People everywhere are actively seeking ways to lead healthier lifestyles partially through what they put into their bodies. Consequently, many individuals and families are moving toward plant-based diets.
If you’ve wanted to switch up your eating habits, a plant-based diet may be the right choice. First, though, you should understand plant-based menu basics and how to gain the advantages that come from this eating pattern.
What Is a Plant-Based Diet Meal Plan?
There is no formal definition of a plant-based diet — plant-based diets can eliminate meat and dairy products or add whole foods and non-processed ingredients to create more nutritious and delicious meals. Either way, you can develop a plant-based diet that’s meaningful to you and your lifestyle.
A huge misconception among the general population is that plant-based eating necessitates the removal of animal products from every meal. While some plant-based eaters do follow a strict vegan, vegetarian or another type of diet, only a small population of consumers never eats chicken, beef, pork, fish or shellfish.
The term “plant-based” doesn’t mean only having only produce, grains, seeds and nuts on the table. Instead, it refers to creating dishes that focus mostly on plant-based ingredients. As such, a plant-based meal might be an Asian stir fry filled with vegetables served alongside a small chicken egg roll. In that case, the chicken in the egg roll would make up only a small portion of the meal.
Plant-Based Meal Plan vs. Vegan Meal Plan
Often, plant-based meal plans can be confused with vegan diets. While the two dietary options can overlap, they have noticeable differences.
A plant-based diet for beginners could involve upping your plant-based food intake. Although doing so could encompass a vegan lifestyle, it doesn’t have to and can still have many benefits. These diets don’t have to be restrictive, and you can find a way to create a meal plan that can make sense for you. For example, you might eat mostly fruits, vegetables and grains but still include a small amount of meat on the side.
In comparison, vegan diets omit all animal products, including those beyond meat, like eggs and honey.
5 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Increasing your plant-based food intake has many health benefits that can impact your body long term. Some people choose to go plant-based because they can experience weight loss, notice health benefits and develop delicious meals with additional nutritional perks.
Following a plant-based diet makes sense for numerous reasons, including:
1. Increase Vitamins and Nutrients
A plant-based diet allows you to introduce a host of vitamins into your diet without extra supplementation in the form of pills or beverages. Vegetables, fruits and other plants are naturally rich in a spectrum of vitamins. They also contain other nutrients, such as fiber and healthier fats. Additionally, the natural sugars found in typical or exotic fruits can give you a natural energy boost without the adverse effects of white sugar or corn syrup.
2. Boost Fiber Intake
Many fruits and vegetables have high amounts of fiber, like avocados. Fiber plays a crucial role in regulating your digestive system and preventing diseases. Eating more fiber can aid in healthy weight loss, lower your risk for diabetes and increase beneficial gut bacteria.
3. Prevent Conditions and Diseases
Another benefit to adopting a plant-based diet is that it may help ward off the likelihood of developing certain conditions and diseases. Research studies on subjects who change their diets to eat more plant-based foods have shown a reduced risk of certain cancers, improved cardiovascular responses, lowered blood pressure results and less chance of diet-induced weight gain.
4. Access Quick Cooking Options
Preparing meat and poultry often take time, but plant-based protein sources offer little and no-cook time options. You can eat fruits and veggies fresh off the vine or make tasty meals out of canned lentils and beans, giving you more options to prepare quick and nutritious dishes.
5. Manage Your Weight
Plant-based diets can help you manage your weight. Whole foods are more filling than many processed options, and you can make a wide variety of dishes with your favorites, allowing you to eat whole, nutritious meals that keep you full for longer.
How to Transition to a Plant-Based Diet
Knowing that you want to try a plant-based diet and doing it are two separate things. Many people feel overwhelmed because they’re not sure how or where to begin. It doesn’t have to be hard to put more plants and grains on your table, though. In fact, becoming a plant-based eater can be easy and incredibly tasty.
If you’re starting out, make a list of all the plants you enjoy. These can include produce, seeds, nuts and grains. Be as expansive as possible with your list. You’ll start to see that you have a long list of possibilities for future meal ingredients.
You may have heard that a quick grocery store trick is to only shop on the store’s perimeter. That’s where you’ll find produce, tofu and yogurt, but the inner aisles contain plenty of great options, too. There, you’ll find brown rice, quinoa, canned lentils, beans and frozen fruits. Craft a thorough list before heading inside, so you only leave with what you need.
Next, investigate plant-based recipes online and find ways to add spice and flavor to plants. A great idea is to use tamari and other vegan soy sauces for marinades, cooking and dipping. Remember, you can find authentically produced soy sauce, like San-J Tamari Soy Sauce, that is certified vegan and it contains zero animal products or by-products. Plus, it tastes terrific, so you’ll always feel satisfied.
Remember that it’s OK to start small. You should only make changes that excite you and are sustainable for your lifestyle. When you begin your journey, try incorporating an additional serving of plant-based foods in every meal or swap your typical dinners for plant-based options three or four times throughout the week. Experiment with what works and what you like best, and you’ll soon be on track.
What to Eat on a Plant-Based Diet
You can find incredible meals to complete your diet in various places. Here, we’ve crafted a sample meal plan to give you an idea of plant-based recipes you might like to cook.
- Breakfast ideas: Eggs are often a showstopper at the breakfast table, and you can get creative with yours on your plant-based diet. These Korean marinated eggs have an excellent balance of spice and flavor. You can also stuff omelets with peppers, onions, tomatoes and any of your other favorites to fill you up.
- Lunch ideas: Lunch is the perfect time to have some lighter fare and indulge in simple ingredients. Try this cucumber sushi recipe with cucumbers, cream cheese, carrots and avocados. Prepare these ginger-glazed shrimp bowls for a flavorful combination of fresh produce and rice during your midday meal. Roasted eggplant and tamari dip are excellent as a side or a quick snack during the midday hours.
- Dinner ideas: Dinners are perfect for trying new foods and finishing the day with comforting meals you can enjoy with your family while sitting around the table. Cook up these spicy maple garlic tofu bowls during your next get-together. Fill your plate with a pile of roasted veggies and pair them with a few pieces of sweet sesame chicken. This Japanese meat and potato stew is great for cold days when you want to warm up with comforting veggies and a bit of hearty meat.
Transition to a Plant-Based Diet With San-J
Like what you’re hearing? Take your time and begin to introduce plants into at least one meal a day. Before you know it, you’ll start to see meat as a side dish and plants as your main course. Switching to a diet-conscious meal plan can significantly benefit your health and help you feel full for longer.
Beginning a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be a solo journey. San-J has tons of unique recipes and delicious products to complete your plant-based diet.
For additional sauces to infuse into your plant-based meals, be sure to check out our other San-J Asian Cooking Sauces as well. We also offer gluten-free products, so you can expand your gluten-free, plant-based diet meals with flavor every time you step into the kitchen.