From keto to paleo to raw vegan, it seems like there are so many trendy diets out there to keep up with. At some point you’ve probably found yourself asking, what is a plant-based diet? It’s a common question that has become much more popular over the last few years with the rise of veganism and the plant-based diet. You might think it’s not worth your time because how could anyone live without meat and cheese, right? Well, you might find that there are a few reasons to at least give the plant-based diet a try.
Although I wouldn’t encourage you to change your entire life and commit right now to a strict plant-based diet for the rest of your life, there are some good benefits of the plant-based diet that could improve your health and make you feel better. I’m going to go through some of the basics about the plant-based diet so you can decide if it’s something you want to incorporate in your life, even if it’s just for one day a week.
What Is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is a whole foods diet that refrains from any and all animal products. You don’t eat meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, butter, and anything else that comes from animals. People will either choose to eat a plant-based diet because of health reasons (perhaps they have some health issues they’re battling and a plant-based diet can help) or they choose to eat a plant-based diet due to ethical reasons.
A plant-based diet involves more than refraining from animal products, though. Plant-based means you don’t eat anything that doesn’t come from the earth, including packaged foods and snacks, fried food, etc. This is the hardest part of the diet to follow, as you can imagine. It’s difficult to give up all the foods we used to eat freely in our day-to-day life, like potato chips, gummy worms, etc. There are varying degrees as to how strict you can be with the plant-based diet. Some people don’t even eat bread, but of course it will be up to you how strict you’re going to be.
Is Vegan Different From Plant-Based?
This is a common question as it’s very easy to mix up veganism and the plant-based diet. Some people use these terms interchangeably but they don’t exactly mean the same thing. Of course both of these diets are for people who want to completely eliminate animal products from their diet, but vegans don’t necessarily refrain from refined sugar and processed foods the same way that plant-based dieters do. For example, did you know that Oreos are vegan? There are no dairy or animal products in Oreos so vegans can eat them. But someone who follows a plant-based diet won’t eat Oreos because they’re clearly manmade and highly processed.
Who Should and Shouldn’t Try the Plant-Based Diet?
Anyone can try the plant-based diet as long as they get approval from their doctor or physician. The only folks who may struggle with a plant-based diet are those who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and those who struggle with gastrointestinal issues in general. But even if you do deal with slight digestive issues, a plant-based diet can be really helpful in reducing bloating and easing digestion. If you eat a diet that’s heavy in processed and packaged foods, you may want to gradually ease yourself into the plant-based diet. Start by eliminating animal products for a few days each week and then work your way down from there.
Is the Plant-Based Diet Healthy?
There are many healthy benefits to be had from eating a plant-based diet. You experience less bloating, more energy, clearer skin, better digestion, boosted immune system, and better sleep. These great benefits don’t show up right away, though. Expect to feel slightly miserable before you feel incredible. Your body has to go through a huge transition because your system is so used to eating an everyday American diet, which consists of processed foods, packaged goods, and lots of meat and dairy. So when you reach the positive benefits of the plant-based diet, you’ll be so thrilled to experience them firsthand.
But the big question remains: is it healthy to eat a plant-based diet for extended periods of time? That remains to be seen. There are a lot of people who have been eating the plant-based diet for years and are still healthy, but there are just as many, if not more, people who have experienced negative side effects from sustained periods of the plant-based diet.
There isn’t that much research on how the plant-based diet affects people in the long run, so it’s safe to say that you should eat a plant-based diet for as long as it keeps you healthy and vibrant. The moment you feel tired, rundown, and cloudy-headed, then it’s time to consider making a change. Do what’s best for you and don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional!