What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet primarily comprises plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It is typically lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than a Western diet. See the image from Forks Over Knives for more information on what people eat on a plant-based diet. Plant-based does not always mean you're eating 100% plants, but does mean the vast majority of the food consumed is plants.
What are the benefits of a diet focused on plants?
There are numerous benefits associated with this diet. Some of the most notable benefits include improved heart health, a lower risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and a lower risk of certain types of cancer. Additionally, this diet is linked to improved gut health, better weight management, and a reduced risk of certain neurological disorders.
Check out Dr. Michael Greger's website, NutritionFacts.org, for easy-to-understand videos and posts on the latest nutrition research.
How do I get enough protein on a plant-based diet?
Getting enough protein on a plant-based diet is possible. Plant protein sources, such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, can provide high amounts of all the essential amino acids your body needs.
But did you know that all plants have protein? So if you consume various plants and enough calories throughout the day, you can get all the essential amino acids your body needs to function correctly. Check out Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to learn more about protein on a plant-based diet.
What about calcium, iron, and other nutrients that are often associated with animal-based foods?
There are many plant-based sources of these nutrients. For example, leafy greens, almonds, and fortified plant milks are all good sources of calcium. Additionally, iron is found in many plant foods, such as beans, lentils, and tofu.
If you eat enough variety and calories you should be able to reach the targeted amount of nutrients. Read more about nutrient intake on a plant-based diet from the NIH National Library of Medicine and NutritionFacts.org.
Can a plant-based diet be unhealthy if not followed correctly?
Like any diet, a plant-based diet can only be healthy if followed correctly. For example, if you rely too heavily on processed, refined, plant-based foods, you may not get enough nutrients your body needs.
Furthermore, you may also be at risk of malnutrition if you don't consume enough calories overall. To ensure that you are following a healthy plant-strong diet, consuming a variety of whole, minimally processed plant foods is essential.
Is a plant-strong diet suitable for athletes and those who are physically active?
Yes, a plant-based diet can be suitable for athletes and those who are physically active. Many professional athletes eating plant-based, such as Venus Williams and Scott Jurek, have reported improved performance and recovery.
To ensure that you get enough of the nutrients your body needs to fuel your physical activity, consuming a variety of whole, minimally processed plant foods is essential. For more information on plant-based athletes and resources watch Game Changers found on Netflix.
Is a plant-based diet more expensive than a typical Western diet?
The cost of a plant-based diet can vary depending on several factors, such as where you live, the types of foods you buy, and whether you purchase organic or non-organic products.
However, many people find that a plant-focused diet can be less expensive than a typical Western diet, especially if they focus on buying whole, minimally processed plant foods and avoid purchasing processed packaged plant foods. Additionally, many plant-based staples, such as beans and rice, are often much less expensive than animal-based protein sources.
How do I transition to a plant-based diet?
Making the switch to a plant-based diet can be a gradual process. Some people make the switch all at once, while others prefer to do it gradually over time. Regardless of how you choose to make the switch, it is essential to seek out reliable sources of information, such as registered dietitians, to ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs.
Additionally, planning your meals in advance and keeping healthy snacks on hand for when you are on the go can be helpful. You can read 9 Beginner Tips for Going Plant-Based, Sustaining a Plant-Based Diet and Plant-Based Food Swaps here on PlantaCoaching.com for more help on transitioning to a plant-focused diet.
Can a plant-based diet be suitable for families with young children?
A plant-based diet can be suitable for families with young children. Many families have found that switching to a strong plant diet has improved their and children's health.
However, it is essential to ensure that children get all the nutrients and calories they need to grow and develop properly regardless of diet. This may require supplementing with specific vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, calcium, and iron.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position states that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet can meet the nutrient needs of people from all stages of life, including childhood. Talk with a registered dietician for more information.
What about the environmental impact of a plant-based diet?
The environmental impact of a plant-based diet is generally much lower than a typical Western diet. This is because animal agriculture significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution.
By reducing your consumption of animal-based foods and increasing your consumption of plant foods, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet. You can read this article from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for more information.
A plant-based diet can offer numerous health and environmental benefits. The top 10 most pressing questions have been addressed in this article. Still, other questions may be specific to your individual needs and circumstances. It is important to seek the guidance of a registered dietitian if necessary.