Plant-Based Food: Yay or Nay?

It’s been a while since many plant-based foods hit the market so people have had a bit of a chance to try some of them. But is plant-based food a key part of a plant-based diet? Probably not. Let’s look a bit deeper.

A Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diets are not new. In fact, they have been around for centuries as part of cultural and religious preferences. These diets are focused on fruits, vegetables seeds, grains, and legumes.

A plant-based diet may be able to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.

Plant-Based Food

Plant-based food emulates well-known foods and food products that are based on animal proteins and products, like burgers, chicken nuggets, cheese, and milk. These products use soy, wheat gluten, pea protein, and coconut oil (among other ingredients) to replicate the taste and texture of animal meat, and they do a decent job of doing so, while offering a lower calorie count and fat content.

But in so doing, they have to create:

  • Highly processed food, with the corresponding loss of nutrients and phytochemicals
  • Higher sodium levels
  • Products often lacking in sufficient protein

Plant-based food also suffers from some of the challenges of a plant-based diet, which often sees deficiencies in calcium, iron, protein, and Vitamin B12.

Better Options

It’s understandable that in a busy modern society that people want options that can be hot and ready within moments. But these pre-packaged plant-based food options provide only short-term satisfaction while leading to long-term challenges. If you are going to observe a plant-based diet, it’s best to do so while using whole foods to create your meals. 

If you’re unsure as to what a plant-based diet might look like, here’s what one day might look like:

  • Breakfast: whole-wheat bread with avocado and tomato
  • Lunch: mixed green salad with olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Snack: fresh fruit with almond butter or a handful of nuts
  • Dinner: salmon with quinoa and roasted zucchini marinated with olive oil and lemon

Notice that plant-based does not have to mean vegetarian. Indeed, using animal protein and products is one of the easiest ways to deal with the deficiencies in a plant-based diet that plant-based food often won’t address.

If you’re concerned about cost, remember that frozen fruits and vegetables often contain close to the same nutritional value as their fresh counterparts but can be bought in bulk and at a lower cost, ready for you to throw into recipes. Buy seeds and nuts in bulk whenever possible.

No matter what kind of diet you’re on, it’s always important to read labels. Avoid foods and beverages that contain added sugar in the ingredients panel or nutrition label.

This content originally appeared in our monthly Open Calendar Club newsletter.

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