If you have been considering trying a bit more flora … and a bit less fauna in your diet, there are plenty of health, fitness and – you guessed it! – weight loss benefits for choosing a diet that is exclusively or even just predominantly plant-based. Here are some of the health issues that “going green” may help with, nutrition-wise, by shifting from animal to vegetable cuisine, as reported in this NIH article: “Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
Since there has been concern from nay-sayers for many years about the arguments against plant-based diets, the same NIH article addresses these issues, which, like any diet, require sensible, mindful adherence to portion sizes, balance, complete protein with the essential amino acids (e.g. legumes, corn and rice) etc. Here is their list of items that can be easily addressed by common sense, moderation, appropriate planning, shopping and consumption of items that provide these nutritional requirements:
- vitamin B12
- calcium and vitamin D
- fatty acids
The NIH article concludes with a helpful summary; with this being the first paragraph; read the remainder for the full context:
“A healthy, plant-based diet requires planning, reading labels, and discipline. The recommendations for patients who want to follow a plant-based diet may include eating a variety of fruits and vegetables that may include beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains and avoiding or limiting animal products, added fats, oils, and refined, processed carbohydrates. The major benefits for patients who decide to start a plant-based diet are the possibility of reducing the number of medications they take to treat a variety of chronic conditions, lower body weight, decreased risk of cancer, and a reduction in their risk of death from ischemic heart disease.”
There are lots of online resources for vegetarians and vegans including learning about the differences and similarities between the two, and lots and lots and lots of menus and recipes for every conceivable vegetarian alternative menu idea from avocado to zucchini. A veggie dietary change can be delicious and satisfying, too!
If you want to just ease in the vegan or vegetarian direction, try recipes that have minimal animal content, such as the classic Mediterranean diet, and those which are also anti-inflammatory – which can keep the body in better shape for enjoying exercise, stretching and staying in shape generally.