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Ed: This is part 2 of a five-part series, be sure to check out part 1 (which includes our ‘take it with a pinch of Himalayan salt’ disclaimer).
More and more of our readers have been asking us what eating a plant-based diet entails. While we try our best not to be militant when talking about our food choices, we love it when people express an interest in moving away from meat, eggs and dairy. So, it gives us a ridiculous amount of pleasure to present: Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Beginners (and Curious Omnivores). Enjoy! 🙂
Is a Plant-Based Diet Healthy?
It depends. (Don’t you just love it when people say that?) It’s true though. You can avoid animal products and still indulge in processed junk food that has almost zero nutritional value, ergo your diet is not healthy.
Note how I used the word ‘ergo’ to drive home the point.
However, if you follow a plant-based whole food diet, where you’re eating as much of your food as close to source as possible, then yes, it is healthy.
What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty simple really. All you have to do is eat food in its original form, which means you’ll be hanging out in the fresh produce section of the supermarket when you go shopping.
It used to be the fresh produce aisles were frequented largely by hairy-armpitted lesbians, doddering old ladies and the occasional soccer mom, but you only have to check out these two Irish hotties to realise that’s no longer the case.
But I digress. Another way to approach this is by avoiding anything that’s packaged or pre-made, as that’s where the nasty ingredients usually creep in. This is why preparing your own food is always the better option. It’s better for your wallet and your health. Win/win.
What About You Guys, Are You Healthy?
I’m 49 and Sporty is turning 52 in a couple of weeks and according to our annual Vitality Health check-up, we’re both super healthy. Our numbers (blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, etc.) are all well within the acceptable range.
We recently started a fun fitness programme* that has us rolling around on the floor, doing forwards and backwards rolls and leopard crawling around the gym studio. We’re pretty strong and supple in spite of our sedentary day jobs and we’re even training for our first marathon.
*We signed up for two of the GMB Fitness programmes: Focussed Flexibility and Vitamin. The one I’m referring to here is Vitamin.
We’re not pale or emaciated, we’re not deficient in iron or other vitamins and neither are we lacking any vital minerals or nutrients. On the whole I’d say we look pretty healthy, glowy even.
Will I Lose Weight on a Plant-based Diet?
There’s a saying: Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan. While it’s great that there are so many compassionate alternatives out there, just because they’re vegan doesn’t mean they won’t make you fat. A lot of that stuff is still very processed and therefore high in calories and low in nutrients.
If you follow the plant-based whole food guidelines I mentioned earlier, you’ll be far more likely to shed those extra kilograms. Like anything, it comes down to common sense.
Up your fruit and veg intake and opt for more of the nutrient dense choices* (i.e. what your body needs), rather than what your taste buds or head would prefer** and the weight will come off.
*I’m talking about a superfood smoothie or a bowl of bircher oats for breakfast, instead of a muffin or a slice of toast smothered in jam.
**Interestingly, as you progress with your new way of eating, you’ll find your tastes become more aligned with your body’s needs. Suddenly a green smoothie will seem way more appealing than a toasted cheese sandwich. It’s true, I swear.
Where Do You Get Your Protein From?
Sporty and I were as protein-obsessed as the best of them before switching to a plant-based diet. When we first met Rawlicious duo, Beryn and Peter Daniel, we even asked them the one question guaranteed to annoy vegans everywhere: “Where do you get your protein from?” #PTF
Nowadays, a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs is touted as healthy. Somehow, protein has been elevated to good guy status, while carbs are viewed in the same light as that shifty character from the wrong side of the tracks. (Interestingly, nobody seems all that concerned about fiber.)
To answer your question, we get our protein from things like hemp powder, hemp seeds, quinoa, rice and beans, dark leafy greens, the list goes on. But we don’t obsess about it. Our main focus on a daily basis is to eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients and fiber and high in colour. Easy peasy. Fresh is best is our motto.
Don’t Humans Need Meat to Survive?
We don’t think so. Sporty and I haven’t eaten meat in about five years and so far we’re showing no adverse side-effects due to the lack of animal protein in our diet. We’re not the only ones though, there are plenty of other people out there busting the protein myth and they’re way more ripped and healthy looking than we are.
There’s also plenty of research been done on the subject, which movies like Forks Over Knives and What the Health (more on both of those later) delve into on a way more in-depth scale that I’d ever be able to.
*We’re keen to earn passive income to fund our coffee habit, but we’re definitely not going to be shifty about it. This means we’ll only ever link to something if we’ve personally used it, eaten it, read it, or whatever, and are 100% impressed. Also, it won’t cost you anything extra if you purchase something via our link. The vendor has to cough up our commission fee, not you. 😉