What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
So many! Plant-based foods are nutrient dense (rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals), easily digestible since they are typically consumed in their whole form, minimally processed, and low in saturated fats. Plantbased diets also help Mother Earth with a reduced carbon footprint. Also important is nutrient density—the nutrients derived from a food, per calorie. We’re not talking about calorie counting but bang per buck. How many macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs) and micronutrients (vitamin, minerals) are you getting per calorie? Plant-based foods are nutrient-dense because they have fewer calories and more nutrients per calorie.
What are the myths surrounding plant-based diets?
33333 There are a few!
PLANT-BASED DIET MYTH #1 You can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet. Protein is essential to living and plays a variety of roles in our body—everything from tissue repair, to muscle cell and tissue development, and helping to carry oxygen through the blood for energy.
Every whole food contains protein in varying levels. When we say “protein” we’re also talking about amino acids—20 different ones—split into two categories: • Essential amino acids only obtained from food, and • Non-essential amino acids found in food and naturally created by the body. While it’s beneficial to get protein from multiple sources to ensure a full amino acid profile, it’s not difficult to meet the daily recommended value on a plant-based diet. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain protein. Great sources are quinoa, beans, tofu, lentils, tempeh, oats, broccoli, and nuts and seeds.
Types of Diets Always check with a qualified health practitioner to make sure you are meeting your unique nutritional needs.
vegetarians exclude animal and animal by-products, fish, and shellfish lacto-ovo vegetarians exclude animals; include dairy and egg
lacto vegetarians exclude
animals, animal by-products, eggs; include dairy products
ovo vegetarians exclude all animals and dairy; include eggs
vegans exclude all animals and
animal-derived products, including honey
vegetarians who also eat animals, dairy, and fish
pescatarians exclude animal and dairy products; include fish
pollotarians exclude animal and by-products, except for poultry pollo-pescetarians exclude animals and by-products; include poultry, fish/seafood
fruitarians mostly raw fruit
33333 PLANT-BASED DIET MYTH #2 You need to drink milk to get calcium.
We often hear this, but plant-based sources of calcium are abundant and more sustainable, like: • Dark leafy greens, particularly cooked collard greens, turnip greens, and kale; • Chia and hemp seeds, hemp milk, almonds/ almond butter; • Broccoli, figs, and blackberries; and • Tahini and molasses.
“If you had 200 calories from salad versus 200 calories of French fries, which 200 calories are going to provide you with the most nutrition? Which one is more nutrient-dense? Which is nutrient deficient?” 8 | May/June 2019