Guest post contributed by Dietetic Intern Emily Rex
In recent years, there has been a surge of research and talk about plant-based diets. When defining a food or diet that is plant based, it simply means that there is nothing that comes from an animal within that meal or daily diet. Within the realm of this post, plant based will be the term used to define a diet without any animal products but with an emphasis on whole plant-based foods.
Plant based diets have become increasingly popular, even if it means having one day per week or one meal dedicated to eating meatless or plant based. Plant based diets cut down on the resources needed to produce food, which makes them an environmentally friendly and sustainable choice. For example, instead of a farm growing grain to feed to a cow to eventually use for dairy or meat, the grain can be used directly to feed humans.
If you choose to follow a plant based diet, ensure your meals are balanced and contain adequate amounts of protein and healthy fats. Healthy fats may include olive oil, chia seeds or flaxseeds, nuts, nut butter, and avocado. For protein sources, you may consider incorporating tempeh, tofu, nuts, seeds, nut butters, eggs, cheese, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.
An important point to remember is that if you eliminate meat and poultry from your diet, your diet will not automatically be a healthy diet if the focus is not to create balanced meals from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant based sources of protein. Any lifestyle modification does not happen easily overnight, so small steps of adding more plant based foods and recipes your diet can be helpful.