Get healthy, lose weight, and feel great on a plant-baseddiet The benefits of a plant-based diet have been publicized far andwide, and you can no longer deny it--you're fully ready toexperience the health benefits of this lifestyle. Plant-BasedDiet For Dummies has been created to help even the moststubborn carnivores adapt to and even learn to find joy in aplant-based diet. Besides providing useful tips, delicious recipes,and meal ideas, this lively resource discusses all you have to gainfrom adopting healthier eating habits, including a decreased riskfor cancer, a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, a lowercholesterol count and blood pressure, and a lower risk, andprevention, of diabetes. A meat-free lifestyle has many benefitsfor your body, and author Marni Wasserman takes you on a journey ofdiscovery into the exciting world of fruits, vegetables, and othernutrient-rich foods. A plant-based diet, while similar to vegetarian and vegan diets,is different in that it allows an individual to experience thebenefits of vegetarianism without focusing on the politics of ameat-free lifestyle. This book takes the mystery out of adoptingbetter food habits and making better meal choices. It shows you howto stock your kitchen, cook fantastic meals, and discover thewealth of delicious ingredients at your fingertips. * Discusses how to improve energy, lower cholesterol, and protectthe body's cells, all through better diet options * Includes more than 40 mouthwatering recipes and sample menuplans * Gives specific advice and instructions for athletes, thosebattling illnesses, expectant parents, seniors, and children * Covers which plant foods are good sources of fat, protein,complex carbohydrates, and fiber Get healthy, lose weight, and feel great on a plant-baseddiet.
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Plant-Based Diet For Dummies®
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Manufactured in the United States of America
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Table of Contents
About This Book
Icons Used in This Book
Beyond the Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: Getting Started with a Plant-Based Diet
Chapter 1: What Is a Plant-Based Diet?
What Does Plant-Based Mean?
Getting to the Root of a Plant-Based Diet
What’s off limits
It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle
Appreciating the power of greens
Focusing on quality, not quantity
It’s all in the genes: Understanding and working with your code for health
Forging ahead with fiber
Common Questions and Answers about a Plant-Based Diet
Can I get full eating only plants?
How will I get protein?
What about calcium?
How do I get iron? Won’t I become anemic?
Does eating plant-based help people lose weight?
A Quick Guide to Making Plant-Based Part of Your Everyday Life
Chapter 2: Seeing the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Eating According to a Plant-Based Food Guide
Feeling Good with Food
Energy and vitality
Better sleep quality
Becoming a Wellness Warrior
Heart disease and hypertension
Other conditions that benefit from a plant-based diet
Chapter 3: The Macro and Micro Essentials of a Plant-Based Diet
Making the Most of Macronutrients
Pondering protein in the plant-based world
Considering carbo-riffic plants
Eating fatty plants: Gotta love ’em, gotta have ’em
Meeting the Micronutrients
Vitamins and the plants you can find them in
Minerals and the plants you can find them in
Chapter 4: Packing an Extra Punch with Power Foods
Enriching Your Diet with Super Nutrients
What they are and what they do
Raw foods: The ultimate superfoods
Considering Sea Vegetables
What they are and what they do
How to use them
What they do
Where to find them
Biting into Bioflavonoids
What they are and what they do
Where to find them
What they are and what they do
Where to find them
Part II: Embracing Plant-Based Living
Chapter 5: Taking the Plunge into a Plant-Based Diet
Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
Going cold turkey
Going plant-based gradually
You Can’t Do It Alone: Leaning on Others for Support
Surrounding yourself with others who support your lifestyle
Enlisting the help of a nutritionist, naturopath, or medical doctor
Overcoming Common Pitfalls
Having little or no experience in the kitchen
Feeling intimidated by new foods
Feeling like the odd man out
Fighting food fatigue and boredom
Chapter 6: Looking at What’s on Your Plate
Thinking about Your New Plate
Keeping it whole
Dishing it up in the right proportions
Consuming calories that count
Eliminating refined processed foods from your diet
Maintaining proper hydration
Going with Your Gut
Managing your metabolism
Understanding the importance of meal planning
Making your plant-based grocery list
Exploring Sample Meal Plans
Lunch and dinner options
Light meals for weight loss
Punches of protein
Foods for energy and endurance
Modifying Your Favorite Recipes to Be Plant-Based
Chapter 7: Overhauling Your Kitchen Contents
Cleaning Out Your Kitchen
Creating Your Plant-Based Starter Kit
Plant-based protein powders
Rounding Out the Rest of Your Goods
Staples to store in your pantry
Getting the Must-Have Equipment
Non-essential (but helpful) appliances
Finding Alternatives to Common Ingredients
Chapter 8: Being a Savvy Shopper
Reading Product Labels
Analyzing the ingredients, not the numbers
Understanding common terms
Reading the hidden ingredient list
Conquering the Grocery Store
Picking up produce
Steering clear of interior aisles
Dipping into the interior aisles when you must
Seeing what’s lurking in the freezer
Shopping Off the Beaten Path
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs
Organic and GMO: Figuring Out What It All Means to a Plant-Based Diet
Is organic all it’s cracked up to be?
What’s all this talk about GMOs?
Chapter 9: Boosting Your Plant-Based Diet with Supplements
Understanding the Basics of Supplements
Recognizing why you need supplements
Consulting with your doctor versus self-prescribing
Choosing plant-based over synthetic supplements
Thinking about absorption
Focusing on the Main Plant-Based Supplements
Choosing the Best Form for Your Supplements
Picking the Right Times to Supplement
The one thing to take daily: Probiotics
When it’s morning
When you’re battling a cold
When you have a nutritional deficiency
When you’re on vacation
Part III: Plant-Based Recipes for Success
Chapter 10: Brilliant Breakfasts
Wakey, Wakey, No Eggs and Bakey
Easy to Make and Easy on the Go
Chapter 11: Lovable Lunches
Making a Meal of Salads and Soups
Making your fridge a salad bar
Falling in love with one-pot meals
Rethinking Handheld Lunches
Chapter 12: Super Suppers
Rethinking What Your Dinner Plate Should Look Like
Chapter 13: Guiltless Desserts
Getting to Know Alternative Sweeteners
No Eggs, No Dairy, No Problem!
Chapter 14: Sensational Snacks
Boosting Your Metabolism with Healthy Snacking
Choosing Sweet or Savory Snacking
Chapter 15: Sauces, Sides, Dips, and Dressings
Seeing the Benefits of Whipping Up Your Own Sauces, Dips, and Dressings
Adding Variety with Sumptuous Sides
Part IV: Plant-Based for All Stages of Life
Chapter 16: Navigating Restaurants and Special-Occasion Dining
The Ins of Dining Out: Being a Proactive Plant-Based Eater
Finding plant-friendly establishments
Asking for what you want
Eating Delivery and Takeout, Veggie Style
Celebrating Holidays and Special Occasions
Being a gracious guest
Being a hostess with the mostess
Showing People Just How Fun Veggie Dining Can Be
Chapter 17: Eating Plant-Based When You’re Pregnant
Maintaining a Balanced Diet for Two
The best foods for a plant-based pregnancy
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
Talking to Loved Ones about Your Dietary Choices
Educating your loved ones
Troubleshooting: Beating Nausea and Other Discomforts with Plants
Nursing nausea (morning sickness)
Chapter 18: Raising Children on a Plant-Based Diet
Knowing What to Watch Out for When Raising Plant-Based Kids
Nurturing a Plant-Based Baby
Understanding why breastfeeding is essential for your baby
Loading breast milk with nutrients
Understanding the ins and outs of formula
Starting on solids
Whipping up your own baby food
Navigating the Toddler Years
Introducing a variety of foods
Choosing nutrient-dense foods
Raising Healthy Kids and Teens
Providing balanced meals and snacks
Handling occasions outside of your control
Chapter 19: The Plant-Fueled Fitness Enthusiast
Boosting Macronutrients for the Active Person
Plant-based protein for performance and recovery
Carbs for the mind and body
Eating Before and After Workouts
Eating before your workout
Eating during your workout
Sorting Out Supplements: Sports Drinks, Energy Bars, and Protein Powders
Ingredients to avoid
Following the Vitamin and Mineral Code
Chapter 20: Getting Older, Getting Wiser about Your Plant-Based Diet
Knowing How Plants Contribute to a Longer Life
Pondering how plants protect your cells
Slowing down diseases
Ensuring You’re Getting the Right Nutrients
Getting enough of special nutrients
Figuring out nutrition shakes
Training caregivers on the plant-based approach
Preparing plant-based foods for easier consumption
Working with Prescriptions and Diet
Taking fewer pills, getting more health
Recognizing dangerous interactions between medicines and foods
Chapter 21: Purely Fit on a Plant-Based Diet
Checking Out the Benefits of Regular Exercise
Builds and improves energy
Don’t Think, Just Move
Floor work (yoga, Pilates, stretching)
Part V: The Part of Tens
Chapter 22: Ten Foods That Are Surprisingly Not Plant-Based
Soup Stock Powders or Cartons
Veggie Burgers or Sausages
Noodles and Pasta
Boxed Cereal and Cereal Bars
Chapter 23: Ten Plant-Based Foods That Boost Your Immunity
Chapter 24: Ten Plant-Based Beauty Treatments to Use on Your Skin
Almonds and Oats
Chapter 25: Ten Bad Things about Eating Meat
Meat Production Wastes Natural Resources
Meat Isn’t as Rich in Nutrients as Plants
Animals Are Fed Poor-Quality Feed
Meat Is Acidic
Meat Is Loaded with Toxins
Meat Is High in Saturated Fat
Eating Meat Can Increase Your Risk for Cancer and Osteoporosis
Eating Meat Impacts Climate Change
Eating Meat Is Cruel
The Meat Industry Is Getting Worse
About the Author
More Dummies Products
Table of Contents
You’re intrigued about plant-based eating. You’ve been hearing about it, and you may be wondering, “How is this different from vegetarianism or veganism? Is this something I can do? How do I do it?” Maybe you’ve been thinking about how it can benefit your health. This book gives you the road map for a plant-based way of living.
Don’t fret and think you have to immediately give up everything you’re eating. This book uses a step-by-step approach to transitioning to a plant-based diet by gradually adding more veggies into your diet — not suddenly taking away everything you eat now. That doesn’t sound all that bad, does it?
Maybe you’re already mostly plant-based but are running out of ideas or don’t have the resources, tools, and concepts you need to keep going. Maybe you’re feeling undernourished. Whatever your reason for reading this book, I promise that you’ll get countless ideas on how to get to know your fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds a whole lot better. These foods will become your friends, not your enemies.
These foods help you succeed at any stage or age in life. Whether you’re looking to stay healthy and prevent disease, going through pregnancy, raising plant-based children, wondering how to stay plant-based in your golden years, or balancing your needs as an athlete, this book gives you a comprehensive look at these phases and provides guidance on how to master them by adopting the most nutritious way of eating.
One of the biggest challenges that people face when deciding to take up a plant-based diet is mental resistance. In fact, maybe you’re thinking that it’s too difficult or that it’s just another diet that won’t last or yield the results you’re looking for. Eating a plant-based diet isn’t a fad or something you do just to lose weight or gain short-term results. This book is about leading a more healthful lifestyle with plants as your fuel. At the end of the day, you need to eat, so why not make your meals and snacks fibrous, delicious, and loaded with plants?
I truly believe that with the knowledge found in this book, along with a keen interest in living healthfully, you can discover that eating a plant-based diet isn’t difficult and that anyone at any stage can implement a plant-based diet — even you!
Part of leading a healthy life is setting general expectations about how you’re going to approach and achieve it. This book helps you do exactly that. It provides you with the what, when, where, why, and how to start eating more plant-based foods today.
Of course, as you immerse yourself in this world and learn the basics and beyond of eating plant-based foods, you’ll probably start to feel more confident. As you journey through these pages and learn about the ins and outs of eating this way, you’ll discover just how easy it is.
This book gives you tools, techniques, tips, and ideas on how to fill your plate every day with plant-based foods to reach your health goals. It gives you an idea of how a plant-based diet benefits your health and what it consists of. It breaks down how much of which foods to eat and where to get your protein. It even explains how to dine out and make healthy choices in unique situations like parties and special events.
The great thing about this book is that I let you know exactly what information is vital and what’s nonessential. I’ve packed the main body with all of the stuff I think you really need to know, but you can skip things like sidebars (text in shaded boxes). To tell you the truth, you don’t have to read anything you don’t want to read, because this book is designed to make every section accessible, regardless of whether you read anything else.
I also include some plant-based recipes that you can start incorporating into your diet as soon as you’re ready. I use a few conventions in the recipes:All temperatures are Fahrenheit. To convert a temperature to Celsius, type “temperature conversion” into Google. A box will appear at the top of the screen; simply type the Fahrenheit number into the box labeled “Fahrenheit,” and Google will display the Celsius equivalent.All pepper is freshly ground black pepper unless otherwise noted, and it’s always optional.All lemon juice should be fresh and not from a bottle.Where water is called for, filtered water is ideal.
I make a few assumptions in this book about you as a reader:You know how to be resourceful to find new information about healthy eating.You’re not afraid to try new plant-based foods.You’re willing to increase your knowledge about nutrition.You aren’t too afraid of what others think about your eating habits.You’re eager to try new recipes.You want to take control of your health and are looking for a new solution that is based on lifestyle, not just diet.
Look for these familiar For Dummies icons to offer visual clues about the kinds of information you’re about to read.
This icon indicates some quick, good advice that is relevant to the topic at hand. Skimming these gives you some seriously good information that can help you implement this new diet and make your life just a little easier.
When you change your diet and lifestyle, there’s a lot of information to retain. To make sure you notice the big stuff, I call it out with this icon. Consider these the “extra-important” paragraphs you want to remember.
Read these sections to avoid pitfalls and mistakes that could result in poor health, or ostracizing yourself or others. Learning how to eat well involves a lot of detective work to make sure you don’t get tricked by confusing labels and powerful marketing. When you see this icon, it means there’s something that may lead you to veer off the plant-based path — or endanger your health.
In addition to the material in the print or e-book you’re reading right now, this product also comes with some access-anywhere goodies on the web. When you want some quick pointers about plant-based eating, check out the free Cheat Sheet at www.dummies.com/cheatsheet/plantbaseddiet. There you’ll find a list of plant-based foods to keep on hand, suggestions for eating plant-based foods at each meal, and a pep talk about how to maintain your new lifestyle.
You can find additional information about plant-based eating in articles that supplement this book. Head to www.dummies.com/extras/plantbaseddiet for more information about using sea vegetables, starting your day with a beneficial smoothie, throwing a plant-based holiday gathering, and creating kid-friendly plant-based meals.
Each chapter in this book is self-contained, meaning you don’t have to read one chapter to understand the next one. If there’s a specific word you hear or read online or in another cookbook, or a new technique you see on TV, you can use the index or table of contents as your guide and skip right to the appropriate chapter to read about it.
I’ve organized this book so you can jump in wherever you want, so if you want to skip to the end and read the Part of Tens first, go right ahead. There, you can find lots of good information presented in easy-to-digest nuggets.
Suppose you just want to find out about celebrating holidays while on a plant-based diet. If so, head to Chapter 16. Start with Chapter 3 if you want to learn about the macro and micro essential nutrients of a plant-based diet. If you want to cut right to the chase and try some new recipes, head to Chapters 10 through 15. If you’re totally new to a plant-based way of eating, start in Part I, Chapter 1.
The easiest way to use the book, though, is just to start turning pages and reading the content. Because the true value is in how you apply this information to real life, don’t be shy about making notes in the chapters, highlighting information, and putting flags on the pages.
Visit www.dummies.com for free access to great Dummies content online.
In this part …Discover what eating a plant-based diet means and how to start transforming your diet today.Find out how eating a plant-based diet can help you manage your weight, boost your energy, and aid in the fight against diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.Get familiar with the different nutrients in a plant-based diet, from protein, carbs, and fats to vitamins and minerals.Check out the new foods you’ll add to your diet, including superfoods and sea vegetables.
In This Chapter
Getting familiar with the core of a plant-based diet
Understanding that this is more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle
Using simple ideas to start your plant-based diet today
The goal of a plant-based diet is to eat more plants. Sounds simple enough — or maybe it doesn’t. Eating nothing but plant-based foods is intimidating for a lot of people. Most of us are comfortable with our current way of eating and are unsure about what to do with plants: Which ones should you eat and when? Can you get full on plants alone? All kinds of questions and concerns come up, and I address some of the common questions in this chapter.
In this chapter, I also give you an overview of life on a plant-based diet. I outline what you will and won’t eat. I explain how eating this way can benefit so many aspects of your life — mainly your health. At the end of the day, it’s all about feeling better, looking better, and just being better, and this way of eating can do just that.
Eating a plant-based diet simply means eating more plants. No matter where you are, or what you eat right now, you can eat more plants (everyone can). Of course, my goal and the goal of this book is to get you to eat predominantly (and, ideally, exclusively) plant-based all the time, but you’ll likely have a transitional phase, and it starts with eating more of the stuff that the Earth has so deliciously and naturally provided us.
I get to the “meat” of eating plant-based later in this chapter and explain what this really looks like on your plate on a day-to-day basis, but first I want to compare this approach to some other popular veggie-minded trends.
A few terms that are floating around represent a similar style of eating, yet they’re all distinct. That doesn’t mean you have to label yourself and stick with only that way of eating; these terms describe different ways of eating and help you understand what kinds of food choices fall within a certain category. Also, this breakdown can help you understand how a plant-based diet fits into the bigger picture.Plant-based: This way of eating is based on fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds with few or no animal products. Ideally, the plant-based diet is a vegan diet with a bit of flexibility in the transitional phases, with the goal of becoming 100 percent plant-based over time.Vegan: This describes someone who doesn’t eat anything that comes from an animal, be it fish, fowl, mammal, or insect. Vegans refrain not only from animal meats but also from any foods made by animals (such as dairy milk and honey). They often also abstain from purchasing, wearing, or using animal products of any kind (for example, leather).Fruitarian: This describes a vegan diet that consists mainly of fruit.Raw vegan: This is a vegan diet that is uncooked and often includes dehydrated foods.Vegetarian: This plant-based diet sometimes includes dairy and eggs.Flexitarian: This plant-based diet includes the occasional consumption of meat or fish. I like to refer to it as “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” — said with no judgment, of course!
A core of foods makes up a plant-based diet. Making sure that you really understand them is key for a strong foundational knowledge that you can continuously build upon. You’ll find so many wonderful foods to explore and try, but for now I introduce you to the basics and tell you what foods to avoid.
The big question is, “If I’m not eating anything from an animal, what is there to eat?” I begin by exploring the wonderful plants that I hope you get to know quite well on this journey. You’ll find all sorts of diverse foods to enjoy (if you’re new to this, prepare to be pleasantly surprised by what you find).
You’ll discover a whole array of veggies that you’ll likely get to know quite well while eating plant-based. If you’re new to this, you’ll probably stick to tried-and-true, familiar veggies in the beginning because they’ll feel safe — and that is A-okay! But over time, I encourage you to expand into new areas and pick up that funny-looking squash over there or try that wild, leafy bunch of something over here. You can flip ahead to Chapter 7 for an extensive list and full explanation of the vibrant world of valuable vegetables, but for now, here’s my starter kit:BeetsCarrotsKaleParsley, basil, and other herbsSpinachSquashSweet potatoes
Ahhh, the sweet juiciness of fresh fruit. We all love it! If you don’t, you need to get on this train, because fruits are delicious; sweet; full of fiber, color, and wonderful vitamins; and so, so good for you. Throughout this book, I encourage you to try new ones, but here are some of my top picks to start with:ApplesAvocadoBananasBlueberriesCoconutMangoPearsPineappleRaspberriesStrawberries
Consuming good-quality whole grains is a healthy part of a plant-based diet. Don’t worry; you can still have your breads and pastas, but “whole” is the key word here. You don’t want refined or processed — you want the real thing. When you buy these items, make sure the grain itself is the only ingredient. Although it’s possible to buy proper whole grains off the shelf in packaging, make sure you double-check the label to confirm that it is, indeed, a whole grain (and only a whole grain). Here are some of my favorites (more in Chapter 3):Brown riceBrown-rice pastaQuinoaRolled oatsSprouted-grain spelt bread
Learning to love beans on a plant-based diet is key, as they’re a great source of sustenance, protein, and fuel. It may take you and your body a little while to get used to them, but soon enough they’ll be your friends — especially when you discover how great it is to eat them in soups, salads, burgers, and other creative mediums. Here are some of the best to start with:Black beansChickpeasKidney beansLentilsSplit peas
Most people love a good handful of nuts! But the thing about eating them on a plant-based diet is making sure that they’re unsalted, un-oiled, and raw. As long as you enjoy them in their natural state, you can feel free to eat them in moderation alongside your other wonderful plant-based foods. Here are the best ones to start with:AlmondsCashewsChia seedsFlaxseedsHempseedsPumpkin seedsSunflower seedsWalnuts
Try munching on a few nuts or seeds straight up or adding them to salads or other recipes. And if you can’t decide which one you have a taste for, toss them all in a trail mix!
This is the category of foods that isn’t really a category, per se, but these foods are still part of the plant-based diet. This includes such things as exotic superfoods, sea vegetables (see Chapter 4), condiments, and natural sweeteners (more on sweeteners in Chapter 13). Here are some specific examples:Cacao: The pure form of chocolateCoconut oil: Raw, virgin unprocessed oil (and the perfect butter substitute)Honey: The raw stuff, not the kind in bear-shaped plastic bottlesMaple syrup: Again, the real stuff — no corn syrup here!Nori: A delicious and nutritious sea vegetableTamari: A versatile fermented soy sauce
As you can imagine, all things that aren’t plants are off limits; however, as I mention earlier, you may need or want a transitional period during which you wean yourself off these foods one at a time (more on that in Chapter 5) until you can avoid all things from the animal world — including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and other dairy products. In addition, because this is a clean way of living, you may cut out most processed and fried foods that don’t serve your body and your health on a nutritional level.
Of course, this is the ideal — you have to find your own place on the spectrum of plant-based eating and do what works for you. Often, making something off limits just makes you want it more, so you have to strike the balance between being tough on yourself and being practical.
The plant-based diet isn’t the new fad or the latest thing that makes you lose a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time. This is about changing your habits to the core. This is more than just a decision to change your food choices; it’s a decision to change everything that comes with it.
How are you eating, when are you eating, and what else are you doing that can enhance, help, and sustain this lifestyle? Who else is on board with you? Do you have support? I address all these points in this book because, when you make a commitment to eat well, that commitment has to extend into all areas of your life. Eating is one of the main daily concerns we have as human beings. We need to tend to our diet in order to survive. Without food, we don’t live. But also, without food there is no pleasure, no taste, and no health. A plant-based diet ensures that you get all of those needs met.
I’m excited for you to empower yourself! Any decision you make can positively impact you for the rest of your life. And as passionate as I am about that, the truth isn’t in my words; it’s in the results you get when you sleep better, have more energy, notice better hair and skin, and improve your vitality. Heck, you may even lose (or gain) that weight along the way.
In the following sections, I explain some of the benefits and general principles that may become part of your new lifestyle, from eating more greens to coping with your body’s reaction to the additional fiber you’ll consume.
The earth isn’t half green for no reason! We were meant to eat greens. In fact, half of your plate at mealtime and at least half of what you eat daily from the plant world should be green (see Chapter 6 for more on this).
Greens are the life force of the vegetable kingdom. Green leafy vegetables like kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach carry with them all the nutrients you need to thrive. They have everything from protein to trace minerals to calcium, and so much more — and guess what? They’re low in calories! You can eat as many of them as you want, and they only help you get healthier. How is that for a deal? Did I forget to mention that there are ways to make them taste good, too? You don’t have to chomp through them in their plain state like a horse — no! In Part III, I show you that you can get these guys into your body in myriad ways, from juices and smoothies to soups, sandwiches, salads, and more.
These powerful vegetables are the key to health. They help enliven and enrich your cells from the inside out. As long as they’re kept in their prime and not overcooked (meaning, staying green and not grey or brown), they can give you all the goodness they have.
Here are the best greens to start with, from sweetest to most bitter:LettuceSpinachBroccoliKaleSwiss chardBok choyCollardsArugulaDandelion greensMustard greens
And here are some ideas of where you can add greens:Green juices: Go to a store where they make fresh juices and test the waters. If you have a juicer at home, give it a go — soon, you’ll be adding greens to every juice!Smoothies: Add a handful of spinach or kale to your next fruit smoothie. You won’t taste them, but you still get all the beneficial nutrients.Salads: You don’t have to use just lettuce. Try chopping kale and chard into bite-size pieces and adding them to your next salad. A salad allows you to get all the enzymes and nutrients greens have to offer in their raw state.Sandwiches: Dress a sandwich with any green you’d like to add a little crunch.Soups and stews: You can chop up greens and add them to your soup to give it a little texture. For those picky eaters, puree the leafy greens into a soup … they’ll never know!Stir-fries: Slice greens really thin and sauté them with olive oil and garlic, and then drop them into different recipes or serve them alongside other dishes.Pastas: Add fresh greens at the end of the cook time for your pasta or sauce. Warm them up a bit to wilt them so they combine more easily with the pasta. (And the greens add a fun dose of color as well as nutrients.)
Try one new green a week. It’s important to rotate your greens because our bodies can become too dependent on the nutrients in one and then not get others. Also, you may develop an allergy or intolerance if you eat the same one for too long.
It’s not about how much you eat; it’s about what you eat. In fact, the amount you eat is irrelevant. I realize that may shock you, given that most diets are so focused on portion size, calories, and grams of protein. It drives me mad! Why? Because restricting food and calories is not the key to health. It’s about what’s in the food, what it’s made up of, and what’s in that recipe or box that counts. I want to get you so connected to your food that you become obsessed with ingredients and what’s in your meals, as opposed to how much your plate weighs. You may actually start to feel lighter just knowing you can let go of that concept here and now.
Of course, I touch upon numbers, in terms of recommended serving sizes and dietary percentages, a few times throughout the book to make sure you understand approximates and to give you a guideline, but in no way do I want you to become attached to this. Instead, become attached to being healthy and figuring out how plant-based eating enriches your “nutritional wardrobe” with all the colors, textures, and features brought forth by plants.
Try focusing on eating foods in their whole forms, not out of a package. Try to introduce at least one new food a week as you transition, while at the same time eliminating processed foods.
People love to make the excuse that it’s in their genes to eat a certain way, or to give in to being overweight because their parents are. Well, I say bananas!
Yes, your genes do play a significant role and help to make up who you are. But they’re not the be all and end all; you can work with them and around them. You can use your genes as a template, but don’t let them lock you in. Let them help you understand who you are and how you can overcome them.
You may be prone to thyroid disease, cancer, diabetes, or osteoporosis (we all are, to some extent). Instead of focusing on that, focus on how you can either prevent or reverse the disease. Flip to Chapter 20 for more on how a plant-based diet helps with specific disease prevention and control. If you have a family history of an illness or malady, take control now with your diet. You don’t have to be the next victim. You can do something about it!
You can never see enough commercials telling you to eat more fiber; we are a society that lacks fiber. It’s from not only the processed food but also the meat and dairy that the average North American eats, all of which have no fiber. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs, actually … so let’s change that. Luckily, the plant-based diet is full of fiber; in fact, you can’t get away from it! Here is why fiber is so fabulous:Keeps you regular: Fiber is the roughage from fruits and veggies. When it’s in your body, your digestive system has no choice but to push the fiber and other things along and out, which makes for healthy daily deposits in your toilet bowl.
Note: It’s ideal to have a bowel movement at least once a day, but some people may not be so lucky. The goal is consistency, quantity, and ease of elimination.
Of course, it can work against you, too. If you’re prone to constipation, your body may take a little longer to get used to the fiber from whole foods, so take it slow when introducing them into your diet.Keeps you fuller longer: Fiber means bulk, which means more satisfying and filling. Fibrous foods send signals to your brain telling you that you’re full much sooner than foods with no fiber. Therefore, you may find that you eat less than you’re used to when you eat fiber-rich foods. Also, fibrous foods require more chewing because of the roughage, so it may take you longer to chew, swallow, and digest.
Eating high-fiber foods — which take longer to eat — can mean that you ultimately eat less because your brain has more time to process the “I’m full” signal.Adds more texture to your foods: The diversity of texture that fiber offers to your plate is exceptional. Each fruit, vegetable, and whole grain has its own complexity of fiber, which adds to the diversity in your meals.
In the beginning, fiber will not be your friend. When you first introduce all the roughage, skins, seeds, and other textures of plants, your gut may have a not-so-fun time getting used to it all. Stick it out. Just eat it for a bit. You may feel gassy, bloated, and just “full” all the time, but your gut needs to get used to this and figure out how to pass these new foods along. When it starts working properly, you’ll find that you depend on natural fiber from whole foods, not store-bought powders, to keep you going every day.
Because fiber draws water out of your body, drink lots of water when you eat fibrous foods to help it move along.
As with anything new, considering a plant-based diet can bring up all sorts of questions and concerns. This book is filled with great information that most likely addresses pretty much everything that has you worried. But to nip the fretting in the bud, here are five of the most common questions about taking up a plant-based diet.
Absolutely! The wonderful thing about eating plants is that you’re eating lots of fiber, and fiber makes you full! Also, the more wholesome the plants are (in other words, not processed), the more nutrients you’re eating, which helps make you feel more satisfied. As the nutrients load your cells with vitamins and minerals, this helps make you feel pleasantly full, but not stuffed.
Also, the diversity of texture can help with this. Because so many plant foods require you to chew more, you actually spend more time getting through the meal. So a big bowl of salad with lots of stuff in it may not seem that heavy, but it can fill you up quite fast. I promise, after trying just a few recipes in this book, you’ll be quite full!
This is always the big question. Well, I have a big answer: from so many different places! A plant-based diet has so much protein, you may not even believe it. Although it may not seem like the grams of protein add up to the amount of protein you find in meat, what you soon realize is that it’s not about the quantity but rather the quality. The standard American diet provides too much protein, and this can cause many chronic illnesses. Plant-based protein sources like legumes, nuts, seeds, quinoa, tempeh, avocado, and green leafy veggies all have their own breakdown of amino acids, which build up inside your body to make a complete protein. The best part is, they absorb into your body much better than animal-based protein. You won’t feel that same heaviness eating plant-based protein.
What about calcium, you ask? Well, did you know that plant-based foods like sesame seeds, hempseeds, bok choy, carob, and figs are extremely rich in calcium? Almost more so than a glass of dairy milk. I know this may be hard to get your head around, but it is actually proven in most cultures that the less dairy is consumed, the more calcium is absorbed by the body.
So fret not — just because you have “grown-ups” thinking you need a glass of milk to get your daily dose of calcium, that doesn’t mean the so-called experts are right. Turns out, you can eat almonds, seeds, and greens and get the same amount of calcium in your body. You won’t feel bloated, either, as these sources of calcium are loaded with vitamins and minerals, making the nutrients much easier to absorb.
Iron is definitely an area of concern for anyone not eating meat, so you need to be a bit more cautious to make sure you’re consuming enough of plant-based sources such as:Dark leafy greensSeaweedsNutsSeedsLegumesDried fruit
If you still feel like you aren’t getting enough, you may want to consider taking a good-quality, plant-based iron supplement — even just for a short period of time to boost your stores (see Chapter 9 for more on supplements).
Many people — even athletes and the like — survive and even thrive without meat!
I’m adamant that people should never choose to eat a specific way for weight loss. This never proves to have beneficial long-term results and always backfires on people if their weight-loss plans aren’t aligned for true health reasons. Focusing solely on weight loss or calorie counting can be extremely detrimental and can take up a lot of brain power and energy.
The good news is that by following a plant-based and healthy lifestyle, you will start to feel great and lose weight naturally. When you focus on eating well-balanced and nutrient-dense meals, your body isn’t deprived, and it starts to function efficiently. Deprivation is not an option.
You can start with simple ways to make eating plant-based foods easy and noninvasive to your existing diet. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started today:Replace one to three meals a week with plant-based ones. Use some of the recipes in this book (flip to Part III) or search for others that appeal to your palate.Include healthy meat alternatives, such as beans, legumes, nuts, and fermented soy, in place of meat in your meals.Choose healthy alternatives to dairy, such as rice milk, almond milk, and hempseed milk, or try avocado and cashews in place of cheese.Explore new vegetables. Go beyond your usual suspects and experiment with new colors and different green leafy vegetables.Have a smoothie for breakfast. Swap out bacon and eggs for a nutritious blended fruit smoothie to get you going in the morning.Swap out butter for coconut oil. This can be spread on toast, used in baking, and substituted anywhere else butter or margarine is used.Pack power snacks. Don’t lurk around the vending machines, which are filled with non-plant-based ingredients. Bring trail mix (nuts, seeds, and dried fruit) to work or keep a small container of it handy at all times.Make a simple veggie dinner at least one night a week. If you’re just getting started, change up at least one of your meat-centered meals to something plant-based yet familiar, like a vegetable stir-fry, hearty soup, or pasta.
In This Chapter
Getting an overview of a plant-based food guide
Managing weight, staying energized, and sleeping well on a plant-based diet
Preventing and treating diseases with plant-based foods
The plant-based diet isn’t just about food; it’s a framework for your well-being. Think of it as preventive health care. The money and time you invest now to better yourself through your diet pays off in leaps and bounds both sooner and later. How? So glad you asked. This chapter outlines the benefits of taking up a plant-based diet, from positive effects on sleep to weight-management and disease-fighting benefits. When you opt to transition to a plant-based diet, you make not only a positive lifestyle choice but also a smart health choice.
We’ve all seen some version of a food guide — a graphic representation of food categories divided into segments. The more space a food group takes up, the more we’re supposed to eat of it to maintain a healthy diet. Many traditional food guides include meat or protein, fruit, vegetable, grain, and dairy categories. Vegetarian food guides are also available to help guide your dietary choices.
This way of grouping foods to provide a one-size-fits-all way of eating is not necessarily ideal for or relevant to everyone. My goal is to encourage you to take all food guides in stride. How much you eat and what you choose to eat need to apply directly to you and your lifestyle, activity level, and health concerns.
The guidelines in this book follow a plant-based food guide. The plan can be adjusted in cases of disease or food sensitivities, but for the most part this is an excellent foundation for superior health. Here’s how this breakdown looks on a daily basis:Fruits and vegetablesThese should make up a majority of your overall food intake, approximately 40 percent to 60 percent, with an emphasis on leafy green veggies.Include at least four servings of vegetables, three of which are raw, and make sure at least one serving is green vegetables and one or more servings are starchy and colorful, such as beets, carrots, or sweet potatoes.Vegetables should be fresh, not canned or frozen.
Not all frozen veggies are the same. Many frozen vegetables are even more nutritious than fresh vegetables because they are frozen at their peak ripeness, which means they maintain their nutrients. Be sure to look for organic and non-genetically modified frozen (and fresh) vegetables.Include sea vegetables, such as arame, nori, and dulse (see Chapter 4 for more information on sea vegetables).Have one to two (or more) servings of fresh fruit, preferably in season and organic.Whole grainsEat two to five servings.Focus on gluten-free whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, and buckwheat.Choose alternatives to whole wheat as often as you can (kamut, spelt, rye, barley, and oats).Choose sprouted-grain products as often as you can.ProteinsHave at least two servings, one of which is ½ cup of legumes, beans, tempeh, or tofu.If you’re using plant-based protein supplements (such as hemp, pea, or brown-rice powders), use one scoop per day.
Protein supplements aren’t usually necessary to obtain adequate protein on a plant-based diet because plant protein is abundant in many sources, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Therefore, be careful not to consume excessive amounts of protein. As a culture, we are obsessed with getting enough protein; focus on quality protein and not quantity.Fats and oilsEat one serving (approximately ½ cup) of nuts or seeds.Have one to two tablespoons of nut or seed butters.Use one tablespoon of oil (grapeseed, coconut, flax, chia, hemp, or olive) for cooking or in salads.
Do not cook with flax, hemp, or chia oil. These oils should be used only with foods that don’t require heating.Enjoy one or more servings of whole fatty fruits, such as avocados, coconuts, and olives. This can be in the form of ¼ avocado, four olives, or ¼–½ cup fresh coconut meat.
These are just general guidelines and suggestions to help get you started with your new plant-based lifestyle. As you become accustomed to these guidelines, adapt them accordingly to what works best for you.
I’m not one to get too caught up in exact amounts or measurements of food or servings. I believe that as long as you’re eating a well-rounded and balanced diet, your body gets what it needs. It’s important to follow some general guidelines to get started, but in time you’ll start to trust yourself because your body knows best.
Although it sounds simple, feeling good is really important. When you don’t feel good, all other aspects of your life get out of balance — you can’t be your optimal self, either personally or professionally. Luckily, you have an ace up your sleeve: proper nutrition. You have control over your diet every day, and you can choose what goes into your mouth. Choosing a plant-based diet can be extremely powerful in your quest to stay healthy. You may find that after you make the switch to this diet, you start to feel better, lose weight, have more energy, and sleep better. The following sections detail these benefits of a plant-based diet.
Changing over from animal foods to plant foods means you consume far less saturated fat and fewer dense calories that can lead to weight gain. The calories and nutrients that come from plant-based foods do so much more for you, in terms of helping with metabolism and many functions in the body. By eating more fiber and nutrient-dense foods, you generally don’t eat as much in one sitting. This may encourage you to eat more frequent meals, which is incredible for weight loss. Meat and dairy products are heavy and filled with saturated fat, and they pack on the calories. A plant-based diet is lean and efficient, preventing you from taking in food that just turns into fat.
People sometimes get hung up on the fact that following a plant-based diet means consuming more carbohydrates. That may be true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll gain weight. The key is to choose carbs that are high in fiber and contain lots of other nutrients. Your body will digest them well and use them for energy. You gain weight from carbs when you eat beyond your needs or you eat carbohydrates made from refined grains.
When eating a plant-based diet, be sure to choose complex carbs (such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, apples, and rolled oats) that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein, and enjoy them in moderation. Stay away from simple carbs (such as sugars, breads, and pastas made with refined grains). If you follow those general guidelines, you can still reach your weight goals. See more on the difference between carbohydrates in Chapter 3.
Within days of consuming more green, leafy veggies and fruits, you’ll feel more energized. This is a result of the water content of these foods, which hydrates your body, providing your cells with more oxygen (as compared to meat), and it’s also because of the life force running through these foods. They’re filled with vitamins and minerals that infuse directly into your blood system, helping your body detoxify and rejuvenate itself. Heavy animal-based foods, such as meat and dairy, can weigh you down, decrease your energy, and make you tired. Plant-based foods are lighter and easier to digest.
When you eat better, you sleep better. I know this sounds too simple to be true, but it is. Let me paint the picture. When you nourish your body during the day with regular plant-based meals, you may find, in time, that the quality of your sleep is better. Many plant foods, such as green, leafy vegetables that are rich in magnesium and calcium, can help the body relax for a peaceful sleep. Other plant-based foods, such as whole grains, help the body produce serotonin, which has a calming effect on the body. Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily mean you get more sleep — just better sleep. In fact, you may find that you need less sleep.
If you have problems sleeping, try having a banana, some oatmeal, or some almond butter on toast. These foods tend to help the body and the nervous system relax at night by causing the body to release the hormones required for a restful sleep. You can also try drinking herbal tea, such as chamomile, kava root, or valerian root, because it has a sedative effect on the body and can aid in falling asleep.
By committing to a plant-based diet, you become a warrior of your own wellness — a soldier defending your health. A plant-based diet can go a very long way in this fight — specifically in helping to prevent many diseases. Common diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis have all been known to be lessened or even reversed with a high-quality plant-based diet that is rich in fiber, phytonutrients, and protein.
The following sections explain how to prevent, minimize, or eliminate certain health conditions by following a plant-based diet. However, please be sure to talk to your doctor or health-care practitioner before making any significant dietary changes.
Plant-based diets are effective against cancer because they’re jam-packed with phytonutrients
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