A whole food plant based diet, or plant powered diet (PP) is exactly that. It is preparing dishes from whole foods that grow naturally from the earth – soil, sun, rain. The food chain starts with plants, that is where all food energy and nutrition originates. By moving to a plant based diet you are simply getting closer to the original source of food energy.
- Producers – plants, create all food energy
- Consumers primary – herbivores, eat plants
- Consumers secondary – omnivores, eat both plants and herbivores
- Consumers tertiary – carnivores, eat herbivores and omnivores
- Consumers quaternary – carnivores, eat other carnivores and have no natural predators
Learning to enjoy a whole food plant based diet (PP) and recognising all of the benefits is like throwing a good bowling ball and knocking down the majority of pins, maybe all of them! A plant based diet is the healthiest, most sustainable, affordable diet we can eat.
There are lots of organisations and diets available in this arena. I favour a whole food plant based diet rather than meat replacement products as I avoid eating highly processed foods. I found the easiest one to follow is Michael Greger’s daily dozen checklist, see this video clip:
I have made a chart and check list to help keep track Daily dozen. As with everything, moderation and variety is the key. Saying broccoli is good for you doesn’t mean eat only broccoli it is all about eating a variety of foods.
And the question most of us ask: ‘Can I get everything I need from a plant based diet?’ The answer is: Yes you can get everything you need from a plant based diet. In fact it is the best way to get everything you need!
And the next question: ‘what about the taste, is plant food bland?’ You are in for a great surprise. You might have picked up from reading this blog that I love food and I plan my day around it. I can personally reassure you that all the food I eat is delicious. There is a wealth of food, flavours and dishes to discover and once you do you’ll never go back. There are an estimated 20,000 species of edible plants so plenty to try!
When we look at food choices and concerns, we tend to focus on one thing at a time; meat or non meat, processed or non processed foods, good or bad fats, too much sugar, too much salt, eat ‘5-A-Day’. A whole-food plant based diet isn’t another one to add to the list, it is the one, it means you get rid of the list.
The focus is not on cutting things out or being restrictive. You focus on what you should eat, increasing your intake of foods that give you all the nutrition you need and will thrive on. Focusing on a plant based diet and then choosing to add fats, meat, sugar, fish, processed foods, dairy, salt etc. gives you the freedom to enjoy a healthy, flexible diet, include only the best versions of animal products and enjoy extras like chocolate, crisps etc as a treat. You’ll find the more you change you diet the less you will crave or want to eat unhealthy foods, but it is good to know you have choice so you don’t freak out or lack the motivation to try.
In summary: Plants means:
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs, spices
- Legumes (bean, pulses, peas)
Whole foods means:
- Prepared food or eating a whole product or close to it, e.g. A whole apple rather than apple juice
- Minimal processing only, for purpose of preserving, e.g. dried beans, fruits, herbs etc.
- Intact nutrition e.g. wholewheat bread or pasta, brown rice etc.
- Maximum nutrition, preparing food to maximise nutritional value, e.g. cooking techniques, eating raw foods.
- Preparing food without added sugar, fats or salt.
* You will recognise some of those terms from the post about Ultra processed foods.
Parting thoughts, how far you go with the diet is your choice. Some people will make it 100%, which is recommended for maximum health benefits, but any shift you make will give you benefits. The key message here is that once you have learnt how to enjoy a PB diet and feel confident you better understand nutrition and unpick certain food myths for example read https://wp.me/p7RDjy-77 and https://wp.me/p7RDjy-6h the easier it is to make ethical food choices.