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Embracing A Plant Based Diet: Foods, Ideas, and Health Benefits

Pia VermaakPia Vermaak  July 11, 2024

A plant based diet can be great for your health. But getting started may be a little tricky, especially without knowing what foods to add and remove from your grocery list. But don’t worry; we will look at the many benefits of this diet choice, what foods to eat and avoid, and some easy, delicious, and health-filled recipes and snack ideas. Ready?

What Does a Plant Based Diet Mean?

plant based diet

A plant based diet is quite self-explanatory. It focuses primarily on eating whole foods and minimizing foods like meats and processed foods. People can choose whether to cut out these foods completely or eat them in moderation. This diet increases your energy levels and offers many benefits. Studies have shown that eating primarily whole foods and lessening takeouts and other unhealthy foods can encourage healthy weight loss and management. 

The heart of this diet is natural foods that have not been altered or have minimal processing, like vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These foods have many nutrients that help our bodies stay strong and in good functioning shape. Cutting out foods from your diet can be hard, even though it is necessary. Some feel it’s better and easier to stick to their plant-based diet if they can still enjoy their favorite treats and meals but in moderation, with most of their substance coming from whole foods. 

Are There Benefits of Plant Based Diets?

benefits of plant based diet

Yes, there are a ton of benefits to switching to a plant based diet. Swapping out an unbalanced diet and bad eating habits for one that mainly consists of healthy foods and alternatives can help us maintain overall health. 

Here is a better look at the different advantages:

  • Lowers the risk of dementia
  • Helps with managing weight
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces your carbon footprint
  • Helps with inflammation in the body
  • Improves gut health 
  • Improves functioning of kidneys
  • Gives the body more nutrients 
  • Boosts immune system
  • Increased energy 
  • Healthier hair, skin and nails
  • Better cell regeneration and function

Medical Conditions That Benefit from Plant Based Diets

health benefits of plant based diet

Diabetes

Diets that include healthy and whole foods are ideal for people who are diabetic or want to reduce their chances of getting this condition. Eating these foods can improve blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, which are linked to diabetes. 

A plant-based diet also helps with weight management. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, 90% of individuals who have diabetes are overweight. 

Unhealthy foods can cause build-up and coat your veins and arteries, which, after some time, can result in insulin problems. 

Cancer

A plant based diet can drastically reduce the risks of a few types of cancers. Many studies have said that eating a poor diet with few healthy foods can make it more likely to develop pancreatic, prostate, colon, and other forms of digestive cancer. Loading up on vegetables, fruits, and other nutritious foods can help the body fight off cancerous cells.

Heart Disease

A well-known benefit of this diet is that it helps keep our hearts healthy. Eating foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes can tremendously reduce the risk of heart disease. When our diets are mainly filled with fatty, processed, and unhealthy meals, our blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and hormones can spike. This can mean that you are at risk of heart disease. 

Cognitive Struggles 

Cognitive struggles can come with age or conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. However, changing to a plant based diet can slow down or prevent these conditions. Fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and important compounds that help minimize the likelihood of developing these conditions. Those with cognitive struggles can ease and steady the progression by eating less processed foods and swapping them out for whole foods. 

A Plant-Based and Whole Foods Shopping List

Shopping for your new plant-based diet can be somewhat difficult without a proper guide. Here is what you need to know and should buy!

Fresh Vegetables

  • All kinds of leafy greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Mushrooms
  • Potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Avocado
  • Eggplants
  • Squashes
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Root vegetables

Fresh Fruits

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Apricots
  • Lemons and limes
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries and other berries
  • Mango
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Melons

Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Stir-fry vegetables
  • Green beans 
  • Peas
  • Sweet potato

Legumes and Beans

  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Navy beans
  • Cannellini beans

Nuts, Seeds, and Butters

  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Sunflowers seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Tahini
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond butter 
  • Peanut butter
  • Cashew butter
  • Hemp seeds

Meat Alternatives

  • Texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Soy curls

Grains and Pasta

  • Whole grain pasta 
  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Sprouted and whole-grain bread
  • Whole grain or corn tortillas
  • Barley

Baking and Thickening

  • Chickpea flour
  • Almond flour
  • Whole wheat flour 
  • Oat flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Arrowroot flour
  • Baking powder (low-sodium preferably)

Non-Dairy Choices

  • Coconut milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk

Sauces, Seasoning, and Condiments

  • Chili powder
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Cumin
  • Basil
  • Paprika
  • Allspice
  • Cayenne
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Organic ketchup
  • Salsa
  • Mustard
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari
  • Sriracha
  • BBQ sauce
  • White and red wine vinegar

Pantry Must-Haves

  • Whole grain cereals
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Vanilla extract
  • Organic jam
  • Cocoa powder
  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Canned coconut milk

Sweeteners

  • Honey
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Agave
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Maple sugar 
  • Date sugar

What Foods Should be Avoided or Moderated 

Here is a lesson for you! Just because a product says it is plant-based does not mean it is healthier. Sometimes these products can actually be worse so watch out for things like vegan burgers, vegan hotdogs, cheeses and acclaimed plant-based snacks like cookies. Make sure to read the ingredients and make sure that the food you add to your plant based diet is as close to their natural and true form as possible.

Here is a list of foods that are best to limit:

  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Mutton
  • Dairy
  • Game meat

Here are the best foods to avoid:

  • Fast foods
  • Added sugar
  • Convenience and prepackaged snacks
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Processed animal products
  • Refined grains
  • Processed vegan-friendly foods

Tasty Food Ideas for Plant-Based Eating

Eating a plant based diet is anything but dull or complicated. Take a look at our tasty food ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Breakfast

  • Blueberry vegan pancakes
  • Tofu scrambled eggs
  • Vegan carrot cake pancakes
  • Avocado with whole-grain toast
  • Scrambled eggs and mixed vegetables
  • Fruit and vegetable smoothies

Lunch 

  • Tofu salad
  • Whole wheat vegetable sandwich
  • Mini vegetables and hummus platter
  • Salad wrap
  • Whole wheat or corn tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole 

Dinner

  • Vegetable stir fry with whole grain noodles
  • Hearty tomato soup 
  • Meatless nachos
  • Roast vegetables and couscous
  • Vegetable or tofu curry with brown rice

Conclusion

Eating a plant based diet can help minimize many potential health risks, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and cognitive struggles like Alzheimer’s. Whole foods are exactly what our bodies need to function properly and be healthy. Cutting out processed and unhealthy foods makes you more energized and healthier. 

There are plenty of delicious and nutritious recipes and ideas! Who says healthy is boring? For breakfast, you can have a vegan blueberry pancake. For lunch, a yummy salad wrap and meatless nachos for dinner. Mouthwatering and healthy! 


Pia Vermaak

Pia Vermaak 

Pia Vermaak is the owner of the leading digital marketing and content writing company, MotherTyper. Her skill sets include degrees/certificates in beauty, psychology, business, and writing! MotherTyper has writers from all over the world with different races, genders, and backgrounds, ensuring the perfect piece is written, researched, and presented to you!