It’s no secret that we’re living in a non-vegan world, yet that doesn’t mean you have to eat meat every single time you get a craving. The reality is that, when you consume a quality plant-based diet, it’s possible—and even healthful—to continue eating animal-based foods, as long as you’re careful about the types of meat you’re eating. So, how do you know which foods are best for you?
Just like how fruits and vegetables give our bodies the vitamins we need every day, so do animal products, as some people believe. It is true that animal proteins supply us with omega-3 fatty acids (which make us feel full and happy) and protein; and it is true that animal products also contain vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, but it is just as true that animal byproducts and the end products of animal slaughter are not healthy for us. Our bodies are made to run on plants, and these byproducts just don’t cut it for us.
My name is Jessica and I’m a writer who loves to share my knowledge about living a healthy and plant-based lifestyle. I also teach classes about how to eat healthy, chef and cook gourmet plant-based meals, and host plant-based events around the city. I’m 30 years old, gradated with a degree in nutrition, and have been vegan for 5 years. I love telling others about my journey in eating healthier and sharing information about how to make the most out of your meals.
For most North Americans, plant-based eating is uncharted territory.
Tall glasses of moo juice, grilled chicken salads at restaurants, huge omelets, and whey protein shakes are all things we’re used to. (And that’s just the health-conscious among us.) Many people still associate veggies with French fries or anemic iceberg lettuce on a bacon cheeseburger.)
Refined grains, processed soy, Twizzlers, and beer are examples of foods that people add to their diets to make them “healthier” or “more environmentally friendly.” While food swapping is usually healthier for animals and the environment (depending on how these pseudo-foods are made), it may not be so healthy for our health and body composition.
This can cause misunderstanding when it comes to plant-based eating. What does it mean to be “good”? What does it mean to be “healthy”? What is truly beneficial to animals, the environment, and your personal well-being?
Fortunately, more and more coaches and experts are becoming aware of the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. To address the matter, I assembled some of the finest and brightest.
|Jon Hinds is the owner of Monkey Bar Gym in Madison, Wisconsin.|
|Nathane Jackson is an NSCA certified strength & conditioning coach and kettlebell trainer specialist in Toronto, Canada. Nathane is a pro fitness model, physique competitor, and fitness personality.|
|Mike Mahler is a Las Vegas-based writer, strength trainer, and kettlebell instructor.|
|Jack Norris is the President and Co-Founder of Vegan Outreach, as well as a Registered Dietitian.|
|Jeff Novick has a master’s degree in nutrition and is the Vice President of Executive Health Exams International. He also lectures at the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California, and is an Adjunct Professor at Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences.|
|John Pierre is a geriatrics, nutrition, fitness, women’s empowerment, green living, and cognitive retention and improvement nutrition and fitness consultant.|
What’s in the First Part?
We’ll go over the following topics in part one:
- What should vegans and vegetarians eat?
- Are there enough amino acids in plants?
- Where do the majority of individuals go astray?
- Will carbs from whole plant foods cause you to gain weight?
- Is it feasible to gain muscle and improve performance while eating a plant-based diet?
- What’s the big deal about soy?
Before you throw your hands up in frustration and order another chicken salad, read this Q&A.
Q. Why do some people believe that following a plant-based diet does not give enough protein?
Jon Hinds (Jon): We learn that meat, milk, and other “protein” foods are good for us. Plants contain protein, so don’t be concerned.
Norris, Jack: Many people are completely unaware that plants contain any protein at all. It’s an intriguing subject how they think vegetarians survive!
Nathane Jackson (Nathane Jackson): For decades, the impact of bodybuilding has dominated most popular fitness periodicals. This method instructs us to consume high amounts of animal protein in order to gain muscle mass. However, there are other factors to consider in these extra-large bodies: performance-enhancing medications, mucus build-up from consuming too much animal protein, and, for the most part, non-functional movement. The average people reads these periodicals and is brainwashed into believing that they need a lot of animal protein (along with isolation workouts, but that’s another story).
Pierre, John: The majority of people are unaware of plant-based diets and the science that supports them. Athletes that consume a plant-based diet are a good example. You’ll receive all the protein you need if you eat appropriately.
Mike Mahler (Mike Mahler): Protein intake should be between 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight, according to fitness publications. As a result, they believe they need a lot of protein.
However, I do not believe that individuals require this much. Instead, a decent beginning point is 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. If you’re in a period of rigorous training, you could add another 30-40 grams per day.
A 200-pound athlete would consume roughly 90–130 grams of protein per day using this method, which is certainly achievable on a plant-based diet. Creating an appropriate hormonal milieu, rather than over-consuming protein, is the key to gaining muscle and decreasing bodyfat.
Plants provide protein, and you can receive everything you need from a well-balanced diet, even if you’re an athlete.
Q. Joe/Jane Meat Eater makes the decision to eat more plant-based foods. Where do you think Joe/Jane will go wrong?
Joe/Jane will not consume enough nutritional foods, and as a result, they will get fatigued, weak, and believe that plant-based eating is not for them.
Jackson: They’ll eat a lot of nuts, beans, and plant protein powders while ignoring fresh vegetables and fruits, which are the backbone of a nutrient-dense diet. I use plant protein powders like Vega and Sunwarrior as an athlete, but I’ve seen people use them at every meal to maintain the “meat-eating bodybuilding influence” of 30 grams of protein every meal.
Novick: Consuming an excessive amount of refined and processed “vegetarian” meals. The main value of a “plant-based” diet is when it focuses on whole, unrefined/unprocessed fruits, vegetables, intact whole grains, and legumes, with a few nuts/seeds thrown in for good measure.
Norris: Some people give up additional fats when they consume a completely plant-based diet (among other things). They wind up eating a very low-fat diet and don’t always feel wonderful. They then return to eating meat for the “protein,” oblivious to the fact that many forms of meat contain 50% or more fat. They say the meat makes them feel better and that it’s because of the protein. It was frequently the additional fat, not the protein, that made them feel better; they might have achieved a comparable impact by increasing the fat in their plant-based diet.
The main value of a plant-based diet is when it focuses on whole, unrefined/unprocessed fruits, vegetables, intact whole grains, and legumes, with a few nuts/seeds thrown in for good measure.
Yes, fat consumption is typically insufficient or comes from inadequate sources. Mahler: Alternatively, people consume excessive amounts of grains such as pasta, bread, cereal, and so forth. At each meal, people require a combination of protein, healthy fats, and low glycemic carbohydrates derived from whole foods.
Also, stay away from “fake meat” goods. Garbage ingredients including wheat gluten, soy protein isolate, lots of salt, and other chemical compounds are commonly found in these goods.
Norris: On the other side, if a person avoids all legume-based foods, a plant-based diet may be deficient in the amino acid lysine. Legume-based foods include the following:
- and soymilk
- peanuts; beans, lentils, and peas; and other soy products
These foods contain the most lysine. If you don’t eat any of these items on a regular basis (at least 2 servings per day – 1 serving is normally 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup soymilk), you should make sure you eat plenty of quinoa, pistachios, and cashews, which are a few more high-lysine foods in the plant kingdom.
Many people simply cut meat out of their diet and don’t replace it with healthier alternatives. Or they eat too much of what they consider to be “healthy” items, such as processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and protein powders.
The foundation of a plant-based diet should be fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Q. Some people are concerned about carbohydrate intake and are often put off by plant-based diet. So, what do you say to them?
Hints: Because we’re told carbs are “bad,” many people who want to lose weight eat solely meat and veggies. The problem isn’t with “carbs” in general; it’s with the carbs’ source. Some plant-based eaters overindulge in processed carbohydrates and end up looking and feeling like garbage. This tarnishes the reputation of plant-based eaters.
Novick: In America, over 90% of carbs are extremely refined, highly processed, and primarily in the form of refined flour and sugar. That is the issue. These should be avoided. Fresh fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains, and legumes, on the other hand, are the best foods for us and should be the foundation of any healthy diet. This is a crucial distinction to make.
Eat a variety of robust plant foods such as wild rice, sweet potatoes, millet, quinoa, amaranth, and other grains. These high-carbohydrate foods aren’t linked to obesity or disease.
Jackson: Eat the most of your carbohydrate-dense items (root vegetables and grains) first thing in the morning and/or around workout times. If you work out in the evening, eat a combination of simple and complex carbs before and after your workout to maximize your workout potential and recuperation.
Yes, complex carbohydrate sources contained in whole meals can assist manage insulin response; simple carbs should be saved for after intensive workouts.
Avoid processed carbs in favor of healthier alternatives like whole grains and tubers. Maintain a healthy level of activity and eat the majority of your carbs around your workouts.
Q. Some people wish to gain muscle and strength in order to perform at a high level. What do you recommend they do each day to receive enough nutrient-dense food?
Hints: The MBG Hand Plan states that you should eat just when you’re hungry, stop eating when you’re satisfied, and drink enough of water.
- Eat two meals and three snacks every day to reduce weight.
- Consume three meals and two snacks every day to maintain your body composition.
- Eat 5 meals per day to grow muscle.
These meals should be made up of nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, raw nuts & seeds, legumes, and grains (in that order). Consistently eating this way will yield incredible benefits.
Jackson: For faster digestion and assimilation, try meals in the form of smoothies and juices.
Pierre: Flax or walnuts are good sources of healthful fats. Vegetables should be included in every meal, even your smoothie. If you’re worried about protein, try pea or brown rice protein (or a blend like Vega).
Sun Warrior Rice Protein, Olympian Labs Pea Protein, and Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein are among my favorites. I also recommend using coconut oil or coconut milk. Coconut is high in medium chain fats, which the body readily absorbs. Two hours before a workout, add coconut oil to a protein smoothie to guarantee you have enough energy to crush it. Each meal should have a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to maintain energy levels throughout the day.
Norris: And 3-5 grams of creatine if you’re doing high-intensity activities like powerlifting or sprinting.
Consume a wide range of nutritious foods. Eat according to your appetite and objectives. Also, get to know your blender.
Q. What are your thoughts on soy?
Pierre: Soy is a legume, not a magical or mystical substance. Don’t run away from it, and don’t put it above any other legume.
Hindsight: Soy has gotten a lot of bad press. But, in order to notice any negative effects, you must consume a lot of soy! Soy from whole food sources (tempeh, edamame, etc.) is fine on occasion.
Novick: In the United States, soy has been over exaggerated, over-hyped, and over-promoted. In Southeast Asia, the average daily consumption is roughly 2 oz, or about 7-9 grams of soy protein. Reduce your overall soy consumption. Other beans provide all of the benefits of soy without the associated health risks.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “FAKE-ON” OR “SOYLONEY”?
Tips: It’s fine to use “fake soy meat” items while people are first switching to a plant-based diet. I encourage them to eat whole foods as much as possible after that initial transition period, rather than relying on these phony replacements.
Jackson: Soy is not one of my favorite foods. People can, however, occasionally consume non-GMO (genetically modified) soy products. However, I caution them about the dangers of eating phony items like soy burgers, soy milk, and soy cheese.
Novick: Stay away from all soy products that have been heavily processed. Isolated soy protein = harmful; edamame = beneficial. Tempeh is good, but soy energy bars aren’t.
Mahler: Soy products aren’t all made equal. Fermented soy products like natto and tempeh are more easily absorbed and do not appear to inhibit mineral absorption like other soy products.
Still, it’s hardly the healthiest option.
Still, it’s hardly the healthiest option. Still, it’s hardly the healthiest option.
Still, it’s hardly the healthiest option.
Still, it’s hardly the healthiest option.
- Still, it’s hardly the healthiest option.
- Aim for roughly 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight; if you’re in a period of heavy exercise, up to 30-40 grams each day.
- DO NOT rely on bodybuilding publications for nutrition advice. (May we suggest V3.0?)
- DO NOT ELIMINATE FOODS WITHOUT ALSO ELIMINATING HEALTHY OPTIONS.
- Make sure you’re getting adequate fat.
- DO consume a wide variety of whole meals, with a focus on vegetables and fruits.
- DON’T eat too many processed foods (including “healthy” protein powders and soy products).
- REMAIN ACTIVE.
- DO listen to your body’s hunger signals. Eat a little less than you typically would if you want to reduce weight. Eat a little more if you want to acquire mass.
What’s in store
The following questions will be addressed in Part 2 of our plant-based eating roundtable:
- What vitamins should vegetarians and vegans take?
- What animal food should someone avoid first when it comes to their health and body composition?
- Why would someone choose to eat a plant-based diet?
- Where can folks get recipe and meal ideas?
- What can someone do right now to consume more plants?
Better eating, moving, and living.
The realm of health and fitness can be perplexing at times. It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
It will teach you the optimal diet, exercise, and lifestyle strategies that are specific to you.
Some people claim that a plant-based diet is the best way to go, while others claim that meat is the only way to go. Instead of arguing, let us take a look at the pros and cons of each, and try to find a compromise.. Read more about problems with a plant-based diet and let us know what you think.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is plant based eating healthy?
Yes, plant-based eating is healthy and environmentally friendly.
What does a plant based person eat?
A plant based person eats a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
What happens when you eat plant based?
Plant-based foods are composed of a wide variety of nutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They also contain fiber and other substances that help to regulate digestion and provide a host of health benefits.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- plant-based diet benefits
- whole food plant-based diet
- plant-based diet recipes
- plant-based diet menu
- problems with a plant-based diet