Everyone knows about the advantages of plants, but what exactly is a whole food plant-based diet? Is this a diet you should consider? How can you ensure that your diet is both healthy and tasty?
So, keep reading to find out everything you want to know about plant-based eating.
What is a whole food plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is defined as one that emphasizes plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and nutrient-dense legumes. Nonetheless, it is not confined to plants and can include moderate amounts of meat, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Plant-based diets simply mean eating more of them.
The following diets are all considered plant-based.
- The vegan diet consists only of plants and avoids all animal products.
- The vegetarian (or Lacto-Ovo vegetarian) diet consists of plant-based foods, eggs, and dairy products. Meat, poultry, fish, and seafood are not included in the diet.
- The pescetarian diet is a vegetarian diet that also includes fish and seafood but excludes meat and poultry.
- The flexitarian diet is similar to the pescetarian diet that allows meat and poultry in moderation.
- The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional eating habits of the inhabitants of the countries of the Mediterranean basin. It consists mainly of plant-based foods, herbs, spices, and nutritious oils, includes fish and seafood (usually at least twice a week) and limited amounts of dairy, eggs, and poultry. Red meat and sweets are served for special occasions.
What is the difference between the plant-based diet and the vegan diet?
When it comes to plant-based diets there is none more stringent than a vegan’s. Most of the food is fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Yet unlike other plant-based diets vegan cuisine eliminates any animal-derived foods including but not limited to meat and poultry; fish; dairy products; eggs; and honey.
People follow a vegan diet for a variety of reasons, including animal welfare, the preservation of the environment, and their own health. As a result of scientific study, the vegan diet has been linked to various health advantages, as well as being better for the environment than diets high in animal products.
The good news is that plant-based eaters don’t have to give up their favorite meals to get the health and environmental benefits of plant-based eating.
Why should you consider a plant-based diet?
A whole food plant-based diet including whole foods rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and vegetable proteins provide a number of benefits (e.g., nuts, legumes).
It provides essential vitamins and minerals, nourishing fiber and lipids, as well as beneficial plant nutrients that contribute to overall well-being. Numerous studies reveal that plant-based eating habits promote several health indicators, such as a healthy heart and a healthy weight.
But wait, there’s more! Filling your plates with mostly vegetables not only benefits you but also the environment. This is supported by research showing that healthy vegetarian diets are 42-84 percent less damaging for the environment than other diets. It’s official: food has an impact on the environment. In short, the plant-based diet is as good for your body as it is for the planet!
Foods to consume in a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet
Please keep in mind that the Whole Food Plant-Based Diet focuses on plant-based foods, whether they are in their natural state or have been processed.
Remember to consume animal products in lesser portions whenever feasible and pay attention to the quality of the product.
You should only eat animal products as a supplement to a plant-based diet rather than using them as the main food.
List of plant-based whole foods:
- Fruits: berries or red fruits, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas, papaya, etc.
- Vegetables / Green Leaves: kale, kale, spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce, bock choy, etc.
- Non-starchy vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, peppers, summer squash, artichoke, eggplant, etc.
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, cassava, winter squash, corn, etc.
- Whole grains: brown rice, whole oats and flakes, farro, quinoa, wheat pasta, and brown rice, barley, etc.
- Healthy fats: avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.
- Legumes: pinto beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans, soy, etc.
- Seeds, walnuts, and butter: almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, chia and flaxseed seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural peanut butter, tahini, etc.
- Vegetable milk: soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
- Spices, herbs, and seasonings: basil, rosemary, turmeric, curry, black pepper, salt, etc.
- Other sources of vegetable protein: tofu, tempeh, plant-based protein sources, or powders with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.
- Drinks: water, coffee, tea, sparkling water, etc.
When supplementing a plant-based diet with animal products, it’s crucial to focus on the quality, which suggests natural animal products from supermarkets or local farms.
- Eggs: raised on pastures when possible.
- Poultry: poultry, organic when possible.
- Beef and pork: grazing or grass-fed when possible.
- Seafood: Caught in the wild from sustainable fisheries where possible.
- Dairy: Organic dairy products from grass-fed animals whenever possible.
Foods to avoid or minimize in this diet
In spite of the fact that animal products can be included in a diet, the following goods should be avoided:
- Game meat
In conclusion, whole food plant-based diet will limit your intake of animal products. Also, buying local, sustainable goods also supports the local economy and lessens reliance on industrial agriculture. It is possible to reduce global warming and environmental degradation by adopting sustainable eating habits that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and the amount of land needed for industrial agriculture.
Since you know a little more about the whole plant-based diet, and about some of its benefits, would you be encouraged to try it?