What is a Plant-based Diet and is it Good For You?

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What is a Plant-based Diet?

I’ll have to admit that I had a misconception about this diet. I thought that it was only vegans that eat this diet but, I was wrong. It focusses on you eating more plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds and oils. However, it does’t exclude foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and other dairy products. But instead of having meat or fish being the focus of your meal and you would have a bit of vegetables on the side, you would fill half of your plate with vegetables and eat a small portion of meat or fish.

You can also eat low-fat dairy products or dairy alternatives, legumes, some unsaturated fat, lower intakes of fatty/processed meats, refined grains, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.

Are Plant-based Diets Better for the environment?

Well, it’s estimated that if we adopted plant-based dietary patterns, there could be a reduction in greenhouse gases of anything between 17% to 29%, as well as a reduction of land, water and fertiliser use.

person pouring dip on vegetable salad
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

Examples of How to follow this diet.

For your lunch and dinner, you fill half of your plate with vegetables; preferably a variety of them and only have small amounts of meat and fish. Ideally, cook at least one vegetarian meal a week.

You can eat fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds, nut butters and avocados, for example.

For breakfast, you could eat whole grains like oats (porridge) quinoa and barley with nuts and seeds and fruit.

You could eat fruit as desserts.

Frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables are fine to eat and are generally cheaper than fresh ones.

Limit or avoid:-

  • As I stated earlier, dairy, meat, poultry, processed animal meats like sausages and hot dogs. (There are studies that link high intakes of red and processed meat with a high risk of developing colorectal cancer.)
  • Refined grains like white pasta, rice and bread.
  • Sweets.
  • Sweetened drinks.

Be Careful of…..

Meat substitutes. (Yes, Rachel, be careful of these! 🤣) There are many different types of meat substitutes and some are not as healthy as you may think due to their sometimes high salt and high-fat content. Some of them are made from refined sugar, white flour, and certain vegetable fats. You could use tofu, tempeh and chickpeas instead.

Vitamins D and B12, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and calcium are not found easily in plant foods. Therefore, these nutrients need to be sourced from fortified foods like fortified plant milks, spreads, cereals, nutritional yeast, beans, spinach, raisins, green leafy vegetables, tofu, vitamin D supplements, walnuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.

Plant-based foods are loaded with fibre. They have to be gradually added to your diet or you may be visiting your bathroom more than you would like!

is a plant-based diet good for you?

Eating more plant-based foods may lower your blood pressure. Data from 39 studies concluded that people who followed a vegetarian diet had lower blood pressure on average than those who followed omnivorous diets. Another study showed that vegetarians had 34% of developing high blood pressure than non-vegetarians.

This diet may reduce your risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, eating a plant-based diet may reduce your risk of heart disease by 16% and dying of it by about 31%.

It could reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study found that eating plant-based foods reduced your risk of type 2 diabetes by 34%.

Help you to lose weight. A study of 65 overweight adults who followed this diet for 1 year lost on average, 9-25 pounds. This could be that whole grains and vegetables are digested more slowly and contain fibre which promotes fullness.

It could decrease your risk of developing cancer. To help you to do this, it is ideal to eat a variety of fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (plant chemicals) in your diet from vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

It could help to reduce cognitive impairment. A review of 9 studies found that earing an extra 100g of fruit and vegetables per day led to a 13% reduction in the risk of dementia. Also, polyphenols in plant-based foods may slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s.


There seem to be some impressive benefits of eating plant-based diets, for the environment as well as for your health. Don’t forget that you can still eat meat and fish in smaller quantities.

I’ve been a vegetarian for a few years but I’ve learnt from my research for this post, I need to cut down on meat alternatives. I’ll be stocking up on my chickpeas!

Here’s a recipe for vegan chickpea curry jacket potato that you may like to try. It contains ingredients such as sweet potatoes, curry spices, ginger, garlic and of course, chickpeas.

Thank you for reading this post.

Rachel x

Sources: nutrition.org.uk, health.harvard.edu, bbcgoodfood.com, everydayhealth.com, bda.uk.com, webmd.com, ncbi-nlm.nih.gov, healthline.com, medicalnewstoday.com, medicinenet.com

7 thoughts on “What is a Plant-based Diet and is it Good For You?

  1. I could definitely switch to a vegetarian diet if I wasn’t married to a carnivore. I have definitely cut down my meat consumption in recent years though. I eat meat no more than once a day, eat smaller portions, and try to have one or two meatless days every week.

  2. This post is super yummy! I had the same misconception as you until I read your article. I thought you had to go zero-meat! I miss having a good jacket potato. It used to be my lunch in the office sometimes.

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