The Facts About Plant-based Diets: 4 Myths About Vegan & Vegetarian Diets Busted by Dr. Vikki Petersen
When I say “plant-based diet,” what do you think of? Do you see people sitting around, eating just leafy greens and veggies all day? Do you immediately think about lack of adequate protein? Do you imagine boring, veggie-heavy meals and no meat allowed? If so, you’re not alone. It's time to do some plant-based myth busting!
First and foremost, plant-based does not mean no meat – it means prioritizing plants over meat, but not to exclusion like most other diets, making it a great option for people to expand their cooking repertoire.
A plant-based diet is one where the predominant foods on your plate are plants versus animal-derived. Most experts agree that it is one of the healthiest ways to eat to extend your life and avoid degenerative diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity, to name a few. A plant-based diet can include some high-quality animal foods eaten in moderation. It is delicious and satisfying when done correctly.
Here are four plant-based myths:
- You cannot get enough protein from a plant-based diet. It is quite easy to consume all the protein you need on a daily basis if you are paying attention and do a little planning. Most Americans do not appreciate the wide array of plant-based foods that provide some protein such as lentils, chickpeas and chia seeds.
- You need meat to build muscle and strength. Many believe that you cannot build muscle, be strong or athletic successfully without eating meat. Try telling that myth to the strongest man in the world, literally, who is not just plant-based, but completely vegan. There are many elite athletes who are either plant-based or vegan. (Suggested viewing: The Game Changers documentary.)
- Plant-based diets are boring and involve eating steamed vegetables for every meal. A balanced plant-based diet includes a wide variety of foods, including spices, herbs and ingredients that provide richness of flavor and satisfaction to your palate as well as your body. Most people do not appreciate that the flavor or food tends to come from plants such as onions, garlic, herbs and spices. You can add them to any dish to add flavor and fun!
- You cannot enjoy yourself or ever eat out in a restaurant if you follow a plant-based diet. If you want to be healthy you will need to dine out in restaurants that provide real food, not fast food. But, with that said, if real food is offered, you will be able to find delicious plant-based meals if you are willing to ask for them. I advise my patients to look over a menu from the standpoint of what the kitchen has to offer rather than how the menu pairs foods together. For example, you see salmon with creamy potatoes on the menu. But elsewhere you see broccoli and a baked potato offered. Simply ask for the restaurant to exchange one dairy-laden vegetable for another that is prepared fully plant-based.
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