WHAT’S A PLANT-BASED DIET?

Plant-based diet is one of those terms that are lately being thrown around a lot. Yet, people seem to disagree about its meaning. Many are confused & wonder if they are eating plant based diet at all.

I want to chat about that. I’ll cover what it is & what it isn’t + a couple of tips to get the most of your plants.

These days many people choose to label themselves according to their eating preferences; some so much that it becomes a part of their identity.  They define themselves as vegetarian, vegan, paleo etc. & incorporate these definitions as a part of who they are.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, I’d like to clarify that choosing a certain label doesn’t mean leading a healthy lifestyle.

 

I wanna clarify what a plant-based diet means here, at our Empire. Because what matters more than a label people put on themselves is the way in which they live their lives. Truly living a plant-based lifestyle is a wonderful way to live, and it comes with a flexibility, which I find some of these other labels lack.

 

What does a plant-based lifestyle include?

Plant-based lifestyle focuses, as the name suggests, on consuming mainly plant-based foods.

This means, eating a plant-based diet will include a lot of:

  • Veggies, for example zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, dark leafy greens, beets..
  • Fruits, for example apples, peaches, berries, bananas, avocado, figs..
  • Nuts + seeds, for example walnuts, almonds, pinenuts, sesame, cashew nuts…
  • Legumes, for example kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils..
  • Whole grains, for example barley, brown rice, millet, oats, spelt…
  • Herbs & spices, for example garlic, ginger, thyme, rosemary…

While there are different styles of plant-based diets, all of them should include these foods, along with nutrient dense foods – superfoods. Examples include chia seeds, quinoa, goji berries, spirulina, amaranth…

 

Most common plant-based diets include:

  • Lacto-ovo vegetarian

Consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods + dairy & eggs

 

  • Lacto vegetarian

Consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods + dairy

 

  • Ovo vegetarian

Consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods + eggs

 

  • Pescatarian

Consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods + fish

 

  • Flexitarian

Consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods + sometimes meat/animal products

 

  • Vegan

Consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods & no animal products at all

 

  • Raw vegan

Taking it to the extreme; consuming all of the above mentioned plant foods, but only in their raw form, i.e. not heated to over 118 °F/47 °C

 

Aside from food choices we make, what I consider a part of valuable plant-based diet is being mindful of where the food comes from.

This includes eating as much as possible organic, regional & seasonal whole foods – these are the best ones for us & for the environment. These foods will be most nutrient dense, which means we will get the most benefits from them.

Taking care of what we eat & where it comes from, and choosing foods that are going to nourish our bodies is a wonderful act of self-love. And it makes perfect sense; when we truly love ourselves, we’re simply not available for foods that do not nourish our bodies or contribute to disease.

Therefore, living a plant-based lifestyle is not something you do temporarily, it’s not something you do to lose weight, it’s not something you do because it’s currently cool. You do this because you love & appreciate yourself, your body.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, plant-based diet affords us flexibility, which is why it’s okay to eat less than perfect foods sometimes, when the occassion hits or you just feel like it – that’s the whole point of food freedom. However, when we’re in tune with our bodies & take loving care of ourselves, we will find that we naturally lean towards nurturing foods – because that’s what our bodies ultimately crave.

 

Answering the most common confusion I see about plant-based diets, and it’s “if I eat animal proteins, am I still plant-based” I’m gonna say – it depends. What it depends on? It depends on how many plant-based foods you really consume.

If someone labels themselves as vegetarian or vegan & majority of their diet are french fries and vegan cakes, cookies, processed meals out of a box & similar junk foods that’s not really eating a plant-based diet. Not a valuable one.

Funny enough, before I moved to Germany I always thought vegan + vegetarian diet meant eating healthy.. then I came here & met vegetarians who actually eat processed foods, sweets & french fries. So now I understand why it’s important to discuss what plant-based diet is & what it isn’t. That’s what it isn’t.

However, if you mainly eat whole foods, plants & you enjoy an occassional animal products, you’re fine. It’s the beauty of plant-based diet – the flexibility it offers; it can mean no animal products at all, or a bit of dairy, eggs & animal proteins. You can totally adapt it to yourself. As long as you’re focusing on whole foods/plants, you’re doing great!

 

Just be mindful of which foods make you feel amazing & energized, and which ones deplete you of energy – that’s the key. Because each of us is unique and so are our needs. Plant-based whole foods are the most nutrient dense & natural foods we can consume. That’s exactly why here we’re focused on these; we wanna nourish our bodies the best we can, and plants are the best way to do it.

To sum it up, labeling doesn’t matter. What matters are our everyday choices. Every single meal we eat matters – choose wisely, my friends!

 

YOUR TURN:

What’s your definition of plant-based diet?

What foods make majority of your diet?

 

Lots of love,

Nina

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