PLANT BASED FOOD AND HOW TO GET STARTED

The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison

Words Sanghamitra Mishra

Our generation is largely about the fast life whether it is fashion, food or lifestyle. People change diet plans faster than they change their clothes or cars. As concerns about health and fitness increase and people’s patience levels decrease, it’s no surprise that most want to find quicker ways to look and feel their best. While the debate between non-vegetarianism versus vegetarianism versus veganism is still far from settled, there is no doubt that there are distinct benefits of a plant based diet. 

When I say plant based I mean foods with a strong emphasis on vegetables in your diet. Does it mean only green salads and no junk? No. It just means a healthier proportion of everything you like to eat. Is it difficult to maintain? No. Does it limit your food options? Never. Is it vegan? Is it only vegetarian? Is it keto? Is dairy allowed? No, no, no and yes!

WHAT IS PLANT BASED FOOD? 

In simple words, plant based food focuses on anything that is derived from a plant or its sources. This can include fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, legumes, nuts and meat substitutes such as soy products.

People often have different interpretations of what ‘plant-based’ eating looks like. Some people still include small amounts of animal products such as meat and fish, while focusing mainly on vegetarian foods – this is referred to as a semi-vegetarian or ‘flexitarian’ diet. 

If you're taking a flexible approach, though, nothing is absolutely off-limits all the time. Whether you choose to eat animal foods once a day, once a week, or once a month is totally up to you.

Either way, since plant-based eating emphasises whole foods, you’ll want to minimise or avoid heavily-processed foods as much as possible, even if they’re vegan. Opt to get your protein from chickpeas and lentils instead of processed veggie burgers, and save the store-bought vegan ice creams and cookies for special occasions.

THINGS TO ADD TO YOUR SHOPPING CART FOR A PLANT BASED DIET

Fruits: Any type of fruit including apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits, etc. 

Vegetables: Plenty of veggies including peppers, corn, avocados, lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, collards, etc.

Tubers: Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, etc.

Whole grains: Grains, cereals, and other starches in their whole form, such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, oats, barley, etc. Even popcorn is a whole grain.

Legumes: Beans of any kind, plus lentils, pulses, and similar ingredients.

There are plenty of other foods you can also enjoy— including nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, whole-grain flour and breads, and plant-based milks. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you; you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.

THINGS TO ADD TO YOUR SHOPPING CART FOR A PLANT BASED DIET

Fruits: Any type of fruit including apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits, etc. 

Vegetables: Plenty of veggies including peppers, corn, avocados, lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, collards, etc.

Tubers: Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, etc.

Whole grains: Grains, cereals, and other starches in their whole form, such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, oats, barley, etc. Even popcorn is a whole grain.

Legumes: Beans of any kind, plus lentils, pulses, and similar ingredients.

There are plenty of other foods you can also enjoy— including nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, whole-grain flour and breads, and plant-based milks. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. If you feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you; you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. The truth is that while some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. The cornerstone of a healthy diet should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.

THE BENEFITS OF A WHOLE-FOOD, PLANT-BASED DIET

There are several major benefits to moving to plant-based nutrition, all supported by excellent science. These benefits include: 

Easy weight management: If you’re looking to lose a few pounds with no side-effects or guilty pleasures then this is it. According to the book Ikigai, a good diet helps you achieve longevity, well-being and a great personality over all. The plus point being it is all natural and has absolutely no side effects. Who doesn’t want a great body and more years? To sum it better, a long healthy life with a great body. 

Disease prevention: Vegan or vegetarian gives you an overall immunity boost and rejuvenates the cells in your body. It can prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes. Good food screams great skin, better energy and overall wellness. 

A lighter environmental footprint: A plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment. It also helps you plan your meals, this way your food can be budget friendly and minimises unnecessary wastage of food. 

Since a proper plant-based diet is centered around whole foods, it's rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Plant foods are packed with fibre and phytonutrients that support immunity, combat inflammation, and feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. It helps you feel lighter and more energetic throughout the day. Plant based diet is the safest form of lifestyle change where you can develop healthy food habits that benefit you in the longer run. 

They say, when you start eating food without labels, you stop counting calories. So I guess, the answer is simple, let’s switch the flour pizza base to a ragi one, fruit loops to quinoa,  let’s eat healthier food than unnecessary junk and stay safe, healthy and efficient this quarantine year. Remember, the food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.

EATING FOOD THAT IS AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO THE WAY NATURE MADE 
IT CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE TO THE WAY YOU THINK, LOOK, AND FEEL