Plant-based diets have been on the rise for a number of years now. Not only are we becoming more self-aware about what we are putting into our bodies but there is also an increased awareness about the environmental impact of what we eat. As scientists have observed, a plant-based diet is healthy for both people and the planet but, what is a plant-based diet? Why go plant-based and why are nuts and dried fruits important?
What is a plant-based diet?
Well, pretty much what the name implies. A plant-based diet is basically a diet consisting of mainly eating foods derived from plants such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, seeds, whole grains and of course, nuts and dried fruits and, eating fewer (or no, if this is your choice) foods that derive from animal products or foods that contain sugars, salt and saturated fats.
The Mediterranean Diet, for example, could be considered as a plant-based diet, as within it, foods deriving from plants are more predominant than sugars, salt and saturated fats, which are all reduced.
Why go plant-based?
The Eat-Lancet Commissionpresented the global planetary health diet with main objective to define targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production. The diet is based on an increase in consumption of healthy foods, and a decrease in consumption of red meat, sugar, and refined grains i.e. a plant-based diet. Following this type of diet may aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and may also help improve your cardiovascular health. Additionally, this diet also increases the likelihood of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as presented by the United Nations.
Why are nuts and dried fruits so important?
Nuts are energy-dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals therefore, adding them into your diet will give you the nutritional boost you need. They are high in “good” fats which research has shown can be beneficial for our health when eaten as part of a healthy diet and are also a good source of plant-based protein. Also, each nut offers different nutritional benefits, so eating a combination can ensure you get a variety of nutrients in each serving.
Traditional dried fruits (without added sugar) can also be beneficial as they provide a concentrated form of vitamins and minerals. Dried fruits have many health benefits, especially relating to blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes. Also, their daily consumption could provide the full benefits of some essential nutrients such as fiber in dates, or vitamin A in dried apricots, which helps maintain normal vision and skin.
Simple tips for going plant-based
Going plant-based doesn’t have to be vegetarian or vegan, unless you want it to be. Each person is different but, here a few things to get started.
- You don’t have to do everything all at once start with small steps, like having a meat free Monday for example or, start eating whole grains instead of refined.
- Like we mentioned you don’t have to cut out meat entirely but change the way you think about. Use it as a garnish and not as the main part of your meal.
- One that goes without saying, eat lots of vegetables (at least two portions a day). Fill half your plate with vegetables and include plenty of colors. Vegetables can be cooked in so many ways so there’s no excuse to get bored by them.
- Include more portions of pulses/legumes in your diet, ideally 2-4 per week.
- Plan your meals ahead before you do your shop that way, you’ll ensure you have the right ingredients in when needed. If you want some inspiration have a look at our Buddha bowls.
If you’re thinking of going plant-based or already doing so, share your thoughts or tips with us over on our social media channels.
 Willett, W., Rockström, J., Loken, B., Springmann, M., Lang, T., Vermeulen, S., … & Jonell, M. (2019). Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet. Qian, F., Liu, G., Hu, F. B., Bhupathiraju, S. N., & Sun, Q. (2019). Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine, 179(10), 1335–1344. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2195 Satija, A., & Hu, F. B. (2018). Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health. Trends in cardiovascular medicine, 28(7), 437–441. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcm.2018.02.004