Got Questions About Eating a Plant-Based Diet?
How is a PLANT-BASED diet different from being VEGAN?
A plant-based diet is made from whole plant foods that includes FRESH FRUITS and VEGETABLES, LEGUMES, WHOLE GRAINS, NUTS and SEEDS, NO DAIRY or EGGS and very little or NO MEAT or PROCESSED OIL. A vegan diet follows these guidelines, however, could include unhealthy, processed foods. A person following a vegan diet usually abstains from the use of all animal products including items such as fur and leather, Veganism is rooted in animal rights. Check out this post to help you determine what it is to be a NUTRITARIAN or PLANT-STRONG.
What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?
Numerous studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet can protect against or even reverse chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and even osteoporosis. Most people are able to lose weight and gain energy on a plant-based diet and find their cholesterol numbers lowering.
Won't this way of eating cost more?
A plant-based diet is very affordable. Grains, beans, nuts, and seeds can be purchased in bulk in many grocery stores, and are generally less expensive than meats. Buying fruits and vegetables in season or frozen can save you money. Whole legumes and vegetables deliver more nutritional value for less money than most foods that come in a package and since you'll probably be healthier, you may save money with fewer healthcare costs.
Can I really cook or bake without eggs?
Yes, it's easier than you might think. There are substitutions of all egg uses. As long as you know what the purpose of the egg was in the recipe, you can easily choose an alternative ingredient such as flaxseed, fruit puree or chickpea flour. For example, you can replace one egg by mixing one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with three tablespoons of warm water and letting it rest for five to ten minutes until it becomes a gel. Then, add it to the recipe as you would the egg. For more how-to substitutes read this article, "Plant-Based Substitutions," that includes dairy, meat, fish and more.
How will I ever give up meat?
Once you know that eating meat can affect your health, but also that it's bad for the planet and the well-being of animals, you'll see your path more clearly. You don't have to go cold turkey. Start gradually with ideas like Meatless Mondays or going plant-based at breakfast and lunch for a while. There are many substitutes for meat at the market these days that can help you on the journey.
Will I be missing any nutrients on a plant-based diet?
The only nutrient missing from a plant-based diet is Vitamin B-12 which can be easily replaced with a supplement or by the addition of food items such as nutritional yeast to your diet. Even people on a diet that includes meat can be deficient in the B vitamins. Taking a D vitamin is a good idea, as well. Read this article, "Plant-Based Nutrition: Getting It Right," to learn more.
Do I have to be 100% to see results?
No, you don't, and just losing weight will put you on a path to a healthier you. However, to really make a difference in your long-term health, sticking with a plant-based diet, as well as exercising for at least 30 minutes most days will be your best bet against age-related diseases.
Are soy products really safe?
There is a lot of controversy over soy and although you'll want to stay away from GMO soy and isolated soy protein products and powders, recent science says that whole and minimally processed soy products like soy milk, tofu, tempeh and fresh soybeans are good for you and even protective. For more information about soy, read my post, "The Truth About Soy: Nutritional Powerhouse or Hormone-Destroying Toxin?"
What about milk. Don't I need calcium?
There is more than adequate calcium in a plant-based diet of whole grains, legumes, nuts and grains, and especially the green leafy vegetables. Here are nine dairy-free foods packed with calcium: sesame seeds, almonds/almond butter, soy/tofu, broccoli, beans, figs, oranges, chia seeds and blackstrap molasses.
How will I get enough protein?
The protein available in a diet of whole grains, legumes, fruit and beans, and red, yellow and green vegetables is adequate to nourish even professional champion athletes such as those who compete in Ironman races, professional football, mixed martial arts, track, and field. But if you want the whole lowdown on getting enough protein on a plant-based, vegan diet, read this article, "Am I Getting Enough Protein on a Plant-Based Diet?"