What is a plant based diet? The plant based lifestyle in essence means eating foods that are not derived from animals, fish, or animal by-products.
When most people hear the terms ‘vegan’ or ‘plant based’, they often have visions of grass on a plate. But, this is so far from the truth that it’s almost funny.
Eating a plant based diet (when done correctly with attention to your macronutrients and a good exercise plan) is actually the ultimate healthy lifestyle that can take you to a place of vibrant health, vitality, and healing in a relatively short space of time.
What are plant based foods?
Firstly, you take into consideration the fact that plant foods include not just vegetables. They’re also fruits, nuts, seeds, quinoa, barley, spelt, amaranth, rices, lentils, pulses, beans, healthy fats, soy, tempeh, seitan and nut milks. This gives you lot more ingredients to work with than you may have originally thought.
This past year has seen the sharpest EVER rise of veganism and plant based eating, which is probably down to a number of reasons.
- Firstly, we are all becoming more aware of our environment and global warming. And, the over consumption of animal products and farming methods have played a role in that.
- Secondly, we are also becoming much more aware of the impact food has on our health. We all want to feel and look our best.
- Thirdly, many people are now either lactose intolerant or may get other issues arising from too much dairy. These people are therefore looking for substitutes to their normal products.
It’s never been an easier or more convenient a time to make this change to veganism than right now. Fortunately, most supermarkets are getting on board in a big way with vegan and plant based foods.
You will also find many shops, restaurants and cafes now offering all sorts of substitutes for animal products. Most are serving many varieties of nut milks, cheeses and meat substitutes. Although we are not a big fans of processed meat substitutes for the long term, they are fine whilst you are transitioning to a plant based diet.
Plant Based Diet Health Benefits
First, we need to convince you of the reasons why (and we believe there are many) you should even bother to make these big changes to in the first place. The future of our environment and all living things being just one of the benefits on a very long list.
But for YOU personally, the proven health benefits of a plant based diet plan (when done correctly) can be pretty astounding.
We say ‘when done correctly’ because this is a major key point that will make all the difference between getting you to that place of health and vitality that you want to be at.
Here are some of the amazing reasons to become more whole foods plant based in your eating habits, in case you still need convincing.
Remember, you will only get these benefits if you are truly eating lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and also food combining properly. It’s much easier than it sounds and you will get the hang of it fast.
- MUCH more energy
- You will find it easier to get physically fit
- Lower inflammation in general
- Clearer skin
- A more glowing complexion
- Weight loss – specifically belly fat
- Reduction in cellulite
- Possible higher immunity and less sickness (i.e. bugs, colds and flu)
Where do I start?
Choosing a whole foods eating plan for the reasons of superior health and well-being will also mean cutting out sugar and other high GI foods. Plus, deep-fried foods, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours, and other food chemicals will need to be eliminated as much as possible too.
Doing this will kick start the detoxification process and flood your system with life giving nutrients. This will allow your body to clear out toxins more effectively and begin healing itself. Putting your body into a state of homeostasis is a great path to healing, both mentally and physically.
Healing the body AND mind
For long-term change (which is what you need to be thinking about in order to live the healthful life you want) it is always best to take things one step at a time.
It has been shown in studies that if you try to make too many changes at once then you are more likely to fail. Although, for some all or nothing type personalities this approach may actually work better. But, for most of us, it’s usually best not to take on too much all at once.
Many plant foods are highly alkaline, whilst most animal products (milk and dairy come in mid range) and refined sugars are acidic. This means they cause the kind of chronic inflammation in the body that can promote disease.
It stands to reason that cutting out these acidic foods as much as possible and adding in plant foods instead, will help to keep your body in more of a state of balance and even reduce your chance of certain diseases.
To help this process along even more, you should also add lots of antioxidant rich superfoods to your diet. These will not only boost your immune system, but will also give you a beautiful glowing complexion that will get you compliments.
Of course, you can tell them exactly how you have achieved it through the eating of delicious and nutritious plant foods.
TOP 12 ALKALINE FOODS
- Sea vegetables
- Dark green leafy vegetables including spinach, kale, spring greens, rocket, Swiss chard (the darker the colour the better).
- Himalayan pink salt (in moderation).
- Sprouted beans
- All raw foods
- Super Green Powder Shots – Absolutely essential for energy, glowing skin, and a stronger immune system.
TOP 10 ACID FORMING FOODS
- All high GI sugars, including white sugar, refined flour products, honey, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners
- Tea and Coffee
- Dried fruit
- Farmed fish
- Yeast and fermented foods such as miso, soy sauce, mustard and marmite.
As you can see, not all plant foods are necessarily alkaline and vice versa. But, most of the major plant food groups are either alkaline or mid range, and most of the animal products are mid range to highly acidic. So on balance, plant based diet foods are much more alkaline and therefore healthier long term.
There are foods on the highly acidic list that are “considered” healthy (like eggs and fish for example). But, if you do eat them they should be balanced out with lots of alkaline foods to keep acidity in the body to a minimum.
Other benefits you may notice on a plant based diet
- Less bloating and puffiness in the face
- MUCH more energy
- Much less muscle aches after exercise
- The most amazing glowing skin EVER! (cannot reiterate this enough)
- A clear head (brain fog is something you may not notice until it’s gone)
- Better memory power
- Strong immune system
- Hormonal balance (you may suffer less from mood swings and PMS)
- Less stress (you may get less angry, frustrated or stressed out than before)
- Weight loss
- Thicker, more lustrous hair
- Anti aging, which happens naturally when you start filling your body with antioxidants
A lot of the benefits on this list are associated with LESS CHRONIC INFLAMMATION in the body. And, plant based foods naturally reduce this over time.
Plant Based Diet Vs Vegan
VEGAN DIET DEFINITION
The main difference with these two diets (or, we prefer to say lifestyles) would be that veganism is a lifestyle that is predominantly about the welfare of animals. It therefore shuns ALL animal products, including anything made of animal skin such as leather, suede and fur.
Veganism also bans anything that has been tested on animals. This includes most make-up, shampoos, conditioners, toiletries, and many household cleaning and washing products.
This is all noble and for a good cause of course, we are definitely not saying it’s not. But, we won’t go further into the animal welfare side of things for the simple reason this blog is about the plant based diet, and we will be focusing more on the actual health benefits of plant foods.
But, let it be said, eating plant based means you will already be making a huge difference to animal welfare and the environment just by doing this alone!
Veganism Isn’t Necessarily Healthy!
It’s also worth noting that as veganism is not predominantly about health, it means not all vegans will be necessarily healthy. There are many vegan junk foods out there! Just think fries, trans fats and SUGAR for starters – ALL these junk foods are still vegan; and technically plant based for that matter.
PLANT BASED DIET DEFINITION
On the other hand, plant based eating is more predominantly about health (or you may decide to start off plant based as you ease yourself into veganism). But, you do have more leeway to have a few ‘cheats’ to help make things easier. This is often needed, especially in the early stages of making such huge lifestyle changes.
How to ‘be’ around others
There will of course be times when being plant based will be hard. This is especially true when you’re around other people who may not necessarily understand why you are going to (what they may call) extremes with your dietary habits.
Never allow people to judge you for your choices. It’s your body and entirely up to you to decide what you put into it, that’s just your absolute right. They are on their journey and you are on yours.
You will find that when others see how well you look they will ask you what you’re doing, and will want a piece of the action for themselves. This is obviously great. Being the change you wish to see in the world is a lot more powerful and effective than just preaching it.
Putting together nutritionally complete meals
Combining the right foods for a complete amino acid profile (which means obtaining all 9 essential amino acids from your plant proteins) is crucial on a plant based diet. Animal products are already complete proteins, whereas many plant foods aren’t.
This is why its important you understand how to put a complete meal together to cover ALL your dietary needs.
Don’t be alarmed as it’s really not as hard as it sounds and will soon become second nature. New evidence has found that you don’t actually have to eat a complete amino acid profile at every meal. Just over the course of the day is good enough.
TRAINING AND WEIGHT LOSS
Sometimes a good plant based protein powder supplement can be a Godsend when you’re on a plant based or vegan diet. Why? Because sometimes it’s quite hard to meet your protein needs, especially when busy, OR if you are doing a lot of exercise or training.
If you’re in training or doing lots of exercise, you will need to be extra vigilant.
You may find this out the hard way in the beginning and actually lose some muscle mass at first – even though you’re doing weight bearing exercise. So, to be on the safe side, have a protein shake on train days (or even add a scoop to your morning porridge if you have done a workout the day before).
Another good reason to take extra protein supplements is if you’re trying to burn fat and build muscle. Protein not only builds muscle (which actually burns more calories than fat even in its resting state), but it also keeps you full and stops you craving the refined carbohydrates that are so devastating to a weight loss diet.
Just remember, not all protein powders are the same. Some have added sugars, fillers and other nasty stuff to be mindful of. Be sure to choose something that will work for you that fits in with your lifestyle and needs.
Please check out this in-depth review of the best all natural plant based protein powders before you go down the protein supplement path.
Plant based foods list
You will find that you may feel much fuller, and your blood sugars will stay much more stable by the proper understanding of combining foods. This will help you be sure you are obtaining the correct amounts of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and nutrients throughout the day.
By this we mean eating carbs, proteins and a little healthy fats at all main meals for satiety and fullness.
The foods you need to eat to obtain this come under the following groups:-
- Wholegrains such as spelt, wheat, barley, corn, millet, amaranth.
- Brown rice
- White and sweet potatoes
- Dried fruits
- Tropical fruits
- Quinoa (both protein and carb)
- Soya products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
- Bean burgers
- Soy mince
- Protein powders (plant based)
- Buckwheat (both protein and carb)
- Pulses – Lentils, beans, peas
- Healthy oils in moderation only if absolutely necessary, such as coconut, sesame, extra virgin olive, avocado, walnut, macademia, flax. Official whole food plant based diets don’t use refined oils, but they do come in handy at times.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Don’t forget to eat in abundance ALL the varieties of fruits and vegetables to obtain all their different colour groups.
Eating a rainbow of colours will ensure an array of different antioxidants and anti aging phytochemicals to keep you healthy.
Eat your veggies as raw or lightly cooked as possible to keep in the nutrition and fibres. This will help keep your body detoxified and your energy levels high. Eating a highly raw food diet can boost your health even further, so always try to do this when it’s convenient and possible.
If you feel you’re missing out (or can’t always cram as much fruit and veg in as you would like), then an effective way to top up is with a chlorophyll rich superfood powder. These are like little shots of pure, organic nutrition that will get into your cells fast to give you an energy boost and a glowing complexion all in one hit.
Also, they work great for boosting recovery after sickness.
LOW GI FOODS
Low GI foods (GI is short for glycemic index, and is the rate in which the sugar in a particular food hits the bloodstream) are the best foods for keeping blood sugar stable. They can be found in the complex carbohydrates that are in most whole plant foods.
Whole foods means foods that are still in their original and natural state. For example, a whole orange as opposed to orange juice which has had its fibres removed.
Combining Low GI Foods
For filling, low GI meals and snacks, always combine carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, cereal, rice, pasta, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, oatmeal and cracked wheat with proteins such as pulses, nuts, seeds, quinoa, soy, tempeh and seitan.
You will also need a little healthy monounsaturated fat like avocado, whole coconut or olive oil (if not already in the protein element as it is in the case of nuts and seeds). These combinations will keep you satiated and full with a slow release of energy over many hours.
Check out full low GI foods list here.
High GI foods and sugar spike
High GI carbohydrates such as white sugar, flours, confectionery, fizzy drinks, fruit juices and chocolate will throw your blood sugar out of whack, especially when eaten on an empty stomach.
High blood sugar can eventually bring with it problems of its own, including type 2 diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome to name just a few. Low GI carbohydrates are an ESSENTIAL part of your healthy plant based diet and should be eaten at every meal to slow down sugar release into the bloodstream.
Plant Based Diet and Weight Gain
Some people begin a plant based diet to lose weight, but unfortunately this is often not the case. This can be especially true in the beginning.
If you begin this lifestyle with little understanding of the nutrition required, then you may temporarily gain weight due to the eating of more refined carb foods and not enough protein. Or, just plain and simply eating too many fats in the form of nuts, seeds and oils (a common blunder).
It’s natural for this to happen when you cut out the major source of protein that used to be coming from animal products.
If you find you yourself are having these problems then please check out these 4 common weight gain mistakes to learn how to fix them fast.
Whole foods plant based athletes
With the advent of the Netflix film ‘The Game Changers’ (and many others of its kind) it has become more and more apparent what a whole foods plant based diet can do for you in terms of your training and exercise. The film has highlighted the sheer volume of professional athletes that have sworn that changing their diet has been the best thing they have ever done in terms of their fitness.
Some of these big names in fitness include:-
- Arnold Shwarzenegger
- Jackie Chan
- Lewis Hamilton
- Venus and Serena Williams
- Brendan Brazier
- Torre Washington
- James Wilkes
- David Cater
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plant based athletes. But, it does show the diversity of sports people who find that cutting out animal products has improved their game no matter what their sport. It makes no difference which sport you specialise in, eating plant foods has been shown time and time again to improve fitness, recovery and to beat PB’s.
A plant based diet menu plan would ideally consist of good ratios of all the macronutrients of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.
Food combining is something that will come much more naturally to you as you go along. Sticking to complex carbs and protein rich meals will keep you satiated and full without the need for snacking in between meals and possibly gaining weight.
Here is an example of a daily food plan that has everything you need to stay healthy:-
- Quinoa porridge
- Homemade granola
- Buckwheat pancakes
- Sourdough toast topped with avocado
- Low sugar, homemade protein bars
- Fruit and nut flapjacks
- Fresh fruit salad, chopped nuts and coconut yogurt
- Green smoothie
- Tofu and vegetable scramble
- Sugar-free nut butter on granary toast
Check out some other great breakfast ideas.
- Baked beans on granary toast
- Lentil soup and sourdough bread
- Vegan cheese and onion toastie
- Mixed salad, chickpeas and quinoa
- Hummus, grated carrot and rocket sandwich with wholewheat bread
- Tahini, avocado and grated carrot on sourdough with twist of lemon juice, salt and pepper
Check out some other FAST and EASY lunch ideas.
- Tofu and chickpea curry with brown rice
- Mixed bean chili with baked potato or brown rice, plus chopped avocado
- Buckwheat noodle and vegetable stir-fry
- Bean burgers, polenta chips and salad
- Ramen bowl
- Stir-fied mixed grain rice, vegetables and soy beans
- Roasted vegetables on a bed of boiled quinoa
- Mixed bean and root vegetable stew
- Meat-free sausages, mashed potatoes, peas and onion gravy
- Nut roast, potatoes, vegetable and gravy
Check out some other tasty dinner ideas.
- Hummus on oatcakes
- Tahini and sugar-free jam on oatcakes
- Dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao
- Veggie sticks and hummus
- Dry roasted chickpeas
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Fresh fruit
- Banana and almond butter
- Green smoothie
- Protein shake
- Green superfood powder shots
Check out some other low carb snack ideas.
Start your plant based diet one step at a time by gradually clearing the junk out of your cupboard and replacing with cleaner foods.
If you want to get your unwilling family involved, then cook them a couple of plant based meals in the week and see how they like them. There are so many easy plant based recipes to try that you need never get bored.
Word of warning 😉 Eating the plant based diet may change your life and generally make you a more compassionate person towards everything. It just changes your spirit like that.
We believe is down to a combination of your body being cleaner, your mind thinking more clearly when it’s not being fogged up with inflammation promoting junk foods, and the happiness that you feel in your soul when your body gets the nutrition it craves.
So, be ready for this AWESOMNESS!!
Thank you for visiting ZestForever today. We hope you have come away with a much clearer understanding of the amazing benefits of a plant based diet.
We also hope to have given you the incentive to want to try this healthful, planet friendly way of eating for yourself.
34 thoughts on “What is a Plant Based Diet? Plus Benefits & How to Begin”
I was a “day vegetarian” for the past few years. My family ate everything so at night I’d have to make them dinners with meat and all the usual stuff.
Thankfully this past year my wife joined me in being a vegetarian so now I’m really stoked to be doing it full-time.
We also cut out most dairy, but we eat eggs occasionally and don’t have a problem with them. Just eating a plant-based diet is so rewarding; that’s enough for us.
Can’t say I’ve cut out sugar completely. One of our favorite breakfasts is homemade pancakes with 100% raw maple syrup. Mmm I don’t think I’ll ever be able to cut that out! lol
Hi there and thanks for your comment, sounds like you have a really healthy diet, and it’s great your family have joined you in becoming a vegetarian. I think every change makes a big difference so you don’t have to go the whole way and become a total vegan, doing what you are doing I’m sure keeps you really healthy and happy. And, no I haven’t cut out sugar completely, don’t think I could all the time there’s chocolate in the world. Ha ha
oh man, you aren’t kidding – there are PLENTY of junk food vegans. Pop tarts and pasta and fries! I like that you emphasize doing this for heath reasons rather than some zealotry over animal welfare (which is important, but it’s basically impossible to eschew animal products). Thanks for the great tips!
Hi penelope, yes I know a few junk food vegans and they are actually more unhealthy than meat eaters. Vegan is only healthy if you do it right and there is a lot of misinformation out there. I do emphasise that I doing this for health reasons as I know that people become defensive if you start being ‘preachy’ about the animal welfare side.
This, in my book, is just pushing people away from it even more and doesn’t help the vegan cause. My niece is vegan and she used to be very angry with anybody who ate meat (she used to get up and leave the table if there was meat on it, making everyone feel awkward and bad, thankfully she has matured a bit now), so when I became vegan my family and friends all thought I would be like that so I made an absolute point not to be. We are all free to make our own food choices and I always try to remain unbiased with all the information I give out.
Wow that’s an incredible story but I guess I’m not surprised. People have such strong feelings about animals, the whole “meat is murder” sentiment. I’m glad you’ve had a smoother experiences transitioning to a vegan lifestyle in the context of your family.
Hi Penelope, yes it has been pretty smooth going, and not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I guess that these days, fortunately, there are so many vegan choices out there in terms of what you can now buy in supermarkets and get in restaurants etc. I know if I had done this 10 years ago it would have been 10 times harder. I guess a lot of people are gravitating towards a more plant based lifestyle these days, for health reasons if nothing else. Which is fantastic!
Interesting post. It would be nice to stay healthy by eating the right food. If only I can do it, or if I have the discipline to do it. As a young girl, a grown up lady and an adult, I just do not have the patience and dedication to follow a plant based diet, basically because I don’t like vegetables and I just eat what I want without thinking. And that is why I have all these health problems because I had a faulty eating habit and still do. I have learned something from your post though. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Rebecca, I totally understand where you are coming from, I know it is hard to make such huge changes, especially when you have always been a certain way. It was the same for me when I first started changing my diet, but all I can say is it is so worth it as you will feel amazing. The secret is to just make a few small changes at a time, as we st ourselves up to fail if we try to do to much in one go. Just start out slowly by cutting down sugar and adding a couple of light exercise sessions in a week, then move forward from there. Write a list of the different things you can change and try to do one a week. Please read my post on how to do this as you may find it helpful How To Eat Clean – 10 Easy Steps
I’m looking to become vegan, because it has so many benefits and most of them you’ve talked about here. It’s really easy to fill yourself with junk food all day, but if you want to become the greatest version of yourself, the food you eat should be the number 1 concern, because we are as good as the food we consume.
Yes, ain’t that the truth! You are what you eat, every molecule and cell in your entire body is made of and regenerated with the food you eat. If you eat junk, then basically that’s what you’ll be made of. Sounds awful when you put it like that, but so true!
This is very insightful.
And as I’ve grown older I’ve seen the need to have more of a plant based diet largely having fought off veges as a kid.
You really do start to feel the difference in energy levels when you eat ‘right’. I always struggle to think of more plant based dinner ideas, having been brought up mainly with meat. Do you have a go to resource for plant based recipe ideas?
Hey there and thanks for your comment. I understand the whole thing about being brought up around meat. When I was a kid, every dinner was meat and two veg, but that was the norm back then in England. In fact I don’t think we had even heard of spaghetti bolognese until I was well into my teens. Ha ha.
With me, it took about 5 attempts before becoming fully plant based, as I just kept craving meat. I guess it was just conditioning more than anything and eventually it just gave up the ghost.
As for meat free dinners, that was the thing I always struggled with at first. It’s always easy to do meat free breakfasts and lunches, but come dinner time you feel you want the comfort of a ‘proper’ meal. Or what you believe to be a ‘proper’ meal. It took me a while to be able to have a vegan dinner and actually feel satisfied afterwards, but i do now 100%, it was just a matter of changing old thinking patterns and habits.
I eat lots of yummy vegan dinners now such as veggie fried rice with edamame beans for protein, coconut and chickpea curry, lots of budda bowls (see internet, millions on there), homemade mixed bean chili, quorn sausage and veg casserole, cashew nut stir fries, homemade oven chips/sweet potato chips with beans and peas. There are lots of choices, just make sure you are getting your proteins. Check here for more information Best Plant Based Protein Foods List. If you google vegan dinners you will also find lots of ideas.
I have been “weaning” myself off meat for a while now and sometimes find a week has passed without having any. I have created a couple of recipes that include a lot of the veggie food groups I need including 5 or 6 herbs and spices (and eat it most days).
As far back as I can remember I have loved eating broccoli, spinach, beetroot, carrots, rice, peas and my favourite…nuts. We used to have a huge row of Cob Nut trees outside our house in Kent.
I would sneak off and eat a shedload whenever I could! I think people need to listen to their bodies more and heed the cravings (like many pregnant women). We all have different needs and the trick is to work out your own personal diet.
I must admit I still get times when I feel my body “needs” meat but I know that is more than likely habit. I hope one day to be meat free but I don’t think “full vegan” will happen any time soon.
Loved the section on inflammation too. This is a topic that is more important than many people realise.
Hi Nick, thanks for reading, and the thing that stood out for me in your comment is that you live in KENT. So do I! I’m in Ramsgate so where are you? You are the closest person living to me that I have met on WA haha.
Anyway, back to the point, you sound very healthy if you love all those foods, I practically live on fruit and veg and all my family and friends make fun and call me a rabbit, but I can’t help it, it makes me feel fantastic. Its interesting you say about craving meat as I know exactly what you mean. I must of tried in earnest about 5 times to go fully plant based (like I am now) and every time the thing that I always craved, way after the dairy and sugar cravings had gone was meat. It was such a deep seated thing, but at the time I believed it was because my body needed it, and so I kept giving in to it after about a month in.
Then something extraordinary happened on my 6th attempt, something just clicked into place, I could feel it, and I just didn’t get one single craving, and have never had a meat craving since. I have been meat free for 10 months now, and I know deep down that I will never go back. So I guess something eventually just changed in me, like a light switch, and I realised that it was all just deep seated conditioning that was giving me the cravings, and eventually they decided to give up the ghost. Now I honestly feel better than I ever have in my life and would never go back.
Anyway sorry for long answer, but thought it was worth sharing as for me it was just a case of persistence – and your’e right, there is just not enough information out there about how deadly too much inflammation is, but slowly people are understanding now we have all this information at our fingertips, which is great!
Thanks for sharing re your meat journey, very inspirational (I just had a veggie lunch : )
Cool that you live in Ramsgate, my parents were in Herne for many years running a post office there. I left Kent (River, near Dover) when I was 20, went to London for 10 years, Nottingham for a few months, Spain for 10 years and now Weymouth for 10 years…I feel old!
Anyway, keep up the good work, and nice to “meet” you.
Nice to meet you too Nick, I love Weymouth, we’ve spent many a family holiday there when I was a kid. How weird, I lived in London and up North too! Wishing you all the best on your WA journey.
I am reading this just as I have had written it… My plant based journey started almost same time… 8 months ago, also I cut out all the junk stuff too (I didn’t have much before but now I almost have zero junk).
Do you take some nutritional supplements too? As like B-group vitamins, specially B12? And what about Omega 3 fatty acids?
I got tested lately and the results were bad… because it is hard to get omega 3 from plants (there are omega 3 in flax oil, walnut oil, hemp oil for example; but our body wont be able to produce much DHA and EPA from those sources) and that is why plant based dieters must take Algae oil to get DHA and EPA…. do you have any experience with it? Do you know some high quality algae oil brands to suggest?
Hi Melissa, that’s great that you are on the same journey as me :-).It definitely feels great doesn’t it! As for supplements I know what you mean about the omega 3 fatty acids. At the moment I am still taking fish oils, but I really have a need to do so because I suffer depression without them, but I am weaning myself off gradually. I know there are some really good plant based omega 3’s out there now and I will look further into it as I really do want to become fully vegan soon. I will let you know my findings on that.
I also take B12 supplements and L-Carnitine and Lycine which are amino acids, but I mainly take these as I am doing some hard training at the moment for the Elite Fitness Bikini Body competition (LOL I know!). Just need a challenge to lose the last of the weight I want to lose. I also take lots of green powders and superfoods supplements and they definitely make a huge difference to energy etc.
The interesting thing is, in the raw vegan community, they swear they do not ever take any supplements of any kind as the body just finds its own balance when you take things to that level. But I don’t have the experience of this to say whether that is true or not.
I think the best thing to do is go by how you feel, if you feel good and full of energy then your body is in balance, if not then something could be missing. I work in a herbal shop where we have access to the newest information about supplements so I will definitely find out more about these plant omegas and get back to you.
Hi, this was such a great article. Informative and eye-opening! I do not eat only plant based, but I do eat lots of fruit and vegetables and of course seeds and nuts. The benefits that you describe have to some extent been the same for me since I have left refined sugars and flour out of my diet.
You mention your energy levels. It is really great how you good feel after you stop eating all the stuff that is not good for you and start on a healthy meal plan. I have days where I seem not to be able to stop and get tired, which is actually good, because you get more quality time with family and friends. A huge plus for me.
Have you read about the links between depression/anxiety and sugar and flour? There is lots of research. I am currently experimenting on that. You mentioned brain fog and that has gone since you started to make healthier food choices. I strongly believe that these are closely linked.
Have a great day,
Hi Oscar, it’s great you eat lots of fruit and veg and other good things. I always think that as long as you eat lots of good stuff then you have earned a coupe of treats now and then. And yes, extra energy is a great thing as I don’t think I could possibly do all the things I do in my life without eating the way I do. I just wouldn’t have the energy or inclination.
It’s interesting you mention about anxiety/depression as I have suffered from such severe depression in the past that it is the whole reason I am doing what I do now and eating like I do now. I changed my diet 17 years ago after searching for a way to cure my depression and it was the only thing that worked. Good diet AND exercise. i emphasize exercise because it is vital to relive depression, especially weight bearing exercise. And yes there is 100% a huge link between refined sugars/carbohydrates and anxiety and depression. I only ever eat wholegrain carbs (well at least 90% of the time is enough).
Depression is a subject close to my heart that I have defeated, and if I could give you 3 main tips that really work to alleviate it it would be 1. Always eat wholegrains i.e. bread,pasta, flours and rice, 2. Exercise, preferably in the fresh air, and 3. Take high strength omega 3 fish oils (about 3000mg a day) Not vegan I know, but one thing that I won’t give up. Hope this helps you and take care.
You are very right about the vegan junk foodies – it is so much easier if you just care about what you eat, it does not necessarily have to be vegan, e.g. we eat eggs or a piece of meat here and there, though predominantly vegan, and all has to be from organic source. You just have to feel the difference and you will not have difficulties to sticking to it.
Hi Katrin, yes I totally agree, you just have to care about what you eat and where your food comes from and you will be a lot happier and healthier in the long run. It’s all about balance and it sounds as though you have worked that out well.
Hello! I did so enjoy reading this article. I am a big believer in we are what we eat. And I have actually cured myself of autoimmune dis-ease by going completely plant based. People thought I was crazy 20 years ago. But now it is common place! And I am so grateful because it gave me my life back.
I found though that I had to give up soy, as it added weight and seemed to be a bit inflammatory. I am juicing more and that is really rocking my world.
I decided on plant based for health reasons years ago, and have never looked back.
Thank you for being so thorough in this article. What do you suggest for more protein and energy combining?
In peace and gratitude, ariel.
Hi Ariel, thanks for reading. It really is fantastic to hear that you cured yourself from your illness with a plant based diet. It is just amazing what the power of plants. I’m on a Facebook group called Raw Food Riot and these guys have just mindblowing stories to tell about how they have healed themselves of almost every illness imaginable. And also they look really young. I’m starting myself to try and eat a lot more raw as it makes such a massive difference and really is another level. I would be interested to know your view on this and whether you’ve experimented yourself with a raw diet?
And yes, I love raw juices, they make you feel so alive instantly!
For more protein, I recommend eating more nuts (the highest protein ones are peanuts, almonds and cashews). Chickpeas are also one of the highest protein pulses. And if you still need more protein then I recommend a protein powder such as help.
I also take some extra amino acid supplements such as Lycine and L Carnitine which help top you up also.
Seriously thinking about going on a plant-based diet after my long water fast. Thanks for taking the time to post this informative article.
Hi there Wilona, that’s really great and I hope that all goes well for you. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you like if you need any advice as I know how hard it can be at first getting things right, especially with meal planning etc. In fact, I do have a week meal plan that I have worked out to have all the nutrients and protein needed to stay healthy and feel goods. It may be helpful in getting you into a routine and understanding of how to put a plant based meal together.Please check it out
I will start a plant based diet and I know that you mentioned protein powder but sometimes vegan protein shakes makes me sick. Do you know why is this happening?
Hi Furkan, that’s great you’re starting a plant based diet plan but I’m not sure why vegan protein shakes are making you sick. That really unfortunate as you shouldn’t rely on just whey protein, it’s good to mix it up.
You haven’t really given me much information on your actual symptoms for me to be able to help you. If it’s bloating that you are having problems with then you may just need to wean yourself onto them by mixing in with your normal protein and building it up slowly; or maybe you should just try something different. Maybe you have just unfortunately used something that your body can’t tolerate and you should try something else.
There are many different protein powders to choose from including pea, hemp, brown rice, pumpkin, sunflower, quinoa, potato – that’s just a few, they are making protein powder out of so many different foods now that the plant based eating trend is going crazy, so don’t give up, just take the time to find something that works for you.
Please check out this post and you will see I mean about choice. You could even go for one with added probiotics and digestive enzymes which may help you to digest them better.
This is such a great article – I love that you explain a plant based diet and how it works and that just being plant-based doesn’t automatically make a diet healthy! What are your thoughts on adapting plant-based diets for kids?
Hi Amy, what a great question! Yes, you definitely could adapt it for kids as long as you are extra careful they get everything that growing kids need in regards to calcium and protein. They could eat lots of smooth nut butters, lentils and pulses, and hemp milk is a great source of calcium for them. I think sometimes the battle with kids is getting them to eat enough veggies, and green in particular as these are a huge part of a healthy plant based diet. If your kids love all this stuff then I’d say go for it.
You may be interested in this post about plant based calcium foods which is great for both kids and adults
Yes, I can imagine how hard it is to achieve a balanced diet with young children. I have friends in exactly the same baot; they want to stay healthy and feed their kids healthier food but it’s not always possible, especially if you have fussy kids that don’t like veggies.
All you can do is try your best and make sure that it’s on offer for them. I guess keeping yourself as healthy as possible also gives you more energy to run around after them, and a stronger immune system so you don’t get sick… heaven forbid!
Thanks, happy you have learned something new that you can apply to your diet. Health knowledge is something you can just keep building on, especially with all the great information out there and new health studies out there. Exiting times!
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