Plant-Based Diet: What’s the Big Deal?

Do you ever really stop to think about the foods that you eat and where they come from? The benefits? The drawbacks? I just recently watched a few documentaries in my health promotion classes “What the Health,” and “Forks Over Knives” that really shocked me and make me rethink my diet.

I couldn’t believe the standard healthy diet of the food pyramid or MyPlate that I grew up learning wasn’t the healthiest diet and could be affecting my overall health. Being a health communication/health promotion student I was really shocked to hear how eating meat and processed food can really affect your health and quality of life. Usually I’m not much of a diet believer but follow the links below to trailers for the films so you can see why I changed my mind!

What the Health

Forks Over Knives

I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater (expect for my occasional eating a whole bag of chips in a sitting because chips are the best). I’ve also always been a HUGE lover of fruits and veggies because they’re delicious, and I grew up eating them all the time. Growing up with a healthy diet where fruits and veggies were incorporated into every meal definitely influenced my diet heavily and helped me learn how to cook healthy food of my own. Figuring out how to cook healthy food the way you like is definitely key to having a healthy diet, let alone a plant based one.

My family has always been a pretty big meat eating family too. I mean, most people in the United States are, especially in Wisconsin. But, as much as I love a greasy cheeseburger or any kind of meat actually, I have been working to incorporate a more plant-based diet into my life (with a little bit of meat here and there because let’s be honest, I can’t cut that out of my life that easily!).

There are several major benefits to moving to plant-based nutrition, all supported by excellent science. Plus I love me some fruits and veggies. These benefits include:

  • Easy weight management: People who eat a plant-based diet tend to be leaner than those who don’t, and the diet makes it easy to lose weight and keep it off—without counting calories.
  • Disease prevention: Whole-food, plant-based eating can prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes.
  • A lighter environmental footprint: A plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment, plus it makes for less food waste.

Do I have you intrigued yet? There are tons of delicious foods that you can enjoy on a plant-based diet that are nutritious and natural. Here’s a quick overview of the major food categories you would enjoy on a plant-based diet:

  • Fruits: any type of fruit including apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits, etc.
  • Vegetables: plenty of veggies including peppers, corn, avocados, lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, collards, etc.
  • Tubers: root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, etc.
    Whole grains: grains, cereals, and other starches in their whole form, such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, oats, barley, etc. Even popcorn is a whole grain.
  • Legumes: beans of any kind, plus lentils, pulses, and similar ingredients.

There are plenty of other foods you can also enjoy— including nuts, seeds, tofu, whole-grains and breads, and plant-based milks.

I know you might be thinking of all the foods you can’t eat, but hey you don’t have to implement the diet all at once, easing into it is the easiest way to make changes. And trust me, you’ll feel amazing! Stay tuned for more information and following my experience with a plant-based diet. Meanwhile, check out the Forks Over Knives website for more information, news and of course, recipes and meal plans!

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