The new trend seems to be going vegan. Beyoncé is even bringing awareness to a plant-based diet with her “Greenprint” campaign at which fans could win tickets to a Jay-Z and/or Beyoncé show for life! Who wouldn’t want Jay-Z and/or Beyoncé tickets for life?!?!? But what is a plant-based diet?
Don’t worry! It doesn’t mean eating salads for the rest of your life as some hard-core meat-eaters believe. To me, it isn’t really defined. People tend to forget that it’s called plant-based. I take that to mean that most of your diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Since it’s plant-based, you limit as much meat as possible or don’t eat meat at all. Keep in mind this is my personal opinion on the term. However, once you dive into the different “plant-based” lifestyles, things become more defined. For example, vegans do not eat or use dairy, eggs, meat, or any other products that come from an animal. They may have chosen this lifestyle due to ethical reasons or health reasons. Vegetarians are different. There are levels to this:
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarians are people who avoid all animal meat, but still eats dairy and egg products.
- Lacto vegetarians avoid animal meat and eggs, but still eats dairy products.
- Ovo vegetarians avoid all animal products except eggs.
Then you have those who still indulge in animal meat, but only certain types like pescatarians. Pescatarians only eat fish; they do not eat poultry or any other meat outside of fish.
If you’re still reading, let’s go a little deeper. What are the benefits of a plant-based diet? Well, the obvious benefit is easier weight management. A vegan or vegetarian diet is extremely efficient for weight loss. Most people eating a plant-based diet tend to be leaner. However, they must watch their carb intake. Another benefit would be that it can help manage certain conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. A final benefit to mention is the positive environmental impact. Animal agriculture is known to be one of the main causes of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution due to the over-consumption of meat. Therefore, simple math tells you that if everyone eats less meat, then there would be less of a negative impact on the environment.
So – you’re convinced! Now what? Stopping cold turkey isn’t for everyone. You may have to start off slow which is OK. Simply increase your intake of legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables and lessening how much meat you consume. That’s a start. In my personal experience, I gave up red meat first, then progressed to poultry, and finally the hardest, which was seafood for me. I currently still eat eggs and limit my dairy intake (cheese – oh how I love thee) because that was the path that I felt was best for me. You, however, can choose to do something like Meatless Monday (https://www.meatlessmonday.com/) which is where you go meatless one day a week. Do what is best for you.
I do not claim to be an expert, nutritionist, or a dietitian. So, please speak to your physician if you decide to take on a plant-based lifestyle.