How To Follow A Plant Based Diet
Our health is the most valuable things that we have. Everything else in our lives is directly affected by the state of our health. If we are not healthy, we cannot properly perform in other areas of our lives, whether it’s managing our daily functions or taking care of loved ones. Everything is rooted in our physical and mental wellbeing.
The easiest way for us to control and maintain our health is by maintaining a healthy diet. After all, we truly are what we eat. The problem is, with thousands of diets out there all claiming to be the best one, which do you choose?
Some diets want you to cut out carbohydrates completely, while others want you to skip the beef. Some diets go as far as to expect you to get all of your daily nutrition from blended shakes. We can’t speak for any of these other diets, but we do know of one which is pretty effective and can leave you feeling healthier and happier.
An all plant based diet can do amazing things for your body and mind. You will have spare energy that you never thought you had in you, you will feel stronger and look slimmer, and if you stick to it you can even prolong your life expectancy.
Many people are misinformed about what an all plant based diet consists of. They primarily think that it’s all about eating leafy greens like kale and lettuce, but the reality is a bit different. You can’t get the necessary nutrients out of just leafy greens. You need to dive a bit deeper into what it truly means to switch to an all plant based diet.
Be aware that switching diets isn’t as easy as an overnight decision. You will have to put a lot of hard work and effort into it. Very few people have the ability to just wake up one day and say, “Today I will start eating only plants!” and actually succeed without a stumble or two. Many do expect this to happen, and when it doesn’t work for them they often give up or develop bad habits that are terrible for their health in the long run.
Be ready to work hard to keep up with your new diet. Don’t give up and you will eventually see results.
What exactly is a plant-based diet?
Well, it’s pretty straightforward. You only eat plants. You choose to remove animals and animal-based products from your diet and only focus on items which are classified as plants.
The more complex answer is that you are choosing to eat only plants and while doing so you are also forced to widen the variety of plants you consume in order to still receive the nutrients your body needs to live a healthier life. You will end up rediscovering many plant based foods which most people don’t care much about and choose to avoid for one reason or another.
Choosing a plant-based diet is very similar to becoming a vegan, although sometimes those who label themselves as vegan do still consume some animal products. Essentially, we will be focusing on vegetarianism while entirely removing all animal and animal made products from our diet.
Why should you switch to an all plant based diet?
The primary reason to switch to a plant-based diet is your health. As Americans, our food consumption habits have left us at the bottom of the healthiest countries list. Obesity is a big problem in the U.S. It causes very big issues with heart health and can lead to heart attack or stroke. Plant-based diets have a low amount of saturated fats and low calorie counts while maintaining high levels of fibers, making them a very good way to lose weight as long as you stay away from processed foods.
Plant-based diets can also help deal with diabetes, another major problem in the United States. The natural composition of plant-based foods helps to maintain the proper sugar levels in your body and the glucose found in fruits is much better for your body than other more processed forms of sugar. It has been shown that plant-based diets extend your life expectancy significantly while keeping you healthy and feeling amazing throughout your life.
Aside from improving your health, you may also choose a plant-based diet to support the environment. The amount of meat that our society consumes on a daily basis is staggering. There is a direct relationship between your carbon footprint and the amount of meat you eat. Giving up eating meat is equivalent to someone who drives daily giving it up completely. This is how high of a carbon footprint eating meat has on the environment. This is partially because the animals which we raise for food consume an unthinkable amount of plants, far more than we do ourselves.
The resources needed to supply all the meat to the consumer are out of control. If they were redirected for other purposes we would all be in a much better situation than we are right now. It is estimated that roughly 20 percent of all greenhouse emissions in the world is produced by animal agriculture, compared to 13.5 percent from all transportation. It is also estimated that it takes between 5,000 and 15,000 gallons of water in order to produce enough beef for one hamburger. Considering the amount of people who don’t have access to clean water around the world, this number is simply ridiculous.
Others choose to switch to an all plant based diet due to compassion. No matter how you look at it or what excuses you use, every time you eat any meat you are supporting cruelty against animals. All the animals we consume are living and feeling beings which we let suffer for our own benefit. These animals are sentient beings who are aware of being alive and who can feel pain and anger and sadness. We slaughter them every day, and some of us don’t think for even a split second about compassion or our responsibility as the dominant species to be humane to the lesser species in our care. We need to rise above the simple idea of existence and survival to also incorporate the wellbeing of all other creatures on Earth when deciding how we should live. For some of us, this means choosing the refrain from eating animals or animal based products.
You are onboard, what now?
Now that you’ve made the decision to switch to an all plant diet, where should you start?
The obvious first step is to start cutting meat out of your daily diet. It’s important that you do this slowly. Quitting meat cold turkey often has adverse effects, and usually fails. One proven method is to remove meat for only one day each week by declaring a specific day such as “Meatless Monday”. Days like Friday and Saturday are not the best to start with as those are the days we are most likely to go out with friends and family. Monday and Tuesday are the 2 best options. Once you have successfully implemented a plant-based diet on one day of the week, you can start to work your way up. Soon enough you will be following your new diet two days a week, and then three. Simply repeat this process until you are now following your plant based diet every day of the week. It’s important not to rush through this process. Give yourself all of the time that you need to adjust to each phase without cheating.
An alternate method that can also be effective is to remove meat from your diet one at a time. You can begin by cutting out chicken, and then pork, and then beef, and so on. You can continue on with this method until you have removed absolutely everything from your diet that should not be a part of it.
The next step may be a very difficult one if you’re a big fan of breakfast. It’s time to remove eggs from your diet. If you are going to follow a completely plant based diet then removing meat is not quite enough. You will have to completely remove all animal products from your plate.
After mastering your new egg-free diet, the next step is to move away from dairy. Milk is the first dairy product that most people think of, but the real challenge for many people is giving up cheese. Almond and soy milk are both good alternatives for regular milk, but unfortunately there just isn’t a very good substitute out there for cheese.
This is also an indulgent part of many meals and snacks that most people find it difficult to go without. Give yourself extra time at this state if you need it. Focus on all the things you are gaining from making this hard decision and sticking to it. It’s not about what you are giving up, it’s about what you are gaining for yourself and for the world around you. The future generations will thank you for making the right decision!
Finally, it is time to eat whole food. This is the final step. You need to cut out all processed food. This step is a huge challenge for those of us who are accustomed to the Standard American Diet. We are not in the habit of eating leafy greens and vegetables, and most of us find them distasteful and unappealing. This bad habit needs to be broken. It will take time and you will need to do it slowly. Try starting from things like raw nuts instead of roasted or salted ones. Anything that has been pre-processed is out of the question. You will need to convert to liking beans and protein-rich foods like tofu and seitan. Luckily for you, there are many recipes out there that can please even the most stubborn taste buds. Again, stick with it. Try different ways of preparing food. Above all, don’t give up. You can do it.
What plants should I eat?
The simple answer is actually pretty awesome: everything that is edible! There are thousands of things you can eat on a plant based diet, some of which you most likely have never even heard of. Here are a few things you might want to look into and decided whether it’s something you might be interested in. Remember, this is far from everything. There are many plants out there and some might taste more desirable to you, so we suggest you try as much as you can.
Beans will be the primary source of protein for you while you are on an all plant based diet. This means you will be eating some things you are already used to like kidney beans or pinto beans, but will most likely also dive into some other stuff like tofu and tempeh. You can use soybeans to replace things like milk and yogurt, but be cautious and stay away from the GMO-packed products. Choosing the organic stuff might be a bit more expensive in the long run, but it’s a lot safer and healthier for you than the overly processed foods that you’ve worked so hard to get away form.
Most diets don’t even mention seeds. However, an all plant based diet can be full of a variety of different seeds and nuts. Things like almonds and walnuts are very tasty and can be used in many recipes. Let’s not forget almond milk either, which is quite delicious and can be used to substitute your dairy milk. It’s a win-win solution. As far as seeds go, you have many options like hemp seeds or chia seeds which can be ground into protein powder or used by themselves whole in many dishes. Quinoa is also a great option that many people have never even tried before. This is a fantastic seed which is very similar to grains and is packed full of nutrients.
Saturated fats should be avoided as much as possible when it comes to one’s health. Luckily, there isn’t much saturated fat when it comes to plants. Most of the plants that have fats in them have good fats which are necessary for our bodies to stay healthy. Plants like avocados and nuts are full of these fats and can be an excellent source of good fats. Don’t forget about olive oil and canola oil, these are both an excellent source of good fats.
Proper nutrition is vital when it comes to any diet. When working with an all plant based diet there is no better source of nutrition than dark leafy green such as kale, collards, and broccoli. These vegetables are low in calories but rich in all sorts of nutrients, and should be eaten daily in large servings. These are perfect for replenishing your vitamins and other minerals such as calcium and iron. Do not skip out on your dark greens!
There aren’t very many berries out there that are bad for you. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Most berries are full of minerals and nutrients which our body can use to reenergize itself on the dot. Berries are also full of anti-oxidants which can help your body fight illnesses. Eating a variety of berries improves your overall health, keeps your skin and hair protected, and prevents certain types of diseases.
In moderation, nearly all fruits are a fantastic source of nutrients, proteins, and vitamins. Apples, peaches, bananas, mangos, oranges, and pears all carry many benefits that your body can use to its advantage in order to stay healthy. The only thing you need to be careful of is the amount of fructose inside of these fruits, especially if you are a diabetic. Fructose is by far one of the best sources of glucose, but you have to keep an eye out on the amount which you consume. Moderation is the key.
How do I cook them?
By now you should have a pretty good understanding of what types of plants we are talking about eating when referring to an all plant based diet. However, knowing how to incorporate all of these items in your dishes can be a bit of a challenge.
The solution isn’t too difficult, though. Simply mix some stuff up and see if you like what it tastes like. You probably won’t get a home-run on the first try, but you’re likely to find elements that you like in each attempt. If you aren’t in an experimental mood, you can always turn to the World Wide Web and glance at some of the recipes out there. We personally prefer to experiment, so here are some ideas for you.
Grab some olive oil and garlic, add it to your favorite pan and go crazy! Here is the basic formula: veggies + protein + greens + spices = YUM! It really doesn’t matter what ingredients you use as long as they are plant based. We like bell peppers and mushrooms with tofu, a little bit of spinach, and broccoli. Add some black pepper and salt, fry it all up until you’ve got the desired consistency, and you are good to go. The possibilities are endless!
Seriously, who doesn’t like pasta? Of course, you need to stay away from sauces that have meat in them or are processed, so we suggest making your own. Make some tomato sauce with some olive oil and a few of your favorite spices, and then add it to some whole wheat pasta. Simple and easy to make, but the result is delicious.
This is your moment to become an all plant-eating Doctor Frankenstein. Salads are a medley of whatever you want. All you need to do is have a bed of your favorite greens like kale or spinach, add some bits and pieces of other vegetables like tomatoes, and maybe add some odds and ends like avocado, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds. Mix some balsamic vinegar and olive oil in and you have yourself a monster of a salad!
Again, the possibilities are endless. Use soy milk as your base and add frozen berries, some fruits, a few seeds, some greens, and hemp protein powder and you have yourself a smoothie worthy to be called the breakfast of champions.
There are plenty of reasons to decide to switch your diet to all plant based foods. As you have read, some are very precise and on point, while others might be based on your preferences and personality. But the major reason is your health. Your health and your wellbeing don’t care about what type of a personality you have. If you don’t put your body in the right conditions, you will never get healthy and you will never extend your life past the American standard, which is far too short thanks to our love of fast food and processed animal products.
The human species can be the savior or the downfall of our planet. The truth is that it all starts by accepting responsibility for our actions. What matters is your decision to do something about it. This decision can be based on compassion and a desire to live your life to the fullest, or it can be rooted it greed and willful neglect of the need to take care of this planet for future generations.
One thing is for certain, we are in control and so far we have managed to steer our species and all the others on this planets towards a cliff. If we don’t do something soon, there won’t be enough room to make a turn for the better.