We may be stating the obvious here, but a plant-based diet consists of eating — you guessed it — mainly plants, and today, more and more people are turning to a plant-based diet. Here are three reasons why more people are adapting a plant-based diet and how you can incorporate more plants into your lifestyle.
Adapting a plant-based diet means focusing on plant-derived, whole foods that are unrefined and minimally processed. This means pure, unaltered ingredients that are in their original form. Think foods like seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. Real, whole foods are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that help the body achieve optimal health. Following a plant-based lifestyle does not mean you are never going to eat meat again. Animal proteins can easily fit into a plant-based lifestyle, but in a supporting role, as opposed to the main event. When creating a plant-based meal, think of vegetables and whole grains as the main entrees and any animal protein as a side.
Plant-based foods are full of fiber. Fiber helps keep you satiated, which means you will feel fuller longer. Feeling satiated after meals could potentially help cut down on snacking throughout the day, which could possibly even lead to weight loss. Certain plant-based foods like apples, asparagus, nuts, and seeds also act as prebiotics and provide fuel for the good bacteria living within our gut. This in turn helps keep our digestion healthy.
Phytonutrients are responsible for a plant’s bright color, smell and taste, and plant-based foods are packed with them. Phytonutrients also help to fight free radicals, which can eventually lead to health ailments.
- Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Plants are chock-full of vitamins and minerals. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are full of Vitamins E and K and also have minerals like calcium and magnesium.
If you don’t want to ditch animal protein completely, ease into a plant-based diet instead. Here are five ways you can eat more plants every day.
#1 Add Plants to Your Smoothie
If you can’t stand the taste of vegetables, add them to your smoothies instead. Add a cup of spinach or kale to your favorite breakfast smoothie bowl for an added dose of daily greens.
#2 Stock Up on Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great on-the-go snack when practicing a plant-based diet. Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are all great choices. Add some variety by choosing a new nut butter flavor to slather on a slice of fresh fruit or to drizzle on your overnight oats or chia seed pudding.
A word of caution: Don’t go nuts on nuts! Although nuts and seeds are high in fiber and make for a great plant-based snack, they are high in calories.
#3 Salads, Soups and Stir Frys
Eating more plants can be easy when you are whipping up a hearty soup, salad, or stir fry. These meals are especially good if you have some vegetables that are a little past their prime. Make a homemade salad dressing and load your plate with all of your extra farmers market vegetables or warm up with a pot of slow cooker soup. If you are working on eating less protein, make a big batch of vegetable stir fry and only add a small quantity of animal protein like chicken or beef. You can also add a seafood option like shrimp.
#4 Pick a Protein
If you are focusing on eating more plants, pick a plant-based protein that will help keep you energized throughout the day. Think of foods like legumes. Some popular choices include black beans, chickpeas, and all kinds of lentils. Plus, legumes are affordable and can be added to almost any dish like soups, salads, burrito bowls, tacos and stir fries.
#5 Get Some Grains
Like legumes, hearty grains are a good source of protein and make a great base for bowls, curries, stews, and side dishes. Try amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, millet or quinoa.
Remember these five tips the next time you plan your plant-based meals and remember, whether you decide to adapt a plant-based diet full time or part time, going green doesn’t have to be hard!