There’s no denying that the shift to eating more consciously and healthily has taken the world by storm. Lifestyles such as veganism and the ketogenic diet have long been thought of as just another food fad. But the statistics prove otherwise.
Millennials have been the biggest drivers of change in regards to adopting lifestyles that avoid the consumption of animal products for plant-based foods. According to recent reports, over the last few years, there has been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegan in the United States. With more people turning to these alternative vegetable-based diets, this generation is set to cause one of the biggest shifts in food consumption ever.
What Is A Plant-Based Diet And Lifestyle?
Have you ever heard someone talking about the WFPB diet and wondered what is that? Well, we’re here to tell you. The whole food plant-based diet (WFPB) is part of the plant-based lifestyle. This lifestyle focuses on consuming plant products such as vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes and grains.
Not to confuse with veganism, people who choose this lifestyle can still eat dairy and meat products. But generally, do so on a small quantity basis. There are many diets that fall under the plant category umbrella. These include raw food and vegetarian but the most popular is that of the WFPB diet.
The WFPB diet asks that you focus on eating plant-derived foods and whole foods that are close to their natural state as possible. That means that processed foods, refined grains, artificial sweeteners and added sugar is out of the question. Although it may sound like an easy way to stay healthy, you must still make sure that they are getting the right nutrients in their diet.
The Pros And Cons Of Whole Plant-Based Foods
When making any kind of change to your lifestyle, you should make sure that you fully understand what you will be taking on. Like with any diet or food lifestyle, there will be pros and cons to your decision. That is just a fact of life.
Below, we have listed the main considerations that you should keep in mind when switching to a more whole and plant-based focused lifestyle.
When it comes to the WFPB diet, many scientists and nutritionists have carried out studies to figure out how the nutritional value of this lifestyle affects our health and the environment. Research has found that eating a combination of whole and plant derived foods can help to decrease our risk of developing certain illnesses and reduces our impact on the environment.
Improved Heart Health
A diet rich in plants and non-processed whole foods can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improve your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Yet, this is only as long as you are avoiding certain foods such as:
- Sugary drinks
- Fruit juices
- Refined grains
Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
Another great benefit of this diet is that it’s an effective tool for reducing and managing the risk of developing diabetes. As Type 2 diabetes is largely influenced by how much refined sugar we consume and our blood sugar level, limiting this out of our diet can drastically reduce our risk of developing the disease.
Additionally, plant derived foods are great for those who already have diabetes and it helps to effectively improve blood sugar control.
Better For The Environment
Climate change is a hot topic on many people’s minds at the moment. And the great thing is that if you are actively looking for a way to improve your environmental footprint, a plant-based lifestyle is a great option.
By filling your plate with alternative plant foods, you are actively helping to improve your carbon footprint. This is because the manufacturing of these products emits less greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land and water resources than that of meat products.
Although there are amazing benefits associated with leading a plant-based dedicated life, doctors also have concerns about this kind of diet. Especially if you don’t follow the nutritional recommendations correctly.
Risk of Insufficient Protein
If you aren’t careful about ensuring that you get enough protein as part of your diet, there are a number of issues that you may start to experience. Our bodies require a sufficient amount of protein on a daily basis. Without the adequate amount of protein in our daily meals you may start to have the following symptoms:
- Muscle wasting – Protein is essential for muscle growth. Insufficient protein in your diet can lead to reduced muscle mass, strength and function.
- Reduced ability to heal wounds – Wound healing is dependent on good protein intake levels. If you have a protein deficiency, your healing capabilities will be compromised greatly.
- Impaired immune system – Protein is also essential for a healthy immune system. If your diet doesn’t include the right quantity of protein intake you may be putting your immune system at risk of developing infections.
Possible Nutrient Deficiencies
Other nutrient deficiencies that you will also need to be aware of include calcium, iron and vitamin B12. While you will still get these nutrients from vegetables, fruit and grains it may not be to the same extent as if you ate meat products. That is why it is important to make sure that you are supplementing your diet if these nutrients are missing.
This is especially true for vitamin B12. Vegetables and plants don’t contain vitamin B12 which is needed for energy and healthy blood cells. That is why it is recommended that those on the WFPB diet get their vitamin B12 requirements by taking a supplement or eating breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast.
The Whole Plant-Based Food Diet: Doing It On A Budget
Choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle is great but it often comes with a not so great price tag. If you are looking for a healthy way to have a this diet on a budget, don’t worry. This is possible. Below we give you some of our top tips for shopping for the WFPB diet while sticking to your budget.
- Start by shopping for vegetables: These are the most important thing to eat, especially leafy greens. Per serving, vegetables actually work out quite reasonable in terms of price, especially if they aren’t pre-sliced beforehand. They are great for bulking out your meals and can also last well in either your refrigerator and freezer.
- Choose everyday superfoods: When browsing the grocery shelves, don’t believe that the more expensive the superfood is, the better it is. Choose everyday, affordable superfoods such as chickpeas or butternut squash that are still high in nutritional value but don’t have the price tag to match.
- Embrace bulk buying: When it comes to doing a WFPB diet on a budget bulk buying is your friend. Buying products such as nuts, seeds, legumes and beans in bulk can be less expensive than just buying a box or bag. It can also help to inspire your weekly meal prep.
- Buy only what you need: When buying on a budget, it’s important that you focus only on the items and ingredients that you really need. While we’re not saying you can’t splurge every now and again on a treat. Try to resist going outside of what you immediately need.
- Visit farmer’s markets: Farmer’s markets can be a great alternative to the grocery store when buying plant-based products. Not only do they offer really fresh produce that is good quality but also usually at a cheaper cost. A win, win in our eyes.
Once you have stocked up your kitchen pantry with some great price-friendly produce, it’s time to cook up a storm. There are many delicious recipes that you can try. Whether for breakfast, dinner or dessert you can make something new everyday.
Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite plant-based recipes that you have to try.
Plant-Based Protein Bar
Protein bars are both the perfect snack when you are feeling a little peckish or on-the-go breakfast for when you are rushing out the door. Packed full of nutrients and more importantly, flavor, these protein bars will leave you wanting more.
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 cup almond meal
- ½ cup of coconut flakes
- 1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats
- ½ cup of dried fruit
- 2 cups of mashed banana
- ⅓ cup of pepitas
- ⅓ cup of sunflower seeds
- ⅓ cup of sliced almonds
- ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
- Line an 8 inch square baking dish with baking paper
- Soak the chia seeds in 6 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes
- Combine the chia seeds and all other ingredients into a bowl
- Press the mixture into the lined baking dish
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden on top
- Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, slice into 8 bars
Hummus Veggie Wrap
A hummus veggie wrap is the perfect choice for a portable, healthy lunch which can be made in minutes. Whether for a delicious snack at home or a nutritious meal in the office, you’ll be happy you made this.
- 100% whole grain or sprouted grain tortilla
- 4 tablespoons of hummus
- 1-2 cups of chopped veggies (Think kale, spinach, cucumber, onions, carrots etc.)
- 1 teaspoon of hot sauce (optional)
- Spread the hummus on to the center of the wrap
- Spoon your chosen vegetables on top of the hummus
- Sprinkle hot sauce over the veggies, if using
- Wrap and enjoy
- Note: If planning to eat later, cover the wrap with aluminium foil and keep in an airtight container
Sweet Potato Lasagna
This dinner recipe is perfect for when you are hosting guests or are just craving a comforting meal by the fire when the temperature starts to drop. It’s simple, flavorful and oh so delicious.
Ingredients (For the base & filling)
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 3 – 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 2 medium lemons, juiced
- 12 ounces of extra-firm tofu
- 3 tables of nutritional yeast
- ½ cup of fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
- ½ cup of vegan parmesan cheese
Ingredients (For pesto sauce)
- ½ of olive oil
- 1 cup of finely chopped basil
- 2 cloves of finely minced garlic
- ¼ cup of vegan parmesan cheese
- 1 healthy pinch of salt & pepper
- Water (to thin)
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
- Add the ingredients for the tofu filling into a blender and pulse to combine. Blend until you get a semi-pureed mixture.
- Peel and slice the sweet potatoes thinly until they are about an ⅛ th of an inch thick
- Lay the sweet potato down in a 9×13-inch dish and top with one third of the tofu mixture. Spread the mixture with a spoon or spatula before covering with more sweet potato. Repeat the process.
- Cover with aluminium foil and cook for 50 minutes
- Remove the foil, increase the oven to 400 F and bake the lasanga uncovered for 5-10 minutes
- Prepare the pesto sauce by adding olive oil, garlic and basil to a blender. Mix on a medium-low speed to combine. Add the vegan parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and black pepper.
- Add water to the pesto sauce and pulse again in the blender.
- Remove lasagna from the oven and allow to cool. Drizzle the lasanga with your desired amount of pesto sauce and serve fresh.
A Beginner’s Guide To Living Healthy & Green: Plant-Based Snacks On The Go
Living healthily and on a budget is possible. The great news about the WFPB diet is that there are many amazing ingredients and recipes that you try out without breaking the bank. Whether it’s a delicious dinner for friends or even just a healthy plant-based snack on the go, you can make a sustainable and flavorful change to your diet.
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