What is a plant based diet? In essence it means to actually just eat plants, or anything that is not derived from animals or fish and it’s really not quite as boring and bland as it sounds… honestly!
When most people hear the words vegan or plant based they often have visions of grass on a plate, but this is of course far from the truth, and in this post I’ll show you exactly why the plant based diet IS the ultimate healthy lifestyle, and maybe even convert you while I’m at it – who knows.
Firstly, if you take into consideration the fact that plant foods include not just vegetables but also fruits, nuts, seeds, quinoa, barley, spelt, amaranth, rices, lentils, pulses, beans, healthy fats, soy, tempeh, seitan, and nut milks (you will become familiar with all of these as you go) then you can start to see that there is actually an abundance of foods available that you can eat with this lifestyle.
The plant based movement is spreading far and wide!
It’s never been a better or more convenient time to go plant based than right now and most major supermarkets are getting on board in a big way with the plant based movement. You will find most shops, restaurants, and cafes are now offering all sorts of substitutes for animal products, and serving many varieties of nut milks, cheeses, and meat substitutes (though I am not a big fan of soy based fake meat substitutes for the long term, they are fine while you are learning and breaking yourself in).
The Amazing Health Benefits of Plant Foods:-
First I need to convince you of the reasons why (and I believe there are many) you should bother to make the change to this lifestyle in the first place, the future of our environment being just one of the benefits on a very long list. But for YOU personally the health benefits of a plant based diet when done correctly can be simply astounding. Or so has been my experience in the past year on my own plant based journey and also the experience of others with whom I have discussed this topic.
I say ‘when done correctly’ because this is a major key point and will make all the difference between getting you to that coveted place of extreme health and vitality, or from just eeking by.
Cutting out the Rubbish
Choosing a plant based diet for the reasons of superior health and well-being will also mean cutting out sugar and other high GI foods; also 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, allowing your body to clear out all the rubbish and begin healing itself. Putting your body into a state of homeostasis is the ultimate path to healing and you can do this through diet.
Healing the body AND mind:-
Moving towards a plant based lifestyle is one of the fastest ways to healing, not just for the body, but for the mind also. 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 is proven that if you try to make too many changes at once then you will probably fall of the wagon very quickly, though for some all or nothing types this approach may actually work better, but I personally think it best not to take on too much all at once. Either way I will give you the strategies that I used for incorporating these changes as seamlessly as possible that worked well for me.
PLANT BASED DIET BENEFITS
Alkalizing your body:-
Many plant foods are highly alkaline, whilst most animal products (milk and dairy come in mid range) and refined sugars are acidic – meaning they cause inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is now thought to be one of the main influencers behind many diseases and illnesses, including arthritis, lupus, crohn’s, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, alzeimers, and asthma.
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 a state of balance, AND go a long way towards slashing your risk of many of the above major diseases.
To help this process along even more you should also add more superfoods to your diet as these will not only boost your immune system into orbit, but give you a beautiful glowing complexion that everybody will comment on – to which you can tell them exactly how you have achieved it. Oh the satisfaction!
TOP 12 ALKALIZING 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
- Superfood Green Powders – absolutely essential for energy, glowing skin, and a super strong 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 in balance the plant based way of eating is much more alkaline, and therefore much healthier in the long term.
Don’t get me wrong, 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.
On a personal note I am now pretty much 100% plant based these days due mainly to the fact that I really notice the difference in how I feel if I start to eat eggs and dairy again, and it’s not good. I have tried and tested it a few times and they just make me feel congested and foggy headed, something that I never actually noticed before eating plant based and probably because I knew no different.
Some of the other awesome things I have noticed since eating a whole plant diet:-
- Less bloating and puffiness in the face (I didn’t even realise I had these issues until suddenly I didn’t, and everyone could see the difference).
- MUCH more energy.
- No muscle aches after exercise.
- The most amazing glowing skin I have EVER had.
- A clear head (brain fog is another thing I had always had but didn’t really notice – until it was gone).
- Much better memory.
- Strong immune system (I have not had one day of sickness, colds, or viruses the whole time I have eaten only plant foods).
- Hormonal balance (I rarely suffer from mood swings or PMS like I used to).
- Less stress (I find I do not get as angry, frustrated or stressed out like I did before).
- Weight Loss, check out (Plant Floods and Weight Loss)
- Thicker more lustrous hair.
One of the things that stands out clear as day when you read this list is that ALL of those above problems I used to have are the result of too much inflammation in the body – and they all got better when I changed my diet. I may not have developed any serious illnesses or diseases yet but I was more than likely on the way, and the way I felt after changing my diet was the ultimate proof of exactly what the plant based lifestyle, when done correctly, can do for you.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLANT BASED AND VEGAN
The main difference would be that veganism is a lifestyle that is predominantly about the welfare of animals and therefore shuns ALL animal products, including anything made of animal skin such as leather, suede and fur. It also bans anything that has been tested on animals which 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, I’m definitely not saying it’s not but I won’t go further into the animal welfare side of things for the simple reason this is a plant based lifestyle website and I will be focusing more about the actual health benefits of plant foods.
It’s worth noting that as veganism is not predominantly about health not all vegans are necessarily healthy as there are many vegan junk foods out there. Just think fries, trans fats, and SUGAR for starters!
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), and on the plant based diet you have more leeway to help make things easier which 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 it will be hard, especially when you’re around other people who may not necessarily understand it and therefore may feel they need to give you negative opinions. Never allow people to judge you for your choices, it’s your body and up to you to decide what you put into it and that’s just your god given right – they are on their journey and you are on yours.
You will more often than not find that when others see how well you look they will be asking you what you are doing and will want a piece of the action for themselves, which is obviously great. Being the change is a lot more powerful and effective than just preaching it. I get this constantly now and I’m more than happy to help of course 🙂
WHAT IS A PLANT BASED DIET – FOOD COMBINING
Obtaining a complete amino acid profile:-
Combining the right foods for a ‘complete amino acid profile’ is crucial on a plant based diet. Animal products are already complete proteins, whereas many plant products aren’t. This is why its important you understand how to put a meal together to cover ALL your dietary needs: don’t worry this really isn’t 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.
You will find that you’ll feel much fuller and your blood sugars will be much more stable by the combining of certain low GI foods that include some protein, wholegrains, and a little healthy fat with every meal or snack.
To get you on the right track with your eating habits I have devised a free plant based diet plan. If you follow this you will soon understand how to food combine correctly and get everything you need to stay healthy whilst losing fat and building muscle.
Sometimes a good protein powder supplement can be a godsend when you are on a vegan or plant based diet. Why? Because it is actually quite hard to meet your protein needs (but not impossible with vigilance) on a plant based, especially if you are doing a lot of exercise or training. I found this out the hard way in the beginning and so I know take a protein shake most days, or even add a scoop to my morning porridge.
Another good reason to take extra protein is if you are trying to burn fat and/or build muscle. Protein not only builds muscle (muscle that 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 deadly to a weight loss diet.
Just remember that not all protein powders are definitely NOT the same; some have added sugars fillers and other nasty things so be careful. Take the time to find something that will work for you and fits in with your lifestyle and needs. I have actually done an in-depth review of the best all natural plant based protein powders that I can find so be sure to check it out before you go own the protein supplement path.
Low GI eating is always best
Low GI foods (which is short for glycemic index and is the rate in which the sugars in a particular food hit the bloodstream) are best for keeping blood sugar stable, and they can be found in the complex carbohydrates that are in most ‘whole foods‘. These are foods that are still in their whole and natural state: for example a whole orange as opposed to orange juice.
For the best low GI meals and snacks, plant food carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, cereal, rice, pasta, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, oatmeal, and cracked wheat need to be combined with proteins such as pulses, nuts, seeds, quinoa, soy, tempeh, and seitan, and also a little healthy monounsaturated fat like avocado, coconut or olive oil (if not already in the protein element, as in the case of nuts and seeds). These combinations will keep you sated and full with a slow release of energy.
High GI eating will cause A 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 brings with it problems all of its own, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease, to name just a few. Low GI foods are an ESSENTIAL part of your healthy plant based diet and should be eaten at every meal to keep you satiated and your blood sugar stable.
If you want to start making changes today to your diet but just don’t know where to start then you may also find this easy steps to eating clean post helpful. You will find out everything you need to know about clearing the junk out of your life (and cupboards), and incorporating healthier choices the easy way without too much disruption to your lifestyle.