Have you considered incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet? We are talking about the five health benefits of consuming a plant-based diet and tips for making the transition!
Chances are, you’ve heard of the popular trend “Meatless Monday” and you may even incorporate it into your weekly menu planning. But do you really know the health benefits of going meatless?
My Personal Experience
My husband and I have been eating more plant-based meals for a few months now and we have both noticed a difference in the way we look and feel. We both attribute our new way of eating to feeling more energized throughout the day (my husband even requests green smoothies every morning now!). Personally, I have noticed that I am less bloated, have clearer, brighter skin and feel healthier overall from the inside out!
The craziest thing is that in removing certain foods from our household (helloooo sweets and packaged foods!), I have found myself actually craving these nutrient-rich plant-based foods that my body is now accustomed to.
Aside from our personal experience (as if that’s not enough to get you motivated!) let’s look at the cold hard facts presented to us from the experts.
The 5 Health Benefits of Consuming a Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet has been recommended by health experts for years as a way to achieve optimal health. According to a recent nutritional update for physicians promoting plant-based diets, these benefits include:
- Weight Management (this could be due to the high fiber intake found in many plant-based foods. Fiber helps keep us fuller for longer and helps prevent overeating!)
- Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Overall heart health and lower risk of heart disease
- Prevention of high blood pressure
- Decreased risk of certain cancers
Another added bonus beyond our health that we’ve seen is that plant-based meals tend to be more budget-friendly, especially when planning for and cooking these meals at home.
You want me to do what?
The idea of committing to a plant-based diet may seem a little intimidating for some people. That’s okay! I believe that you do not have to be 100% vegetarian or vegan to reap the benefits that foods from natural plant sources can have on our health.
If I’m being honest, my husband and I really don’t follow one “diet” method. In our household, we aim to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods from organic sources when possible (and when the budget allows) and consume plant-based meals about 70% of the week.
The goal here is to focus on what can be added to your diet for a healthy lifestyle; not on what should be removed or taken away. No one wants be told what not to eat, right? It just makes us want it even more! Naturally, the addition of fruits, vegetables, plant-based protein sources and whole grains will crowd out some of the not-so-good-for-you foods you may be currently reaching for.
Tips for Plant-Based Newbies
Start small! Never cooked a plant-based meal in your life? Start with Meatless Monday! Incorporate one plant-based meal into your weekly routine until you are comfortable with adding more.
Drink your nutrients. One of my favorite ways to get my fruits and veggies in for the day is to drink a green smoothie or juice. These drinks are chock full of nutrients that will help give you an energy boost and pep in your step!
Add umami to your dishes. What does that fancy word mean anyways? Umami is the taste sensation that is considered to make foods savory, complex and deeply flavorful. In traditional American diets this is largely achieved through a variety of meats. For those looking for the same depth of flavor that is satisfying and a welcome addition to their plant-based meal might include foods such as: mushrooms, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, nuts and seeds and savory spices.
Don’t forget about protein! A concern for many vegetarians is not consuming enough protein throughout the day. However, there are many foods that contain this necessary nutrient that might not immediately come to mind such as: quinoa, hemp hearts, nuts, beans, lentils, chia seeds, tofu and nutritional yeast.
Sneak in veggies where you can. If you have a picky-eating significant other or family, you’re going to want to find ways to sneak in veggies where they go unnoticed. Some of my favorite ways to do this is to use ½ steamed cauliflower and ½ potatoes when making mashed potatoes, substitute some of the beef in spaghetti sauce with mushrooms, or add leafy greens to your fruit smoothies.
Have you considered a plant-based diet? What are your favorite plant-based meals?
*It’s important to note that I am not a medical professional and base the above information on my own personal experience and expert research. If you are considering a new diet, it is advised that you consult with your primary physician or registered dietitian.