The term plant-based refers to the origin of a certain food. If it somehow grew out of the ground in one form or another, it can be called plant-based.
However, we know that the more you process a food (white flour or white sugar for example), it can seriously reduce it’s nutritional content. It is important to keep in mind the amount of processing that goes into a plant-based food. If a food once grew from a plant and ideally has the same basic physical appearance as it did when it grew, you know it is going to be better for your body.
When shopping at the grocery store, you will find the majority of these wonderful foods in the fresh produce section. Other foods that would fall into the plant based category would be grains, legumes (beans, peanuts, etc.), and nuts. The vast majority of your diet should be coming from these groups.
What about protein you ask? Ahhhhh the dreaded protein debate. Before I even answer this question, I plead with you to please go watch the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and then come back here if you are still curious. Now, you may not believe me at first, but it is totally possible to have a healthy protein-rich diet without meat. Seriously. This doesn’t mean that I have permanently cut meat out of my diet for good, just that I have reduced my meat consumption to once a week or so. This has not adversely affected my health at all. I recently had a whole blood panel done after two years of this lifestyle, and all of my blood work came back 100% normal. It was great! Plants have protein, too… so eat it!
It is also important to incorporate variety into your diet. Do not eat the same small selection of fruits and vegetables every day. Try to mix it up! Buy that weird scaly looking fruit or that large, unidentified root at the grocery store! Figure out how to use it! The more variety you have in your diet, the more balanced your nutrient intake will be.
Also, when eating a plant-based diet, you don’t have to worry about having too many carbs or anything else that people would try to nitpick at you. Try to eat mostly vegetables. Supplement this with delicious and healthy grains. Fill in the blanks with foods you enjoy like cheese or yogurt, maybe occasionally meat, and then feel good that you are taking care of your body. Health will follow. I promise.