A Guide to Plant-Based Eating
You’re probably thinking, “Great, another article telling me to give up meat!” Well, not necessarily. What plant-based eating suggests is minimizing (not automatically eliminating) animal proteins and emphasizing plants as the main portion of your meal. In other words, if you picture a plate, at least half would be filled with greens, legumes, and whole grains and your preferred animal protein would essentially be a “side dish” or a “condiment.”
So why join #teamplants? Because there is a multitude of nutrients that come hand-in-hand with plants. Aside from vitamins and minerals keeping your body functioning at its best, plants are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and plant sterols. And what do these fancy names mean? Bottom line… they mean HEALTH! These are all compounds found in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Research studies link the aforementioned to the reduction in risk of many ailments such as cancers and hypertension; essentially promoting not just heart health but also immune function, skin health, eye health, bone, and joint health. In addition to the positive correlation of improving (and preventing) health conditions, more and more people are considering a plant-strong way of eating to improve energy and weight management.
While most people will consider changing their eating habits to obtain optimal health, reducing your carbon foot print is yet another reason to eat more plants. Compared to plants, animals raised for food production use up many resources. Animal agriculture is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions- more than the green house gas emissions linked to all forms of transportation! It is also the leading cause of land and water use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. Equally important is the concern for animal welfare. So at the end of the day, a plant-based way of eating helps us lead a more compassionate life.
Implementing a plant based way of eating is easier than you think:
2) Re-design your plate- filling at least half of your plate with produce, grains, and legumes. This will help downsize your meat servings. Consider swapping chopped mushrooms or organic tofu for half of the ground meat you would use in dishes like meatloaf, tacos, chili, meatballs, or pasta sauce. This way you will be turning meat into a “condiment” effortlessly.
3) Quality matters! Focus on decreasing processed meats you are eating and replacing with free range, grass-fed, organic options. With plants, choose ones that are close to their natural state as possible.
4) Make this new way of eating work for you! Remember you’re not giving up animal proteins, you’re focusing on increasing your plant consumption. A great way to start is by jumping on the “Meatless Mondays” trend!
Whether you are looking to improve health, fine-tune your eating pattern, or you want to reduce your environmental impact, consider taking these steps to reap all the benefits of plant-focused eating!
Basilia Theofilou is a contributor on our blog as well as one of the nutrition advisors here at PreviMedica. You can read more about her here.