PLANT-BASED EATING: ALL OR NOTHING? October 29, 2014 11:46

Originally published in Lake Highlands Today as part of our Food Forward series.
Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about plant-based eating, veganism – the health benefits, environmental impact, etc.   You may also be thinking that a plant-based diet and the avoidance of animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) is really extreme if not impossible.

So what’s the best way to incorporate the many benefits of all those nutrients and fiber in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes… and experience the health benefits including lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer without completely giving up all the traditional foods you love?  Well, as theMeatless Monday and Vegan Before Six concepts show, many people are finding ways to balance all of this out.  Any movement in the direction of adding healthy, whole plant foods (as opposed to processed, vegan products) into our routine helps us by adding all the good stuff while also minimizing the less healthy food.

There are plenty of reasons to clean up our diets – weight/fat loss, improved fitness, general health, increased energy levels – and adding more whole plant foods can help with all of this and more.  Kaiser-Permanente (a leading health care provider and not-for-profit health insurer) now recommends plant-based diets saying “Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.”  But they also state “A plant-based diet is not an all-or-nothing program…”

Mark Bittman, author of Vegan Before Six:  “We hear ‘You can only eat this way and if go off, you’re bad.’  With this, if you go off it, don’t worry.  But live mostly that way forever.  That doesn’t mean that if you’re dying for a slice of pizza you don’t have it; it means that’s not your everyday.”

Since we started Nature’s Plate, we’ve learned that most of our customers are using our meals to do exactly this – increase the healthfulness of their food in a convenient way.  But most are not giving up animal products completely.

And Juliana Crawford, a long-time weekly customer of ours says:  “My husband and I have loved adding Nature’s Plate to our weekly meal plan.  Before discovering these meals we had been trying to plan out a few meatless meals per week just to add more veggies to our diet, but were running out of creative ways to do it.  …  We have also learned that you really can get a completely balanced nutritious meal that is entirely plant-based – something I had not quite realized before.”

The bottom line is however you choose to do it… adding more plants to your family’s meals has a long list of benefits, and it doesn’t mean you have to avoid animal products all the time.

References:

http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html