Plant based diets are becoming increasingly more popular and mainstream as individual’s mindset shift about what eating healthy means. A plant based diet is one that focuses on plant based items for the majority of your calories.
Here are a few categories of food your should focus on eating for a plant based diet:
- Fruits of all kind including bananas, strawberries, apples, grapes, and citrus fruits.
- Legumes including beans, peas and lentils.
- Nuts and seeds including almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds are all superfoods worth adding to your diet.
- Root veggies are some of our favorites such as carrots, beets, potatoes, yams, parsnips, arrowroots, and sweet potatoes
- Vegetables are a key ingredient such as spinach, lettuce, peppers, collards, and kale.
- Whole grains, various starches in their complete form, including barley, corn, millets, whole wheat, oats, quinoa and brown rice. Popcorn is also a whole grain.
Depending on how you want to construct your diet, you can still eat animal products like eggs and dairy. In addition, you can even eat some portion of animal meat as long as it is the minority of your diet.
A plant based diet has similarity to a vegetarian and vegan diet, but they are not the same. A plant based diet allows you to eat certain amounts of animal products as long as they are not the main focus of your caloric intake.
This article details what food you can eat for a plant based diet. Answered below are frequently asked questions about foods to eat on a plant based diet, let’s get into it!
Is plant-based food good for you?
Yes, plant based foods are good for you, especially when you are aiming to create a healthier lifestyle. Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes can be part of a nutritious and healthy diet because plant-based foods have a lot of benefits to offer when incorporated into a well rounded diet.
Experts don’t recommend following a plant based diet that contains a lot of oils, sugars, or processed foods. While these items technically are still part of a plant based diet, they tend to have less nutrients per calorie.
These are some of the items people call “empty calories” or “junk food” because they don’t provide a lot of nutrition even though plant based, but they do add a lot of calories. Starchy grains, sugary cereals, and high calorie salad dressing are a few examples that fall under the microscope.
Plant-based diets have minimal saturated fats and no cholesterol. Also, they are rich in minerals, fiber, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants.
A solid commitment to this kind of diet can reduce your risk of certain diseases, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In addition, you might find it helps maintain a lower weight and reduces total cholesterol in your body.
If you eat more wholesome foods and whole grains, we think it’ll have a noticeable impact on your energy levels too!
Can you eat eggs on a plant-based diet?
Yes, you can eat eggs on a plant based diet. Many people think that plant based limits you to only eating plant foods, however a plant based diet has no firm definition.
A majority of people feel that a plant based diet only means you are focusing the majority of your calories to be derived from plants. It allows you to eat other non-plant based foods too, as long as they make up a small portion of your total calories.
We think eggs are a great complement to a plant based diet, and we like eating them in combination with vegetables too. If you are just starting on your transition to a plant based diet, consider keeping eggs as part of your diet in the beginning.
Eggs can assist in absorbing more antioxidants found in plant foods and fat-soluble vitamins. In addition, including eggs with your daily dose of plant-foods will help meet daily protein requirements.
Experts recommend you consider eggs as part of a healthy and balanced plant based diet, especially if you are new to eating largely vegetarian because it is important to maintain protein consumption.
Can you drink coffee on a plant-based diet?
Yes, you can drink coffee on a plant-based diet as it is naturally plant-based. It also contains several amazing nutrients and high antioxidant levels.
According to recent research, just a cup of coffee will provide your body with riboflavin, potassium, manganese, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid.
If you ever needed extra support in your decision to keep drinking coffee (we know you don’t!), we’ve compiled some great reasons for you:
- Coffee is a great source of antioxidants. Coffee has particular compounds, namely chlorogenic acid, and caffeic acid, which have been found to positively affect your body. They have been found to help reduce blood glucose levels and maintain healthy blood sugars. In addition, antioxidants play a vital role in destroying free radicals.
- Coffee can help reduce depression. Caffeine can lower feelings linked to depression by almost 10% due to the high release of dopamine.
- Coffee is helpful for your brain health. Coffee has been shown to lower cognitive decline and improve mental activity. On a day-to-day, or per cup basis, you might also find that caffeine helps you focus. We’d be the first to tell you that caffeine isn’t the best if you have anxiety, and we would not recommend it if you do, but we sure like the side effects of extra mental energy.
We also love the flavor of richly made black coffee, although it took us some time to transition away from adding any milk or sugars. If you are interested in keeping coffee in your diet, experts recommend you try to switch to black coffee if you don’t already, this will reduce the total amount of calories you consume by beverages.
Our tips to transition to black coffee:
- Start by reducing sugars first by putting in half the sugar from the previous day in each cup. The first cup might feel like a big transition, but each subsequent one will be better
- Milk is tougher to transition off of since it adds to the texture as well as the taste. Consider using lower calorie alternative milks like almond milk or soy milk instead of cow milk
- Try to measure the amount of milk you put in your cup instead of just pouring to a specific color or feel. This will help you gradually reduce the total amount you use.
- Buy a lighter roast of coffee so you can taste more of the delicious flavors in the beans. Dark roasts are terrific, but have found lighter roasts are great introductions to black coffee since they can have more delicate and subtle flavors.
Why am I always hungry on a plant-based diet?
It’s normal to be hungry on any diet. As you restrict calorie intake, you may not be getting the same number that you previously consumed.
If you are not restricting calories but just transitioning foods, there could be a few reasons you always feel hungry. It is possible that you are not getting enough quantity, poor food quality or your metabolic requirements are more than the norm.
Let’s discuss each one in more depth!
Failure to eat enough quantity food
When switching to a plant based diet, it is important to eat enough food by total calories. Most individuals who are on a plant based diet make a common mistake of not eating enough food because plant based items tend to have fewer calories than other types.
Therefore it is easy to be more full by volume, but you might find yourself eating too few calories.
We would recommend you try eating healthy snacks throughout the day to supplement meals.
Try eating every few hours instead of eating larger meals in a given sitting. This can help your body satisfy its’ nutritional needs as you adjust to the plant based diet.
Poor quality of entire diet
Perhaps you are eating enough quantity of food, but you are not eating the right food for a nutritional balance.
There are many items that qualify for a plant based diet, but are nutritiously poor like starchy breads and sugary foods. These might give you enough calories but they won’t give you enough nutrition.
We suggest you focus on adding whole foods and have an adequate amount of vegetables, fruits, seeds, grains, nuts, and legumes. If you don’t include everything, you risk not providing all the nutrients required by your body.
Personal metabolic requirements
Lastly, it is essential to understand that different bodies have varying metabolic requirements. What might be enough food for somebody else, might not be nearly enough food for you.
We suggest you check in with your body 30 minutes after eating to see if you are still hungry. Try to notice when you have cravings for food, and think about what you ate last to see if you think it was enough food or it seemed like too little.
If you are an active person, you might also require extra calories, or even more starchy foods for a boost in complex energy.
Plant-Based Food List
There is no possible way to list off every food that is possible for a plant based diet, but this list will give you an idea of what to look for. In fact, there are endless possibilities for plant foods that make up a wholesome and nutritious diet, especially if you are trying to build muscle on with plant protein.
Here is a list of plant based items you can use to create recipes, meals, and different ideas:
- Drinks: tea, coffee, kombucha, plant-based milk alternatives, and sparkling water
- Fruits: apple, pears, citrus fruits, pineapple, bananas, peaches, berries
- Plant-based proteins: tempeh, tofu, seitan, legumes, nuts, seeds or protein supplements without added sugar
- Vegetables: tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrots, spinach, kale
- Condiments: vinegar, salsa, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, soy sauce
- Starchy vegetables: butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Herbs, spices, seasonings: turmeric, rosemary, black pepper, basil, curry, salt
- Whole grains: rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley, farro, millet, buckwheat
- Unsweetened milk alternatives: cashew, coconut, almond, soy, and other dairy free milk substitutes
- Healthy fats: olive oil, unsweetened coconut, avocados, and coconut oil, almond oil, walnut oil
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butter: macadamia nuts, cashews, almond butter, sunflower seeds, tahini, pumpkin seeds, natural peanut butter
- Legumes: chickpeas, peanuts, peas, black beans, lentils, etc.
Food to Eat on Plant Based Diet: Conclusion
A plant based diet should focus on foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. The primary focus being that you balance nutrition to include plenty of fats and proteins, while consuming the essential vitamins and minerals.
Following a plant based diet does not mean you cannot eat any animal products. In fact, many experts recommend you consider eating eggs as a protein source when you are first transitioning to a plant based diet.
You can drink coffee on a plant based diet, and we recommend it in moderation as well! There are a host of benefits that coffee has to offer, and there seems to be no strong reason for stopping now.
Balance your diet with a variety of plant based foods so that you can ensure to fulfill your nutritional needs. It is definitely possible to be healthy by eating a diet centered on plant foods.