What is a Plant-Based Diet?


Yesterday, I showcased 5 impact investing firms. Several of these firms advocate for plant-based diets, Bridges Ventures in particular, since plant-based food ingredients are proven to be an important part of the solution to some of the serious environmental challenges posed by high-meat diets. Plant-based diets tend to be favored by health-conscious vegans, vegetarians, and many people battling a serious illness who credit plant-based diets for improving their health.

A plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to scrap your starches and grains and live on lettuce for the rest of the life. In contrast, it means eating a balanced meal that is neither extreme in dieting – unlike Paleo, you don’t have to starve your body of carbs and live solely on meats and veggies, nor is it vegetarian or vegan, where you stick to a strict diet of vegetables and avoid eggs, dairy, and animal-derived products. A whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes.  Here’s the gist of the types of food ingested.

  • Fruit: bananas, mangoes, blueberries, oranges, grapes, strawberries, cherries, oranges, etc.
  • Vegetables: spinach, lettuce, collard greens, cauliflower, kale, carrots, tomatoes, etc.
  • Tubers and Starchy Vegetables: potatoes, yams, squash, corn, green peas, etc.
  • Whole Grains: quinoa, barley, millet, rice, whole wheat, oats, couscous, etc.
  • Legumes, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, black beans, etc.

In the U.S., most people are accustomed to building a dinner plate around meat. With a whole-food, plant-based diet, starch-based foods and fruit form the basis of the diet. The center of your plate might be whole grains like brown rice or quinoa; tubers like sweet potatoes or red potatoes; starchy vegetables like corn or peas; and legumes like black beans or chickpeas.

No food is a single nutrient and you should focus on the meal as a “package” with countless nutrients. The idea that all of your protein should come from meat consumption leads to protein in excess of our needs, and harmful toxins for our body and dietary cholesterol that comes from meat. Your goal should be to choose from a  variety of whole, plant-based foods to meet your nutritional needs. Not only that, but the plant-based diet is budget-friendly and products will not expire as quickly.



(Source: Forks over knives, http://www.forksoverknives.com; plantbaseddietrecipes.com)

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