Looking to improve your health? Explore what a plant-based diet is and tips to help you get started.
May 13, 2021
One of the most powerful steps you can take to improve your health is to switch to a plant-based lifestyle — but what is a plant-based diet and its benefits, exactly? Studies have shown a reduction in chronic diseases, higher energy and better health outcomes when adopting this type of lifestyle. Learn what a plant-based diet is — along with tips to ease the transition — to help make the change easy and enjoyable.
A plant-based diet allows you to meet your nutritional needs by focusing on natural, minimally processed plant foods based on the following principles:
If followed correctly, a plant-based diet limits the use of added sugars, oils and processed foods, leaving only whole foods to provide nutrition. This maximizes your nutrient intake and virtually eliminates foods that can lead to poor health outcomes. Other benefits of a plant-based diet include:
While there are certainly some similarities between consuming a plant-based diet and being vegan, there are some differences.
Vegans avoid all animal products or exploitation in clothing, food, shoes or any other aspect of their lives. They do not necessarily focus on whole plant foods; vegans may eat refined and processed foods, although many choose not to.
By comparison, a plant-based diet is defined as one that minimizes or eliminates all animal products and highly refined foods. A person who follows this diet will eat mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
So, can you be vegan and plant-based? Yes, it is common to be both. Many people adopt a plant-based diet after experiencing significant health benefits or for other reasons like limiting their negative impact on the environment. Some vegans give up animal products for ethical reasons and go on to adopt a plant-based diet for their health.
Ready to begin the transition to a plant-based lifestyle but don’t know where to start? Here are four simple strategies to help you ease into a wholesome, plant-based diet:
Include all four food groups at each meal — fruit, vegetables, plant protein and whole grain — to ensure that all your nutritional needs are met. You may also want to collaborate with your health care provider on a list of supplements you may need while on a plant-based diet.