Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Switching to a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you have to become vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, that you should proportionately choose to eat more of your foods from plant sources.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Fibre is a nutrient that most of us don’t get enough of, and it has tons of healthy perks–it’s good for your waistline, your heart, your gut and your blood sugar.
A plant-based diet is more likely to result in weight loss than a vegan diet. There’s plenty of research suggesting vegetarians tend to consume fewer calories, and thus weigh less and have lower body mass indexes than non-vegetarians.
Eating a vegetarian diet may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and may improve other risk factors for heart disease by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving your blood sugar control.
Lower diabetes risk
Roughly 387 million people are living with diabetes, and according to the International Diabetes Federation, that number is expected to soar to nearly 600 million by 2035. Type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable, and research suggests a plant-based diet can help ward off this disease.
Lower blood pressure
Research suggests that a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure.
Healthier looking skin
Cutting back on animal products also means skipping much of their saturated fats, which are notorious for clogging pores. Plus, many of the vitamins, pigments and phytochemicals in fruits and veggies contribute to healthy skin.
Lower cancer risk
Saturated fat and trans fat—found in dairy products, meat, and fried foods—can increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive conditions. A plant-based diet avoids these foods and is rich in antioxidants, folate, and vitamin E, which may offer a protective effect.
Plus as an added bonus eating less meat and dairy products and more fruits and vegetables also means smaller environmental footprint.
With meat and dairy being the leading contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing animal-based foods and choosing a wide range of plant foods can be beneficial to the planet and our health.
If you want to make the switch to a plant-based diet, you can start by gradually reducing their meat and dairy intake.
Eating an entirely plant-based meal once a week, or swapping out one animal product for a plant-based one, can be an excellent place to start.
What you decide to eat or not eat on a plant-based diet is entirely up to you. For the most part, people on plant-based diets eat less of the following:
- Fast food
- Desserts and sweetened beverages
- Refined grains: white rice, white bread, refined pasta, etc.
- Packaged foods: cookies, chips, sugary cereals, etc.
- Processed meats: bacon, sausage, etc.
Changing your nutrition is a powerful way to live longer, help the environment, and reduce your risk of getting sick. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can help to protect you against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them. When buying and serving fruit and vegetables, aim for variety to get the most nutrients and appeal.