It's funny, whenever I tell people I am plant based they immediately say "I can't do that". They may even ask me: "Are you vegetarian or vegan?" Next, they are worried they won't get enough protein or energy levels will drop.
But I am here to dispel the myths and set the facts straight! I've been plant based for years now (I can't even recall how many) and I have never felt better. In fact, when something disrupts my plant based eating routine, my body can tell.
Plant based simply means that you have reduced the amount of meat you eat. Instead, most of your plate at any given meal is a mixture of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you think of a typical plate of food, a plant based person may have a small amount of meat or fish with a lot of vegetables or no meat at all. Meat simply plays a supporting role in meals versus being the leading actor!
Eating mostly whole grains, fruits and vegetables has enormous health benefits. If you suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, stubborn weight gain, lack of energy, moodiness, skin rashes, acne, abdominal pain, anxiety, frequent belching or stomach gurgling, switching to a mostly plant-based lifestyle will help reduce and eliminate these symptoms.
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Here are the most common myths I hear when I tell people about plant-based eating.
MYTH: "I am worried I won't get enough protein so I would have to take supplements or powders or bars to make up for it."
FACT: Vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds all contain protein. In fact, did you know Quinoa is considered a complete protein since it contains all 9 essential amino acids your body needs? Below is a chart with protein content of some of the most common foods. Still worried you won't get enough protein if you cut back on meat?
MYTH: "I won't be able to enjoy eating out at restaurants or family/friends gatherings."
FACT: It is becoming easier to have a plant based meal at a restaurant. More restaurants offer a vegetarian option for lunch, dinner or even allow for vegetable substitutions for a meal. Plus, an easy trick to eating less meat or fish at a restaurant is to cut it in half and take half of the meat home. This way you eat all of the vegetables and have left-overs the next day. Remember, you won't cut out meat, chicken or fish entirely on a plant based lifestyle. You are simply reducing the amount you eat.
If you are going to a social gathering, one way to ensure you have a plant based option is to bring one yourself. This can be as easy as a fresh vegetable plate with hummus or something more exotic like homemade lentil potato cakes. After all, you never know if someone in your tribe is thinking about becoming plant-based and would also appreciate a plant-based option. Click here for a really Simple DIY Hummus Platter from Bless this Mess.
MYTH: "My energy levels will be low if I am not eating meat."
FACT: Just the opposite will happen! As your body becomes used to eating mostly plant-based, you will start to notice an increase in energy. Every 28 days your body has a natural rhythm to heal itself. That means, no matter what damage we throw at it, salty snacks, ice cream, beer, wine, chocolate, fatty red meat, it wants to heal itself.
If you are giving your body the food it desires, clean whole foods that are plant-based, you are helping to support the healing process. The result is increased energy. Your body has the right nutrients at the right time to give you energy.
MYTH: "I'll be deficient in vitamins and minerals if I reduce or stop eating meat."
FACT: You are deficient right now if you eat a meat based diet. Unless, of course, you are eating organic meat. Organic meat has definite benefits over non-organic meat. It has a much higher Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio, which helps support your cardiovascular system.
In the American diet, we eat way too many Omega-6's and need to balance that with foods that supply Omega-3. Just because you are eating organic meat doesn't mean you won't benefit from reducing the amount of meat you are eating and increasing the amount of plants. Incorporating a wide variety of organic plants and grains will give you the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs. Variety is the spice of life!
MYTH: "I will get bored eating plant-based."
FACT: There are so many more vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes in the world to eat that you will not get bored. Think about all of the experimenting you can do! If you love to cook, the amount of plant-based recipe ideas are plentiful on Pinterest. If you don't like to cook, there are a lot of healthy food delivery services or organic foods available in local grocery stores that are simply heat and eat. Since going plant-based, the variety of foods that I eat is so much wider than when I ate mostly meat.
How do you start following a plant based lifestyle? One meal at a time. There are no rules of what you must eat and how often when you are plant based. I find it is easiest with my schedule to be plant-based Monday thru Thursday. This gives me flexibility on the weekends to either eat plant-based or not. Start slowly.
Maybe you have a meat-less dinner once a week. Maybe you make 3 plant-based lunches for the week. Maybe you eat half the size of meat you would normally eat at dinner time and increase vegetables and grain. It only takes 21 days to create a habit.
There you have it, the most common myths I encounter when I tell people I am plant based.
Do you think you will try a plant based meal once a week? Do you think you will try to reduce meat consumption? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.