There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the advantages of eating a plant based diet. One of the most well-known quotes on the topic comes from Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
There are a lot of reasons to add more plants to your diet, and it really is pretty simple to do so. If you want to eat more healthfully this year, read on to learn why plants are so good for you, and how you can ease into a plant based diet.
More Plants Doesn't Mean No Meat
First, let's clarify that a plant based diet doesn't mean eliminating all animal products. The goal is to eat more plants, not to avoid meat and dairy. In fact, that's how a plant based eating differs from a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Think of it this way: When you eat more plants, you're getting more good stuff in your diet that helps your body function even better.
Plant Based Nutrients and Your Health
In elementary school, we all learn about the food chain and how energy passes between levels. Plants are producers, and animals are consumers. The higher up you go, the less energy you receive from what you've consumed. When you eat plants, you get the greatest amount of energy and nutrients possible.
In fact, plants provide all the essential nutrients except vitamin B12. Those nutrients do amazing and essential things for your body. Research has shown the positive effects of plant based foods on diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and eye, skin and brain health.
Plants and Your Budget
We realize produce can be expensive, but that's one reason we advocate for eating seasonally. Not only does seasonal produce cost less, it tastes better too.
A plant based diet includes more than just fruits and vegetables. Beans, potatoes, and whole grains like quinoa, rice and oats are plants too. They are affordable, versatile and filling.
Easing Into a Plant Based Diet
One of the easiest ways to start eating more plants could be to embrace #MeatlessMonday. Check this hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find out what other people are eating that day. You might find some great recipe recommendations.
Another health-focused move is to cut back on processed meat in your diet. Instead of bacon, sausage and deli meat, eat lean cuts of pork, chicken and beef. It could be as simple as having one strip of bacon or sausage link with your waffle on Saturday mornings, instead of two or three with breakfast every day.
You can also replace some of the meat in recipes with vegetables, grains or beans. Add extra beans and tomatoes to chili, marinate some tofu and stir fry it for Asian-inspired dishes, or use quinoa and beans as filling for tacos or burritos.
Need more suggestions? Check out our other posts on eating vegetarian and see if any of those recipes sound good. We bet you'll find a few winners to help you move toward a plant based diet!