The growing popularity of Plant-based Diets across the United States for enhancing health and as a preventative measure against heart disease, and many other serious and terminal diseases, has brought to my attention to the need for diet recommendations and direction on how to make the transition.
Within the last three months I have personally run into several people who said they “tried” vegetarian diets, but they just couldn’t do it. When probing a little further to know what they were eating, they all said a lot of pasta. While pasta is made from grains, a diet that is predominantly pasta is deficient in necessary vitamins, minerals and protein provided by a diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.
What exactly is a Plant-based Diet?
A plant-based diet is a diet that focuses on eating plant foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and absolutely no animal products. No red meat, fish, chicken, butter, milk, eggs, cheese, gelatin or other animal by-product or products that have any ingredients that are a derivative from animals.
People who eliminate milk products from their diet often do so because of allergies, ethics around cruelty to animals, and to rebel against the dairy industry that injects cows with homones. Of course, the Vegan way of life avoids all animal products including honey, milk products, leather, wool and silk.
Transitioning to a Plant-based Diet
If the full-on plant-based diet is more than what you’re ready for you can start gradually by eliminating red meat from your diet. Make sure that the majority of your diet is fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and, if you like, milk products like cheese, yogurt and butter will help while transitioning.
After your body makes the initial adjustment, the next step is to eliminate other meats such as chicken, fish, turkey and sea food. If the craving for meat comes up, your body may be telling you that you need more protein in your diet. Although most plant food sources have adequate protein, there are a few which provide more concentrated protein: beans and rice together (together they make a prefect protein), quinoa (an Incan grain that is a perfect protein), nuts (especially almonds), legumes (like split peas or lentils).
As mentioned above, if you simply cut out meat and replace it with pasta and other fast foods, chances are you will have a very difficult time sticking to a plant-based diet and may end up nutritionally deficient.
For more information about plant based diets contact Chitra