We are in the midst of a global transition from the consumption of animal-based products, including meat and dairy, to a primarily plant-based diet. This is an incredibly good thing, for both the environment and for human health of course. However, we have noticed that this shift is primarily driven by relatively young people, resulting in youth making their own decision to become plant-based. Although they may have well-meaning and supportive parents, they are often not familiar with the plant-based lifestyle themselves, thus can only provide guidance to their best ability. This article has been written to remind young people, or anyone who is transitioning for that matter, that there is more to plant-based eating than ditching meat and dairy products from their diet.
How so? We have broken down some common misconceptions and the solutions!
Myth 1: Traditionally, meat has been the hero of the dish accompanied by three vegetables. When nutritional experts and scientists discuss a whole-food plant-based diet, they are not referring to removing meat from your plate and having just three vegetables instead. This will leave you hungry, unsatisfied, and likely undernourished.
Truth 1: You don’t have to have it perfect overnight, that is why we often refer to a ‘transition’ period, however you do have to change your perception of a meal. Three vegetables become 10 different vegetable sources in one meal, accompanied by legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds in almost every meal.
Myth 2: You are automatically healthier by removing meat and dairy by becoming vegan and can eat whatever you want without worrying about gaining weight.
Truth 2: Many people lose weight and become healthier on a whole-food plant-based diet, however, those who eat mostly vegan processed junk food are not necessarily healthy.
Myth 3: You can get every single nutrient that you need from a whole-food plant-based diet, without supplementation.
Truth 3: There is no such thing as a perfect diet that satisfies every nutritional human need. We have published an article on supplementation on a plant-based diet here, reporting that you should consider B12, Vitamin D, Omega-3 and Iron.
Myth 4: A plant-based does not have sufficient protein sources as animal-based diets contain, thus you cannot build muscle on a primarily plant-based diet.
Myth 5: I cannot eat plant based because I need “energy” for work and endurance training, so I can’t afford to be hungry.
Truth 5: If you’re hungry or lacking energy, you’re not doing it right. You may consider seeking professional support to ensure that you’re eating enough of the right foods. We invited a medical doctor to publish an article on considerations if you are experiencing fatigue.
So, here’s why you should transition to a primarily plant-based diet – and recruit your family members too!
- There has been a myriad of research in agreeance that removing animal-based products such as meat and dairy, while adopting a primarily plant-based diet is optimal for human health and longevity.
- In the ‘Blue Zones’ around the globe, representing the geographical locations with the most centenarians in good health, adopt a mostly plant-based diet alongside other healthy lifestyle factors including low stress, social connectedness and community, and a sense of purpose.
- A plant-based diet is a low inflammatory diet, which has been associated with reduced risk of mental health problems including stress, anxiety, mood disturbance and depression.
- Adopting a primarily plant-based diet is the single most impactful way to reduce your environmental footprint and contribute to reversing climate change, widely agreed to surpass all other efforts including driving an electronic car, boycotting flights and planting trees.
Recommendations to consider for those transitioning, especially for youth who don’t have parental guidance at home:
- Join an educational-based online program that includes nutritional education, practical daily or weekly meal plan, with simple recipes. Online programs can be very economical on price, and widely accessible. To successfully transition, you must educate yourself.
- Find a General Medical Practitioner or Functional Medical Professional who is open to and knowledgeable about plant-based lifestyles, who can guide you and can be a go-to person when you’re unsure. They may track pre and post measures of your bloods during and after the transition to measure your nutritional uptake and ensure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs. You can supplement based on their recommendations.
- Remember that the more educated, gentle, and thoughtful your transition period is, the more likely you will be able to sustain your lifestyle change in the long-term. If you suddenly drop all animal products overnight, without proper plant-based nutrition added, you may find yourself reverting and disregarding potential benefits.
- Respect that your body is unique and may not require the same food and nutritional plan as a friend. Do not base your decisions upon social banter. Consult with professionals, seek opinion from those who are educated and understand your individual needs.
- Understand that it can be hard socially, particularly in the early stages. It becomes much easier over time. Find yourself a supportive community, even if it’s online, to keep you on track.
- Know that plant-based eating is not about being judgemental of others, or control around food. It’s grounded in mindful appreciation of nature and abundance. If you find that you’re struggling with these aspects of the transition, you may consider seeking support from a professional psychologist.
Please let us know if these tips are helpful, and share your transition story with us @plantd.co. We would love to hear from you.