March 15, 2018

Note: this post has been updated in June 2023.

Plant Based Diet for Beginners 

A Plant-based diet will enable you to begin your journey, to begin eating a plant-based diet which will help you overcome many illnesses, lose weight, and make you feel great. You'll also be helping the environment due to eating fewer water-greedy animal products and using less packaging due to eating fewer processed foods. Eating this way can be easy too. But, there is a lot of confusion due to the different types of Plant-Based Diets and other gurus who claim to know what's best. You'll need to decide what kind of plant-based diet works best for you. Any choice you make will be better than the standard American diet. A good starting point is a plant-based diet for beginners

In a plant-based diet for beginners, it is essential to note that whole food plant-based diet centers on vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts, focusing on zero animal products. Research has proven that a whole food plant-based diets are healthier as the plants enhance the growth of the muscles and blood circulation in the body. Some of the plant minerals are actively involved in cleansing the blood and boosting the individual's immunity. As such, constant consumption of a whole foods plant-based diet has a long-term advantage in enabling the individual's immunity because of their increased resistance to diseases.

Whole foods plant-based diets focus on the consumption of plants, and these plant products should be minimally processed or even entire plants. The most important aspect is that a whole food plant-based diet restricts or prohibits the individual from consuming animal products.

Plant-Based, Vegan, Vegetarian, and Plant-Strong Diet

Have you often wondered about the many plant-based diets and what the difference is between each? Does this sound familiar? Don’t worry, and many other individuals have asked the same questions. There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, and plant-strong. I want to clear the confusion and provide an understanding of plant-based diets. I will help you distinguish these differences and focus on why a plant-based diet for beginners may be a very viable option.

Here is a great article that provides another perspective on many of the plant-based diets: Vegetarian Types: Understanding Plant-Based Diets

Vegan Definition

When the vegan society became a registered charity in 1979, their memorandum and articles of association updated the definition of “veganism” as:

A philosophy and way of living that seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

There are junk food vegans and raw food vegans, and everything in between; there’s a version of veganism to suit most everyone. Yet one thing all vegans have in common is a plant-based diet, avoiding all animal foods. Vegans do not eat meat (including fish, shellfish, and insects), dairy, eggs, and honey – as well as products like leather and any tested on animals. For a complete definition of veganism, the Vegan Society website provides more information on the history and background of veganism.

Vegetarian Definition

The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as follows:

A vegetarian is someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, fungi, algae, yeast and/or some other non-animal-based foods (e.g. salt) with, or without, dairy products, honey and/or eggs. A vegetarian does not eat foods that consist of, or have been produced with the aid of products consisting of or created from, any part of the body of a living or dead animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, shellfish*, insects, by-products of slaughter** or any food made with processing aids created from these.

There are different types of vegetarian:
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.
• Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but avoid eggs.
• Ovo-vegetarian. Eats eggs but not dairy products.
• Vegans do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.
– via What is a vegetarian?

Vegan vs. whole foods plant-based

The importance of diet is beautifully illustrated in the lifestyles of those who subscribe to given dietary demands, and this has led to arguments on the benefits of each. Relevance is given to the overall importance of every given diet in relation to the effect it eventually has on the individual who is following the given diet. The average American’s diet has been found to be the major cause of health complications that people have been experiencing. Food poisoning, among other things, is one of the dangers of poor diets. It is important to give a lot of thought to what we eat during every meal and each day. Note the chart below and how we can distinguish between the vegan diet and the plant-based diet.

plant based diet for beginners

The argument is stronger for the vegans who focus on eradication of any animal product in their lives as they assume the protection of animals. Animal rights are the focal point that influences a vegan diet, and herein lies the major difference between the two diets. Vegans believe in not having any animal product, whether it is consumable or not, while those who partake in a plant-based diet focus only on the food they eat. A vegan diet might include dairy or meat substitutes, like soy cheese and tofu granules. However, the two diets are almost similar, and the two terms have been used interchangeably in some areas, but it is important to note that vegans do not eat or use anything from an animal while whole food plant-based diet adherents only focus on not eating any animal products.

Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet and Plant Strong Diet

The Forks Over Knives whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.  via  What Is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-strong diet does not include any meat or dairy. If you consider yourself plant-strong, you are most likely a follower of theEngine 2 Dietand Rip Esselstyn who coined this phrase. A plant-strong diet is not classically vegan either because it doesn’t promote eating fake meat or cheese substitutes. These are not a part of a plant-strong diet. Being plant-strong is about eating whole foods ONLY – foods that are grown from plants – veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, roots, grains, fruits. Nothing manufactured and nothing with a face. The caution for plant-strong advocates is that many vegan foods are highly processed and no better for your health than other highly processed food, thus the term plant-strong! See my post on Why Plant Strong, which describes the plant-strong diet in greater detail.

Food Is Supposed to Nourish

Food is supposed to nourish the body, not kill it. This is a transformation of humanity. People are dying for nutrition. This is not a one-time thing; we need essential nutrients and minerals daily, and the best way to get them is adhering to a whole food plant-based diet and lifestyle!

Time to Act

Whether you’re already a convert and just want a dietary reboot, or you’re trying a plant-based diet for the first time The Forks Over Knives Plan makes it easier than ever to transition to this healthiest way of eating…and to maintain it for life. Below are other great resources that will help you get on the right track.

The Plant-Based Solution: America’s Healthy Heart Doc’s Plan to Power Your Health

The China Study Solution: The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reverse Illness, Using a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

Start Your Journey to Health

Join the Physicians Committee’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart to receive meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. This service is free and will help you take control of your health with a vegan diet/whole food plant-based diet

The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is supported by decades of research showing that a plant-based diet can help you reach a healthy weight and lower your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Our low-fat plant-based recipes, developed by chefs, dietitians, and experts in vegan cuisine, provide nutritious meals that are both healthy and delicious. Within 21 days you will start to see results and won’t look back! via – 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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