Being vegan or eating a plant-based diet is a huge trend right now. And I am really happy about that because I truly believe that this is the best diet for human beings. There is only one problem: The term “vegan” or “plant-based” does only describe the origin of the food and not how healthy it really is. I have tried many different types of plant-based diets and there is a huge difference in terms of how good they are for your body. Because of the rising demand for vegan food, there are all kinds of “veganized” products available: starting with vegan sausages and cheese, vegan chocolate, vegan pizza. Depending on where you live, you can get the vegan version of almost everything. Therefore, it is pretty easy to find plant-based food nowadays.
Is it healthy though?
Many people believe that a plant-based diet automatically means a healthy diet and that vegan junk food is not unhealthy because it doesn’t contain animal products. That is not true unfortunately. If you look at the ingredients of all these fancy vegan fake products, you will most certainly find a very long list with all kinds of preservatives, coloring, and many words you can’t even pronounce. All these chemicals help to modify the texture, taste and smell to get as close to the real thing as possible. Which is great for people who are just starting out and finding these products helpful as a substitute for the animal product.
But in the long run, these products will not help you much on your health journey. As humans, we are not made for chemical food. We thrive on a whole food plant-based diet. It is easy to prove that: Listen to your body after you eat a junk food meal. Do you feel energized? Or rather lethargic? Do you feel light? Or rather heavy and foggy? Do you feel satisfied? Or do you still crave more food? Your body gives you an instant feedback after your meal. So why not give your body the best food possible?
10 advantages of a plant-based diet
- feel better physically and mentally
- have more energy throughout the day
- have glowing skin, your hair and nails are strong
- sleep better and maybe even need less sleep
- crave less sugary, salty and oily things
- let your tastebuds get used to natural flavors again, so you will find artificial ones too intense
- lose the few extra pounds you’ve been carrying around for way to long
- save money (yes, eating pure whole foods is cheaper than consuming all these substitutes)
- get healthier and get sick less often
- might even heal or reverse diseases like type-2 diabetes (please talk to your doctor first)
This does almost sound too good to be true. But it is, I can tell you from my own experience.
So what should you eat?
First of all, try to consume as much vegetables and fruit as possible. Second, fill the plate with whole starches like potatoes, rice, quinoa, millet, spelt, oats, etc., to your meal to make you feel satisfied and happy. Third, add a protein source. Beans and legumes are excellent choices! Fourth, don’t forget your whole fats like avocados, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc. Fifth, listen to your body!
I would recommend filling one third to one half of your plate with veggies and the rest with starches and protein, the fats should just make up a small portion because they are very calorie-dense. You really don’t need as much protein as the fitness industry wants you to believe. If you get enough calories in, you shouldn’t have to worry about protein, even if you are exercising or lifting weights. Listen to what your body needs: maybe it is a hot summer day and all you want for lunch is a juicy watermelon, go for it! It is so important to (re)learn to interpret the signals you get from your body!
If you cannot cook (yet), there are a few options here: you can look for healthy restaurants to eat at or even just healthy options at the places you already visit often. You can start learning to cook simple meals, there are thousands of recipes on the internet, or you can buy a book and learn how to prepare one pot meals, for example. These are so quick and easy to make and you will love them! And don’t be afraid to try new things, you will be surprised how quickly you will get better!
And don’t forget, it’s all about balance. I’m not telling you, you can never have your vegan cupcake again. Sure you can! Just make sure you are getting as many of the whole carbs, proteins and fats and the beautiful vitamins, minerals and trace elements in as possible.
In the end, it’s all about making yourself happy. And whole carbs will definitely help you with that!