The Different Types Of Plant-Based Diets: Which One Fits You?
Vegan? Vegetarian? Whole Foods Plant Based? Find out what works for you!
With the release of the controversial and popular documentary film The Game Changers produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jackie Chan among the big names, it is safe to say that its got people to think about what it means to reduce eating meat and consuming other animal products. However, the thought of giving up on these delectable meat and animal products can seem daunting at first especially for those who were raised an omnivore such as myself.
In the beginning, I always just thought being plant-based was boring and being a vegan was a connotation for being a protester fighting just for animal rights. But as I slowly began to discover and educate myself about what a change of lifestyle could possibly evolve into, I started to approach it with a gainful mindset wherein I focused on the positive benefits as opposed to just being on a cruelty-free but restrictive diet.
In this brief summary of tools to help you with your goals, I hope to spark your interest and ideas in the most encouraging and organized way possible. I do want to urge you to read, study further, talk to people of different opinions and knowledge, do more research, and educate yourself to equip yourself with the right tools for what is best for you. Keep in mind that every body is different so your nutritional needs may be different from mine.
What works for YOU may be different from my own personal preferences, so by all means are these the absolute necessary guidelines on going plant-based. For those with specific health conditions and those trying this out, please also get your baselines checked and have an open conversation with the best nutritionist and physician who are aligned with your goals. Remember, it doesn’t have to be drastic or difficult. Always go back to your reason for trying, switching, or challenging yourself to create a healthier, positive version of you.
Research shows that plant-based diets are not only healthier but are more cost-effective, help in reducing medication intake, and improve a number of chronic diseases. 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.
However, people often still get confused about what being plant based is and sometimes still uses this terminology to refer to vegetarian or vegan. It must be noted that there are differences with plant based, whole food plant based (WFPB), vegetarian and vegan diets. It must also be kept in consideration that being a vegan or vegetarian does not equate to healthy (ex. Eating only Oreos, fries, and vegan pizza).
To easily differentiate the various terms and classifications, always remember that aside from what they exclude, the key definition for a plant-based diet lies in the components of what it includes as its primary sources of nutrition.
A key distinction is that although most of these diets are defined by what they exclude, the plant-based diet is defined by what it includes.
Whole-foods plant-based (WFPB) is low in fat. It highly encourages the consumption of plant foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, and small portions of nuts. It discourages the consumption of any animal product or bi-products. It also restricts the consumption of processed foods such as vegan hotdogs, cheeses, pastries, and the like.
The vegan lifestyle absolutely excludes all animal products and bi-products but it does not require for strict non-consumption of foods high in fat or refined sugar. Most people also associate this term with ethics and activism to raise awareness on animal cruelty and saving the environment.
The raw vegan follows the vegan ethos but excludes all foods that are processed or cooked at temperatures over 48°C or 118°F.
Variations of the vegetarian diet are defined by the term Lacto-vegetarian which is a diet that excludes all animal products except milk products. The Ovo-vegetarian excludes all animal products but includes eggs. Then the Lacto-ovo vegetarian excludes all animal products but includes eggs and dairy products.
Whether or not you think you can or can’t, you are absolutely right! We are all limited by the power of our perception and the mind is a very strong ally in shifting old habits to better ones. Here are a few key tips I followed when I began my lifestyle change. My suggestion is to start by adding as opposed to focusing on giving up and losing all those animal products.
Get creative and focus on eating less processed food options. By increasing the nutrient density of your consumption, you will find yourself more satiated as well as having a more sustained level of energy. Remember to give yourself time and slowly go through the motions of change with an open mind, heart, and stomach.
Be patient if you stumble but get up and go again at your own pace. Just commit to it. I started mine as a 15-day dare and slowly after that, things fell into place creating better habits that evolved into permanent lifestyle changes. Do the research, take the extra time to read labels, educate yourself and get informed on the different facts and arguments that you may need. Get creative and be limitless in your choices! Most of all, have fun!