Plant-based diets are often misunderstood. Although a plant-based diet includes a lot more, well, plants, that doesn’t mean you have to necessarily cut out all other food groups.
“Ideally, a plant-based diet is one that puts the actual plants first on the plate – think fresh produce, whole grains, plant-based fats, nuts, legumes, and seeds,” declared Nicole Rodriguez, RDN.
The term “herbal” was introduced in the 1980s, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.—a researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the time—to describe a vegetable-based diet that focused on health rather than ethics.
Even though plants are the priority in this eating style, it is a very flexible concept, which means that it is certainly possible to be “plant-based” while including meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.
As Hammer explains, “For plant eaters, animal protein may fit nicely into the lifestyle, but it generally plays a supporting role for your vegetables and whole grains.”
Besides being a healthy eating mindset, Gorin says plant-based diets help you feel fuller and more satisfied because you’re eating more fiber and more bulk.
By increasing the number of plants in your diet, you also risk provide your body with a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.
A common concern with vegan and vegetarian diets is whether you can really get enough nutrients. Hammer reassures, it’s more than possible: “As long as you consume a healthy balance of proteins, vegetables, fruits and other carbohydrates rich in fiber, there is no reason for you not to receive the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.”