Is a plant based diet right for me?

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Here is some information to clear up the confusion about plant based diets and point out what to watch for if you chose to eat this way. Here are some benefits based on research:

Benefits

  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Lower risk of obesity
  • Lower risk of hypertension
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of certain types of cancers
  • Better for the environment
  • More sustainable
Concerns

When eliminating an entire food group from your diet, there comes the concern of obtaining the adequate nutrients you need. With a little effort and planning this is definitely possible to do.

Protein

Animal proteins are considered a complete protein; this means they provide all the essential amino acids the body needs. The majority of plant foods do not contain all the essential amino acids. Eating a variety of plant foods each day will ensure you obtain the adequate amino acids your body needs.

Some examples of plant based protein sources include:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Peanuts
  • Soy products (tempeh, tofu, edamame)
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products. Because of this, it would be beneficial to take a B vitamin supplement or look for soy and cereal products that have been fortified with B12.

As the plant based diet has been shown to have many benefits – moving closer to that way of eating would be wise.  Try starting with a “Meatless Monday” or plan and prepare dishes – such as stir-frys and soups – that use meat in smaller amounts and utilize more vegetables and grains.  Consuming meatless meals more often as part of a “flexitarian” eating style will help you feel more comfortable with plant based eating on a regular basis.