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No, Plant-based Diets & Vegan Diets Are Not The Same

Written by Dr. Pramod Mane on Fri, 11 November 2022

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It is common to hear words like 'vegan diet', 'plant-based diet' or 'fruitarian diets' being thrown around casually in conversations. One is often used as a substitute for the other. So, allow us to tell you what a plant-based diet really is about. A plant-based diet is a broad term that suggests that the diet is mostly or entirely based on plant-based foods; and there are several health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

Vegan diets comprise foods derived only from plant origin. They completely avoid all products obtained from animal origin that include meat, eggs, milk and milk products, honey, etc. A plant-based diet on the other hand is more open to options. People following a plant-based diet eat mainly foods derived from plants like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and legumes but they don't shy away from including seafood, dairy, or meat in their diets as per their health goals or nutritional requirements.

However, following a plant-based diet is considered to be a major hit when it comes to improving digestive health, weight loss, and improving one's overall health if done correctly.

Here are things you can include in your plant-based diet:

1. Vegetables

These are the first to form a large portion of your plate if you're focusing on eating a plant-based diet. Veggies are high in fiber and vitamins. They are easy to digest and gentle on the digestive tract. Veggies might not be your favorite but your body surely loves them!

 

2. Fruits

Fruits are juicy and crunchy gifts that we receive from plants. The fiber, vitamins, and minerals in fruits make them a great source of overall nutrition and a boon for our gut health.

3. Legumes and beans

These are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. A diet that involves legumes and beans has been known to help in weight management. It's safe to say cool beans! When it comes to including these on your plate.

4. Nuts & seeds

These are a great source of healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts and seeds can be eaten as a snack or included in our meal. They are digested slowly, making us feel satiated for longer. They are enriched with plant-based goodness and are a treat to eat!

5. Oils

They say fat is flavor, and healthy oils are a great way to consume good fats! These oils are rich in fats, antioxidants, and Vitamin E. Olive oil, canola oils, coconut oil are considered to be some of the healthiest oils for cooking or to be used as salad dressings.

6. Whole grains

Whole grains are rich in digestive fiber, proteins, and micronutrients. They are healthier as compared to refined grains. Including whole grains in our daily diets can add help us have a balanced meal.

Little tricks to eating healthy

Eating healthy food every day is truly a challenge! Being surrounded by tempting treats takes a toll on our eating habits. But it's possible to start by bringing about small changes in our day-to-day life. Here are some tips to help you stick to eating food that is as fresh as possible.

 

1. Get your groceries

Stock up on those greens, veggies, and fruits before you start your week. This way you will have enough supplies in your fridge for the coming week. This will help you plan your meals in advance, and make sticking to the your diet easier.

2. Say NO to buying unnecessary foods

Stores and supermarkets are full of packaged foods like spreads, chips, biscuits, and instant foods. These foods are high in salts and sugar making them a big NO-NO for your health. Abstaining from buying these types of foods is the first step in cutting them out of your diet.

3. Keep an eye on the nutritional index

While snacking on nuts, seeds and fruits, it is necessary to have an estimated knowledge of how many calories are hidden in them. Mindlessly chomping on healthy foods too can have disastrous consequences.

4. Cook your meals

By being your own chef, you can tactfully decide which ingredients to avoid and which ones to include in your meals. By using fresh healthy ingredients you can transform your eating habits into healthy ones.

We can agree that a plant-based diet has lots of health benefits, but sticking to it might require some extra effort. Reducing the amount of meat in your diet, avoiding outside foods and packaged foods are baby steps required towards adopting clean, plant-based eating.

Vegan recipes for you to try

Plant-based meals are natural, without any artificial additives which makes them a treat for our gut and digestive health. Here are some plant-based vegan recipes that are easy for you to make and relish!

1. A Buddha Bowl

This is a vegetarian dish packed with plant-based goodness. A Buddha bowl consists of a cooked whole grain base like quinoa or brown rice, along with some plant-based protein like tofu, soy, or chickpeas. Vegetables such as avocados, radish, carrots, tomatoes, and sprouts are some of the most commonly used veggies in a Buddha bowl. A Buddha bowl is served cold and fresh. This recipe is high in fiber, low in carbs, and packed with plant goodness that will nourish your body, and soothe your digestive system.

2. Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This sandwich substitutes mayonnaise with completely plant-based hummus that is made out of chickpeas. Whole grain or multigrain buns or bread can be used as a base. Green beans, cucumber, radish, spinach leaves, and pickled onions make for a crunchy, tasty, and healthy filling for this sandwich. This plant-based sandwich is high in nutrition and doesn't compromise on taste. The hummus and veggies boost the digestive system with good gut bacteria.

3. Butternut Squash Soup

This soup can be made with butternut squash or pumpkin as per the availability. Simmer chopped red onions and garlic in some olive oil, add peeled and cubed pumpkin/ butternut squash, add fragrant herbs like rosemary, thyme, and parsley with salt and pepper to taste. Once cooked, blend into a smooth paste with some water and serve hot topped with some roasted broccoli and pumpkin seeds. This soup is a feast for your gut as it is not only packed with nutrition but is also an absolute delight to have.

4. Plant-based Ramen

Whole Wheat noodles or soba noodles are used in this recipe. The broth for ramen is made using lentil stock and aromatic ingredients such as ginger, garlic, and herbs. While assembling the ramen bowl, canola oil infused with chilies can be used, followed by the fragrant broth, cooked noodles, topped with your favorite blanched vegetables and protein. Radish, onions, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, baby corn are popular veggies used. Tofu can be added as a protein source. This bowl of plant-based ramen is a game-changer when it comes to eating clean as it is light on the gut and lip-smacking at the same time.

5. The Breakfast Bowl

It's called the breakfast bowl but it can be eaten for any meal of the day. To assemble this dish, you'll need a bowl, add some soy/almond milk or yogurt of your choice, add some crunchy corn flakes, some fresh berries and fruits of your choice. Finally, top if off with some nuts like walnuts, cashews, or pecans. Voila! Your bowl high in fiber and deliciousness is ready to eat.

Stirring up these recipes and following these tips to adopt a healthy plant-based life will have your gut thanking you and feeling grateful. But remember, whenever you start on a new lifestyle, starting small and staying consistent with your efforts is the key to attaining healthy eating habits.

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Dr. Pramod Mane

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Pharmacology., currently based in Mumbai, India, Dr Pramod Mane, comes with an experience of more than 20 years of working in Medical Affairs in the Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceutical Industry. Director of Medical Services at Mega Lifesciences since 2008, Dr Mane has been associated with several MNCS in the areas of Medical Affairs, Medical Services, Medico-marketing, Pharmacovigilance & Clinical trials in his illustrious career.

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