5 Reasons To Eat More Plants

| Posted On Jan 06, 2014 | By:

plant-based dietRemember when vegetarians were thought of as tree-hugging, long-haired hippies who got a strange satisfaction out of depriving themselves of good food?  Well, times are definitely changing.  There’s been a quiet movement underway for the past few years, and it seems to me that plant-based diets are really starting to appeal to the masses.

According to recent statistics compiled by the Vegetarian Resource Group, almost half of all Americans eat a vegetarian meal at least once per week, and about 9 million American adults (4% of the adult population) consider themselves to be vegetarian (no meat, poultry, or fish) or vegan (no animal products at all).  Whether it’s a result of the Meatless Monday push, or documentaries like Food Inc. or Forks Over Knives, or the endorsement of numerous celebrities, Americans seem to be embracing the plant-based diet, and good for us!  Literally.  Here’s what, why and how to jump on the bandwagon, and with the start of a new year, there’s no time like today to get started.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

You don’t necessarily have to go the vegan route and eliminate all animal products. Many vegetarians still enjoy dairy foods and eggs, and some occasionally eat fish. You should do what you feel is right for you.  At a minimum, a plant-based diet means eating more whole plant foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and less animal products.

Why Eat a Plant-Based Diet?

Personal reasons for following a vegan or vegetarian diet vary and can range from environmental or social reasons, cost, or health. Whether you choose to go all out or just work on eating more fruit and vegetables, there are (at least) 5 important reasons to choose more plant foods and less animal foods:

Future of Food infographic 2 image from thegatesnotes.com

How To Start

Make a commitment to join the Meatless Monday movement, and skip meat at least one day each week.  Start by trying some new meatless recipes and get in the habit of making one or two each week.  If you need more inspiration, check your local adult education center and sign up for a vegetarian cooking class.

Every time you shop, make it a goal to fill most of your grocery cart from the produce department and the whole grains section.  Choose a variety for both meals and snacks.  Try to skip the beef entirely, and when buying chicken, fish, eggs or dairy, try to buy organic and buy less.  Before long, you’ll realize the more healthy plant foods you eat, the better you’ll feel, and the easier it will be.

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About Anne Danahy, MS, RD, LDN

Anne Danahy, MS, RD, LDN has been a Nutritionist with Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates for the past 15 years, and she currently works as the “Virtual Nutritionist." Her professional interests include weight management, heart disease, and women’s nutritional issues. When she isn’t working, you can usually find her in the kitchen testing recipes that are healthy AND delicious.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the pointers to the great recipes. We eat veggie at least 2 x a week (I am in France for a year and it’s been a challenge to find good tofu, seitan, etc). Many of your recipes are excellent!

    Comment by Candy Sidner on January 15, 2014 at 12:24 pm
  2. Great article. Just one clarification on this statement: “Many vegetarians still enjoy dairy foods and eggs, and some occasionally eat fish.”

    If someone eats animals, including the much-misunderstood fish (they feel pain and fear, too), they are not vegetarian. Rather, they would be called a pescetarian. While this may seem nitpicking to someone who eats vegetarian for health reasons, it is very important for us ethical vegetarians and vegans to not water down the deeper moral driving force behind our choice to not contribute to needless animal suffering – and that circle of compassion includes all animals. Thank you.

    Comment by Lily on January 16, 2014 at 11:32 am
  3. I have read several publications that state that plants generate electrical impulses when cut or stressed. At first glance it would indicate to me that plants are worthy of the well deserved compassion that animals receive.

    Comment by Tony on January 16, 2014 at 9:35 pm
  4. Quite right Tony, there are many scientific publications attesting to the electrical impulses created by plants when: cut, crushed or bruised. So where does that leave vegetarians especially vegans?

    Comment by Gordon on April 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

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