Like the vegan and vegetarian diets, the plant-based diet focuses on fruits and vegetables rather than animal meats and processed foods. Unlike vegetarianism or veganism, it doesn’t forbid any food or food group.
The goal is to prioritize plant-based food but allow occasional meals with meat, fish, eggs, or dairy.
The plant-based diet also encourages people to make healthy, environmentally friendly choices to reduce their environmental impact.
How Plant-based Diet Works
- Eat a range of plant foods, like fruit and vegetables.
- Source protein from legumes, seeds, and grains and limit eating animal products like meat and dairy.
- Eat plenty of high-fiber meals.
- Source healthy fats from nuts, avocadoes, and plant milk.
- Aim to make most meals vegetarian or vegan each week and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
The Diet Plan
The plant-based diet is now regarded as one of the best diets to follow for all-around health. It can provide all the nutrients the body needs with proper planning.
Any diet — including those with primarily animal foods and plant foods — rely on a foundation of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Anyone is at risk of developing nutrient deficiencies if they do not formulate a comprehensive dietary plan. Vitamin B12, calcium, and iron deficiencies are common in conventional meat and animal product-based and plant-based diets.
Supplements can help to provide a range of critical nutrients, but a well-planned plant-based diet can provide all the body’s needs.
Fruit and Vegetables
You should include at least five servings of fruit and vegetables in meals throughout the day.
Meals should have a basis of carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, or starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Other options include couscous and quinoa, ideally whole-grain varieties.
Healthy fats can be less readily available on a plant-based eating plan than in conventional diets. Seek foods rich in healthy fatty acids like avocado, nuts, and seeds. As this diet is not strictly vegan, occasionally opt for eggs and dairy to provide an additional source of healthy fats.
Protein is a vital nutrient for anyone. Protein will come mainly from plant-based protein sources like legumes, especially beans, grains, and pulses. Lentils and split peas also make a delicious addition to most meals. Make sure to include a range of protein sources in each meal, to obtain all 20 essential amino acids.
When cooking, use small quantities of oils and spreads, ideally those low in saturated fats.
The plant-based diet, like all diets, should involve lots of fluids. Water is the healthiest way to hydrate, and drinking roughly six to eight cups per day is recommended.
The plant-based diet does not have to be expensive. Fruit and vegetables sourced from local vegetable markets can be cheaper than buying non-vegetarian foods from the supermarket. Purchase legumes, pulses, and grains from bulk stores can help cut costs. Plant milk is occasionally more expensive than regular cow’s milk.
Dos and Don’ts
- Attempt the plant-based diet well-informed
- Make a good diet plan and stick to it
- Stock up on groceries, so meal preparation is easy
- Base meals on fresh produce, beans, and wholegrain carbohydrates
- Drink plenty of water
- Fail to source all key nutrients in the plant-based diet
- Rely on processed replacement meats
- Go into a plant-based diet without a plan
- Forget to seek abundance and variety in fresh produce
Sample Diet Plan
Mixed berry smoothie with banana base and plant milk. Add a spoonful of unsalted peanut butter for some healthy fats.
Lunch: Seasoned tofu and spinach sandwich made with wholemeal bread. Follow with greek yogurt and fruit.
Coconut lentil dahl with wholegrain rice and added kale. A side of vegetables like steamed broccoli and carrot make a great addition to any meal.
Nuts, carrot sticks, and hummus or rice cakes.
Note: These meals are vegetarian, but as the plant-based diet does not exclude any foods, it can be altered to include animal products, eggs, dairy, fish, or meat throughout the week.
Health Benefits and Drawbacks
The plant-based diet is well-known for the health benefits it provides. Some potential benefits include weight loss and management, a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, and a lower chance of type 2 diabetes.
It is also an excellent choice for the environment, as people following a plant-based diet tend to have lower average emissions than those following a conventional meat-based diet.
Due to the flexible nature of the plant-based diet, social events can be relatively stress-free, as vegetarian/ plant-based food will usually be available.
So long as the plant-based diet is well-planned, it can provide all the nutrients the body needs. However, people following a plant-based diet can develop certain deficiencies if they do not actively source key nutrients like vitamin B12 and calcium.
The Bottom Line: Is a Plant-Based Diet a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?
The plant-based diet has many health benefits and provides an easy, flexible option for people seeking to change their eating habits without the drastic restrictions required by the vegetarian or vegan diet. By never totally excluding any food or food group, this diet can work for anyone.
Adopting a plant-based eating style is a great option when attempting to lose weight. Not only has it been linked to weight loss and weight management with a lower average BMI, but it can improve levels of fatigue, which can help keep people motivated to exercise. This will, in turn, aid weight loss and promote overall well-being.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.