What is a plant-based diet and why should you try it?
What is a plant-base diet: A complete beginner’s guide
Are green leaves the only healthy foods? Is all meat bad for you? Will going vegan help me lose weight? Should I eat plant-based? If you’re pondering on any of these questions, then you’ll benefit from this beginner’s guide to a plant-based diet.
Let’s dive into the world of clean eating and nutrient-dense food. Where you can become the healthiest version of yourself. It all starts in your gut. This means the food you put in it determines your health.
Plant-based diet for beginners | Plant-based diet for beginners: Your guide to getting started
As a Nutritional Therapist, you might think my only advice is “go vegan!” Well, this is not the case. I am not pro-vegan, nor pro-vegetarian. I think whether or not you eat meat produce is totally your choice.
However, I do believe in eating as many whole plant-based foods as possible. So what’s the key then? The key is to avoid processed foods. When you cut down on processed food, you have more room in your diet for organic food sources. When we remove processed high-carb junk from our diet, so many things naturally fall into place.
Then once you do this, you can fill up more nutrients in your meals. When we add in the nutrients, healing occurs. You’ll notice incredible changes once you make these subtle adjustments.
But what exactly is a plant-based diet? | How a plant-based diet works
What is a whole-food, plant-based diet? What is a plant-based whole food diet?
You might be wondering what exactly a plant-based diet is. The truth is, it’s not something completely set in stone. Most people use the term to define an eating regime that consists of just plant sources.
These include beans, legumes, fruit, and veggies. Some people also extend this diet to include whole grain and whole wheat food like bread, pasta, and oats.
Some people might even take it further by eating meat and milk sources that are plant-based. These are all made of plant protein.
So, whichever type you choose is completely optional and based on personal preferences.
If you are looking for steps on choosing an eating style that fits you perfectly, then have a look at these 10 tips for selecting a diet that works best for you. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/ten-tips-for-finding-the-best-diet-that-works-for-you
Types of plant-based diets | The 11 main types of plant-based diets
What are 11 plant-based diets? What are the most common plant-based diets?
Here are the main types of plant-based diets:
- Whole food plant-based
If you are new to eating healthy, a list like this might confuse you! Don’t worry, I’m here to clear everything up. Keep reading.
11 Types of vegetarian diets explained | 11 Types of plant-based diets: A nutritional therapist explains
Vegetarian | What is a typical vegetarian diet?
Most people mistake vegetarianism for an exact type of diet. However, it simply describes a list of plant-based diets with variations depending on personal preferences. So, to really know which type of vegetarianism you want to try out, then it’s important to go into each type of vegetarianism style.
My #1 Tip for going vegetarian: the best way to stay committed is to figure out exactly which vegetarian style you are willing to commit to. Below are the different categories plus my top tips on being successful at them.
Vegan | What do vegan diets eat?
Vegan might’ve been the only one you knew on this list. This is because it’s the most common and has the least rules attached to it. A vegan diet consists of very strict vegetarian rules. It means that one does not eat any dairy, eggs, or animal products. Vegans are commonly people that stand against all animal cruelty and exploitation for production and food sources.
My #1 Tip for going vegan: make sure you are getting a lot of plant protein in your diet. Multivitamins and supplements should be highly considered.
Going completely vegan can come with some deficiencies and side effects. Here’s everything you need to know about possible risks of going vegan: https://www.cleaneatingkitchen.com/vegan-diet-dangers-health/
Lacto-vegetarian | What does a Lacto-vegetarian eat?
If you’re worried about not gaining enough calcium or meat protein, then a Lacto-vegetarian diet could be for you. This is a plant-based diet that omits all meat, seafood, eggs, and poultry from their diet. However, they do eat dairy products like yoghurt, cheese, milk, etc. It still protects the lives of animals and reduces environmental impacts.
My #1 tip for going Lacto-vegetarian: Ensure you get iron supplements and eat a lot of plant-based products with high iron sources as diary does not produce enough.
Ovo-vegetarian | Is being an Ovo-vegetarian healthy?
Ovo-vegetarianism is the closest to veganism. Excluding all poultry, seafood, dairy, and meat from their diet. The only exception they have is eating egg products. This gives them more protein and vitamin B12 nutrients.
My #1 tip for going Ovo-vegetarian: ensure you up your calcium intake with foods like kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarian | What is the meaning of Lacto-ovo vegetarians?
If you are not lactose intolerant and you still want to find a way to eat healthily, then this is the diet you want to try! It includes all plant-based foods plus eggs and dairy. This still protects the well-being of animals to some extent.
My #1 tip for going Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: Just because you may eat dairy, doesn’t mean you should stop making healthy choices. Still opt for low-fat versions of all dairy products.
Freegan | Is freegan vegan a real thing?
If you were wondering if freeganism is real, the answer is yes! A freegan is a person that only eats and uses animal products if they come by it for free. So, they will take hand-me-down leather jackets and eat meat that someone was going to throw out.
Their main goal is to ensure they do not contribute to the economic growth of meat manufacturers. They will never directly pay for any animal products.
My #1 tip for going Freegan: this could be a good movement. However, dumpster diving and eating second-hand food can be extremely unhealthy and filled with bacteria. Practice safe and sanitary eating only!
Pollotarian | Is being Pollotarian healthy?
Do you prefer chicken over meat and pork? Then you can identify as a pollotarian. This is a plant-based diet that I would still consider healthy. It includes all plant-based food, as well as chicken. Some even include eggs and dairy. The main aim is to cut out red meat and pork.
My #1 tip for going Pollotarian: chicken is healthy depending on how it is prepared. Bake or boil instead of fry. Limit your dairy to low-fat versions.
Flexitarian | What is a flexitarian diet?
The definition is in the name. A flexitarian diet is a flexible vegetarian diet. This semi-vegetarian diet allows you to focus on what you can include instead of hyper-focusing on what to exclude.
It mainly aims on prioritising plant-based food and enjoys animal products minimally. To reduce added sugars, and processed food and get more natural products in your meals. It teaches you to balance and cut where needed.
My #1 tip for going Flexitarian: to stay balanced and to ensure you are eating healthily, opt for a food plan. Use the food triangle and ensure you are eating specific portions from each food category every day.
Mediterranean | What foods do you eat on the Mediterranean diet?
Mediterranean diets incorporate all things colour, variety, and diversity. It is a diet that includes whole grains, veggies, fruit, seeds, herbs and spices, nuts, etc. You will limit processed food. Cut down on sweets and red meat.
My #1 tip for going Mediterranean: make fruit your best friend on this diet. You have so much range and variety to work with, so make the best out of it by trying a variety of recipes.
Pescatarian | Is pescatarian a healthy diet?
Based on the Spanish for “Pescado” meaning fish. This is a plant-based diet that restricts meat but allows for seafood. This means one can eat eggs, dairy, fish, and all seafood. This is a good diet including omega 3.
My #1 tip for going Pescatarian: you still need to ensure you keep a balance. The best way to do this is to ensure you have more fresh veggies and greens on your plate than anything else.
Whole food plant-based | Is a whole food plant-based diet healthy?
Whole food plant-based diet can be seen as the most organic and purely rich diet out there. It contains a diet regime where one only eats plant-based food that is whole and organic.
So, you know all those processed vegan food options? Like vegan burgers and vegan milk? Well, those are off the table when you eat whole food plant-based diets. This can really provide some major health benefits and take us back to our default “eating straight from the garden” lifestyle.
My #1 tip for going whole food plant-based: in order to prevent going into a nutrient deficiency, ensure you speak to a Nutritional Therapist before embarking on this eating regime.
The benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet | Potential health benefits of a plant-based diet
Now that you know what all your plant-based options are, it’s essential for you to understand the benefits of these food choices. The best way to commit to anything is to know why you are doing it.
The reason why a plant-based diet is so important is that all our food these days is mass-produced, overly processed, and entirely inorganic. Even fruit and veggies are sprayed with pesticides and artificial growth agents.
So trying to mainly increase your intake of organic plant-based food will boost your health in many ways. Your body will thank you for reducing all the processed junk food we consume daily. Let’s look at all the benefits in detail below.
How a plant-based diet can boost your health
Plant-based foods generally contains the following nutrients and minerals:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Folic acid
And so much more! Plant-based diets are filled with antioxidants to help fight off many diseases and illnesses.
Plant-based food is a natural cure. You will notice how your physical health improves greatly once you make this switch. Your gut will start healing, your energy will improve, and you will notice a big improvement in your mood. It is so worth it!
Pros and cons of a plant-based diet | What are the pros and cons of the vegan diet?
Now that you know all the plant-based options you have. It’s time to move on to the question we always have. “What’s the catch?” To give you a realistic and impartial perspective, we need to observe both the pros and cons of these diets. So that you can make an informed decision and do what is best for your health.
So, stick around. Below we will discuss the benefits, the cons, and everything you need to know about losing weight using plant-based foods.
Is a plant-based diet actually healthy? 20 Benefits of a plant-based diet. Top 20 benefits of a plant-based diet
Here are my top benefits of going whole food plant-based:
- It promotes gut health.
- Reduces heart disease risks.
- Improves functions of kidneys.
- Benefits the environment.
- Aids in inflammation recovery.
- Improves cognitive functions.
- Reduces risks of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Balances level of bad cholesterol.
- Improves heart health.
- Detoxes your body.
- Supports the immune system.
- Reduces chances of developing chronic diseases.
- Aids in weight loss.
- Improves mood.
- Provides energy.
- Improves quality of sleep.
- It is great for your skin.
- Stimulates hair and nail health.
- Endless supply of necessary nutrients and minerals.
- Is an antioxidant diet.
The advantages are endless, but we’ll limit it to 20 for this list. If these 20 benefits don’t convince you on whether or not you should go plant-based, then I’m not sure what will! Oh and, one bonus benefit: it is so much better for animals. If you want to learn more about how plant-based diets are benefiting animals, then you might enjoy reading this: https://wildlife-rescue.org/services/advocacy/plant-based-diets/
What are the negatives of a plant-based diet? Can you think of any cons of a plant-based diet? Are there any disadvantages to a plant-based diet?
Main disadvantages of a plant-based diet:
- Protein requirements can be difficult to meet.
- Organic fruits and veggies are rare.
- It requires more planning.
- Ingredients are hard to come by.
- Need constant variety to prevent boredom.
- Might need to increase meal sizes to meet the required daily calories.
- Limited restaurant options.
- People won’t always understand.
- Difficulty during social eating and events.
- It’s not easy to cook in a meat-eating household.
- The journey can become lonely.
- An incorrect eating plan can cause health issues.
- Persistent hunger occurs in the beginning stages.
- Can be dangerous for diabetes and low iron.
- Temptations are everywhere.
With everything good, comes to a few bad things too. Just because there are a few disadvantages, does not mean that you should stay away from this diet choice. The key is informed choices.
You should not go into this without having all the information you need. You also shouldn’t rush into these changes. Slow and steady wins the race!
Can a plant-based diet help you lose weight?
Whenever we make healthy changes, we always want to know if we will lose extra inches off our waists. Although this should definitely not be our main goal with health, plant-based diets do promise a few weight loss changes.
You see, it’s quite simple. With plant-based whole foods, you cut out on things that cause weight gain. This such as excessive fat, processed sugar, junk food, processed food, and excessive salt. When you go plant-based, you eat more nutrients. Your diet contains healthy calories instead of empty calories.
Yes, you can notice a weight change. However, the most important thing about this diet is that it promises a lifestyle change. You will feel a complete transformation in your mood, energy, immune system, and gut!
Easy plant-based recipes. Plant-based diet meal plan pdf. Plant-based diet recipes for beginners
A plant-based diet for beginners shopping list. Plant-based diet plan for beginners. 2-week Plant-based diet.
If you’ve come this far in the article, congratulations! You have the eagerness you’ll need to be successful on this journey. The biggest question people have when they make diet changes is- what on earth will I eat?
Do not fret! As a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Gut Health Expert, I have decided to give you an insight into all my plant-based food. For free! All you need to do is download my free recipes. https://www.healthconcepts.ie/freebies/
These recipes range from sauces, snacks, desserts, breakfasts, lunch, dinner, and so much more! They were prepared with only the best plant-based whole food ingredients. If you follow them on your new eating journey, you will start to feel so much better from within! If you want to see me make these dishes, check out how I do them on my Instagram reels: https://www.instagram.com/healthconcepts_ireland/
How do you transition to a plant-based diet for beginners? How To smoothly transition to a plant-based diet.
Here are ten simple strategies to help you easily transition to a wholesome, plant-based diet:
- Find your “why”.
- Select a plant-based variation.
- Stick to a mentor.
- Start with what you want more of.
- Evaluate what you’ll cut off.
- Asses meat.
- Assess dairy.
- Asses fish.
- Change one thing each month.
- Keep a food journal.
Let’s evaluate each step in more detail below:
Step 1: Find your “why”
The best way to commit to anything is to determine why you want to do it. Besides weight loss, which can be a tricky journey. Consider one of these other reasons to go plant-based:
- To heal your gut.
- To debloat and detoxify your body.
- For more energy.
- For skin, hair, and nail health.
- To protect animals.
- For the environment.
- To feel happier.
- Increase the nutritional value of meals.
- For anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
Step 2: Select a plant-based variation
Select a variation that best describes what you want to achieve. Ease into it. Don’t go from eating red meat 4 times a week to straight vegan. Let your body adjust with time. It’s better to give a name to the diet you’ll do in order for you to be more clear on the guidelines.
Step 3: Stick to a mentor
There are many plant-based whole food enthusiasts. Both in person and online. Find one you relate to and stick with them.
Join their lives, seminars, Q&As, podcasts, blogs, and any other activity. Being part of a community will make this journey a lot more fun and attainable. Let someone with experience guide you.
Step 4: Start with what you want more of
When you focus on what you may not have, you’ll become demotivated. Focus on what you can add. “I get to eat all the yummy fruit I enjoy without feeling guilty.” This is a better statement than “I’m no longer allowed to eat meat.”
Step 5: Evaluate what you’ll cut off
Now you need to evaluate what you will cut off. Will you make changes to all your meals or just breakfast? How often? Will you reduce portions too? Are you counting calories? Make informed choices and evaluate what is best for you.
Step 6: Asses meat
Meat can be the most difficult one to cut off. Especially because 99% of fast food places and restaurants make them so easily accessible. So you need to become clear if you will cut out meat.
Maybe you can opt for the lean version. Or simply reduce portion sizes. Perhaps you can boil your meat instead of frying it.
Step 7: Assess dairy
I would advise everyone to see what their bodies are like without cow products. Dairy products can cause heart issues, bloating, weight gain, and food intolerance. So, assess whether or not you’ll continue with dairy or opt for dairy-free alternatives.
Step 8: Asses fish
I would say fish might be the most controversial one of them all. Fish are so healthy, especially if they are wild-caught. There are many nutrients that fish is rich in that other food just do not possess in large quantities.
However, animal cruelty still plays a role in fish being produced as food for humans. So, it’s up to you to determine what you want to include and exclude.
Step 9: Change one thing each month
Do not, I repeat, do not change too much too fast. Pick one habit you’d like to develop in your eating, and practice discipline for a month. Once you have it covered, move on to something new. This is how you’ll reach success.
Step 10: Keep a food journal
Here is a list of things you can include in a food journal:
- Your daily energy level after meals.
- Your daily mood after meals.
- Meal plan.
- Shopping list.
- Recipe tips.
- Calorie count.
- The food pyramid- how much you had from each food group
- Snack ideas.
- Food goals.
These are just a few things that can be added to a food journal. Make it personal and make it fit your specific needs in mind.
What are the basics of a plant-based diet?
Plant-based diet tips for beginners. 6 Tips for plant-based diet beginners. 6 Tips for getting started on a plant-based diet
Here are my top basic tips for getting started:
- Get an accountability partner.
- Find a trusted Nutritional Therapist: https://www.healthconcepts.ie/about/
- Make small changes every month, not every day.
- Pick a plant-based type that you resonate with the most.
- Find a reason, besides weight loss, as to why you want to do this.
- Focus on what you can include instead of what you need to cut out.
With these 6 tips, you can get started in no time. These tips ensure that you take it easy on this journey. You should never rush into anything so important without considering all your options. Remember- it took years for you to build your current eating habits, so it won’t take a day to change them.
How do I know if a whole-food, plant-based diet is for me?
Are you trying to figure out if you should go plant-based? Or maybe you just want a deeper look at your eating routine to see what changes you can make. Perhaps you’ve been struggling with illnesses and you are looking for a different approach besides medicine.
Then you should book a consultation with me! All my packages have your health in mind. During our time together, we will make dietary changes, include the necessary supplements, and include some easy lifestyle changes to get you on the path to the life you deserve. A life that you were meant to have, one that is enjoyable, and one that you can’t wait to get to each day.
At the end of the programme, I want you to feel like you are able to continue your new way of living with ease. If you are someone who is ready to make the changes, do the work and take back control, then I would be honoured to work with you. Have a look at all of my services: https://www.healthconcepts.ie/services/
Can I eat a plant-based diet on a budget?
Common myth: plant-based diets are expensive. It is absolutely possible to eat plant-based on a budget. The key is to:
- Plan your meals in advance.
- Find a wholesale cheap fruit and veggies store.
- Cook at home often.
- Shop in bulk where possible.
- Find easy and budget-friendly recipes.
If you are cooking plant-based meals that are filling and nutritional. Then you actually won’t need to snack and eat as much as you would if you are living off of empty calories. A nutrient-packed plant-based meal will keep you full and fueled twice as long as a takeaway burger will!
Foods to fill up on and foods to eat less of | A food list of what to eat, limit, and avoid on a plant-based diet.
So, let me give you a quick guide on what you can and cannot eat on these diets. Remember that it’s best to focus on what you can include. An inclusive mindset will keep this eating regime more exciting and more fulfilling.
If you want to take your health to the next level, then keep reading. You’ll learn what you can eat, what you should avoid, and what the best protein sources are on a plant-based diet. And so much more!
What foods can you eat on a plant-based diet?
You should eat whole foods and plant-based food. These include:
- Whole foods
- Unrefined foods
- Animal-free ingredients
- All fruit
- All veggies
- Legumes (peas, beans, lentils)
- Whole carbohydrates (bread, rice, pastas)
- Dairy alternatives (coconut milk, almond cheese, etc)
- Vegetable oils
Whether you eat vegan alternative foods is totally up to you. These would include vegan burgers, vegan cheese, vegan sausages, etc.
Although there’s a big debate on the health benefits of these options. I would suggest keeping them to a minimum. Most of the time, these alternatives are also heavily processed and take away from the health benefits that you are trying to achieve on this diet.
What cannot be eaten on a plant-based diet? What foods are not permitted on a plant-based diet?
These are the food to avoid when going plant-based:
- Food in sweeteners or preservatives
- Red meat (pork, beef, lamb)
- Poultry (chicken, duck, turkey)
- Refined products (white sugar, white bread)
- Selfish (crabs, clams, mussels)
- Dairy (milk, cheese, butter, ice cream)
- All seafood
- Animal products ( eg honey)
- Dairy mixes (eg. cream or mayonnaise)
There are many restrictions on a plant-based whole food diet. However, as I mentioned at the start of this blog- the choice is yours.
We are lucky to live in a health-conscious era where there are hundreds of terms used to include your particular preference. There are various types of vegan diets- some include some items on this list, others exclude all. If you are going to exclude all, please see a health professional first for guidance.
What plant has the highest protein? 18 Best sources of plant-based protein. What are 18 plant-based foods? 18 Best plant-based protein foods
How can I get more plant-based protein in my diet?
Keep your protein intake high with these plant-based protein options:
- Peanut Butter powder
- Leafy green veggies
- Nutritional Yeast
- Rice and beans
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Whole grain bread
- Vegan protein supplements
As a Nutritional Therapist, I believe that it is essential to get protein. Protein is important for all life functions of your cells. Without it, we won’t function optimally. I suggest getting protein from a balance of plant-based food and vegan protein supplements. I have handpicked only the best vegan protein supplements for you at my online shop. https://www.healthconcepts.ie/product-category/vivo-life/
Plant-based diet FAQ. Plant-based nutrition FAQ
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) plant-based vegetarianism
Here are the top FAQ about going plant-based:
- Are eggs OK on a plant-based diet?
- Can you eat pasta on a plant-based diet?
- Can you eat cheese on a plant-based diet?
- Is oatmeal plant-based?
- Is peanut butter plant-based? Is peanut butter a plant-based protein?
- Are potatoes plant-based?
- Is almond milk plant-based?
- Can you eat fish on a plant-based diet?
- Why do vegans not eat honey?
- Can you drink coffee on a plant-based diet?
- Is olive oil allowed on a plant-based diet?
Do you have any of these questions? Or maybe you didn’t before, but now you’re curious! Either way, keep reading below to see a Nutritional Therapist’s take on these FAQs about plant-based diets.
FAQ #1 | Are eggs OK on a plant-based diet?
Yes, eggs are okay in small moderation on plant-based diets. Eggs are a good source of protein and help you absorb antioxidants and vitamins that are fat soluble However, they are not okay in vegan diets that are against animal cruelty or animal products.
FAQ #2 | Can you eat pasta on a plant-based diet?
Yes, you can eat pasta on a plant-based diet. Pasta is just made from grains. Find natural, very low-processed pasta for more added health benefits.
FAQ #3 | Can you eat cheese on a plant-based diet?
No, you cannot eat dairy cheese on a plant-based diet. However, there are many dairy alternatives like cashew nut cheese is my favourite!
FAQ #4 | Is oatmeal plant-based?
Yes, oatmeal is plant-based. They are a healthy source of grain protein. Ensure you check the ingredients to avoid added sugars and preservatives. Whole organic oatmeal is the best and a great way to stay full on this diet!
FAQ #5 | Is peanut butter plant-based? Is peanut butter a plant-based protein?
Yes, peanut butter is a plant-based protein. Peanuts contain extremely healthy levels of protein. Just ensure that you check the labels. Avoid peanut butter made with milk or dairy additives.
FAQ #6 | Are potatoes plant-based?
Yes, potatoes are plant-based. They are a great staple food and are nutrient-dense. The best thing about potatoes is that you can make them in a wide variety of recipes. Each with a different taste and texture.
FAQ #7 | Is almond milk plant-based?
Yes, almond milk is a great plant-based milk variety. You can switch it up with soy milk or coconut milk. Again, check the back of the product for ingredients.
FAQ #8 | Can you eat fish on a plant-based diet?
No, you should technically not be eating fish when going vegan. The whole point of anti-animal eating is to avoid all animals being used for food products. Fish are animals. However, fish is an incredible source of Omega 3. You should choose which food you want to include or exclude.
FAQ #9 | Why do vegans not eat honey?
Vegans believe that no animal should be used, forced into labour, or any of their energy sources derived into food products for people. This means bees need to work to produce honey. Using their hard-earned honey for food is considered animal cruelty to many vegans.
FAQ #10 | Can you drink coffee on a plant-based diet?
Yes, you can drink coffee on a plant-based diet. Coffee beans are vegan. Just remember not to use any cow’s milk, creamers, or foams.
FAQ #11 | Is olive oil allowed on a plant-based diet?
Yes, olive oil is a healthy vegan fat. Just use it in moderation and avoid deep frying any food. Although olives are plants, the oils can become unhealthy if overindulged.
The takeaway: Should you eat a plant-based diet or not?
So, to plant-based or not to plant-based… The short answer is- it is the healthiest way to eat. However, do not cut out all other important food sources and only eat fruit and veggies. This too can be unhealthy and lead to deficiencies.
You need a balanced diet. If you choose to add meat, go for lean free-range meat. If you choose to add fish, opt for wild-caught non-processed versions. Keep your diet open to whole unprocessed and unrefined versions of food. Always consider what will be the most nutritional to your body and go for that!