Smoothly Transition Plan for Healthy Diet; How to Start a Plant-Based Food for Beginner

We are all familiar with meat consumption as a great source of the protein that the body needs to stay healthy and work the way it should. Every day our bodies need 0.8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. So if you weigh 50 kilograms, you should eat at least 40 grams of protein each day. A good measure of that would be two chicken breasts weighing around 230 grams altogether.

But did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that red meats and processed meats such as ham, bacon, sausages and cold cuts as well as canned products contain carcinogenic substances? Too much consumption of them, it has been clearly concluded, increases the risk of colon cancer. So, it is undeniably a good idea to moderate meat consumption and top up with plant-based sources of protein that are not only healthy but, with a little preparation, also delicious

A plant-based food primer

Plant-based foods don’t only include vegetables and fruits but also nuts, oils extracted from plants such as coconut oil, and various types of mushrooms, grains and pulses. Though still classified as an alternative protein, it is worth noting that in fact all proteins are plant-based – no animals generate protein themselves; they all obtain it the same way. Among the highest-protein foods are nuts, mushrooms, seaweed, oats, and almonds. You can easily make plant-based beefburgers as tasty as the real thing. By blending soy protein with methylcellulose and modified starch you can create fibrous plant-based meat that looks, tastes and feels very similar to the animal product equivalent. Plant-based foods are very popular among people who prioritize health, as they have fewer calories and more fiber than meat. In fact, many of them also have more protein than meat. So, they’re a good way to maintain or lose weight. Plus, they lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. Not to mention the benefits they bring to our gut microbiota.

Who are plant-based foods good for?

With all their vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body, there’s no doubt that eating them is beneficial. However, it’s important to have the right proportions to get all the nutrients your body needs. Depending on your lifestyle and preferences, here are some options:

• Flexitarian (flexible + vegetarian) – This group continues to consume meat and animal products but also enjoy plant-based foods. How the proportions are divided varies. Some focus mainly on plant-based foods but also partake of lean meat at certain meals or on given days to round-out their nutrition consumption. Others focus more on meat but switch to plant-based foods some days so they get more of the essential fiber that reduces the time food takes to travel through the colon. This, in turn, leads to excreting larger quantities, and more often, which drives out waste and toxins.
• Pescatarian – This group doesn’t eat meat or animal products but still enjoy fish and seafood which gives them more dietary options for their main source of protein.
• Vegetarian – This group consumes only plant-based foods. They don’t eat meat at all but do enjoy animal products such as milk, eggs, honey, butter, and so on.
• Vegan – This group strictly refrains from eating meat and all animal-sourced food products and only consume plant-based foods.

Not only are those who choose a plant-based diet motivated by health. They also don’t want to exploit or harm animals or the environment. Livestock and feedstock farming is responsible for some 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, about the same amount as cars, trains, ships, and airplanes combined. The maxim ‘everything in moderation’ is a good guideline for ensuring consumption of all the nutrition we need in the proper proportions. If all this whets your appetite for plant-based foods, here are some tips to get started:

  1. Increase the proportion of vegetables in your meals focusing on varieties of different color veggies.
  2. Change how you view meat consumption to enjoy it in smaller portions as opposed to the main item.
  3. Choose plant-based fats such as olive oil, peanut butter, and many others.
  4. Go vegetarian at least once a week.
  5. Consistently consume a variety of green leafy vegetables.
  6. Step up your salad intake – the variety of recipes is endless.
  7. Eat fresh & juicy fruits for dessert.

Last but not least, keep in mind that making healthy food choices is a good starting point not only for your own sustainable good health but that of the whole planet.

• Harvard Medical School
• Mayo Clinic
• The Australia Nutrition Foundation
• National Food Institute, Ministry of Industry
• Samitivej Hospital
• Corporate Communication, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital
• Faculty of Pharmacy, Mahidol University
• Paolo Hospital