By: Annette Baker & Marianne Lako, Co-Owners of Nature’s Plate
Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about plant-based eating, veganism – the health benefits, environmental impact, animal welfare aspects, etc. Even mainstream experts are now on board. The most recent statement from the American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics states “Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity…”
You may also be thinking that a plant-based diet and the avoidance of animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) is really extreme if not impossible.
So, what’s the best way to incorporate the many benefits of all those nutrients and fiber in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes… and experience the health benefits including lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer without completely giving up all the traditional foods you love? Well, as the Meatless Monday and Vegan Before Six concepts show, many people are finding ways to balance all of this out. Any movement in the direction of adding healthy, whole plant foods into our routine helps us by adding all the good stuff while also minimizing the less healthy food.
There are plenty of reasons to clean up our diets – weight/fat loss, improved fitness, general health, increased energy levels – and adding more whole plant foods can help with all of this and more. Kaiser-Permanente (a leading health care provider and not-for-profit health insurer) now recommends plant-based diets saying “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.” But they also state “A plant-based diet is not an all-or-nothing program…”
Easy ways to start:
- Add plants to existing meals – start with spinach in a smoothie, extra carrots in a soup (even if it’s canned), or a salad instead of bread… it all means more plants and therefore more health promoting nutrients.
- Go plant-based one day a week. Whether it’s Meatless Monday, or another day, this can be as easy as oatmeal (with almond milk, fruit, & nuts) for breakfast, bean burritos w/ veggies on the side for lunch, and a veggie burger and salad for dinner… for snacks try fresh fruit and raw nuts or hummus and veggies or pita chips.
- Replace animal products in some of your favorite recipes… try a cashew-based sauce instead of cheese, beans instead of meat in enchiladas and other Tex Mex dishes, flax seeds instead of eggs when baking.
You won’t go wrong, as long as, you focus on whole plant foods including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – when purchasing convenience products or prepared meals, look for whole foods on the ingredient list and stay away from long ingredient lists with unrecognizable items.
As you experience the many benefits of plant-based eating, you’ll likely increase the servings of plants in your diet! The bottom line is however you choose to do it… adding more plants to your meals has a long list of benefits, and it doesn’t mean you have to avoid animal products all the time!
Written by: Annette Baker and Marianne Lacko, co-owners of Nature’s Plate, provider of fresh plant-based meals, snacks, and bakery items. Grab a bite right in the store or pick up entire weekly meal plans at your convenience.
10233 E. Northwest Hwy, Suite 432
Dallas, TX 75238