There is a growing interest in plant-based nutrition and over the past three days alone, we have participated in a panel discussion following the showing of the movie Cowspiracy and presented a webinar on the Plant-Based Diet to employees of The Ohio State University. Here is a short compilation of a some common questions posed and our answers:
Q: I’m considering a vegan/vegetarian/plant-based diet but I am concerned – how will I get enough protein?
A: Some argue that Americans are getting too much protein in the typical diet. The plant-based diet includes other sources of protein, including beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Working with a nutritionist can assist you in finding out how much protein as well as the best protein sources for your individual needs.
Q: Which restaurants can I go to for a healthy plant-based meal?
A: Some obvious choices include restaurants that advertise such meals, such as Portia’s in Clintonville. Certain ethnic restaurants may have more vegetarian choices because of cuisines typical in regions such as South India. However, most restaurants and their chefs are more than accommodating in this aspect- even Hyde Park has or will make a vegetable-based dish upon request! You don’t only have to eat out at select restaurants. Explore new options!
Q: Does being plant-based mean I need to be a vegetarian or vegan?
A: No. Meat and dairy do not have to be excluded; however, rather than building a meal around the meat source,
the meal is based on whole, plant-based foods. Planning your meal this way means there is less need to add meat and dairy to the dish and ensures it is full of nutrients.
Q: How do I get others to be on-board with my new diet?
A: At the end of the day, a person has to want to make a change. Instead of the ‘hell-fire and brimstone’ approach of harping on someone about potential health issues associated with the consumption of animal products or about the suffering of animals, it is often easier to inspire. When one can see that plant-based food is appealing, delicious, helps them feel better, and is associated with less cruelty to animals and our plant, it can be a motivating force for behavior change.
Q: What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
A: There are many health benefits associated with a plant-based diet including: weight loss, lower blood pressure, decreased cholesterol levels, better control of blood sugar levels, and some report having more energy. The diet is low in saturated fat, salt, and cholesterol (which can benefit the circulatory system), it has more more vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which can all assist in disease prevention. Because it’s low in refined grains and sugar, it can help prevent the onset of diabetes. It’s also a diet that is more sustainable for our environment.