Defining a Plant-Based Diet and Why It's a Big Deal
First of all, I want to clarify something that I learned recently: A plant-based diet doesn’t mean that one only eats vegetables. It doesn’t mean the same thing as eating a vegan diet.
A vegan diet is considered a diet in which one does not consume any foods that are from an animal or an animal by-product. Yes, for the love of gawd, this means not eating eggs or cheese. (Why this part is confusing to most Americans, I’ll never know.) Often, people who decide to proclaim themselves "vegans” will also not using clothing or products that involved an animal in the making or testing, or eat foods like honey, that also are from an animal, so to speak.
A vegan diet also includes food products that may not be super healthy, but still don’t have any form of animal product in them, like vegan cookies. You can call it what you want, but these days, a vegan cookie isn’t exactly considered a plant-based, whole food.
A whole-foods plant-based diet consists of foods that come from the earth, in their whole form. You can practice a plant-based diet, which means that you eat mostly foods that are plants like seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And guess what, you can eat this way and actually…yes…get “enough” protein in your diet.
According to Forks Over Knives, “We have been led to believe that primarily animal-based foods contain sufficient protein and, furthermore, that we need to eat those foods to avoid becoming protein deficient. The reality is that protein deficiency is almost exclusively seen in people suffering from a calorie deficiency. In these cases, there will be an overall nutrient deficiency, not just protein deficiency, and when this happens the concern should be getting more calories and all nutrients—not just more protein.”
So we can move on from that.
I started eating a plant-based diet (I’m shooting for about 90% of the time, with room for exception like for the occasional pancake, parmesan cheese in my pesto, or daily glass of pinot) back in January, after I had had it up to here with my chronic constipation. There you go. I said it. On the interwebs. I had been suffering with it for years.
I tried everything to alleviate this problem. And as health and wellness practitioner actively growing her following and seeking to help others improve their health, this was a pretty big, consistent problem to have and not know how to improve naturally.
I tried medicine (a long time ago).
I tried herbs (helped a little).
I tried colonics (short term fix).
I tried balancing my chakras and my doshas.
I removed gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol. (That sucked).
I went to a real MD. (If you’re in OC, look up Dr. Sadeghi if you need GI help)…
And the most amazing part of this story is that my Western medical doctor prescribed a plant-based diet, and I have never felt better.
I’ll share more on this later, but realize that you can practice this diet slowly, and gradually, by adding in MORE whole grains, more vegetables, more beans and seeds, and just sort of make less room for as much meat, eggs, and dairy. You don’t have to go all or nothing.
I am never hungry, and my poops have never been better. I eat full, relaxed meals about 3x a day that are flavorful and filling. I do not feel deprived. I can enjoy bread and salads and soups and carbs (!) and am learning about new foods I hadn’t tried before. I’m encouraging everyone around me to eat more plants.
Plants can literally save your life. I also revamped my supplements to now only take exactly what I need and only herbs that come from vegetarian sources.
Sometimes we have to try a lot of things that don’t work in order to find something that does. I don’t think that one way of eating is the right way for everyone, but I do know that eating more of a plant-based diet can improve most health conditions, weight loss, sleep, energy, and poops. Give it a try, or let me know if I can help you to learn more.