Plant-based eating is receiving a lot of attention in the media these days. People are seeking ways to improve their health, reduce dependence on large scale agribusiness, and reverse the environmental impacts that factory farming has produced.
When exploring a plant-based diet, a question often raised is “how will I get enough protein?” According to experts in nutrition, it is a common misconception that humans need protein from animal sources in order to be healthy.
As a simple comparison, black beans and lentils have more protein per one cup serving than a hamburger. Spinach, quinoa, and edamame pack a nutritional punch with protein and essential amino acids.
This is not to bash a juicy hamburger; rather, to show that options exist which can achieve satiation for the eater while also reducing the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol and byproducts found in animal-sourced foods.
Several plant-based diets have gained popularity, including the Engine 2 eating plan and the Forks Over Knives series. Lower cholesterol, weight loss and reduced blood pressure are documented and irrefutable results when adopting a plant-based eating plan.
Plant-based eating has demonstrated additional long-term benefits including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, lower risk of high blood pressure or diabetes, and increased longevity.
Restaurants are incorporating more plant-based menu options, including vegan choices. In fact, Eleven Madison Park in New York City, a Michelin 3 star restaurant and one of the top eateries in the world, just announced this week it is going vegan.
Cooking website Epicurious has announced it will not publish recipes which use animal products. Fast food chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, White Castle, TGI Friday’s and Quiznos are offering plant-based alternatives for consumers’ changing tastes.
Recognizing the growing interest in eating cleaner and more sustainably is good for businesses to reach new markets, and the quick market response is good for customers seeking ways to eat healthier without sacrificing their lifestyle.
Now, transitioning to a plant-based diet need not involve giving up meat or dairy completely. Nutritionists suggest a shift in the proportion of meat to vegetables on your plate and building meals around vegetables instead of making meat the centerpiece.
Start with stacking your plate half full of vegetables, then slowly increase the amount as you limit your meat intake. Stocking up on snacks such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, and moving away from cheese and luncheon meats can be an easy first step.
Incorporate one salad each day into your menu. Try oat milk or flax milk instead of cow’s milk, and try applesauce or chia in baking instead of eggs. Experiment with beans and oats to replace meat in recipes.
Simple changes can put your eating on a path that is more healthful not only for your body, but for the planet at the same time.