Getting Veggie With It: The Plant Based Diet

Posted on February 6th, 2019

What does a plant based diet mean? It means exactly what it sounds like: a diet made up entirely of plants. There are many misconceptions when it comes to a plant based diet, and I am here to put those to rest. A lot of people wonder if it’s hard to transition to an all plant diet, and the answer is YES. It is not easy… but once you start to experience the new world of flavors and countless combinations. I believe every diet should follow the same rule: everything in moderation. It is a personal choice of mine to eat only plants, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy food as much as a meat eater. I have put together some tips and answers to common questions and concerns about the plant based that you may have. If this is a lifestyle you may be interested in, please read on!

Why can a plant based diet can be “dangerous”?

The answer to this question is simple. When someone switches over to a plant based diet, they suddenly are left with empty spaces in their daily routine, like eating that morning breakfast sandwich with eggs and bacon, or having their healthy glass of milk with lunch and dinner each day to ensure they are getting enough calcium to build strong bones. When enough vitamins and minerals are not eaten each day, we can experience deficiencies and contract nutrition related diseases. It is common for people to change their diets so drastically that they are often not getting enough nutrients. Going plant based means that you need to substitute nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin D derived from plant sources. For example, we normally get most of our iron from meat, so we can eat dark leafy greens as one of our main sources of iron. We can drink fortified milk alternatives for our calcium and vitamin D rather than drink cow’s milk. So yes, if we do not monitor our food intake we can possibly develop deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. But with the right research and reputable sources, we can find perfect substitutes for all our plant based needs.

Where do I start if I want to try a plant based diet?

I would start by eliminating meat from every meal for about two days a week for several weeks to see how things go. If it goes well, eliminate all dairy and eggs on those days too. If you feel like you have no struggle on those day, then great! You can add more days like these to your weeks until you feel you have tight grasp on the concept and if you feel like this is the right lifestyle for you. If you find yourself constantly thinking, “I have no idea how I am going to do this…” then you may need a little extra time to guide yourself to the right approach. Planning meals and menus ahead of time before going grocery shopping can be a huge help so you’re not wondering around the grocery store panicking about not knowing what to buy.

But what do I get to eat??

The main plant based food groups are fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These food groups, if all incorporated into a healthy diet, can lead you to success without a doubt. They can make you feel healthy as well as look healthy. These days, grocery stores like Reasor’s sell an abundance of plant based foods, from frozen plant based chicken, to non-dairy ice cream, to nut milks. FYI, the chicken nuggets taste exactly like meat based ones! With this all being said, you can still eat everything you ate before, the only difference is that it is made from plants. In order to easily find out if a product is plant based, you can read the ingredient list and make sure there are no animal derived ingredients. There is also sometimes Vegan verified seal of approval on packaged plant based items to let the customer know it is safe for plant based consumption.

Why is a plant based diet healthy?

A plant based diet is naturally low in fat and very low in saturated fat, which is mostly present in fat from animal products. They are also extremely low in cholesterol. Cholesterol is only present in animal products. Since these nutrient levels are so low, this is generally a guide for a heart healthy diet. Following a plant based diet reduces your risk for heart disease, cardiovascular events, and high blood pressure.

About the Blogger:

My name is Kristin and I am a dietetic intern through OU learning how the dietetic industry works so I can excel as a registered dietitian in the future. My passion is to educate the public on how to cook, and how food can be healthy and delicious at the same time.

Disclaimer: Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy diet. Reasor’s Registered Dietitian’s opinions and recommendation are of their own; they are not paid to endorse any products.