Save the planet? C’mon. That’s a little much. However, during this Covid Time I found that I strayed further and further away from my good intentions regarding my diet. Now that the end of the pandemic is in sight (Lord willing and we don’t backslide!) I’m taking a look at my eating habits. It’s amazing how easy it is to slip back into the SAD. And I noticed that I’ve put on a few pounds, and that my energy level is lower than it used to be. And I’m crankier – just ask anyone who is around me very much! It’s time to do something about it!
What is a Plant-Based Diet? What are the benefits of a plant-based diet anyway? Why should we bother? And how does it compare to the Standard American Diet – the SAD? And what’s wrong with the SAD – Standard American Diet? (Besides the fact that it is sad.)
Here’s some benefits of a plant-based diet:
- Easier to manage your weight.(That’s a plus!)
- Helps to prevent and/or control many chronic diseases, like Type 2 diabetes, chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and many of the other chronic diseases that plague our society.
- Really does help the environment. The amount of grain that we feed to feed-lot animals would feed less fortunate people around the world, not to mention reduce or eliminate the methane produce by these feed lots. And create healthier animals too.
Many folks think that a plant-based diet is a Vegan or Vegetarian diet. I did too, for a while. But I have learned better. The main idea of a plant based diet is that most of our meals are plant based, and animal products are eaten rarely. It emphases foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, beans/legumes, and smaller amounts of eggs, cheese, dairy, meats and poultry. The amount and frequency of animal-based foods depends on how strict you want to be.
Here’s a definition of plant based diets from ”The Permanente Journal” in a paper entitled “Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant Based Diets.” It says, and I quote: “A healthy, plant based diet aims to maximize consumption of nutrient-dense plant foods while minimizing processed foods, oils, and animal foods (including dairy products and eggs). It encourages lots of vegetables (cooked or raw) fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts (in smaller amounts) and is generally low fat.”
Sounds good to me! (And in case you want to cut to the chase, I’ve create a Plant-Based Diet Planner that you can find and download here. The password is create.)
Here’s a list of the various plant-based diets and what they include or exclude:
Vegan. Another name is Total Vegetarian. A strict vegan diet excludes all animal products, especially meat, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Many exclude honey. Some very strict vegans, who consider this a life style more than a diet will also exclude animal products like leather from their life. A vegan diet does not require their adherents to eat whole foods or eliminate or reduce fats and refined sugar.
A variant of the vegan diet is a raw-food vegan which excludes all foods cooked at temperatures greater than 118 degrees.
Vegetarian: much the same as Vegan, but with variations such as lacto-vegetarian (includes milk products); ovo-vegetarian (includes eggs); lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes eggs and dairy); flexitarian (allows occasional animal products).
Mediterranean diet: similar to a whole-food plant based diet but allows small amounts of poultry, dairy, and eggs. Allows red meat once or
twice a month. Fish and olive oil are encouraged. Fats are not restricted, nor are sugars, although refined sugar is discouraged. A small glass of wine is encouraged with meals. Meals are ideally relaxed and eaten in company.
The Nordic Diet: Similar to the Mediterranean Diet but with Canola oil instead of olive oil and without the inclusion of wine and communal meals.
Whole-foods, plant-based, low fat: Encourages plant foods in their whole form, especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds and nuts. Fats are generally restricted.
Now what about this Standard American Diet? That’s the one most of us grew up eating. It emphasizes processed foods, is high in fats (especially trans fats), and features lots of refined sugar. And white flour. And white rice. I was looking through some of my cookbooks from the 60’s and it’s amazing how many of them feature canned soup, for example. It also is heavy on fast-foods as well. Think of the ads on TV from the fast food and pizza companies! The SAD has helped make us a country of overweight and chronically ill people.
Eating a plant might take a while to save the planet, but eating a plant could save your life.
My favorite diet of them all is the Mediterranean Diet. Maybe because I really like Italian/French/and North African food. Mostly Italian and French. And that’s Southern France and Southern Italy, too, by the way. The further north we get from the Mediterranean the less healthy the diet.
I mentioned that I have created a Plant-Based Diet Planner to help me out. It’s in the Library and available to you too. Here’s the link to get to it, and the password is create. (All lower case) It’s based on a Vegan diet (which is more than I can handle but I did it this way in case you want to do it) so I adapt it for my favorite Mediterranean diet. Easy enough to do –I just include whatever I want to include for any particular week. There are probably some pages that you won’t need, so just throw them out. And there definitely will be pages that you will want more of – so just copy and print out some more. It’s sized to fit in a ring binder, so just punch holes and put ‘em in. Or take it to your favorite office supply/copy place and have them bind it. Whatever works for you. (If they question your right to copy and print it, show them this:
Carole Bergman gives you, the reader, permission to print out two copies for your personal use.
I’ll let you know how I’m doing with my mid-year resolution. I hope you’ll join me and together we can make a difference – maybe slight where the planet is concerned, but significant where our health is concerned.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end, and for supporting my blogging adventure. You’re the best!