One of the most powerful steps to you can take to improve your health, longevity, and energy is to add more plants to your nutrition plan. If you’re not sure where to start, this post will give you a great jumping off point.
What is a plant-based diet? See this post for details on what a plant-based diet entails.
5 Strategies for helping you get started on a plant-based diet:
- Add plants to every meal with vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, plant-based oils, whole grains, beans or legumes. Try to fill at least half of your plate with vegetables. Use fruits, starchy vegetables, and tubers in smaller quantities since they are higher in sugar, but still packed with nutrition.
- Use meat and animal products as a garnish or side-dish rather than the main course.
- Add in healthy fats from plant sources. Olives, olive oils, coconut products, avocado, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.
- Try preparing meals meat-less one day of the week. Choose one day and make all of your meals for that day using only plant foods.
- Avoid processed, packaged, and commercially marketed vegan, vegetarian or otherwise “health” foods. These products are often packed with preservatives, chemical, and artificial ingredients.
Plant-based meal ideas:
- Organic thick rolled oats with organic blueberries and coconut milk.
- Breakfast wrap: Fill a sprouted wheat tortilla with organic scrambled egg, black beans, peppers, onions, organic Monterey jack cheese, and a splash of hot sauce or salsa.
- Green salad with your favorite veggies and homemade vinaigrette dressing.
- Spouted wheat tortilla filled with grilled veggies like portobello mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, and carrots.
- Grilled veggie kabobs with mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes. Add in organic chicken or shrimp.
- Vegetarian chili with black beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions.
- Make your own trail mix for a healthy snack. Mix almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds with no sugar added dried fruits and some dark chocolate nibs.
- Keep fresh fruits and vegetables around for easy snacks. Dip fruit in fresh ground almond butter. Dip veggies in homemade hummus.
Keep in mind this transition can take some time. Your taste preferences can change over time as you consume less processed foods and meats to more plants and fresh ingredients. Always be willing to try new foods.
When you do add meats to your new meal plan always look for organic, humanely raised animal products. Conventional animal products and farmed seafood are often fed artificial feeds and colors and can be loaded with hormones and antibiotics.
- Red meats: look for organic, grass-fed, grass-finished meats.
- Poultry: look for humanely raised, organic, pasture-raised meats and eggs.
- Seafood: look for wild-caught products.
- Cheese, yogurt, dairy: look for organic.
Get started today with my free 15-page comprehensive Plant-Based Keto Food List and Recipes guide.
I am a big believer in consuming a variety of different natural foods. We are animals, so we do absorb nutrients better from animal sources. Our bodies were designed to be omnivorous (eating both plants and animals).
Having been a full vegetarian and sometimes vegan for many years, I will tell you that I when I first transitioned to eating mostly or all plants I felt AMAZING and it worked for me for many years. However, eventually, consuming a very high carbohydrate diet (vegetables, fruits, grains, etc) and missing out on complete proteins, heme-iron sources from meats, and healthy fats, it eventually caught up with me. I ended up chronically stiff and sore, bloated, gaining weight, dealing with digestive issues, and a whole host of problems.
I was severely deficient in several nutrients because of the plant-only foods – even though I was eating whole, fresh natural products (not processed “vegetarian” or “vegan” meals and snacks). Since adding a wider variety of nutrients, more fat, and more animal-based proteins to my life and reducing overall carbohydrate intake, all of my symptoms went away.
I still fully support consuming a lot of plant-based foods, but I do not believe consuming only plants is a sustainable way to optimal health. It’s very difficult to consume all of the required nutrients (and actually absorb them all) without also consuming a very high carbohydrate load.