Tips For Transitioning To A Plant Based Diet
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Tips For Transitioning To A Plant Based Diet

Tips For Transitioning To A Plant Based Diet

There has been a massive increase in the number of people eating plant based diets in the past few years.

According to one survey, about one in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan.

A further 21% say they are “flexitarian”, which is a vegetable-based diet occasionally supplemented with meat.

In this post, I’ll take a closer look at what foods a plant based diet contains and what advantages are obtained from eating this kind of diet.

I’ll also share some tips for getting started.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet focusses on foods that come from plants.

This means eating mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, beans, and oils.

Contrary to popular belief, eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you must become a vegetarian or vegan.

However, it often leads in that direction due to the many benefits of plant-forward eating.

There are several terms used to describe people who subscribe to plant-based diets:

Vegans

The vegan diet includes no animal products.

Vegetarian

Vegetarians can eat eggs and dairy foods, but they will not eat meat, seafood, poultry, fish and other animals.

Pescatarian

A pescatarian is the same as a vegetarian, except they will eat fish and seafood.

Flexitarian

A flexitarian is mostly vegetarian, but will occasionally eat meat, seafood, poultry, fish and other animals.

 People on plant-based diets also avoid consuming:

  • Processed foods
  • Refined foods including white flour and processed oils
  • Foods that contain artificial ingredients
  • Foods high in sugar and artificial sweeteners 

Benefits of a Plant Based Diet

There is an extensive amount of research showing that a plant-based diet is a very healthy way to eat.

Some of the known benefits of plant-based eating include:

Can help you lose weight

A meta-study which included data from over 1,000 people found that overweight people who ate a plant-based diet lost much more weight than those that did not.

The researchers discovered that people on a plant-based diet lost 2 kilograms more over the space of 18 weeks than people eating non-vegetarian diets.

One of the reasons why a plant-based diet is so effective at promoting weight loss is that it restricts the consumption of unhealthy processed foods.

Adherents of the diet eat far less like candy, soft drink, fast food, frozen meals, and refined grains.

Reduces the risk of several chronic diseases

Perhaps the greatest advantage of a plant-based diet is how much it reduces the risk and symptoms of chronic diseases.

Researchers have found that it can have an effect on:

Cancer

Several large scale studies have found that vegetarian and pescatarian diets significantly lower the risk of gastrointestinal cancer and colorectal cancer.

Diabetes

A study involving over 200,000 participants found that people who adhered to plant-based diets had a 34% lower risk of developing diabetes compared to people on less healthy diets.

Cognitive decline

Scientists have found that people who eat diets high in fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer from cognitive impairment and neurological disorders like dementia.

Heart disease

A plant based diet is very beneficial for the heart.

Several studies have found that eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains can reduce the likelihood of heart disease.

5 Tips For Transitioning To A Plant Based Diet

It can be difficult to transition to a plant based diet if your current diet involves eating a lot of animal products or processed foods.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

Really pack in the vegetables

Vegetables are the backbone of a plant based diet.

Look for ways to incorporate more vegetables into every meal you eat and try to increase the variety of vegetables you enjoy.

Make your snacks vegetable based, combining dips like hummus and guacamole with carrot and celery.

It can also help to use different preparation methods like steaming, baking, boiling, juicing, blending, and making soups.

Take your time and adjust slowly

It’s very difficult to become a vegetarian or a vegan overnight.

If you switch too quickly, you might find yourself eating poorly and not obtaining all of the nutrition you require.

Take your time and gradually begin to eat more plant based foods.

Gradually learn to cook more plant based meals to discover what you enjoy.

Give your body time to adjust to the change.

Make meat a luxury item

If you want to become a flexitarian, it useful help to think about meat as being a kind of luxury item instead of a daily staple.

When eating meat, be mindful of how expensive meat is in terms of its price and the resources it takes to produce.

Because you will be eating less meat, you can afford to spend more money on it.

Buy higher quality cuts of organic meat that have been produced ethically.

Appreciate every bite and treat it like a delicacy.

Include plenty of whole grains

Whole grains are a major part of a healthy plant based diet.

They provide sustained energy and protein, along with some essential vitamins and minerals.

Incorporate a wide range of grains into your diet including oatmeal, quinoa, and barley.

Add fresh fruit, nuts, and seeds to these grains to bolster their vitamin content and make them even more delicious.

If you are still eating dairy, add yoghurt, cheese, or milk to complete your meal.

Become a lean green munching machine

Green vegetables are particularly good for you.

Spinach, kale, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, Swiss chard, green peas, asparagus, and collard greens are absolutely packed with nutrients and will provide you with plenty of energy.

They are also delicious, so add them to your meals as often as possible.

Precautions

For a plant based diet to be healthy, it must incorporate a diverse selection of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, beans, and oils.

If you simply “go vegetarian” then eat mostly fried potatoes and vegetarian pizzas, you may damage your health.

Carefully construct a healthy diet that contains all of the nutrients you require.

Be aware of common nutrient deficiencies that occur amongst vegans/vegetarians including B12, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, and Omega 3 fatty acid deficiencies.

You must either incorporate plenty of foods with these nutrients or take vitamin supplements.

I hope you found Tips For Transitioning To A Plant Based Diet interesting.

For more articles on nutrition, follow me on social media.

Stephen Coleclough
Stephen Coleclough
admin@stephen-coleclough.com

Stephen Coleclough is a personal trainer and online fitness/nutrition coach from the UK. He loves heavy squats, smashing PRs and bacon sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter at ColecloughPT.

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