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The Benefits of Plant-Based Eating

More of a Lifestyle Rather Than a Diet

Article by Claudia Martin-Ayoade

Photography by City Lifestyle

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

Most people think a plant-based diet is strictly for those vegan and vegetarian types, but there is no debating the overwhelming evidence showing the benefits of improved health for those who make that diet choice. Plant-based eating is more of a lifestyle than a diet. You are simply eating more foods that are closer to their harvested state with minimal processing. 

Tips to get started on your plant-based journey:

1. Make small changes to test your comfort level when reducing meat intake. There is a risk of being overwhelmed if you suddenly stop eating meat altogether, and it will be harder to stick to your choice long term. Increase consumption of plant foods you already like.

2. Plant-based diet does not mean boring. You can create a variety of dishes including ethnic meals that are meat-free and delicious. This is a great time to try new spices to add a punch to your vegetables and add green leafy vegetables to your smoothies.

3. Use the whole plant because there are nutrients in every part of the plant including the stems and leaves. Use the leaves from celery, radishes, beets and carrots, and use the stems from spinach. Don’t throw away vital nutrients like potassium, vitamin C and fiber. You are 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 is often an indicator of the vitamins and minerals they contain. So, more colors mean more nutrients. Example: orange-colored foods contain beta carotene, the precursor for vitamin A.

5. If you do not eat any animal products, you will 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 the nervous system. Some vegan foods are fortified with vitamin B12.

6. A meat-free diet does not automatically mean healthy if you replace the meat with highly processed junk food and meat substitutes. You need to eat good, fresh quality fruits, vegetables and grains to get the health benefits that can add years to your life.

Claudia Martin-Ayoade, is a Registered Dietitian, Writer and Public Speaker who is passionate about educating people on nutrition and addressing food insecurity.