Living a Plant-Based Lifestyle
It's trending, but research suggests it's not a trend. Plant-based eating is here to stay.
Plant-based athletes like Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris, tennis phenom Venus Williams, and gold medal skier Heather Mills are just a few high-profile examples of people who've busted the myth that plant-based lifestyles can't support strength and high energy levels. Research from Google Trends shows that interest in veganism has skyrocketed between 2004 and 2018. And food giant Nestle made headlines by announcing that the plant-based trend is "here to stay and amplify."
Whether you choose to cut back on your meat consumption and fill the rest of your plate with whole foods or you want to dive right into veganism, one thing's for sure: adopting a plant-based lifestyle doesn't have to be difficult. Learn all about it in this quick starter guide, which is filled to the brim with delicious details, useful tips, and recipes to help you make an easy transition.
What Is a Plant-Based Diet?
Plant-based eating focuses mainly on eating plants while limiting or completely avoiding animal products. Some folks confuse a plant-based lifestyle with veganism. While vegans do follow a fully plant-based lifestyle and avoid eating or using any animal products, on a plant-based diet you can also eat meat and fish if you choose to because animal products aren't strictly off limits. If you're considering it, the bulk of what you'll be eating includes minimally processed whole foods like:
- Whole grains
- Seeds and nuts
- Legumes and pulses
Why Switch to a Plant-Based Diet?
What is it about adopting this diet that's so appealing? It's delicious. It's a healthy change. For some people, it's about avoiding animal products. For others, it's about reaping the potential health benefits. Healthline points out the following upsides:
- The high fiber content and elimination of processed foods can help you lose weight and keep it off.
- Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes may lower your risk of developing heart disease.
- Consuming the antioxidants and natural compounds found in a plant-based diet can help protect your brain from cognitive decline.
How to Get Started
Once you've decided to make the switch, it's important to understand your motivation and have clear goals in mind. Maybe you want to increase your energy or maybe you have another reason. Consider writing it down to refer back to later. Other tips for getting started include:
- Doing your research: Understanding the plant-based diet and the science behind it gives you the foundation you need to make the switch. Read up on studies, watch some documentaries, and talk to friends and family who've already adopted a plant-based lifestyle.
- Eating more: Plant-based foods often have fewer calories. That means you can and should (especially in the beginning) eat more than you're used to. Load your plate with salad, beans, quinoa, and fresh veggies. No going hungry here.
- Purging the pantry: Anything that doesn't fit in with your goals can go. Give it away to your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and local food pantry. Restock with fresh fruits and veggies, rice, whole grains, beans, nuts, and legumes.
- Finding new favorites: Don't think you have to go cold turkey on turkey, butter, or your favorite junk foods. Try slowly replacing your standard staples with plant-based alternatives. If you're craving pot roast, try making a portabella pot roast instead. Use avocado in place of butter or cashew milk instead of cows' milk. Satisfy your sweet tooth with plenty of fresh fruit or the occasional pint of plant-based ice cream.
Essentials for the Plant-Based Kitchen
Master your new lifestyle by stocking your pantry with all the essentials. In the mood for takeout? Skip it and make yourself an easy bowl of noodle-free vegetable pad thai instead. When you have the essentials, the sky's the limit for your plant-based kitchen. A few foods to consider include:
- Legumes: Chickpeas, black beans, and lentils are just a few of the options you have for creating high-protein, high-fiber dishes that are sure to satisfy.
- Whole grains: You can get fiber and protein from grains too, including quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet.
- Nuts and seeds: You'll be surprised by how much you grow to rely on nuts and seeds for everything from dips and dairy-free milk to sauces and snacks. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and nut butters are good sources of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fats: You don't need butter to get great flavor. Try plant-based fats for baking and cooking. Examples include olive oil, coconut oil, and vegan butters.
- Condiments: Like icing on the cake, having the right condiments on hand can take your plant-based meal from good to "wowza!" Add zip with hot sauce, richness with tahini, tang with vinegar, or umami with tamari. After all, what would your favorite buddha bowl be without a drizzle of sriracha and toasted sesame oil?
Are you ready to start your new plant-based lifestyle? Visit Food Lion to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and pantry essentials. You'll find all the necessities, from veggie burgers to cool treats and everything in between.