Have you ever met someone who was straight-up glowing from the inside out?
Then you find out they’re vegan and you’re like, “Ah, that’s it.”
And go right back to your chicken parm? Yum.
It seems like everywhere you turn, people are talking about how healthy a vegan or vegetarian diet is. And they’re not wrong. You can be amazingly healthy on these diets. But, if you just love a good steak or cheesy nachos, there’s another option that’s still crazy healthy and may be easier to stomach (ha!).
But first, let’s acknowledge that there are many reasons for going vegan or vegetarian – ethics, environment, religion, culture, etc.
For this post, I’ll only be talking about the health reasons.
So let’s dive in by defining the 3 main “meat avoidance” diets:
- Vegetarian – No meat, fish or seafood.
- Vegan – No animal products of any kind, including dairy and honey.
- Plant-Based – Small amounts of meat, fish, seafood and/or dairy, with a focus on whole (i.e. unprocessed) plant-based foods
Can you guess which one I’m a fan of?
Yeah, it’s that third one. Why? Because it’s all about adding in lots of amazing, body-nourishing foods.
Yes, you can be super healthy on a vegetarian or vegan diet. But, let’s face it. Vegan candy exists. Chips are vegan. Vegan “chicken” nuggets are a thing and you can even get vegan chocolate ice cream.
You could eat nothing but french fries and still be vegan. You’d get scurvy. And rickets. And generally, feel terrible (definitely not glowing). But you’d still be vegan!
Ok, so let’s say you live entirely on brown rice and raw veggies.
NO! Ugh. Definitely not.
First, you won’t be getting any enjoyment out of your food and food should be delicious.
Second, you’d be missing out on so many essential nutrients like healthy fats.
Third, the lack of flavor and essential nutrients would leave you constantly teetering on the edge of the binge to end all binges. Not good.
This is why the whole foods plant-based diet is a big winner for me, healthwise.
The whole focus of this diet is about adding in lots of wonderful, delicious whole foods prepared in amazingly satisfying ways.
You can make this diet totally vegetarian or vegan if you want, or choose to add in small amounts of animal products. Maybe a bit of chicken in that lentil soup, a sprinkling of cheese on your salad, or a batch of frozen yogurt bark.
You can even treat yourself to the (very) occasional side of fries or cheesy nachos. But, the main focus of this diet is on adding in lots of whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods that nourish and fuel your body.
There are many incredible health benefits to focusing your eating around whole, plant-based foods:
- Lower fat – we need fat to live, but we don’t need a lot
- Can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure
- High in heart and gut healthy fibre
- Lowers your risk of heart disease and certain cancers
- Lowers your risk of diabetes
- Lowers your risk of inflammation
- Improves overall gut health
- Helps with weight loss and weight management
Most importantly, this diet nourishes your body with the food it needs to thrive. It can mean the difference between just getting through the day and getting through the day truly feeling good inside your body.
Any new way of eating will always take getting used to and take time to show results. But, the great thing about a plant-based diet is that you can gradually work in new habits, recipes and snack choices.
You may also start to feel results within just a few days. Not so much in your weight or the way your body looks, but in how your body feels. When your body feels good, energized and fueled up, it fuels you up to keep going.
And feeling good is probably the best motivation there is. It may even be where that “vegan glow” comes from.
Thinking Of Trying a Plant-Based Diet?
Meal planning is a great way to get the ball rolling on any change in eating habits. Here are a few of my favourite meal planning tips.
And don’t worry, you can still plan in the occasional chicken parm or tacos al pastor. Just pair them with lots of yummy veggies too 😉
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