A plant-based diet for beginners can be a great start if you’ve been tempted to eat less meat or want to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Being plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean giving us all meat or animal products, but it does mean focusing more on plant-based foods, including whole grains, nuts, legumes, and vegetables. beans.

A plant-based diet for beginners is also beneficial if you want to lead a healthier life or lose weight. Studies have shown that people on a plant-based diet tend to have a lower BMI and are less at risk of heart disease or developing chronic health conditions.

Switching to a plant-based diet can be difficult to manage, so we’ll look at the foods you can eat, as well as the best vegan protein powders to give you a hand. We also talk to a nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert (opens in a new tab) on how switching to a plant-based diet can benefit the environment and our health.

What is a vegan diet?

A plant-based diet is a diet that focuses on eating plant-derived foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Whether you choose to follow a plant-based diet for just a few months or want to cut out meat and eat more plant-based foods to feel healthier, this way of eating is different from a vegan diet. . Plant-based diets normally eliminate processed foods and focus on whole, plant-based foods, but you also have the option of eating some animal foods. Vegans eliminate everything that comes from an animal, including meat, poultry, and dairy, without necessarily eliminating processed foods from their diet.

vegan buddha bowl

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“A plant-based diet focuses on mostly plant-based foods,” says Lambert. “This not only includes fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans. This does not mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you choose proportionally more of your food from plant sources.

Of course, one plant-based diet may differ from another, depending on your dietary preferences. However, Lambert says to take it slow if you’re changing your diet to a plant-based diet. “A small, gradual change is often the best way to avoid any nutritional deficiencies or digestive discomfort from a potential increase in fiber,” she says. “Try replacing animal products with plant-based alternatives such as beans, legumes, and tofu, and gradually introduce different types of vegetables at each meal.”

Why consider a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet can have many benefits for our overall health. According to the US Dietary Guidelines, eating a plant-based diet and occasionally eating lean meats can help you lose or maintain weight. If losing weight is a concern, a study (opens in a new tab) showed that those who ate no meat had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who ate meat.

“A well-balanced, plant-based diet low in saturated fat can help manage a healthy weight,” adds Lambert. “It can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain cancers.”

Saturated fats are found not only in meats like bacon and sausages, but also in dairy products like cheese and butter. Over the past few years, many studies have been conducted on how saturated fat affects our health, but the results are mixed. Some say that excess saturated fat can raise our cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart problems, but others studies (opens in a new tab) claim that when saturated fat is consumed in moderation, such as with a plant-based diet, it can significantly reduce health risks.

“There is also plenty of evidence that points to a reduction in blood pressure when we omit animal products from our diets,” adds Lambert. A 2018 study (opens in a new tab) found that plant-based diets, which included certain animal products, were the most effective in reducing blood pressure, while another similar study saw blood pressure drop significantly within two weeks when participants followed a plant-based diet.

Of course, removing animal products from our diet and switching to a plant-based diet can also be good for our environment. “These diets are also good for the planet, suggesting that a reduction in animal products will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” says Lambert.

In fact, a report 2019 (opens in a new tab) by the United Nations suggested that our obsession with meat and dairy is fueling global warming. The research, prepared by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that if we used land more efficiently, instead for livestock, we could store more carbon emitted by humans.