If you feel like there are so many dietary lifestyle choices you can follow, but you’re not sure which is right for you or you don’t understand them, you’re not alone. One thing we know that often gets confused is a plant-based diet and a vegan diet. You may think that they are the same, but they differ from each other. And now we want to use our expertise in the area to explain!
A plant-based diet, sometimes called a whole-food plant-based diet, focuses on foods primarily from plant sources. These include nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, beans, and of course, fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t mean that you never eat meat or dairy products, but that you greatly limit those, as well as try to avoid processed foods, added sugars, and refined grains.
A plant-based diet provides the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and is often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural chemicals found in plant foods. They aren’t essential to keeping you alive, but they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
Many studies have shown the health benefits of following a whole-food plant-based diet. These include: weight loss, reducing the risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
If you’re interested in starting a plant-based diet, here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Eat lots of veggies; fill half your plate with colorful veggies at lunch or dinner.
- Choose good fats. Healthy choices include olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds and avocados.
- Eat a variety of whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, barley.
- Use different greens, which you can eat raw or can steam, stir-fry, braise. Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens are excellent choices.
- Change the way you think about meat. Have it in smaller amounts; use it as a side dish instead of as a centerpiece.
- Cook a vegetarian meal at least once a week; the universal Meatless Monday is the perfect time. Build your meal on vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
A vegan diet is not exclusively a diet; rather, it is part of a philosophy. Vegans do not eat animal products or by-products, such as meat, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, insects, or honey. They also do not wear any animal-based products, such as leather, fur, wool or silk, or use toiletries and household products that may be derived from and/or tested on animals.
A vegan diet includes all beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Soy milk, non-dairy milk substitutes, nutritional yeast, and tofu are popular. A vegan diet can also feature fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is considered a whole food and is a good replacement for tofu.
A balanced vegan diet can offer many protective health benefits against common diseases such as heart disease and cancer, because you’re not consuming saturated fat from meat, milk and eggs and are not eating processed meat. Your blood pressure and cholesterol can be lowered with the diet. Registered dietitians do recommend supplementing a vegan diet with Vitamin B12 or fortified foods, such as soy milk or fortified cereal, in order to get adequate amounts of the vitamin, which mainly comes from animal products. Vegan diets tend to be high in fiber and rich with vitamins and minerals, while lower in calories than a standard diet. There are now countless vegan replacement foods available because of the growing popularity of this diet.
At PlantCuts, we are proud of the food we prepare. It is important to us that we incorporate healthy ingredients and offer well-balanced meals. All our prepared foods boast the following attributes: they are low-sodium, low-fat, have no nitrates, have no preservatives or cholesterol, are high in protein, and have lots of flavor. PlantCuts products are suitable for both vegans and those following plant-based diets.
Whether you choose to embrace a vegan diet or a whole-food plant-based diet, know that each one offers health benefits and wonderful food options.
Happy healthy eating!