Finding Your Way: To A Plant Based Diet
Whether you are looking to add a Meatless Monday to your week or are considering a vegan diet there are a lot of compelling reasons to consider a more plant-based approach to eating. First off, let's look as some of the more common plant-based diets.
- Semivegetarian, also known as a flexitarian diet consists of primarily plant-based foods but meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs are sometimes consumed.
- Vegetarian, this diet excludes meat, poultry, shell-fish or any kind of animal flesh. A lacto-vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and eggs but allows dairy. An ovo-vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry, fish and dairy but allows eggs.
- Vegan, this diet excludes meat of all kinds, eggs, dairy and other animal-derived products including gelatin. Many vegans also avoid honey.
- Oil-Free Vegan, this diet follows the typical vegan diet but also restricts nuts, avocados and anything high in fats. Seeds are eaten sparingly. The Esselstyne Diet, The China Study and the documentary Forks Over Knives, all explore the benefits of this type of plant-based low-fat diet.
Why go plant-based?
People choose to follow a plant-based diet for a number of reasons. For some, it is an ethical choice of not wanting to consume animals. Others make the decision based on the idea that plants require fewer resources to produce and are therefore better for the environment.
One of the biggest draws to a plant-based diet is the perceived health benefits. Studies presented in books such as The China Study or Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. M.D.'s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease indicate that a plant-based diet may aid in the prevention and possible reversal of diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, obesity and diabetes. Esselstyn goes as far as to say, "Coronary artery disease need not exist, and if it does, it need not progress."
Weight loss and added dietary fiber are other reasons people choose a plant-based diet.
According to the Mayo clinic, the key to a healthy plant-based diet is variety. Fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, whole wheat, barley, rye, oats, rice, corn, millet and quinoa are all on the menu, even in an oil-free vegan diet. Nuts and seeds are also included in vegetarian and vegan diets. There are also plant-based dietary supplements available. Below are some nutrients to pay special attention to while eating a plant-based diet and their plant-based sources. As with any dietary change, it is always recommended to work with your health-care provider to make sure that you are getting what you need from your diet.
Calcium- Dark leafy greens (kale, collards, broccoli), calcium-enriched almond, coconut and soy products and plant-based calcium supplements
Iodine- Iodized salt, kelp
Iron- Dark leafy greens, dried fruits, dried beans, lentils, peas, whole grain products. Eating vitamin C (strawberries, citrus, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli) at the same time as those iron-rich foods can help with iron absorption.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flax seed, chia seeds, soybeans
Protein- Legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, spinach, soy products, whole grains
Vitamin B-12- Nutritional Yeast, fortified plant-based milk products (where vitamins and mineral are added, always read the lables), plant-based B-12 supplements
Vitamin D- Sun, fortified plant-based milk products, plant-based vitamin D- supplements
Zinc- Legumes, nuts, soy products, wheat germ, whole grains
We carry a selection of oil-free vegan products at the Grain Train. Whole fruits, vegetables (excluding avocados) and grains are naturally oil-free. Once something has been processed, it is always a good rule to read the label to make sure that no oils have been added. Below you will find a list of oil-free products that we carry in our stores, always check the labels to be sure that ingredients have not changed. You can look for our Oil-Free tags around the store.
Breads and Pitas
- Alvarado Street Bakery Bagels
- Berlin Natural Bakery Whole Grain Sprouted Bread
- Ezekiel 4.9 Sprouted Grain Breads, Buns, Pitas and Tortillas
- Mestemacher Breads
- Sami's Bakery Lavash, Bagels and Bread
- Yasmeen Bakery Pita Bread
Broth and Soup
- Dr. McDougall's Soups
- Field Day Vegetable Broth
- Pacific Vegetable Broth
- Barbara's Bakery Shredded Wheat
- Erewhon Raisin Bran
- Barbara's Wheat-Free Fig Bars Multigrain
Crackers and Dips
- Edward and Sons Plain Brown Rice Crackers
- Wasa Crispbread
- Oasis Fat Free Hummus varieties
- Muir Glen Organic Portobello Mushroom Pasta Sauce
- Walnut Acres Organic No Salt Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
- Lightlife Tempeh
- Mori-Nu Light Low-Fat Silken Tofu
Lists sourced from the Cleveland ClinicRecommend Reading
- Food for Life and Program for Reversing Diabetes, Neal Barnard, MD
- Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD
- Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Dean Ornish, MD
- The China Study, T. Colin Campbell PhD and Thomas M. Campbell III
Mention of any company, product or program does not constitute endorsement by Grain Train Natural Foods Markets. Further, the Grain Train is not responsible for the content of any linked web sites. All web addresses referenced were accessible at the time of this publication.