medication requirements, shed excess pounds, and improve metabolic markers.
9 Plant-Based Diet Tips
If you want to implement this diet but need more understanding to design a whole food, and an unprocessed plant-based diet, then here are a few tips that will make it easier for you.
- Try to replace animal-based foods by plant-based foods in your recipes that you usually eat. Replace meat with tofu that is called vegetarian meat. Be experimental and creative. Form your own recipes by replacing meat by other delectable plant foods to relish the new taste and texture of your usual meal.
- Get a good vegetarian cookbook that lists easy plant-based recipes that do not have meat or any animal-based product in it. You can find plenty of such cookbooks online that will help you prepare plant-based salads, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, meals, starters, desserts, etc. Choose the best one that helps you prepare delicious and healthy meals easily and quickly.
- Learn to incorporate a wide-range of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, whole grains, etc. Use different types of cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, grilling, dry roasting, stir-frying, etc. to give a distinct appearance and flavor to your dish.
- Saute your veggies or cook dishes in a superior-quality extra virgin olive oil. Use vegetable stock in place of water to lift its flavor. Season them with your choice of flavorful spices and herbs to make it tempting. One of the delicious ways to eat veggies is to roast them and toss it with cumin and butter.
- When dining out at any restaurant, design your meal with the non-meat options listed on the appetizer or sides section of the menu. In this way, you can create a varied menu that not just tastes delicious but is also healthy. It will also help save some money on expensive non-veg dishes.
Another thing that you can do is choose to dine out at restaurants that specialize in African and Asian cuisines. These cuisines are mostly plant-oriented. Prefer them over restaurants that offer meals that are inspired by western culture. It is a good way to avoid animal-based meals while discovering new flavors of plant-based dishes.
- When shopping at a grocery store, identify locations where they stock fresh products. In most of the stores, the old items are stocked at internal passages, and new items are stocked at the outside aisles.
- Always prefer to eat seasonal plant-based produce over the items that are stored in a refrigerator for several months. Not just seasonal produce is easily accessible but is also high in nutrition and taste.
- Another tip is to shop for fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market or a greengrocer store in place of a supermarket. The former will assure you of the premium quality and assortment of seasonal produce.
- To make it a smooth and easy transition from an animal-based diet to a plant-based diet, you need not drastically eliminate animal-based foods from the diet. You need to slowly reduce and replace it with plant-based foods. Initially, you can include healthier versions of meat, i.e., grass-fed beef that is high in heart-healthy Omega-3’s fats.
Gradually reduce meat consumption and increase plant-based consumption until you lose your dependency on animal-based foods and become habitual of a completely plant-based diet. (2)
3 Day Plant-Based Diet Plan
This is a sample three-day plan-based diet that completely removes animal-derived products from the diet and introduces a variety of healthy and fulfilling plant-based proteins that includes nuts, whole grains, pulses, tofu, tempeh, vegetables, and fruits.
If you are starting on a plant-based diet, then this three-day meal plan will be ideal for you. You can customize it with your choice of plant-based fruits while making sure that it gives you the necessary nutrition to meet your daily nutritional needs:
Breakfast: Granola Bowl
This crunchy -Buckwheat Granola is a delicious way to replace your sweet and creamy oats. Soak them in almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk for an added nutrition punch.
Lunch: Sweet Potato Pendants with Chickpea Salad and Almond Sauce
Sweet potato, chickpeas, and almond butter are high protein sources. The rich and creamy almond sauce imparts flavor and thickness to your dish.
Dinner: Chimichurri Steaks with Hemp Seeds
Chimichurri steaks with hemp seeds, and parsley and cilantro are going to taste deliciously amazing. The smoky, spicy, and grill marks look appetizing and give you a meaty flavor.
Breakfast: “Huevos” Soy-Cheros
Substitute animal proteins, like chorizo, eggs, and cheese, by plant-based alternatives. This dish uses turmeric-stained tofu, protein-dense pinto beans, and soy chorizo that is very filling and tasty.
Lunch: Summer Salad with Beet Dressing and Tempeh Croutons
The crunchiness in tempeh makes it an ideal replacement for conventional croutons. Add some fresh tomatoes, arugula, radishes, kale, and asparagus in it to make it a super-filling and healthy salad. The dressing of tahini and beets taste amazingly good that you would want to eat more and more. (3)
Dinner: Kale and Chickpea Curry
This plant-powered dinner is made from quinoa, chickpeas, and peanut butter. Blend some creamy almond milk with creamy, nutty, and filling vegan main.
Breakfast: Dates and Peanut Butter Oats
Peanut butter and oats are a dense source of protein. Pair them with nut milk and a two to three dates for an energizing start to your day. The natural sweetness of dates eliminates the need for added sugars.
Lunch: Tempeh Gyros with Tzatziki
Tofu, when added to any dish, makes it creamy, thick, and dense in protein. Prepare the tempeh sauce by cooking tempeh and adding your flavorful sauce in it. Add tofu to this protein-rich and lip-smacking dish that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.
Dinner: Creamy Lentil Soup
Lentils are super versatile, fulfilling, and protein-rich plant food. Cook them and add carrot, boiled chickpeas, kale, and onion to it. Garnish your soup with nut butter, coriander, parsley, and cilantro leaves. Enjoy this delicious meal warm and fresh.
In between your meals, you can eat a few healthy plant-derived snacks such as nuts, crunchy chickpeas, vegan brownies, fresh fruit salad, or hummus dipped veggies. (4)
Frequently Asked Questions about Plant based Diet
What foods can you eat on a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet implies eating more healthy whole foods derived from plants and minimizes the consumption of animal-based foods. You can eat fruits, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, etc. and avoid or reduce consumption of dairy, meat, eggs, fish, and processed foods.
Is a plant-based diet the same as vegan?
Both vegan and a plant-based diet have many similarities and a few major differences. A Vegan diet is completely devoid of animal products from the diet, while a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily remove animal products. It focuses on plants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, lentils, whole grains, and more.
What do you eat for breakfast on a plant-based diet?
When you are on a plant-based diet, you should design your breakfast in a way that includes more plant-based foods and less animal-derived and processed foods. Following are some of the best breakfast items on this diet:
oatmeal with crunchy nuts
beans toast with peanut butter
almond, flaxseeds and blueberry, smoothie
Vanilla nut butter shake
chia seed pudding made with almond milk/coconut milk
Vegan green smoothies
Plant-based oatmeal muffins
Can you eat bread on a plant-based diet?
Yes. You can eat whole-wheat bread and multigrain bread in a plant-based diet. It is a good source of fiber and carbohydrate that provides energy to your body for its sound functioning.