Healthy Tips

Everything You Need to Know Before Starting a Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diets let you eat anything that comes from a plant. You might adopt this style of eating to lose weight, reduce your environmental impact or just be healthier. It sounds quite restrictive cutting meat and refined sugar from your diet. But once you know the list of foods you can eat you can get creative in the kitchen.

What's the Difference Between the Plant-Based Diet & Veganism?

These styles of eating have many similarities but they're ultimately not the same thing. Vegan and plant-based diets both avoid meat. But vegans also believe in abstaining from anything that uses animals or animal products. So leather shoes, clothes and certain cosmetics are also a no-no.

Those on the plant-based diet cut out processed foods including oil, white flour and refined sugar. It's all about making healthy choices with your eating.

What Can I Eat on a Plant-Based Diet?

Lettuce, broccoli, kale and carrots. They’re the kind of vegetables we’re used to chucking in our trolley. But there’s so much more you can get your teeth into and it just takes a little investigating.

Find a few vegetables that you like and learn how to prepare them in different ways. This will give you some variety when planning your meals ahead.

The plant-based diet is all about cutting out refined sugar. But choosing fruit high in fructose isn’t great for your gut either. Fruits like kiwis and pears are low in fructose and therefore easier for your body to absorb.

Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed full of natural goodness. You can eat them as a snack or incorporate them into your meals to get all the healthy benefits. 

Pumpkin seeds are rich in Vitamin E, K and C as well as omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also lower in fat than other nuts and seeds. And walnuts contain lots of B-complex vitamins to help convert food into fuel for your body.

These are your kidney beans, lentils, lima beans. Some kinds of raw beans, like kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin that needs to be destroyed by cooking.

Don't let that put you off though. They're a great source of soluble fibre, protein and carbohydrate. Making them an important addition to your plant-based diet.

Why Adopt a Plant-Based Diet?

1) It Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
The biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to stop eating animals. Animals raised as a source of food use a tonne of resources that have a negative impact on the environment. They also give off huge amounts of plant-warming methane and breathe out a lot of carbon dioxide.

2) It's a Move Away From Eating Animals
It's important to highlight the cruelty some animals go through only to end up on your plate. Striking meat from your diet is you doing your bit to reduce the popularity of animals being seen as food.

3) It's More Than a Diet of Just Leafy & Raw Vegetables
Leafy greens are an incredibly important part of the plant-based diet. But they're a poor source of calories. If you try to live on these vegetables you'll become deficient in calories which will make you feel hungry. And over time your energy levels will decrease and the likelihood of you binging to fill that empty void will only increase.

4) It's Great for Your Health
The plant-based diet is high in antioxidants that are critical to neutralising free radicals that cause aging and chronic disease. Plants are also low in calories and high in nutrients meaning you’ll eat less and feel fuller.

5) You'll Save Money
It’ll take some savvy planning and supermarket hopping, but over time you’ll save money. Vegetables and fruit cost less than meat. And the meat options on restaurant menus are always that little bit dearer. Superfoods normally have a pretty hefty price tag but after you’ve done your research you’ll be able to pick out the more affordable options that still have some great health benefits.

Adopting the plant-based diet is a complete lifestyle overhaul for some. And with that great scale of change comes habitual challenges. But over time, and some persistence, you'll get used to the changes and things will become second nature.

Are you on the plant-based diet? Let us know what you think of it on the Home Chef Facebook page

By Briony Cook
Copy Editor at Home Chef.
It's no secret Briony's passionate about food. She's always talking about it. And if she's not talking it's because she's eating. Briony knows a thing or two about baking and her colleagues love it when she brings in her latest creation.

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