What is a Plant Based Diet?
A diet based solely on fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains & beans. So the foods you eat are plant based, which means very little processed food, junk food or food with no nutritional value, no meat, and for some people, no animal products at all. The plant based diet, or vegetarian. A word that either strikes fear into the hearts of carnivores or makes others hearts sing when they see it on a restaurant menu! Some people choose this way of eating for health reasons, or lose weight. Others have strong ethical options and environmental concerns related to the resource- intensive process of factory farming animal based food, that cause them to swear off meat. Some people actually have food sensitivities or allergies to them. Myself included, I have an egg allergy that left me in chronic pain for years until I got tested. Regardless of your motivation, you’re here, and maybe you’re a little curious about what a plant based diet actually looks like. So hopefully I can clear up some confusion and give you a quick guide to starting a plant based diet.
There Are Many Different Types of Vegetarians
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: No meat, poultry, seafood, or meat products (such as gelatin, broth, gravy and lard). These vegetarians will still eat eggs and dairy products.
- Lacto-vegetarian: No meat (as above) plus no eggs or products containing eggs (such as many baked goods). These vegetarians still consume dairy foods.
- Vegan: No meat or eggs plus no milk, dairy foods (such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream), ingredients made from milk (such as whey and casein) or honey.
- Pescatarian: The only meat eaten is fish; they still consume eggs and dairy.
- Flexitarian: Eat mostly plant foods, but include small amounts of meat in the diet. Some flexitarians only meat on the weekends, or at special events, like BBQ’s, weddings, or parties.
But Where Do You Get Your Protein From?
You don’t need meat to get enough protein. This is something as a vegetarian for 33 years I have been asked a lot….and I mean ALOT! You can get your protein from plant based sources. Vegetarians do it everyday, including some vegan bodybuilders that are gaining great popularity & breaking some weight lifting records! Great sources of plant protein include whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and organic soy foods. Dark green, leafy vegetables, seaweed, algae, spirulina & peas are filled with protein and of course protein powders can be an easy supplement. By favorite plant based protein powder is VEGA, it is stacked with 20 grams of protein, 120 calories, 8 grams carbs, 8 grams fiber & zero sugar in each scoop! Its verified organic and non GMO. And found at most local grocery stores and is affordable. Non GMO is very important especially if you eat soy products. Soy is in the top 3 largest agricultural crop in the world, and thus one of the most genetically manipulated and grown using a large amount of chemicals. We are lucky here in VA because just up 95 in Spotsylvania is Twin Oaks Tofu. They produce organic tofu that many local restaurants and markets use and sell. Including Ellwoods Thompsons & Good Foods Grocery.
Plant Based Proteins
Beans & Soy
- Tofu, ½ cup 10 grams protein
- Soy milk & Almond 1 cup – 6 -10 grams
- Most beans about 7-10 grams protein per half cup of cooked beans
- Edamame, ½ cup cooked – 14 grams protein
- Spinach, 1-2 cups – 5.3 grams of protein
- Asparagus and broccoli 2 cups – 4.6 grams
- Collard greens and Brussels sprouts 2 cups -4 grams
- Green peas, 1 cup – 8.6 grams protein
Nuts and Seeds
- Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons – 8 grams protein
- Almonds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
- Peanuts, ¼ cup – 9 grams
- Cashews, ¼ cup – 5 grams
- Pecans, ¼ cup – 2.5 grams
- Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup – 6 grams
- Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup – 8 grams
- Flax seeds – ¼ cup – 8 grams
Grocery List Ideas
- Brown Rice
- Rolled Oats
- Sprouted Bread
- Whole wheat tortillas
- Unbleached flour
Nuts & Seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Nut Butters
- Black beans
- White Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Green peas
- Potatoes ( sweet, yukon gold)
- Green beans
- squash (butternut, spaghetti)
- Sweet peppers
- Hot peppers
- Brussel sprouts
Oils & Spices
- Olive oil
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Coconut oil
- Nutritional Yeast
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Maple syrup
- Dijon mustard
- Soy Sauce (Braggs is a great brand) or Tamari
- Non Dairy Butters ( Earth Balance is a great brand)
- Non Dairy Creamer ( Silk has vanilla, carmel and mocha)
- Non Dairy Milk (Almond, Soy, Cashew, Hemp)
There are endless resources to finding plant based recipes. There are whole sections of cook books at large book stores and local librarys. You could spend hours searching #plantbased on Instagram. Blogs, articles and podcasts in the 100’s! But my favorite quick and easy place to search for great plant based recipes is Pinterest. If you are interested in learning more about this diet and way of life suggest checking these documentaries which are available on most streaming devices. Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., Hungry for Change.