So you’ve been thinking about trying the plant-based diet for some time, but just not sure where to start? We hear you. There are many great benefits to your health by eating plant-based, according to numerous studies. Plant-based diets are also more environmentally sustainable because they use fewer natural resources and cause less environmental damage. Good news is that the food is tasty too, so you really don’t have to sacrifice anything on this new lifestyle! Let’s begin.
There are 5 main food groups: Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes, Grains and Starchy Vegetables, Nuts and Seeds. You want to keep the focus on whole foods, choose whole grains over processed but don’t stress over it. If you eat mostly whole foods with occasional processed foods it might make it easier for you to stick to the diet which is the goal. Mock meats and cheeses are great transition foods. Feel free to include non-dairy milk and yogurts to your diet. Use a variety of spices and healthy fats like olive oil when cooking. You will also want to take a vitamin b12 supplement. So let’s break this down:
Vegetables – 5 + servings
Eat a variety of vegetables of all colors, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and thousands of healthful phytonutrients. Some of our favorite and most nutrient dense veggies are:
Fruits – 2 + servings
Our favorite way to start the day is with a delicious smoothie, usually a blend of fruits and veggies. Fruits are an antioxidant powerhouse. Some of the most nutrient dense fruits are:
Legumes – 3 + servings
Beans, lentils, peas, tofu, tempeh all fall under this category. Legumes are a fantastic source of protein, fiber, b vitamins, iron and calcium among other nutrients. Some of the most nutritious legumes are:
-Soybeans (Tofu and tempeh)
Grains and Starchy Vegetables – 5 + servings
Grains and starchy vegetables are a staple in plant-based diets. These include pasta, rice, oatmeal, and potatoes. Choose whole grains over processed and refined ones. Grains and starchy vegetables are a great source of fiber, protein, and iron among other nutrients. Some of the most nutrient dense ones are:
Nuts and seeds – 1-2 servings
Nuts and seeds make a great snack, salad toppings and a nutritious addition to a variety of recipes. They pack a powerhouse of minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats. They are a great source of protein, omega 3, calcium, and iron among other nutrients. Some of the most nutritious ones to include in your diet are:
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, plant-based diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.
Eat a variety of foods from the above groups and you will meet your nutritional needs and soon start experiencing the benefits of the plant-based diet. Follow us on social media for tasty meal ideas!