November 18, 2018

What is a Plant Based Diet

Note: this post has been updated in June 2023.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet is an eating lifestyle that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds while minimizing or eliminating animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. This type of diet avoids or minimizes the consumption of animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Instead, plant-based eaters focus on nutrient-dense plant foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals for good health and energy. The plant-based diet has been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved digestion, weight loss, and reduced risk of chronic disease.

You hear people talk all the time about “plant-based diets.” Let's look at what is a plant-based diet and the variations or types of plant-based diets? Plant-based diets center on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The basic description of whole foods is food that is unprocessed and in its natural state. Plant-based means anything that grows in the soil and does not come from any animal such as meat, eggs, milk, or honey. 

The term “plant-based diet” has differing specific meanings for different people. At one end there are those who believe that a plant-based diet means the total exclusion of animal products, this is veganism. People following a vegan diet will not buy or use products that come from animals including cosmetics, lotions (lanolin), and clothing (leather). Also included in this group would be Plant Strong and Whole Foods Plant-Based. At the other end would be the people that occasionally eat meat and dairy product.

Three general types of plant-based diets

Vegetarian – eats vegetables and fruit, but also consumes eggs and dairy

Veganeats vegetables, fruits, beans, grains and no eggs or dairy (may eat soy “meat” or cheese substitutes)

Whole Food Plant-Based Diet or Plant Strong eat only whole plant food, no meat or cheese, no dairy, and no processed foods or imitation meat and cheese substitutes. 

What is a Whole Food Plant-Based diet?

Without all the descriptions and names, the simplest answer is a diet full of plants without the addition of processed foods. This diet eliminates all animal products, including dairy and eggs, and anything that is processed or imitated.

The whole foods plant-based diet and the plant-strong diet are the same diets as in both camps these diets do not include any meat or dairy. The phrase “Plant-Strong” was coined by Rip Esselstyn. Plant-strong is the term used by Rip Esselstyn and the followers of Engine 2, Plant Strong which include the food products sold and marketed through the Plant Strong website. 

Foods included in the WFPB diet: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (as much as you want). It also has, in moderation: nuts, seeds, avocados, natural sweeteners, and particular soy or wheat products that don't contain added fat (e.g., tofu, seitan).

Foods that are not included in a WFPB diet because they are heavily processed: white rice, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and foods containing added fat. Yes, even olive oil and no processed foods or imitation meat and cheese substitutes.

That is it; that is all there is to eat a healthy diet. – via What is a whole food plant-based diet

What Benefits Does a Plant-Based Diet Provide?

Studies have shown that people who follow a plant-based diet can reduce their risk of disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lose weight, improve mood and energy levels, and get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. Additionally, a plant-based lifestyle is linked to reduced risk for diabetes, some forms of cancer, and heart diseases. Consequently, a plant-based diet can improve overall health by supporting your body's natural functioning.

The benefits of plant-based diets are that they are more nutritious because you get the vitamins and nutrients in the vegetables and protein from the grains and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) that the Standard American diet is missing. We don't eat enough of these daily nutrients to be as healthy as we can be.

Prescription to live a long healthy life 

From the creators of the groundbreaking documentary comes the New York Times bestselling diet plan Sanjay Gupta called “the prescription you need to live a long, healthy life”—a plan to transition to a delicious whole-foods, plant-based diet in just twenty-eight days. The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives helped spark a medical and nutritional revolution. Backed by scientific research, the film’s doctors and expert researchers made a radical but convincing case that modern diseases can be prevented and often reversed by leaving meat, dairy, and highly refined foods off the plate and adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet instead.

Now, The Forks Over Knives Plan shows you how to put this lifesaving, delicious diet into practice in your own life. 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.

Useful Resources:

How to transition to a Plant-Based Diet

Before transitioning to a plant-based diet, it's essential to read up on the basics, like what foods you can and can't eat. Generally, a plant-based diet comprises whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from sources like avocado or olives, and herbs and spices for added flavor. To start this type of diet, begin by adding more whole plant foods into your meals. Additionally, look for new recipes that use ingredients you already have on hand. Transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle also involves substituting dairy products with non-dairy alternatives such as nut milk or tofu!

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