Dig Deeper, Eat Well, Live Well

What is a Plant-Based Diet and Why Should Everyone Embrace It?

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Have you heard of the latest way to improve your health and well-being? It’s growing in popularity. In fact, a massive 3.5 million Britons now identify as either vegan or plant-based, according to the statistics. If you’re intrigued and want to find out more, we’ve got all the information for you right here. Within this guide, we will look at what a plant-based diet means and why everyone out there should adopt it.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

First of all, let’s talk about the burning question here: what is a plant-based diet? While you may have heard whispers of this trend, you may not be 100% clued up on what it is. That’s perfectly okay. You’ve come to the right place.

Similar to the flexitarian diet and similar plans, a whole food plant-based diet is one that puts your health and nutrition first. Put simply, it’s about cutting out animal products–such as dairy, meat, and eggs–and instead gaining nutrients from plants.

The truth of the matter is that you can get all the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs from plant-based food sources. Whether that means eating more nuts to get plant-based protein or eating probiotics to improve your gut, the core of the diet is about eating well.

Why Everyone Should Adopt a Plant-Based Diet

Wondering if a plant-based diet is for you? You’re probably not alone. The recent surge in popularity of this diet shows that many are willing to give it a try. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or simply curious, trying a plant-based diet for beginners could be the way to go. The lifestyle is not so much about restricting what you can and can’t eat. It’s about shifting the emphasis of why you eat what you eat.

If you think of your body like a machine–which it kind of is– you need to give it the right fuel to run. Filling it up with fatty and low-in-nutrient foods means that you will run slow and clunkily. However, if you start fueling up on a whole food plant-based diet, which is rich in the stuff that your body needs the most, you will find that it runs oh-so-smoothly. What’s more, when you get it right, a plant-based diet can be:

Affordable:

By choosing the freshest and most accessible ingredients, you can easily eat a plant-based diet on a budget. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Easy:

With a little research into plant-based recipes and the main whole foods you should be eating, you can start making nutrition-packed meals at home.

Exciting:

Plant-based food isn’t bland or boring. It’s about celebrating natural whole foods and exploring various flavours and tastes.

Add all of the above to the fact that adopting a plant-based could improve your health and wellness, and you’ve got a recipe for success. It doesn’t matter who you are, what budget you’re on, or what style of food you like, giving this lifestyle a whirl could be a positive step.

Can a Plant-Based Diet Boost Your Health?

Of course, the reason that so many people are adopting a plant-based diet is that it has a wealth of health benefits! For example, a plant-based diet weight loss plan is likely to be highly successful. Recent studies suggest that not only can a whole food plant-based diet help people to safely lose weight, but it also means that they can maintain a healthy weight afterward. It’s a win-win situation.

It doesn’t end there. Research also suggests that this style of eating can help to ward off diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and improve your overall heart health. Interestingly enough, there’s also some evidence to suggest that eating a whole food plant-based diet can help to prevent certain types of cancer. For instance, one study found that those who eat a vegetarian diet are likely to have a significantly lower chance of gastrointestinal cancer.

The more you learn about a whole food plant-based diet, the more you will start to understand the undeniable health benefits here. Adopting this diet plan could mean that you improve your overall wellness while still enjoying food that’s rich, exciting, and nourishing.

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Is it the Same as Being Vegan?

Contrary to popular belief, veganism and plant-based diets are not the same thing. However, there is some overlap between these two lifestyle choices. For example, vegan protein is likely to be the same food source as plant-based protein. And, sure, when you’re following either of these diets, you will cut out any animal-based food sources. So, what’s the difference between being vegan and following a plant-based diet?

● Vegan Diet

While veganism is an ethical choice and often made as part of a wider lifestyle change, a plant-based diet is more concerned with health. It’s a minor difference but an important one, all the same. For example, a person may choose to become a vegan because they have a passion for animal welfare and/or the planet as a whole. They may eat vegan food, avoid products that are not vegan, and make other ethical choices. However, they may also eat vegan ‘junk food’, such as fake meat and processed or deep-fried alternatives.

● Plant-Based Diet

On the other hand, someone following a plant-based diet is more likely to do so because they wish to boost their nutrition and improve their overall health. With that in mind, they will choose unrefined, unprocessed foods that support their body’s needs. That means that someone following a plant-based diet is unlikely to eat substitutes or junk food. (Although, it’s worth mentioning that nobodyis perfect and we all have off-days!)

● The Best of Both Worlds

That’s not to say that this is some kind of face-off between vegans and plant-based eaters. Quite the opposite. We’re all on the same team here. There’s a lot of overlap between the two lifestyles and that’s a good thing. One of the biggest benefits of a plant-based diet is that it also helps save the planet and animals too. Think of it like a happy coincidence–you get to boost your health and be ethically sound too.

What Type of Foods Does it Include?

If you’re considering embarking on a plant-based whole food diet, you may want to know what it will entail. Of course, you’re already well aware that the lifestyle means cutting out animal products. So, staples are you going to replace them with? Here’s a quick rundown of the main plant-based food list you need to know about:

● Fresh fruit & vegetables

● Grains, cereals, & pseudograins

● Legumes & beans

● Nuts & seeds

● Soy-based products

● Plant-based protein powders

● Herbs & spices

In short, if it’s natural and full of nutrition, you’re going to want to get it in your diet. Eating whole foods and creating dishes that experiment with various flavours is at the heart of a plant-based diet. It’s all about finding out what works for you and your tastes.

How Expensive is a Plant-Based Diet?

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty details. How much does a plant-based diet cost? Sure, you should also note that, some whole foods may be more costly than processed meals. However, the fact that you’re cutting out animal products means that your general food shopping should be less expensive. After all, meat and dairy don’t come cheap.

The average household spends a whopping £666 on meat per year and only £224 on fresh vegetables, according to a national survey. Keeping that firmly in mind, when you cut out the meat-centric part of your shop, you’re certain to have a few pennies left over for extra whole foods and interesting, exotic ingredients.

What’s more, there are some effective cost-cutting measures you can take too. One of the smartest ways in which you can eat a plant-based diet on a budget is to learn recipes and experiment with different flavours. Making the majority of your meals from scratch means that you could make some rather large savings at the same time. Simple.

How Hard is Plant-Based Cooking?

Are you used to cooking meals that consist of meat and two veg? If so, the idea of giving plant-based recipes a go may be a little intimidating.

Don’t worry. The absence of meat and dairy products doesn’t mean that cooking has to be difficult. Whipping up something super straightforward, like a bean stew or a coconut curry, won’t take you long at all. Plus, when you start to use exciting flavours and spices, you will see it can be a fun experience.

As though that weren’t enough to tempt you, there’s a whole load of support and resources out there. From YouTube food tutorials to plant-based recipe books and ebooks, you should have no problem starting this journey. Take things slow and steady. Try a new recipe every week and add it to your list. Before you know it, you will be confident in making the most delicious and enticing plant-based meals at a moment’s notice.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got the basics down, the next step is entirely up to you. There’s no doubt that following a plant-based diet has a range of advantages. However, if you don’t want to dive straight in quite yet, you may wish to just try some plant-based meals or even switch to a flexitarian diet. Whatever you do, making moves towards better health is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Look after your body and it will look after you!

Want to know more about how to start your plant-based diet journey? Don’t forget to follow Shed on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates.

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