Here’s a big secret: Eating a plant-based diet does not mean you can’t eat meat. It means your meals are mostly plants: vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Beans, seeds and nuts are also included.
Unless you have been unplugged from the internet and news for the past decade, you have probably heard about plant-based diets.
Unlike other diets where you use it to try to lose weight or attain other big goals, the goal of a plant-based diet is simply to make you healthier, help the environment, and just make a healthy lifestyle change.
With a plant-based diet, you are not strictly vegan, but instead, add in more whole plant-based foods, and reduce your meat and animal products consumption.
If you’re wondering why you should consider it, take a look at the many health benefits.
Overview of the Health Benefits
If you are just looking for the general health benefits of switching to a plant-based diet, you will be happy to know that helping with your heart health and preventing stroke is at the top of the list.
It can also help to reduce cholesterol, level out your blood pressure levels, help you lose weight naturally, and even prevent type 2 diabetes. Some research is also showing promising results in helping to reduce your risk for certain types of cancers as well.
Balance of Nutrients in Your Diet
When you start eating more plant-based food, you naturally increase your nutrients as well. For example, if before you ate a turkey sandwich for lunch, you now want to replace the turkey with more veggies and maybe include some hummus in your sandwich for extra protein.
All these extra veggies, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, tofu, and other plant-based foods contain such an amazing source of nutrients for you.
Less Cholesterol and Fat
You are also going to naturally eat less cholesterol and fat in your diet when you start reducing eggs, meat, cheese, and dairy. This will happen naturally without you really needing to do anything. You don’t need to remove them from your diet completely just to experience the effects.
You can start slow by having one taco night with meatless crumbles instead of beef, or by having a black bean burger instead of a beef burger. This alone will make a very large impact on the cholesterol in your diet.
Greens, Fiber, and More
You will also benefit from the extra greens, fiber, and other important nutrients than you might have been lacking in your traditional diet.
When you fill-up on foods that aren’t balanced nutritionally, you might feel satiated, but your body isn’t getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. Just by adding more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods will make a big difference in your overall health.
Clean Sources of Protein
When you start a plant-based diet, the topic of protein is bound to come up. When anyone considers going vegetarian or vegan, or even just reducing their animal products consumption like in a plant-based diet, they often wonder how they will get nutrients like protein.
The good news is there are tons of delicious, healthy, whole foods that will give you protein without meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.
Here are some of the cleaner options.
Nuts and Seeds
To start with, you can choose different types of nuts and seeds to fill you up and add more protein to your meals and snacks. From peanut butter and almond butter, to chia seeds, they pack a nice protein punch.
For example, one serving of hemp seeds contains a whopping 11 grams of protein! Plus, it includes other nutrients like fiber, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and zinc. You can easily add a serving of hemp or chia seeds to your morning smoothie to get an excellent source of protein with breakfast.
While many of the different grains contain some protein, quinoa is one of the most nutritionally balanced. A small serving of ½ cup of quinoa contains 4 grams of protein, and of course, the number goes up if you increase your portion size.
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain as well, so it is an excellent option for people with Celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten. It is also high in many vitamins and minerals, plus gives you a little more fiber in your diet.
When you are on a plant-based diet, a good amount of your protein is going to come from beans and legumes. These also happen to be really filling foods, so they can bulk up a recipe without costing too much, but really help fill you up and keep you eating whole, clean foods.
Plus, both beans and peas also contain a good amount of fiber.
You get about 15 grams of protein in ½ cup of chickpeas, 7 grams of protein in ½ cup of black beans, and 9 grams of protein in ½ cup of cooked lentils.
If you want to find a good alternative to eggs and breakfast meats in the morning, why not a cup of oatmeal? It is warm, filling, satisfying, and packs a good amount of protein as well. In just ½ cup of oatmeal, you can get up to 13 grams of protein.
If you want to add even more protein, consider adding some chia seeds or flax seeds to your oatmeal, hemp hearts, or even mixing a scoop of protein powder, then adding a little more liquid.
While we are talking about plant-based food for protein, you may occasionally have eggs. If you want to stick to no meat or poultry, but adding a few eggs here and there, you are going to get about 6 grams of protein for each egg that you eat.
Overall, choosing a plant-based diet for food will help all your body’s systems work the best they can.