Going vegan or transitioning into a more plant-based diet is all of the rage right now among celebrities and regular folks interested in health, the environment, animal activism or all three. Seriously, celebrities from NFL player Cam Newton to actress and talk show host Ellen Degeneres are giving up meat and dairy for the many benefits claimed by doing so. What are the benefits to going plant-based though? And is it as easy as people make it out to be?
Why go Plant-Based?
Get Adequate Nutrition - The truth is most people eating a standard American diet are not getting all of the nutrients and vitamins in the food they eat alone. However by going plant-based you are opening up your palette to many different options that are much more nutritious. For example, a great substitute to meat lasagna is vegetarian lasagna made with spinach, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. By substituting the meat with vegetables, you are getting extra iron, Vitamin C, potassium and folate that you wouldn't be getting otherwise if you made traditional meat-based lasagna. Still concerned about getting adequate protein? Try a vegetarian-based meat substitute like NON-GMO Boca veggie crumbles, found in the freezer section, and you won't even be able to tell the difference. If you are still worried about getting proper nutrition you might want to consider taking a daily multivitamin like the ones we sell here.
More Energy & Weight Loss - The amount of time it takes meat to go through your body is an upwards of two days which means it takes a ton of energy for your body to process meat. Red meat takes even longer than white meat with fish being the very first to digest. With this being said, it takes a ton of energy for your body to process meat as opposed to grains, vegetables, nuts and fruits. By giving up eating meat, you eliminate this burden on your body and your energy ultimately goes to other places like your body and mind creating more energy for yourself in all areas. As for weight loss, you will naturally shed pounds once you switch over to a plant-based diet from the standard American diet. This is because plant-based foods, including meat substitutes, simply have less calories and fat in general than animal-based food.
Less Harm to Animals and the Earth - The truth is animals are not treated well within the factory farming industry causing a lot of people who love animals to choose to stop eating meat from this moral stand point alone. If you choose to go more plant-based, even if only giving up meat or dairy a few days a week, you might feel better about this touchy issue knowing that you are helping to contribute less harm all around. As for helping out the Earth, meat and the livestock industry are a huge contributor towards climate change so many people are also choosing to give it up or cut back for this reason too. For more information on the impacts of the meat industry on the environment, CNN has put out a great article this year highlighting these issues here.
Decrease changes for heart disease and other illnesses - By going plant-based you are naturally adapting to a diet that is healthier all around for your body. With heart disease still being the number one killer for women, it's important to consider slashing out meat and dairy especially if heart disease runs in your family. As far as other illnesses and diseases go, there is still a lot of research to be done but many studies are showing that switching to this lifestyle will only keep you healthier and living longer no matter your medical condition.
Tips to Going Plant Based
- Don't go cold-turkey (no pun intended) - it is important to give your body and mind time to adjust to the new diet. Instead of giving up all meat and dairy right away, start with darker meats like pork and beef and then slowly eliminate white and poultry meat from there.
- Find protein supplements - There is no excuse to saying you won't get enough protein on a vegetarian or plant-based diet. There are many different forms of plant-based protein: nuts, quinoa, beans, tofu, tempeh, mushrooms and more. If you are really concerned about protein, try incorporating a plant-based protein supplement into your diet like our Plant Protein by German American Technologies which comes in chocolate peanut butter and vanilla.
- Be open to trying new foods - One thing is for sure, if you are deciding to go plant-based you will have to be open to trying new foods that you may have never heard of before or thought of trying. I suggest you start doing your research and look into meat-alternatives so when the cravings hit you have a back-up plan instead of taking a cheat day.
- Keep exercising to stay in shape - It's important for you to realize that just because you are going plant-based and eating healthier you still need to get regular exercise. For some folks a plant-based diet may do the trick into getting them into shape and losing weight but the reality is you still need to be active to stay in shape no matter what your diet or lifestyle are.
- Don't give up because of a setback - You will definitely encounter some days where you feel like giving up but like any new endeavor in life, you must stay strong and remember why you went plant-based to begin with. Whether it is for health, the environment, animals or all three the newest school of thought behind going plant-based is that cutting out any meat or dairy, even for one meal a week, is beneficial for you. So all in all, if you have a setback or end up eating meat one day at a party or event with not a lot of veggie options around, that doesn't mean that you can't get back on track for the next meal.
Plant-Based Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Snacks
- Whole-grain avocado toast topped with sprouts, tomatoes and onions.
- Fruit smoothie/shake with added plant protein. Try our vegan proteins here.
- Oatmeal with berries and nuts.
- Tofu scramble with peppers, onions and broccoli.
- Black bean burger with sweet potato fries.
- Spinach salad with fruit, nuts and grilled tofu.
- Asian vegetable stir fry with noodles or rice. Can add edamame or tofu for protein.
- Whole grain flatbread pizza with tomato basil marinara, non-dairy cheese and any vegetables.
- Vegetable lasagna (use Boca crumbles instead of meat) with zucchini, spinach, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli and tomatoes.
- Vegetarian burritos using black beans, rice, guacamole, grilled vegetables and salsa.
- Vegetarian crock-pot chili (can also use Boca veggie crumbles or just use beans) with green peppers, onions, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and more.
- Pesto pasta with vegetables like zucchini, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and carrots. Top with parmesan cheese if you aren't quite ready to give up dairy yet.
- Raw carrots, cucumbers, celery and any other vegetables with hummus.
- Apples and bananas with peanut butter.
- Chips and salsa or guacamole.
- Plant-based protein bars like Julian Bakery's Pegan Protein bars which taste exactly like a cinnamon roll! Seriously, they are delicious and a great alternative to unhealthy sweets.