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Plant-Based Eating Benefits

Advice: Registered Dietitian Provides Tips Regarding How To Launch Healthy Eating Protocol For New Year

As a registered dietitian, writer and public speaker who's passionate about educating people on nutrition, Claudia Martin-Ayoade says most people think a plant-based diet is strictly for just vegan and vegetarian types. However, she asserts plant-based eating is more of a lifestyle than a diet.

Claudia shares the following personal, helpful tips with McKinney & Prosper Lifestyle readers because she believes there's no debating the overwhelming evidence showing the benefits of improved health for those who make that diet choice. "You're simply eating more foods that are closer to their harvested state with minimal processing," she reminds. 

For starters, Claudia says meatless diets improve health outcomes by lowering the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers. "It also improves gut health because of added fiber to your diet."

A plant-based diet still allows people to consume carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals and vitamins necessary for good health, with added benefits of being higher in fiber and phytonutrients, she adds. 

"You don't have to give up meat entirely, and there are labels to identify where you fall in your plant-eating journey. Do what is comfortable for you, so you will stick with it," Claudia suggests. 

This dietitian reminds that everyone can opt to be a "flexitarian," which means occasionally eating meat but choosing plants as the primary foods eaten. She adds, "You have some flexibility with your diet. If you choose to be a vegetarian, then you don't eat meat but you still eat eggs and dairy products, as opposed to being a vegan who eats no animal products."

Adding more fruits and vegetables to daily food intake is also better for the environment. The industries that produce dairy and meats are said to account for a third of the world’s water usage in addition to producing greenhouse gas emissions.

Claudia's TIPS To Start Plant-Based Journeys:

  1. Make small changes to test your comfort level when reducing meat intake. There's a risk of being overwhelmed if you suddenly stop eating meat altogether, and it'll be harder to stick to your choice long-term. Increase consumption of plant foods you already like.
  2. Plant-based diet doesn't mean boring. Create a variety of dishes, including ethnic meals. This is a great time to try new spices to add punch to vegetables. Add green leafy vegetables to smoothies. 
  3. Use whole plants because there are nutrients in every plant part, including stems and leaves. Use leaves from celery, radishes, beets, carrots and spinach. Don’t throw away vital nutrients, such as potassium, vitamin C and fiber. You're also reducing waste.
  4. Eat the rainbow! Choose different colored fruits and vegetables to get a variety of nutrients. The color of plant-based foods often indicates the vitamins and minerals they contain. So, more colors mean more nutrients.
  5. If consuming no animal products, you'll need to take a B12, and possibly an iron, supplement. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin available only in animal products. Low B12 can cause anemia and damage to nervous systems.  
  6. A meat-free diet doesn't automatically mean healthy if you replace the meat with highly processed junk food and meat substitutes. Eat good, fresh quality fruits, vegetables and grains to get health benefits that can add years to your life.

Fresh Veggie Pesto 


  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, pine nuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds or pepitas
  • 3 tablespoons chives
  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil; omit for oil-free
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed


  • To food processor, add cashews (or other nuts or seeds), chives, basil, yeast, lemon juice, pepper, olive oil (if using) and 1/4 cup water. Process until smooth, adding water as needed for thinner consistency. If not using oil, an extra 1/4 cup water may be needed. Tip:  For brighter green pesto, blend basil leaves last. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

  • Store in refrigerator for up to one week. Pesto also freezes well for up to six months; can freeze in an ice cube tray, then pop cubes out and preserve them in a freezer bag or airtight container.

"Eat your greens and save the planet," declares Claudia Martin-Ayoade, a registered dietitian, writer and public speaker.