The Benefits of Going Plant-Based
Are you considering going vegan or vegetarian, or simply trying to cut back on meat? Adopting a plant-based diet can have many benefits, including improved health and environmental sustainability! Going plant-based means focusing meals around plant-derived foods like seasonal veggies, fruits, soy products, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
What are the Health Benefits?
Adopting a plant-based diet has been linked to:
Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
Improved blood pressure
Improved weight management and lower risk of obesity
Decreased risks of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes
When cutting any component out of your diet, it’s important to restore balance with other nutrient-rich foods. Veggies, fruits and meat alternatives can add fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients to the diet.
Fiber is only found in plant-based foods. Fiber helps with satiety, keeping you full between meals. Increased satiety can lead you to eat fewer calories throughout the day, which could possibly lead to weight loss. Fiber also keeps you regular and can lower cholesterol!
Vitamins & Minerals
Plants provide plenty of vitamins and minerals to support optimal health. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard are rich in folate, vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium.
Phytonutrients & Antioxidants
Phytonutrients are responsible for a plant’s bright color, smell and taste. Phytonutrients can have antioxidant properties, meaning they help to prevent cell damage from free radicals, which can reduce the risk of some cancers and other diseases. To get more phytonutrients in your diet, shop for colour! Choose more red, orange and yellow veggies and fruits like peppers, squash and citrus. Garlic and onions can also provide phytonutrients while boosting flavour.
Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
Ease into a plant-based diet by serving at least one meatless meal a week
Reduce your portions of meat and incorporate more alternative proteins like legumes, tofu, tempeh, Greek yogurt or eggs
Re-invent old favourites by swapping chicken with tofu in a stir-fry, or sub bacon with tempeh in a B.L.T. sandwich
Be adventurous and try new recipes like curries or bean-based burgers to keep meals fun
If you don’t love the taste of greens, blend a cup of spinach or kale into your smoothies
Add nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds to your meals and snacks for added protein and omega-3 fats
Whether you decide to commit to a fully plant-based diet or simply want to try more meatless meals, there are so many benefits to eating more fruits and veggies and it doesn’t have to be hard. Go at your own pace and, most importantly, make sure your diet is sustainable and enjoyable for you. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on meal planning for a plant-based diet!
Before making big changes to your diet, it’s important to first talk to your Registered Dietitian. If you’d like professional guidance in going plant-based for weight management, contact us today!
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Mann JI. Optimizing the plant-based diet. Asia Pac.J.Clin.Nutr. 2009; 9(S1): S60-4.doi: 10.1046/j.1440-6047.2000.00180.x