False: Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to forgo all meat, dairy and animal products. You can still follow a vegetarian or flexitarian (read: where you eat little to no meat) diet and get the benefits of a plant-based diet. The key is to put “whole” foods—like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes—at the center of your plate.
B. While it may be tempting to go for the gusto when you’re first starting to follow a plant-based lifestyle, this style of eating and living is actually a lot more forgiving than you might imagine. Rather than take an all-or-nothing approach, focus on eating mostly plant-based foods, organic when possible, and steering clear of highly processed foods most of the time.
False. While you don’t have to forgo meat altogether, a plant-based diet does require you to change the way you think about it. For example, rather than making meat the focus of your meal and choosing vegetables and other sides to complement it, you might try thinking of it as more of a garnish than a centerpiece. Instead, build your meals around salad greens or other vegetables. Or fill a bowl with greens and add a variety of other veggies, fresh herbs, beans or a plant-based meat substitute like seitan or tofu.
D. There are many upsides to plant-based eating, with research showing it’s a win on almost every front. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that shows plant-based diets can improve heart health, promote a healthy body weight, reduce your risk of cancer and more. It can also have a number of positive effects on the environment. In fact, scientists at the United Nations claim that raising and killing animals for food is “one of the major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems.” Finally, research shows you may actually save money following a plant-based lifestyle. According to one study, a meat-based diet costs about $53 per person per week—whereas a plant-based diet costs just about $39 per person. That’s about 27 percent less!
D. When it comes to the upsides of a plant-based lifestyle on the environment, there are a number of benefits. Consider these statistics: 91 percent of deforestation is happening so that livestock can graze and food can be grown for animals that will ultimately be slaughtered; raising and slaughtering animals for food causes more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector combined; and studies show a meat-free diet can reduce water footprint by up to 55 percent.
False. Whether you’re aiming to lose weight, lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, or you’re simply trying to feel better overall, there is science-backed research proving a plant-based diet can help. According to one recent study, following a vegetarian diet prompted people to lose significantly more weight than people eating meat. Other research has found that plant-based diets also lower inflammation, a known cause of many diseases like diabetes, arthritis, depression and even cancer.
D. You can find a range of plant-based alternatives to conventional meat products, including ground, sausages and burgers, these days that are part of a well-rounded plant-based lifestyle. And when you’re first starting to follow a plant-based diet, it can be really helpful to have alternatives to your old go-tos.
False. Wondering if you should make the switch to plant-based nutrition—and worried that you won’t be able to stick to it because you’re not exactly a whiz in the kitchen? Not to worry: There are so many easy plant-based recipes—plus simple plant-based swaps for your usual meat-filled meals—that you’ll be able to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet simply and easily. The best way to start: Swap meat with plant-based alternatives and add more veggies, fruits, whole grains and legumes into your meals, which can “crowd out” the more processed foods you might be used to consuming.
A. There’s a very good chance that following a plant-based diet will actually add more variety to your diet—which is a boon for your health and particularly your microbiome (the ecosystem of bacteria in your gut that’s linked to everything from gastrointestinal function to immunity). By eating a variety of vegetables—in addition to fruit, beans, legumes and a range of plant-based alternatives to meat—it’s likely that you’ll find yourself eating many more types of foods and experimenting with new, exciting recipes than ever before.
True. With so much diet advice these days—oftentimes advice that’s contradictory—it can be tough to decipher what to trust. However, when you look at the scientific evidence behind plant-based diets and weight loss, the results are irrefutable. Research shows those who follow a vegetarian diet tend to lose significantly more weight than their meat-eating counterparts. One study found that not only can plant-based diets lead to more weight loss when compared with diets that contain meat, but they also lead to lower inflammation, which in turn can lead to fat loss. Many experts point to the high fiber content in most plant-based diets, which will help you feel fuller on fewer calories—and help you shed pounds as a result.