A few questions I get asked all of the time:
- What is a plant-based diet?
- What do you eat?!
- Really? You don’t eat (fill in the blank) EVER?!
Today we’re tackling question Number One: What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is made up of plant foods. The quick list: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and grains. Generally it means zero to small amounts of animal foods; meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey.
Why not say vegan? Or vegetarian? In my experience, there is a bit of stigma attached to those words, especially vegan. Now that so many people are realizing the benefits, including celebrities that are continually jumping on board, it does seem to be a bit more understood. It’s perhaps a little less “extreme” to say plant-based rather than saying vegan. Also, if someone chooses to eat animal foods, they can still have a strong, plant-based diet without being “vegan” or “vegetarian”.
What it means for me: no animal products; I am also gluten-free. Plant-based by choice, gluten-free by necessity. And although occasionally something from the way I used to eat will sound really, really good, most of the time I am blissfully happy with my food. I’m not surviving on salads alone, which would of course bore me. Especially in cold Utah winters, when I crave warming foods. I adore food, and I don’t feel deprived. There may be very rare exceptions to this, such when I am traveling out of the country, but even then I do my best to stick to my regular foods, because this is how I feel my best.
As for my clients, I really encourage a plant-based diet, including varying degrees of including animal foods, particularly in the beginning phases while adding in more vegetables, grains, and legumes. I think everyone needs to make their own decision, based on education, and what works for their body. If people choose to eat animal foods, I really encourage that they find out where it is coming from, and buying responsibly sourced products. It is critical for true health. But more on that later.
In my own house, my teenage daughter eats eggs and dairy, but not animal flesh. My husband loves it all, although he eats much less animal food than he used to, by choice. Neither one of them are gluten-free, but they enjoy many recipes that I have adapted. And somehow it works. Some days we’re all vegan/vegetarian, some days it’s a mix. Once you are used to it, it’s really not very complicated. I don’t police them, as I don’t think that’s a healthy dynamic, and I don’t want to cause issues for either one of them. We all eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and healthy proteins and fats, which to me is what’s most important. It’s about truly enjoying the meal, and being together. When my daughter tells me how much our family meal times mean to her, there’s no bigger reward.