The Year of the Plant-Based Diet
Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Is it time to explore a plant-based, whole food, and/or vegan diet? What does that even mean?
You've no doubt heard about the latest trend in lifestyle eating - the plant-based diet. There are books, magazine articles, Harvard studies, and popular documentaries with cult followings like "The Game Changers," "Forks Over Knives," and "Cowspiracy" that describe the benefits of eating more plants, and fewer processed foods and animal products. I mean, even Good Housekeeping is like hey guys, plant-based is the way to go!
Make choices that you feel good about - mind and body - and that put you in control of your wellness journey, wherever you are.
Although "plant-based" is the trending term, it often gets thrown into the mix with "whole foods" and "vegan." That trio definitely has some commonality, but they're actually not the same thing. Let's break it down.
Eating mostly plants, and foods derived from non-animal sources. So yes fruits and veggies, but also nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes. Your fav black bean burrito bowl? Probably plant-based without cheese. Plant-based doesn't mean vegan, although it can be (see below).
Takeaway: Reducing or eliminating meat and animal product consumption, usually for health/wellness or sustainability reasons.
Eating foods in their most whole, unprocessed form. Roast sweet potato - yes. Sweet potato fries from Trader Joe's - nope. Animal products make the cut here, but sourcing is important. Organic chicken that you roast yourself - yes. Chicken nuggets of any kind (even if they're labeled "organic!") - nope. If it come in a package with a list of ingredients, it's probably not a whole food.
Takeaway: Eliminating processed foods to the extent possible, reducing the intake of chemicals and additives, usually for health/wellness reasons.
Eating only plant-derived foods. Zero animal products, including cheese, milk, honey, eggs, beeswax, refined sugar (the refining process uses animal bone char), gelatin, etc. So by definition, all vegans are also eating a plant-based diet (but not vice versa). This doesn't necessarily mean a healthy diet (Oreos are vegan!), although many vegans also choose to eat whole food-based as well.
Takeaway: Completely eliminating all sources of animal products from diet and lifestyle (wool sweaters, leather shoes, down jackets ...), either for ethical , health/wellness, and/or sustainability reasons.
So. Many. Options. What's the right choice for you? For me, as someone who has deep concerns about the ethics and sustainability of meat production, that meant embracing a fully vegan lifestyle. But my choices don't have to be yours. Ultimately, the goal is to make choices and take steps that you feel good about - mind and body - and that put you in control of your wellness journey, wherever you are.