Plant-Based: From vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, and everything in between – are any of these diets right for me?

I was recently interviewed by the Johnson City Press about the rise in Vegan diets across the country. Vegan diets eliminate animal foods like eggs, milk, cheese, meat, and fish and focus on whole food, plant-based ingredients — fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. As quoted here, I strongly believe that a well-varied, balanced vegan diet can be incredibly healthy, nourishing, and may help in the prevention of many common diseases…truly exemplifying the concept of Food as Medicine.

The What, How’s and Why’s: Environmental Sustainability, Nutrition, & Disease Prevention

What you eat affects YOUR health–and the planet’s health– in surprisingly parallel ways

Plant-foods and animal-foods are grown and raised very differently. Diets full of plant-foods that show great promise for promoting good health and preventing disease are the very same dietary patterns associated with food production methods that are the most environmentally sustainable — AKA have the lightest ecological footprint! From excessive land and water use, air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil degradation, animal agriculture as practiced today has a large environmental impact.

Plant-based diets can fall into some of the following patterns:

  • Semi-Vegetarian or Flexitarian – includes small amounts of animal flesh less than once per week and more than once per month
  • Pescatarian – the only animal flesh consumed is fish and seafood, consumes dairy products and eggs
  • Vegetarian
    • Lacto-Ovo – no animal flesh, but includes dairy products and eggs
    • Vegan – no animal flesh, eggs, dairy products, or animal by-products of any kind

Plant-based and vegan diets – are they safe for everyone?

Yes! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that vegan and vegetarian diets are safe for people of all ages. My advice? Meet with a Registered Dietitian to make sure that YOUR plant-based diet is well-balanced and well-planned to ensure optimum benefits, for you and the planet.

 

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