Happy Herbivore Blog

November 17, 2011

What is a Plant-Based Diet

Since posting about my journey to a plant based diet, I’ve receiving a few questions about what a plant based diet is so I thought it deserved its own post!

In short, a plant-based diet is a diet that centers around plants: vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains and seeds and nuts. 

Why plants? Plants are good sources of protein, carbohydrates, naturally occurring fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, water... and they're good for you! Plant foods also don't have dietary cholesterol (which is great news for your heart).

If you look at the standard American plate of food, you usually have half of it covered in some kind of animal protein, and maybe a portion filled with a starch (like potatoes) and maybe -- maybe! a tiny portion of vegetables. (I read somewhere that the 'vegetable' most Americans eat is potatoes and that it comes in the form of a French fry or potato chip! Eek!)

Now check out my plant-based plate! 

black beans, kale, brown rice 

tofu, more kale, brown rice

What I love about my plant-based diet is I can can fill my entire plate with wholesome plant foods for less calories than I would be eating if my plate was filled with animal products or processed foods. 

A lot of people assume something is healthy because it is "vegan" -- but there are a lot of unhealthy foods that are vegan -- like French fries, and potato chips and white bread and Oreos. (Yes, Oreos are vegan I apologize profusely to anyone who goes and buys some after finding this out).

That's why I like making a distinction in saying I eat a plant-based diet, as opposed to saying I eat a vegan diet. Because you can eat a vegan diet and never eat plants -- or eat foods that were once plants but have been so processed they don't really look like those plants anymore. I always tell people, keep "veg" in vegan (or vegetarian).

Good News: A plant-based diet has been linked so reducing risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, and has even been found to help protect the body from cancer.

If you’re looking for more sources of information about eating a plant-based diet, you should visit my friends at Engine 2.  The Engine 2 Diet focuses on a plant-strong diet that can eliminate heart disease! (p.s Rip is most awesome!)

Plant-Based Diet books I Love: Eat to LiveThe McDougall ProgramThe China Study and the Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.

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