As a nation, we are programmed to assume that some form of animal protein is essential with every meal. We are used to having eggs for breakfast, cold cuts of meat for our sandwiches at school or work, and more animal protein for lunch and dinner. While there is nothing wrong with eating animal protein here and there, it definitely should not construct the basis of all your meals.
What is a plant based diet?
A plant based diet is rich in wholegrains, beans, legumes, fruit and vegetables. It does not completely restrict animal protein, it simply limits it to 2-3 times per week. Animal protein is harder to digest and break down than plant protein and it moves to the digestive tract much slower. So simply speaking, it causes a burden on our bodies and digestive system.
When it comes to making a transition like this, you should be thinking evolution rather than revolution. Add one plant based meal to your diet per week. Replace the carbohydrates you eat with wholegrain products. Add beans and chickpeas to your salads. One by one, you will notice the benefits this kind of diet has on your energy levels, skin, digestive system, and everything in between.
Take some time to look closely at your plate when you sit down for your next meal. At least half of your plate should be filled with vegetables or fruit, and a quarter of your plate should be filled with wholegrains. The remainder of your plate should be filled with either animal protein, or a plant-based protein such as beans, chickpeas, or lentils.
What are the benefits?
Most plant foods are nutrient-dense and calorie-poor. While you can of course gain weight on a plant based diet if your diet consists mostly of bread, nut butters, and coconut oil, if you make the focus of your meals low calorie fruits, vegetables, and legumes and the aforementioned foods are an accessory to your meals, then you will be reducing your calorie intake majorly, which is exactly what you want when you are looking to lose weight.
If you lack energy and find yourself turning to sugary foods or caffeine in order to be able to continue about your day, then increasing plant food sources in your diet is definitely something you should consider. Ask anyone who starts their day off with green juice and they will swear by how much more awake they feel afterwards. A plant based diet also improves cortisol levels and thus helps you sleep better. Better rested people do not crave sugary and starchy foods since they don’t need their stimulating energy.
Better Digestive Health
The large amounts of fiber in plant foods make sure your digestion is always in check and prevent bloating and constipation.
Nutritious plant foods are rich in Vitamin A, C, E, chlorophyll, and water. Each of these compounds can do wonders for your skin on their own, let alone when combined. Many people report that their acne has cleared after just one month on a plant based diet. All the more reason to embrace this diet!