Healthy Habits: Plant-Based Eating

Let me just start by saying there is nothing unhealthy about eating lean meat in moderation.  

Plant-based diets, though, have long been touted as the key to longevity while helping to address and prevent chronic disease.  Phytochemical and nutrient consumption increases when eating a plant-based diet.   These abundant health benefits are why many individuals choose to be vegan or vegetarian.

What’s the Difference?

Lacto-Vegetarian - Consumes plant-based foods as well as dairy products

Ovo-Vegetarian - Consumes plant-based foods and eggs

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarians - Consume plant-based foods, eggs and dairy products

Vegans - Eat only plant-based foods

For so many who grew up in the meat and potatoes era, eliminating meat from the diet sounds impossible.    The feeling of sacrificing taste and pleasure from eating meat can be a deterrent for many to even attempt a plant-based eating pattern.   Many vegans and vegetarians who have reduced or eliminated meat and meat products will tell you the benefits outweigh any of the negative disadvantages. 

Starting a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be difficult but requires some initial work.  First you must decide if you are going to eliminate all animal products completely or simply reduce animal product consumption.  This is your life, so you get to decide the parameters.  

Let’s assume you’re starting slow:

Check items in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry.  Eliminate what you no longer want to eat on your new plant-based eating plan and donate what you can.

Switch to vegetable broth/stock in place of beef or chicken

Stock dry or canned beans, peas, and whole grains (rice, pasta, quinoa, barley)

Try various unsalted nuts, nut butters and seeds (follow serving sizes)

Use olive and vegetable oils and shortenings 

Buy a variety of vegetables and fruits for meals and snacks

Plan meals to use fresh fruits & vegetables before they go bad 

Label reading becomes very important on a plant-based diet.  Don’t be fooled into thinking just because a product has a “Vegan” health claim, it’s healthy.  This is not the case.   Let’s take for example, Kale Chips.  Kale, the dark leafy green, is packed full of nutrition and is a great addition to any salad.   Kale chips, on the other hand, give you a sense of healthy eating. In reality, they have just as many calories per serving, double the sodium and less protein than eating the same serving of corn tortilla chips. 

Many products holding a vegan claim are highly processed, but excellent meatless opportunities are out there.  To get the real benefit from eating a plant-based diet, you have to look beyond convenience and consume grains, vegetables and fruits in their whole form and limit processed foods.  

Making a Vegan Substitution in Recipes:

¼ c. applesauce = 1 egg

1 TBSP ground flax + 3 TBSP water = 1 egg

½ banana, mashed = 1 egg

Soy/Almond/Oat/Rice milk can replace Cow’s milk (flavored milks have added sugar)


This week’s Healthy Habit:  Start slow.  Try a meatless Monday and experiment with recipes that don’t include meat. 

My Cameron News

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