The understanding of plant-based nutrition has come a long way in the last decade. Today, this dietary choice is widely practiced by a range of people as a safe, healthy way to achieve and maintain good health. Even many top-performing and elite athletes are committed to plant-based diets, and when done properly, it can be suitable for anyone looking to achieve balanced or optimal health.
Plant-based nutrition does not mean a boring diet full of plain steamed or raw vegetables on a bed of rice and beans (though it certainly can be if that excites you). There is also a world of healthy desserts, snacks, treats, and flavourful, hearty meals that can fill you up and leave you feeling fantastic.
What is a Plant-based Diet?
Generally speaking, a plant-based diet is built on a foundation of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Each of these categories has a long list of options within. Taken altogether, a healthy, whole-food, plant-based diet is typically full of a variety of colourful, nutrient-rich, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods.
Why Choose a Plant-based Diet?
A plant-based diet is high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It is also typically lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol compared to diets comprised of more animal-based foods. This method of eating can also be linked to many health benefits, from improved heart health to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, healthy weight loss, reduced inflammation, and much more.
Some wonder whether a plant-based diet can possibly deliver all the nutrients a person needs. When done thoughtfully, we can most definitely get all the nutrients we need from a varied plant-based diet and a vitamin B12 supplement at the very least. If certain nutritional needs are not being met, such as vitamin D in those who don’t get adequate sunshine, some dietary supplements or fortified products are easily added to meals.
How to Make the Transition?
If a plant-based diet is a new concept or one that seems like too much of a drastic change to make the switch immediately or entirely, there are always ways to ease into it. You can begin by incorporating one plant-based nutrition meal each day, as well as one full plant-based day each week. Then increase the frequency of plant-based nutrition meals over time.
You may find that once you begin, the changes in diet become more instinctive and your cravings and appetite will naturally alter.
Like any lifestyle change, a plant-based diet may, at first, require some discipline and more awareness. Neither of those things is to be feared. More awareness might lead to learning to read labels, acquiring new kitchen skills, becoming a more savvy shopper, eating healthier, and possibly even spending less money on food.
As mentioned, people who are transitioning toward a plant-based diet and learning more about plant-based nutrition may also find their cravings and appetites change, as well as their energy levels, their overall health, and their relationship with food and their own bodies.
Vancouver Plant-Based Nutrition Doctors
For those considering making this lifestyle change, or for those who are unsure whether or not they are on the right path with their diet, seeing a Naturopathic doctor, such as Dr. Nagra, who has knowledge and experience with plant-based diets, is a great place to start.