Every corner you turn, people seem to be talking about plant-based diets. It has become a popular term that every other trainer, athlete and Netflix documentary is throwing this term around.
This has created some confusion around what a plant-based diet actually is and a lot of questions. Does eating plant-based mean you only eat vegetables? Do you have to become a vegan? Let’s dive in deeper to these different diets.
So, what does it mean to be a vegetarian? Some vegetarians eat eggs, some eat fish – so what are the qualifications? There are actually different types of vegetarians but the thing that they have in common is eliminating the consumption of all meat. Some vegetarians feel that this includes fish, while others, called “Pescatarians” abstain from eating meat but do consume fish and other seafood. There are also lacto-vegetarians who consume animal based milk products (milk, cream, butter, yogurt), ovo-vegetarians who consume eggs and of course, lacto-ovo vegetarians who consume milk products and eggs.
Vegans, on the other hand, abstain from eating any and all animal products. This includes, but is not limited to, meats, fish, seafood, milk products, eggs and even honey. In theory, all of these diets should contain an abundance of vegetables – so is this what a plant-based diet is? Not necessarily.
What is a Plant-Based Diet
A plant- based diet consists primarily of plants – both vegetables and of course, grains. There tends to be some confusion surrounding this because it isn’t so uncommon to forget that grains are also plants. Once you add breads, pastas, rice and other grains back into the picture, your options suddenly multiply. However, that’s not all you can eat – you can still eat animal products in moderation.
The purpose of a plant-based diet is to mostly eat plants but you are not limited to a vegan diet. There is no set in stone rule but a good ratio is 75% plant-based with 25% animal products. For example, this could mean one meal a day with meat or having certain days for eating meat throughout the week. It would really depend on your desired outcome, your schedule and your overall lifestyle. This is a great way to transition into a vegan or vegetarian diet or for someone who just wants to have a more balanced diet.
Are vegetarians and vegans automatically plant-based?
As we previously touched upon, this is not always the case. There is a myth that vegetarians and vegans are automatically healthier, however a lot of processed foods don’t contain animal products and could be included in their diets. Think about this; Oreo cookies are vegan. As a long term vegetarian, we can attest to the fact that there are still a lot of unhealthy foods you can binge. Regardless of the specific diet you want to follow, you still need to ensure that you are eating organic, wholefoods that are as close to their natural form as possible.
Learn more about plant-based protein sources here!
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