Note: this post has been updated in June 2023.
“Plant-based diet” is a broad term with different definitions. The goal of a plant-based diet is always to provide optimum health. Because opinions vary on how this might be achieved, diverse types of plant-based diets have evolved.
Each of these have food recommendations that make their type specific. Some are very explicit and strict, while others seek to offer guidelines regarding inclusions and exclusions.
Here are a few of the better-known plant-based diets. If you are considering making the change, these diverse types of plant-based diets will give you an idea which one might suit your own dietary choices.
The term “flexitarian” was coined from the words flexible and vegetarian. This means that by participating in a flexitarian diet, you do not have to completely refrain from eating meat products.
You can eat a little meat occasionally and still enjoy the health benefits of following a plant-based diet. Followers of this diet are sometimes referred to as casual vegetarians as they are not as strict with their food guidelines as are traditional vegetarians.
Vegetarians eat mostly fruits and vegetables and refrain from eating certain foods depending on what type of vegetarian they choose to be.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians add eggs and dairy products to their plant-based diet, whereas lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but refrain from eating eggs. A third type of vegetarian is the ovo-vegetarian who prefers to eat eggs but avoids dairy products.
Vegan diets are like but stricter than a vegetarian diet, as they have no additions to their plant-based diet.
They do not eat eggs or dairy products at all, and they totally refrain from eating and using any products derived from animals. Even honey is not used in a vegan diet. The vegan diet is one of the most followed types of Plant-Based Diets
A Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, which is considered plant-based. Spices, herbs, and olive oil are also used on a regular basis.
Seafood may be consumed a few times a week, while eggs, yoghurt, cheese, and poultry are enjoyed in moderation. Red meat and desserts are enjoyed occasionally.
Red wine is also considered an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Since this is more of an eating pattern and not a structured diet, you have the freedom to decide how you should balance your daily meals so you can meet your weight loss goals or your calorie requirements.
This diet recommends eating fruits and vegetables that are, if possible, organic. You can only consume up to two glasses of organic red wine per day. You can consume herbs and spices as much as you want. This diet also encourages you to eat a wide variety of Asian mushrooms such as oyster, maitake, shiitake and enokidake.
Whole Food Plant-Based Diet and Engine 2 Diet
When I mentioned whole food plant-based diet or the (Engine 2) plant-strong diet, I am talking essentially about the same diet or lifestyle. The first is based on the China Study and the Forks over knives studies, and the Plant-Strong group evolved from Engine 2 Founder Rip Esselstyn.
The Engine 2 Diet focuses on harnessing the power of “whole, plant-based foods”. If you choose to adhere to this type of diet then prepare to eat plenty of whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Anything you eat must be 100% plant-based. The whole foods plant-based diet is most likely the most followed types of Plant-Based Diets and the one which I follow.
If you choose grains, you must abstain from refined grains. They must be 100% whole grains.
Total caloric consumption from fats must not be more than 25%. Of course, fats must come from natural sources. There are to be no added oils, processed or refined oils.
Food is supposed to nourish not kill the body. This is a transformation of humanity. People are dying for nutrition. This is not a one-time thing; we need our Essential Nutrients and Minerals daily and the best way to get them is adhering to a plant-strong diet!
In this diet, you will consume rice as your daily staple along with noodles, millet, breads, whole grain and corn. Seeds, nuts, legumes, vegetables, vegetable oils and fruits are also consumed on a regular basis. Shellfish, fish, poultry, and eggs can be eaten every day.
Any dessert or anything sweet can be enjoyed once a week, while red meat can be eaten once a month.
The traditional Asian diet also allows beer, sake and wine in moderation.
This diet recommends a specific proportion of calories consumed to be made up of proteins, carbs, and fats. For example, 26% of your caloric intake must be carbohydrates that are sourced from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Protein intake must be 31% from plant sources such as seeds, nuts, lentils, beans, and soy.
Vegetable fats comprise of 43% of your daily intake, and come from food sources such as avocado, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil.
This diet is more than just eating plant-based foods. It promotes balance and a holistic lifestyle. There are lots of dos and don’ts in this diet and some macrobiotic dieters even go further than just following diet guidelines. Some do not even use electricity; therefore, they do not have an electric stove or fridge.
The macrobiotic dieter likes to eat whole foods, free from pesticides, to obtain the ‘energy’ in the foods. Whole grains are the mainstay in this diet, followed by vegetables. Of course, fruit is allowed and so too are nuts.
You can also eat a small amount of fish, but only if it is freshly caught.
If you feel like a sweet indulgence, try desserts that are sweetened by natural rice syrup, maple syrup, barley malt and other sweet fruits. Oh, and you aren’t allowed snacks in between meals.
In this diet, you will typically be eating fresh fruits and vegetables while making sure that all other foods are in their closest natural state. This is because proponents of the raw food diet believe that the process of cooking destroys most of the natural nutrients that the food contains. Therefore, you will find yourself eating more foods that require less or no cooking at all.
This diet has a high fruit inclusion, such as bananas, avocado, apple, young coconut, lemon and blueberries. Vegetable staples include celery, bell peppers, spinach, kale, lettuce, tomato and zucchini, however they are not limited to these.
The Ornish Diet will require you to eat mostly vegetables, grains and fruits. In this diet, you will consume very little fat and you require lots of fiber to feel full.
If you eat dairy, always opt for low fat or non-fat. Your total caloric intake must comprise only 10% fat.
Red and white meats are avoided, as are other fat and oil containing foods, such as avocados, nuts, olives and full-fat dairy products.
While this diet recommends that you eat smaller meals more often, to combat hunger, you must be incredibly careful not to overeat.
Now you have reviewed some of the more popular plant-based diets, which one would you choose?
As explained in the document, there is not simply one plant-based diet. Hopefully, the information you have just absorbed will provide insight into whether this type of diet is right for you. Anyone changing from a traditional meat-based diet will have to make noticeable changes to their attitude towards what they eat.
You will now be aware that variations in the diet exist, each with some structure and some with specific rules. This means that for most people it is possible to make the change to a plant-based diet that suits their lifestyle, goals, and attitudes.
The bottom line is that plant-based diets are about improved health, which is a very noble goal.
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.
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
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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