Plant-based Diet 101: How to Ditch Meat and Thrive
It seems these days everyone's buzzing about a whole food plant-based diet. There are documentaries advocating the lifestyle (Forks Over Knives & Hungry for Change), New York Times best sellers (Crazy, Sexy, Diet and It’s All Good), and celebrities (Ellen, Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain) on board. Even a former president (Bill Clinton) is giving it love. Let's dive into exactly what this diet is all about.
What is a Plant-based Diet?
A diet based on whole or minimally processed vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds. It also reduces or eliminates white flour, sugar and oil. By focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods, we cause less inflammation to our bodies and create a healthier gut, which many doctors believe is our second brain.
7 Benefits of a Plant-based Diet
- More energy
- Clearer skin
- Sounder sleep
- Mood stabilizing
- PMS relief
- Reduce or
eliminate pain from arthritis, endometriosis, IBS and migraine headaches.
- Reversal of
diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer!
A Typical Day for a Plant-based Eater
A plant-based diet has many options, but to get an idea of what you could eat, here's a typical menu for any given day.
- Morning: Oatmeal
with berries and maple syrup or a green smoothie
- Lunch: Almond
butter curry sauce with broccoli, greens and rice
- Snack: Baba
ganoush with cucumbers and tomatoes
- Dinner: Sweet
potato and black bean tacos with an avocado salad
- Dessert: Banana
bread and chocolate sandwich cookies
Stock Your Pantry With Plant-based Foods
If you decide to try eating a diet rich in plant-based foods, you will want to stock your fridge and pantry with a lot of fruits and veggies as well as a number of other healthy options, like:
- Tahini (great
for dips and dressings)
- Veggie Broth
- Almond Butter
- Plant-based milk
(almond, coconut, rice)
- Flax Meal (can
be used in place of eggs)
- Nut-based flours
(almond, brown rice, garbanzo bean)
- Real Maple Syrup
or Raw Honey (*note: while honey may work for a plant-based diet, it is not generally considered vegan)
- Nutritional Yeast
How to Get Started?
- Get Educated: Watch a food-focused movie Forks Over Knives or Hungry For Change or explore
plant-based/veggie websites for inspiration.
- Experiment in
the kitchen. Buy vegetables you've never heard of and try something new. Terry
Walter’s Clean Food is a great cookbook to get you started.
- Make one swap a
week. Try a green smoothie in the morning instead of your breakfast sandwich
for order your favorite Thai dish sans meat.
- Invite a friend
to a veg-friendly restaurant. If you aren’t keen on cooking this way yet, have
someone do it for you.
- Be good to yourself. Change isn’t always easy, so take it slow. Big or small ... feel proud of every step you take to being a healthier you.