Everyone has a different opinion on what the healthiest diet for humans is. Some say veganism, some say paleo. The truth is, there is actually no optimal diet for humans. Studies have shown that based off of the wide range of diets from our ancestors, humans can maintain healthy bodies from a variety of foods.
However, the one commonality researchers have found after studying different populations is that their diets included very high levels of fiber. A diet based on whole-foods and filled with vegetables, also called a plant-based diet, just might be the answer to a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Be kind to every kind
1. What Is It?
Let’s get straight into what a “plant-based diet” really means. The term “plant-based” makes it sound like all you get to eat are raw vegetables. If that were the case, no one would even consider a diet that only lets them eat broccoli and kale all day. Instead, a plant-based diet actually means that you get to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Basically, anything that’s considered a “whole” food and minimally processed, you get to eat! Instead of cutting out all animal products like you would in a vegan diet, plant-based diets only limit your intake and portions.
2. Basic Principles
There’s no clear definition of what constitutes a plant-based diet because it’s really more of a lifestyle rather than a typical “diet.” Meaning, there’s less focus on restricting certain foods altogether and more of a focus on whole foods that work for your body. For example, some plant-based eaters don’t consume any animal products and some consume a minimal amount of meat, eggs, and dairy. A plant-based diet is more flexible than vegan or vegetarian diets which is why it can easily fit into your lifestyle and be something you can sustain for a lifetime.
Nonetheless, there are some basic principles to know about and follow when eating plant-based:
Stick to whole ingredients when cooking and whole foods when eating out. This includes whole grains, legumes, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits which should be the bulk of your diet.
Limit or completely avoid your intake of animal products. The choice is yours when eating plant-based!
Refrain from eating anything processed.
Stay away from refined foods like white bread, white flour and processed oils.
Choose higher quality foods, locally sourced, and organic whenever possible.
3. Environmental Benefits
You know we love just about anything that has to do with improving the planet so we have to mention the lovely things that a plant-based diet can do for the environment! Not only does eating plant-based lower your individual footprint and improve your overall health, but it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and farming land that all contribute to global warming.
Evenmore, plant-based diets generally focus on local grocery shopping which directly benefits the local economy and relieves a heavy reliance on factory farming and an unsustainable food industry. Anytime we make the conscious effort to lower our intake of animal products, eat locally and limit processed foods, we’re benefiting the planet tremendously!