A diet based on fruits and vegetables is the most efficient way to maintain your health and lose weight at the same time. Eating meat and animal products is considered by the World Health Organization as a primary cause of cancer and other terminal diseases. With over 30% of all cancers being caused by meat and dairy products, it is no surprise that more and more people are looking for the best plant based diet.
Eating herbs and vegetables is immensely beneficial for your well-being. The International Health Organization estimates that individuals who adopt a nutrition plan with few or no animal products have a 40% lower risk of suffering from a heart attack. The medical field links high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and even skin diseases with a diet that lacks enough plants or fruits. It might seem like a passing dietary trend, but being vegan is probably your best chance of staying healthy and fit in today’s modern world.
Table of contents
- About whole food plant based diet
- Choose the right herbs from the market
- Grow plants at home
- Meal plans
- Raw food diets
- Local vs. imported plants
- Weight loss contribution
- The proteins pseudo-problem
- Common medical conditions and plants
- Benefits of consuming herbs daily
- Keeping a balance
What is a whole food plant based diet?
Nutrition in the 21st century seems to be at the top of everyone’s list of priorities. The more we study it, the more we realize its impact on our lifestyle. Today, nutritional experts consider that the ultimate diet must include whole foods, which are products that have the smallest degree of processing. The closest they are to their natural origin, the healthier they are.
A meal plan containing only fresh whole foods includes:
Any combination or recipe that includes these products can provide you with a healthy, nutritious collation. A daily meal plan may include stir-fried vegetables, whole-wheat pasta with herbs or a veggie chili with beans. Instead of dairy products, you can consume tofu, almond milk or soy-derived products. Desert options are not sparse either, and you can have your pick between fruit salads, smoothies, and spicy flavored nuts.
A steady reduction of animal products in human consumption has been proved to treat or prevent a significant number of medical conditions that include blood pressure, arthritis, and colon cancer. As you get used to your vegan diet, you will notice just how easy it is to adapt to a meat-free nutrition through a large collection of recipes.
It’s hard to give up on processed foods and other animal products, but it is a crucial step towards a healthier lifestyle and an increased life expectancy.
How to choose your herbs from the market
Most people get confused when they have to build their meals around vegetables and herbs alone. However, a diet comprised of whole foods offers a broad range of alternatives for delicious recipes that nourish your body with all the necessary nutrients. When you are shopping for groceries, you should always buy fresh plants. Canned vegetables and fruits can replace certain ingredients when fresh produce is missing. However, when it comes to herbs, it is best to choose verdures recently-cropped verdures. This way you will benefit from their highest nutritional value, which is the very definition of whole foods.
- Basil – aromatic plant best used in stews, sauces, soups and tomato dishes.
- Bay Laurel – evergreen shrub with thick, glossy leaves which go great with soups.
- Chervil – yellowy-green herb with an anise-like taste that many people use in soups and salads.
- Chives – herbaceous plant similar to onion and garlic that is mostly used for garnishing salads.
- Cilantro – green herb frequently used in Asian or Mexican dishes.
- Dill – fine-feathered plant that housewives use for pickling vegetables.
- Fennel – the herb part of the plant bulb is a great addition to sautéed veggies.
- Garlic – fiery plant with a distinctive flavor that enhances the taste of both cooked and fresh meals.
- Lemon Grass – grass-like herb with a lemony aroma best used in soups or vegetable stews.
- Marjoram – the sweeter version of oregano that goes great with tofu products.
- Mint – peppery plant that mixes well with salads and hot dishes but with desserts and smoothies as well.
- Oregano – the secret ingredient of every delicious pasta sauce.
- Parsley – dark-green herb mostly used in soups and stews both for taste and decorative purposes.
- Rosemary – spiky plant with an intense fragrance that chefs use for oven-baked vegetables.
- Sage – the culinary version of this rough-feathered plant makes an excellent addition to sauces and stews.
- Tarragon – long-leafed plant that is a common ingredient in marinades and vinegar sauces.
- Thyme – stem-like herb with a licorice flavor that goes best with casseroles and stir-fried veggies.
The essential herbs presented above should be the staple of your plant-based diet. The great thing about these ingredients is their long-term use. Most of them will last for at least a week in your refrigerator. If you want to avoid wasting any leftover plants, you can easily submit them to a drying process that will make them viable for future use.
- Asparagus – perennial plant that you can boil, stir-fry or grill.
- Bell Peppers – ideal for weight loss and a good source of vitamins A and C.
- Broccoli – starchy vegetable rich in fibers and vitamins B6, E and magnesium.
- Cabbage – good to eat both cooked and raw and a good source of vitamin B1 and dietary fiber.
- Carrots – root vegetable rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants.
- Cucumbers – a potent source of vitamin K, biotin and pantothenic acid.
- Eggplant – rich in phytonutrients, niacin, and copper.
- Kale – green-leafed vegetable, low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Lettuce – good source of potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins B1, B6, and C.
- Olives – rich in antioxidants and healthy oils.
- Onions – an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and biotin.
- Potatoes – this starchy vegetable is rich in potassium, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid.
- Spinach – an excellent source of iron, vitamins A, K, B2, and B6.
- Squash – low in saturated fat and sodium.
- Tomatoes – good source of vitamin C, copper, niacin and dietary fiber.
- Turnip – very low in cholesterol and rich in vitamin C and B6.
The above list of essential vegetables only includes plants that are universally available and have a crucial importance in a plant based diet. There are much more types of vegetables that you can add to your nutrition plan and which are dependent on your geographical location. These plants offer a wide pallet of vitamins and minerals that properly nourish your metabolism on a daily basis.
- Alfalfa – sprout-like plant rich in Vitamin A and Calcium, and low in saturated fat.
- Beans – a great source of protein that is very low in cholesterol and sodium.
- Lentils – a good source of dietary fiber, iron, manganese and protein.
- Peanuts – rich in biotin, copper, and vitamins B1 and E.
- Peas – excellent source of vitamins C, B1, B6 and K, as well as molybdenum and zinc.
- Soybeans – rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and magnesium.
Legumes are highly important for a plant based diet because they replace many of the protein sources derived from animal products. Almost all the plants in this category are very rich in dietary fiber, which makes them perfect ingredients for a weight loss meal plan and a healthy metabolism.
- Apples – rich in dietary fiber; fat-free and low in sodium and cholesterol.
- Avocados – high in healthy fats, vitamins C and K, and pantothenic acid.
- Bananas – excellent source of potassium, manganese and vitamin B6.
- Blueberries – important source of unique antioxidants and vitamin C.
- Grapes and raisins – rich in beta-carotene, lutein and vitamin B2.
- Grapefruits – good source of vitamins A and C, as well as copper and biotin.
- Kiwi – rich in dietary fiber and vitamins C, E, and K.
- Lemons and limes – excellent source of vitamin C and low in saturated fat.
- Oranges – powerful resource of vitamins A, B1, C, and calcium.
- Pineapple – rich in dietary fiber, copper and vitamin C.
- Pears – good source of potassium and dietary fiber.
- Prunes – excellent source of sorbitol and dietary fiber.
- Strawberries – low in sodium, fat, cholesterol and with zero calories.
- Watermelon – rich in vitamins A, B1, B6 and C, as well as in magnesium and biotin.
Fruits are a natural desert that can supply your body with the necessary amount of organic sugars. By consuming at least two servings of fruit every day, you can eliminate the need for processed sugar from your diet. More than that, you provide your body with an enormous amount of vitamins and antioxidants that improve your immune system.
- Barley – an excellent source of dietary fiber, copper, selenium, and niacin.
- Chia – rich in antioxidants, carbohydrates, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Maize – splendid source of magnesium and phosphorous, and low in saturated fat and sodium.
- Oats – powerful resource of molybdenum, dietary fiber, manganese, and copper.
- Quinoa – good source of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein.
- Brown Rice – starchy cereal that is very high in dietary fiber, and an excellent source of carbohydrates.
- White Rice – starchy grain that is rich in vitamins B and E, but low in dietary fiber, fat, and cholesterol.
- Rye – an excellent source of magnesium, zinc, iron and dietary fiber.
- Wheat – powerful source of protein, dietary fiber, niacin, and manganese.
Cereals are the staple foods consumed on a planetary scale. Wheat, Maize, and Rice are the basis of every meal in Europe, North America, and Asia respectively. Because they are rich in dietary fiber and micronutrients, these foods provide both a fulfilling meal and easy digestion. Recently, plant based diets have included chia and quinoa as integral parts of a healthy nutrition plan. These two ingredients are also known as pseudo-cereals or superfoods due to their high amount of beneficial nutrients, healthy fats, and protein.
- Almonds – great source of vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Brazil Nuts – high in dietary fiber, selenium, copper, and magnesium.
- Cashews – rich in healthy fats, zinc and vitamin E.
- Chestnuts – low in calories and rich in vitamin C.
- Hazelnuts – good source of vitamin C, calcium and potassium.
- Macadamia Nuts – very rich in vitamin A, protein, niacin and iron.
- Pecans – excellent source of folic acid, magnesium, vitamins A and E, and calcium.
- Pistachios – rich in fiber, protein, and potassium.
- Walnuts – great source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and niacin.
Nuts are considered fruits in biological terms. However, in gastronomy, they are regarded as a different food category. You can view them as highly-concentrated doses of vitamins and nutrients that can replace significant amounts of fruits or vegetables in a single serving. Nuts are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats that efficiently replace meats and animal products in a vegan diet.
How to grow plants at home
Edible plants have the unique advantage of growing and thriving in extreme conditions. More and more people profit from this fact to grow their herbs at home. You do not need any farming experience or the supervision of a professional gardener to have a kitchen full of potted plants. The main benefit of this practice is that you will always have fresh produce in a hands-reach and you will even save a few pennies by cutting them off of your grocery list.
Preparing the pots
The first thing that you should consider when growing plants at home is the preparation process. You will have to find the ideal conditions for the herbs you want to sow like lighting, watering requirements and their length span. This step will save you a lot of trouble in your endeavor. For example, basil needs plenty of sunshine and water while rosemary can easily develop into dark conditions and with sparse watering.
Next, you will have to make sure that the soil you use is suitable for your plants. The farmer’s market is the best resource for various types of soil and where you can purchase adequate quantities for your pots. The latter have to be taken into consideration as well. For example, parsley is a perennial plant that does not require a lot of space to thrive. Therefore, you will only need a small can to sustain its growth. On the other hand, plants like fennel or carrots will require tall, large pots that will allow their bulbs and roots to develop properly.
Sowing herb seeds
The best way to sow plants at home is with seedlings. However, not all herbs are available in this form, and most of them spend a short time in this growing stage. Your best choice for growing aromatic herbs is to use seeds. You can find them at the farmer’s market or local producers in dry form.
Planting Herb seeds are rather simple once you get the hang of it and you learn the ground rules of this process. First off, you need to sow different plants in different pots. Next, you will need to keep the soil in which you planted them in a constant state of humidity. Last but not least, you will need a lot of patience. Most herbs need between 6 and 18 days to spring from the ground. Do not rummage through the pots to see their progress as you might ruin the entire development process.
Gardening has become a relaxing hobby for many people, even for those who do not have a garden and live in tiny apartments. The prospect of growing vegetables in such conditions challenges some of them to impressive home-gardening experiments. Many people have proved that you can grow fresh produce that go great with your plant based diet simply by using seedlings.
Some of the vegetables that you can grow in your home include carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic. The fruits that have a good chance of thriving on your balcony are citruses like lemons, mandarins or oranges. Add to them legumes like beans and clover and you get a good selection of ingredients that can be present on your table during any meal of the day.
Seedlings are very easy to plant and sustain. Just like with the herbs, you will need to consider pot dimensions, soil quality, light exposure and watering requirements for every different type of plant. Imagine your pots as small patches of land that you must protect on a daily basis to ensure a fruitful harvest. The great advantage about planting seedlings is that you skip the underground development stage of the plant and you observe its evolution above the soil from day one.
Harvesting the plants
Now that your plants are up and running you will have to consider a future date for the crop. Naturally, each herb, fruit or vegetable has its evolutionary process, which you will have to take into account.
Most of the herbs that you have in your home have a fast rate of growth and recovery. This natural advantage allows you to use clippings of their leaves and stems for your daily meals. More than that, you will be able to multiply the stalks by propagating cuttings into other pots. This practice works perfectly for plants like parsley, rosemary, basil and mint.
Vegetables and fruits have a slower development. Most plants require two or three months of sustained growth to become productive. For example, it takes almost three months before an ingrown carrot can develop to a mature size. Potatoes planted in the same environment will take around ten weeks before you can harvest them. Onions and garlic may take between 4 to 7 weeks to become edible. Therefore, you might have a little trouble trying to plan your next vegetable stew made entirely from home-grown plants. The good news is that you can store most of this produce for a long-term period in your pantry.
Drying and storing herbs
After a year of growing plants in your home, you will have a large quantity of produce that you will need to put into storage. Since you cannot possibly consume your entire harvest while it is still fresh, it is crucial that you know the basic rules of storing it.
There are very few herbs that you can grow indoors and which you cannot store for a long time. These include fennel leaves, dill, and chives. For the others, you can use a simple drying process that will maintain their flavor and color for at least six months. After removing the herbs from the pot, lightly wash them and pat them with paper towels. Next, tie them in a small bunch and wrap them in a paper to protect them from dust, insects and other altering agents. Poke small holes around them to allow the air to circulate and hang them in an obscure location like a garage, a shed or an attic. Remember that dried plants have a more powerful aroma and they might ruin your dish if you overuse them.
Storing homegrown vegetables allows you to have access to necessary food resources without spending any money at the farmer’s market. The main rule that you need to follow to keep them edible for as long as possible is always to store them in a cool and dry place. Raw potatoes may last in your pantry for at least two weeks, but they can maintain their nutritional value for at least two months if you keep them in a cellar or a basement. Carrots have a shelf life of almost three weeks, but they can last for nearly eight weeks in your refrigerator.
Bonus tips for homegrown plants
Feed organic waste to your plants – You can enrich the soil beneath your homegrown plants by burying banana peels and egg shells in it. The potassium and other mineral compounds will fertilize the herbs and keep some pests at bay.
Bribe slugs with money – If your garden is overwhelmed with slugs, you can protect your plants by placing small coins around their stalks. The mollusks hate metal, and they will rummage far from the area of “money land mines.”
Wash the rodents away – No matter what you choose to grow in your garden, it won’t take long before rodents pay you a visit. To protect the plants from these pests, you can spray the leaves with kitchen soap, which is a strong repellant for small rodents.
The best ways to cook plant-based meals
The best thing about adopting a diet composed of vegetables and herbs is that you can have both cooked meals and fresh, raw dishes. There is a multitude of recipes that you can prepare without meat or animal products and which are healthier and even better tasting. Ultimately, the cooking process is down to everybody’s personal taste and dietary needs. If you want to benefit from an unaltered amount of vitamins, you should eat the veggies and the fruits in their raw form. On the other hand, if you prefer hot meals to cold appetizers, you can try your hand at a high number of cooking methods.
A plant based diet allows you to prepare several different dishes every week without repeating them. This versatility creates a sense of excitement every time you open the refrigerator doors and fuels your culinary creativity. A healthy meal plan includes as many vegetables, fruits and herbs as possible. Since you cannot combine all of them on a single platter, you will need to establish a set of rules that distributes the necessary amount of nutrients throughout the day. Here are a few ideas that will help you in this endeavor:
What to eat for breakfast
Breakfast is without any doubt the most important meal of the day. To approach the pre-lunch period with a maximum amount of energy, you will need to nourish your body with the right fuel. Some of the best plant meals that you can have for breakfast include:
- Vegan cereals (chia, oats, wheat, quinoa) with almond milk
- Oatmeal pancakes
- Chickpea waffles
- Tofu omelet with veggies
- Banana bread
- Carrot cake
- Tofu tapas
- Quinoa cereal with nuts and soy milk
- Toast with avocado and tomatoes
- Fresh fruit smoothies
What to eat for lunch
Lunch is for many the most expected meal of the day. It is the time when you can take a break off work or house chores and enjoy a simple, yet nutritious meal. By now, you have already consumed the energy provided by a hearty breakfast. Therefore, you will need a new surge of nutrients to keep you in shape until dinner time. Here are a few ideas of the best dishes based on plants that you can have for lunch:
- Vegan soups (lentils, peas, beans, etc.)
- Sweet potato salad with kale
- Veggies and Quinoa Salad
- Fresh vegetable salad
- Couscous with chickpeas and mushrooms
- Butternut squash puree
- Pasta with stir-fried veggies
- Quinoa Stew
- Rice with vegetables
- Vegan curry
- Meat-free chili
- Vegan spring rolls
What to eat for dinner
Dinner is that particular time of the day when you gather with your loved ones around the family table. As you go over the day’s main events, you should feast upon a delicious and healthy meal. The perfect dinner menu based on vegetables or herbs must be light, yet fulfilling. Here are a few ideas that will round up your daily vegan diet in the best possible way:
- Burrito Bowl with kale and avocado
- Oven-baked veggie casserole
- Fresh pasta with pesto
- Brown rice with stir-fried eggplant
- Black beans with fresh tomato sauce
- Corn salad with avocado and mushrooms
- Baked potatoes with tofu cheese
- Stir-fried rice noodles with veggies
- Squash stew with white rice
- Vegan stew with polenta
- Cauliflower stew with fresh chard salad
- Spicy couscous with pan-roasted tomatoes
What snacks to have in between meals
Almost every diet requires between 3-5 meals per day. In the case of a plant-only nutrition plan, you must provide your body with a constant intake of vitamins and nutrients throughout the day. This fact means that you will have to squeeze some snacks in between the three most important meals. These nibbles can double as desserts after any meal as well, but they have to be healthy, energetic and satisfying. Here are a few small meals that you can munch on at any time of the day:
- Nut Bowls (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, Brazil nuts, etc.)
- Raw celery with peanut butter
- Vegan crackers with tofu cheese
- Dehydrated veggie chips (potatoes, kale)
- Fresh made guacamole
- Fresh veggies with hummus
- Candied fruit (dates, figs, raisins)
- Berries Bowls (blueberries, strawberries, Goji berries, etc.)
- Fresh fruit salad
- Vegan chocolate
- Granola bars
- Vegan Milkshakes (almond milk with egg-free ice cream)
And here is something you can print and organize yourself on a weekly basis – download mealplan.pdf.
5 simple vegetables and fruits based diet recipes
A plant based meal plan allows you to be versatile and creative. It also gives you flexibility in the way that you can prepare simple, quick dishes that you can take with you anywhere. This diet is perfect for people who cannot afford to waste their time cooking, and who look for easy meals that they can take to work. Here are five ideas for dishes that you can prepare without meat or animal products:
Avocado and Quinoa Salad
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 2 cups of water
- ½ cup of kale leaves
- Four sticks of asparagus
- 1 cup of avocado, cut into squares
- One tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pour the water into a small pot over medium heat.
- Add salt and bring it to a boil.
- Add the quinoa and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Drain the cereal and set aside.
- In a small skillet, fry the asparagus in olive oil.
- Remove from the heat and place the sticks on kitchen towels to soak up the grease.
- Next, cut the sticks into smaller pieces
- In a large bowl, mix the quinoa with the avocado, the asparagus, and the kale leaves.
- Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over everything, and serve.
Vegan Spring Rolls
Ingredients (2 servings)
- Four egg-free spring roll wrappers
- ½ cup of green cabbage, shredded
- ½ cup of carrots, shredded
- Two green onions cut into small pieces
- 1 cup of black beans, cooked
- ½ cup of herbs (mint, basil, cilantro, etc.)
- One tablespoon of soy sauce
- One tablespoon of lime juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large bowl, mix all the veggies and the herbs.
- In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the soy sauce, the salt, and the pepper.
- Mix well and adjust the vinaigrette’s taste to your liking.
- Pour it over the mixture in the larger bowl and combine well.
- Set the mixture aside for 10 minutes.
- In this time, submerge the egg-free spring roll wrappers into lukewarm water until they become pliable.
- Take the wrappers out of the water and place them on a serving plate.
- Add around two tablespoons of the mixture to every serving.
- Wrap the spring rolls and serve.
Whole-wheat Pasta with stir-fried veggies
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 10 ounces of whole-wheat pasta
- 10 cups of water
- One red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- One green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup of mushrooms, thinly sliced
- One garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
- Two stalks of celery, diced
- ½ cup of fresh basil, chopped
- Four tablespoons of olive oil
- One teaspoon of lime juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pour the water into a large pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- Add the pasta and cook for eight minutes.
- Drain and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, or wok over high heat.
- Add the vegetables and fry them for 5-7 minutes.
- Season them with salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta to the large skillet and mix thoroughly over medium heat for 30 seconds.
- Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to the serving plates.
- In a small bowl, mix the remaining olive oil with the lime juice and the basil.
- Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and the vegetables and serve.
Vegan Curry with Zucchini and Chickpeas
Ingredients (4 servings)
- Two zucchini, diced
- One sweet potato, diced
- One onion, diced
- One garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups of chickpeas, cooked and drained
- ½ cup of cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup of sunflower seeds, unsalted
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- One teaspoon of curry powder
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- One teaspoon of ginger, grated
- 1 cup of vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onion and the sweet potato and cook for 8-12 minutes.
- Add the garlic, the curry powder, the ginger, and the spices and season everything with salt and pepper.
- Cook for another minute
- Pour in the tomatoes, the zucchini, and the chickpeas.
- Pour in the vegetable stock, too.
- Mix well and cover with a lid.
- Lower the heat and let everything simmer for 12-15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the curry to the serving bowls and sprinkle cilantro and sunflowers seeds over.
- Serve immediately!
Oatmeal Waffles with Blueberries
Ingredients (2 servings)
- 1 cup of wheat flour
- One tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of oats, pre-cooked
- 2 cups of almond milk
- One tablespoon of olive oil
- One teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Four tablespoons of maple syrup
- 1 cup of fresh blueberries
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- Olive oil spray
- In a large bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and the salt.
- Add the oats and mix well.
- In a small bowl, combine the almond milk with the olive oil, the vanilla extract and two tablespoons of maple syrup.
- Combine the two mixtures in the larger bowl and stir thoroughly.
- Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the blueberries to the batter while the waffle iron is heating.
- Spray the iron waffle with olive oil and pour in a ladle of batter.
- Cook for 30 seconds on each side, or according to the iron waffle instructions.
- Transfer the waffles to the serving plates and top with the remaining maple syrup and blueberries.
- Serve right away!
Raw food diet
The raw food diet is rather new to the large family of nutrition plans. Its core philosophy is that any form of cooking destroys the nutritional value of fresh produce. Many raw eaters believe that most ailments, such as cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease are a consequence of cooked food. Some of them even advocate the idea that by heating, boiling, grilling or frying our food we turn it into a toxic matter. These suppositions have yet to encounter scientific proof. Nevertheless, many adepts of the raw food diet have managed to lose weight in a healthy manner and maintain their fitness without physical exercise.
What to eat and what to avoid
A very select category of raw eaters believes that almost any type of organic matter can be consumed, including meat and animal products. Their theory tends more to the extreme side of an all-natural meal plan and deviates from the whole goal of a weight loss diet based only on plants.
The raw food diet has been successful for many vegan people, as this nutrition plan only allows you to consume fresh produce. Many of them choose to warm some vegetables and fruits and still consider them part of the diet as long as the heating temperature does not exceed 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48o Celsius). Here are some examples of what you should consume to stay within the limits of the raw food diet:
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Dried grains
- Cold-pressed oils
- Foods fermented at room temperature
The good thing about this nutrition plan is that it allows you to use any electric apparel in your kitchen, as long as it does not alter the temperature of the ingredients. Therefore, you can safely use food processors, blenders and fruit dehydrators.
On the other hand, you have to avoid all products of animal origin, including meat, eggs and dairy products, as well as fish and seafood. Honey is not allowed in a raw meal plan. Even though this food is not thermally processed, according to the vegan guidelines, it is a produce of animal labor.
Sample menu of uncooked food
If you are a beginner of the raw food diet, you might find it difficult to organize a versatile meal plan for a full month or even a single week. Nevertheless, this diet allows you to combine vegetables, herbs, and fruits in a wide range of possibilities. Your best option is to start with your favorite raw foods and gradually insert new ingredients to create original and exciting dishes.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Fruit smoothies
- Water-soaked oatmeal with nuts
- Mixed Bowls of fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds
- Veggie salads with cold-pressed oil vinaigrettes
- Raw veggie pasta made from squash, zucchini or turnip
- Raw tomato soup with fresh celery
- Raw mushroom and kale salad
- Vegan sushi with quinoa sprouts
- Vegetable salads with dried fruits
- Fresh avocado paste with celery
- Fruit bowls (Fresh or dried)
- Sprouts and mixed nuts
The raw diet supporters believe that this type of nutrition can prevent a vast number of ailments, including mental disorders, memory loss, and dementia. One of their main arguments is that the human race started its evolutionary process before the discovery of fire. Therefore, our ancestors managed to survive and develop without consuming cooked food.
The modern age has severely altered human nutrition. A big part of a free diet is composed of processed foods and chemically infused products. From this point of view, the raw food diet, and especially raw veganism makes a valid point: you obtain more nutrients from uncooked food than from most of the thermally-processed ingredients.
Nevertheless, many doctors have opposed this type of nutrition because of its overly restrictive rules. Specialists believe that a raw food diet may lead to severe medical problems. More than that, there is no proof that our ancestors had a disease-free lifestyle based on consuming only fresh produce.
Lose weight by going raw
Weight loss is the biggest, and probably the only advantage of keeping a raw food diet. Raw vegans manage to obtain a slim figure in a short period, and they also maintain it without a single visit to the gym. The answer behind this quick method of losing weight is that you do not provide your body with any processed fat or sugar. In fact, the only calories you consume come from fatty acids and healthy oils found in nuts and fresh vegetables.
A raw diet forbids any thermally processed ingredient. As it is the case, you can safely consume fermented alcohol like wine on a regular basis. To achieve a steady and healthy weight loss, you will have to manage your alcohol consumption. Many raw eaters fail to trim their waistline mainly because they reward their eating efforts with daily glasses of Chardonnay.
Pros and Cons of a raw vegan diet
The raw diet has a serious number of benefits. Otherwise, it would not have received so much support from the vegan community. First of all, by following this diet, you get to consume only fresh produce, and your body is well-nourished with high-quality fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Secondly, the calorie intake provided by a raw meal plan is minuscule, and it supports healthy weight loss over a short period.
On the other side, a raw food diet can lead to significant health problems, especially if you implement it in an abrupt manner. For some people, the nutrients in fresh veggies, fruits and herbs may not be enough to sustain a healthy metabolism and an active immune system. Also, cooking has been proven to facilitate the digestion of many plant products, as well as increasing their nutritional values. In the end, the human race has reached this stage of evolution partly to cooked food, too. By thermally altering fresh produce, they have obtained a versatile nutrition and an increased number of life-sustaining dishes that are part of our diet even today.
Local vs. imported plants
There is an ongoing debate about which food is better: the one produced in your local community or the products brought from other territories? The advocates of locally-grown produce believe that investing in local farms builds a stronger economy and creates a more meaningful bond between members of the same community. The ones who support imports base their ideas on the necessity of expanding markets and globalization, which in the long term leads to lower prices of production and product versatility.
Whether you buy your food at the farmer’s market or in a franchise supermarket, you are directly influenced by this competition. The effects are visible only years later in your nutrition plan and your health condition. Therefore, it is crucial that you have a good understanding of where your food comes from, the cost of its production and its nutritional value. Also, your choice has a long-term impact on the environment and the quality of life, both in your community and in other countries.
What is local food?
Local food refers to products that have a geographic proximity to the consumer of at most 100 miles. These products are more than often the result of planting or foraging by a member of the community defined by the 100-mile radius.
The benefits of consuming local foods revolve around the whole nature and nutritional value provided by fresh products. The vegetables, fruits, and herbs harvested in your region hit the store shelves as soon as they reach their maximum stage of development. On the other side, imported produce is stored for months before reaching a selling destination and loses a lot of its nutrients in this process.
Since they do not have to prepare their harvests for long-term storage, many local farmers avoid using chemicals like pesticides and insecticide. This strategy decreases the alteration process of plants and herbs, thus making them healthier and more beneficial for human consumption.
Why do we import plants?
With all the advantages of locally-produced food, one would wonder what the need of introducing other products is. The reason is purely economic, and it is related to climate conditions and purchasing power.
For example, the northern states of the US have a sound financial status, but due to the cold weather, they are unable to grow oranges or tomatoes. Therefore, the state buys these products from states or countries located in the southern states of the country, or even the countries below that border, like Mexico, Colombia, and Ecuador.
The South American countries produce large productions of various plants because they benefit from a warm climate. However, their poor economic status prevents them from establishing other industries, so they have to sell their products to the northern states. Therefore, by importing veggies and fruits from other countries, you support the economy of less-fortunate farmers and their communities.
How is our diet affected?
At the end of the day, your health is the top priority of your nutrition plan, regardless the origins of your food. One would argue that you cannot go wrong by buying only locally produced plants. However, it all boils down to the scale of production and the farmer’s intent. You may purchase chard or apples from the farmer’s market, but if these products are the result of a farming style of industrial proportions, you might as well buy them from another continent. Their nutrition value is surely diminished and contaminated by chemical treatments.
If you want to ensure that the plants in your vegan diet are highly nutritious and have a low level of contamination, you will have to do a bit of research. Start by looking for the farmers in your local community. Visit them and see the entire process of sowing and harvesting vegetables and fruits. Once you realize the true organic nature of these products, you can establish certain criteria of to define your buying priorities.
It might be that none of your local producers implement environment-friendly policies in their plant-growing strategies. In this case, you will have to check with the local supermarkets and see where they import their products from on a regular basis. Next, look for the outside farmers that use the least amount of chemicals or alteration substances. This way, you will have a good idea about where your food comes from, regardless of its origin.
How is the environment affected?
The scenario of having your local community overcrowded with organic farms might appear like a heavenly picture to many consumers. However, there is one more aspect that you need to take into account when discussing the origins of the food in your diet: the environment.
Food production implies more than just sowing seeds and harvesting plants. The farming process includes processing, packaging, and transportation – services that require the use of electricity, oil, and coal. All the emissions resulting from these activities have a direct negative impact on the environment. Therefore, a community packed with organic farms can lead to an unhealthy paradox: the more food you produce in an area, the more toxic this field will become in the long-term.
Another aspect of local farming that lies heavily on the environment is greenhouse gas emission. Environmental scientists have estimated that at least 1% of the total emissions from a household come from farm animals. It might seem like a minuscule figure, but if you consider a community with a large number of homes and livestock farms, you are looking at a significant environmental bomb of catastrophic proportions. Thankfully, the solution to this problem is quite simple: consume less meat and animal products, and follow a plant based diet to decrease the number of toxic emissions.
In the end, the debate between local and imported plants does not have a decisive winner. Of course, it is a good thing to support the local economy, but you don’t want to do that at the expense of destroying the environment. It is beneficial to help less fortunate farmers, but you must also pay attention to the nutritional value of the products you consume and their effect on your overall well-being.
Myth or reality: plant-based diet for weight loss
Health surveyors estimate that nearly 40% of the population in the United States is overweight or struggling with obesity. Almost 10% of this segment suffers from a morbid form of obesity that drastically reduces their life expectancy and inflicts serious health ailments. These facts show a tragic decrease of the people’s interest for health, and also a grim forecast for future generations. When current individuals have no regard for their well-being, they also endanger their DNA material, which results in weaker immune systems for the generations to come.
A study from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revealed that the primary cause for the rapid rise of obesity in the country is an effect of the increase in meat consumption between 1983 and 2000. During this period, the US citizens consumed with almost 20% more meat and animal products than in other historical periods. The addition of highly-processed foods and saturated fat has also added to this negative surge and resulted in the present average American weighing with almost 60lbs more than a similar individual who lived in the 1950s.
Is veganism the answer to obesity?
All the disturbing facts presented above are asking for a significant nutritional revolution in the US. Many diets and meal plans are taken into consideration to reverse, or at least stop the decaying process of the average American’s health. One nutrition plan seems to be gaining more support than others, and it does so by advocating a simple premise: implementing a plant-based diet.
Vegans have the wrong image of picky eaters. Their passion for animal rights is often the subject of bad humor, as well. However, their results in weight loss and preventing obesity are un-debatable. Doctors estimate that by following a diet comprised only of vegetables and fruits you have a small risk of gaining weight or suffer from fat-related medical conditions.
Real benefits of all-plant diets
By eating only whole foods and eliminating animal products from your nutrition plan you decrease the number of calories you take in. More than that, a diet that exchanges processed sugar for natural fruits and meat protein for the protein found in cereals and nuts reduces the bad cholesterol and saturated fats intake. All these benefits lead to a healthier lifestyle and a minor chance of suffering from fat-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.
The myths of the vegan approach
Veganism and all-plant based diets have a proven rate of success concerning health and illness prevention. However, there is a limit to which you can take these nutrition plans without endangering your wellness.
Unfortunately, some staunch followers of vegan philosophy have taken their approach a bit too far. There are the ones who follow a strictly raw diet and the people who refuse any direct human manipulation of the products they consume. These extreme views have gained prominent supporters, but have failed to prove more benefits than the traditional plant based diet. On the contrary, exaggerated meal plans can lead to major health problems like anorexia or under-nutrition.
Weight loss as an impending necessity
The current state of health of the average American is calling for necessary changes in nutritional approach and dieting. As meat consumption has led to this unfortunate reality, it seems only logical that by eating fewer animal products the entire process could be reversed. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple.
If you are struggling with obesity, a diet based only on vegetables, fruits and herbs will help you lose weight in a safe and healthy way. A long-term meal plan that does not include meat, fish, eggs or dairy products will help you get rid of the fat layer around your midriff. However, for you to maintain a fit body and a healthy metabolism, you will have to make this type of nutrition plan an integrant part of your lifestyle for as long as possible.
Can we talk about proteins when consuming fruits and vegetables?
When people pass from a regular meal plan to a plant based diet they are faced with the same dilemma: where will I get my protein from, now that I will not consume meat anymore? If you are wondering the same thing, you must know that there are no reasons to despair. Many people live healthily, happily lives on vegetarian or vegan diets without missing the amount of protein obtained from animal products. Certain vegetables and fruits are rich in protein and which offer an ideal substitute for the same compound found in meat.
What are proteins?
Proteins are an essential compound for the human health. They are links of amino acids that can be found both in the food that you eat and in the chemical processes of your body. The role of proteins is to morph into enzymes that transport oxygen through your body. Their role is also to maintain the health of your muscles and to morph into antibodies whenever your immune system is under attack. Surviving without proteins in your body is impossible.
There are various forms of protein, and they range in complexity depending on the number of amino acids they can link together. Meat protein is the most sophisticated kind as it can chain nine amino acids, which is most than protein from any other foods, including plants can combine. Nevertheless, the human body can function perfectly without consuming animal protein as long as this compound comes from other sources like vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The daily recommended protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, and you can reach this figure by eating a wide variety of plants.
Which vegetables contain protein?
By following a diet rich in plants you will never suffer from protein deficiency. You can encounter this compound in various amounts in all green-leafed vegetables. However, if you want to reach the daily recommended protein intake, you can try combining some of these:
- Sprouts (from beans, lentils, peas, soybeans) – 13.1g of protein for every 100g of produce
- Green peas – 5.4g for every 100g
- Kale – 4.3g for every 100g
- Broccoli – 3.8g for every 100g
- Mushrooms – 3.6g for every 100g
- Sweet corn – 3.3g for every 100g
- Spinach – 3g for every 100g
- Parsley – 3g for every 100g
- Brussels Sprouts – 2.6g for every 100g
- Asparagus – 2.4g for every 100g
- Cauliflower – 1.9g for every 100g
Do fruits have protein?
Protein can come from food sources other than meat or vegetables. Virgin oils and fatty nuts like almonds, pistachios, and cashews carry a right amount of healthy protein. However, if you want a quick fix of this compound, you should eat some of these fruits:
- Guavas – 2.6g of protein for every 100g of produce
- Passion fruit – 2.2g for every 100g
- Avocados – 2g for every 100g
- Pomegranate – 1.7g for every 100g
- Blackberries – 1.4 g for every 100g
- Apricots – 1.4g for every 100g
- Currants – 1.4g for every 100g
- Raspberries – 1.2g for every 100g
- Nectarines – 1.1g for every 100g
- Grapefruits – 0.9g for every 100g
- Peaches – 0.9g for every 100g
Will I miss animal protein?
Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians have no risk of protein deficiency because of their meat-free diets. The fact that they can obtain this compound together with other essential nutrients from vegetables and fruits is enough to maintain a healthy metabolism. More than that, plant dieters who cannot consume a broad variety of fresh fruit and herbs, they can get a decent amount of proteins from soy products, nuts, and cooked whole grains.
If you submit to extreme forms of dieting, such as the raw food nutrition plan, you might struggle with some issues regarding protein deficiency at least in the beginning. Every nutritional change that you go through has the power to destabilize the internal chemical processes of your body. Therefore, it will take a while until your metabolism adapts to obtaining protein only from raw produce.
List of the most common conditions that can be effectively treated with plants
Nature is the first source of medicine every time we encounter an illness of any kind. Most of the ailments humans suffer from can find a reliable treatment in herbal extracts and plant essences. This fact is the reason why doctors recommend a plant based diet and a reduction of animal products every time a patient is suffering from a disease.
If you are struggling with an illness, you should be aware of the remedial powers found in vegetables and fruits. Before you ask your doctor for prescribed medicine, try to treat or alleviate your condition with plants. Here are 20 of the most common ailments that you can cure with natural herbs:
One of the leading causes of death in North America represented by cardiovascular diseases. By consuming nuts and whole grains on a daily basis, you reduce the risk of having a heart attack with as much as 40%. The elimination of dairy products and meat from your diet also contributes to this real improvement.
A high level of bad cholesterol can lead to severe conditions like diabetes and obesity. Cholesterol is influenced mainly by animal by-products like eggs and fat dairy. First, you have to get rid of them from your diet and replace them with oats, beans, virgin oils and citrus fruits. These foods of plant origins decrease the amount of high cholesterol in your body and maintain it at a simple level.
High Blood Pressure
People who struggle with high blood pressure have a significant chance of suffering a heart attack or a brain hemorrhage. To reduce your blood pressure, you will have to consume whole grains at least once every day. Other plants that serve well to this purpose include flax seed, pistachios, apples, beets, pomegranates and olives.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the US. In advanced stages, this medical condition leads to blindness, heart attacks, and kidney failure. If the doctor diagnoses you with this illness, your best choice of keeping it under control is to implement a plant based diet. Many vegetables and fruits can help you on this matter, but the ones with the highest remedial action include avocados, beans, carrots, asparagus, blueberries, and broccoli.
Colon cancer is most of the times an unforgiving, fatal disease. If you are in the first stages of this illness, you will need to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, such as kale, spinach, broccoli, oranges, kiwis and collard greens. These plants are rich in calcium and vitamin D – compounds needed profoundly for your recovery.
A recent study has revealed that women who consume less meat have a lower chance of suffering from breast cancer. Cutting animal products from your diet is a good way of forcing this illness into remission. However, you can also use the help of plants like whole grains, lettuce, chard, chickpeas, spinach, and beets. Their composition of vitamins, fiber, and iron has a curing effect on breast cancer.
If you have received a diagnose of prostate cancer, it is time to switch to a plants-only diet. Medical studies have shown that men who made this radical change managed to cure their diseases while being in the first stages of contamination. You can increase the curing process by eating plants rich in lycopene, such as tomatoes, or rich in antioxidants like soybeans, green tea, and pomegranates.
Arthritis is a medical condition usually attributed to old age. A recent study has shown that people who have consumed dairy products for most of their lives have a bigger chance of contacting arthritis even before they reach their retirement age. To prevent this situation, you will have to reduce or eliminate the dairy products in your meal plan. An even safer way to protect your body from this illness is to consume broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, chia seeds and walnuts. These plants are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, which alleviates rheumatoid pains.
Osteoporosis affects your bone health. This medical condition can affect you at a different stage in your life. However, you can find a safe curing action in plants that contain generous amounts of Calcium, lycopene and vitamin D. Add to your daily meals these ingredients: carrots, tomatoes, turnips, collard greens, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, and bananas.
Skin conditions can surface from a wide number of causes: hereditary genes, sun exposure, allergies, etc. To alleviate the issues caused by skin conditions you need to consume plants with a high amount of antioxidants and vitamin C. Some of the best ingredients that you can include in your daily diet are: bell peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, citrus fruits, blueberries, strawberries, and guavas.
Eye Cataracts is a severe medical condition that may lead to complete blindness if it is left untreated. You may treat this illness with eye surgery, but you will also have to support the curing process with a plant based diet. Some of the best vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you can consume to treat this ailment include spinach, carrots, kale, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits. Their potent mix of vitamin C and beta-carotene are necessary for optimum eye health.
Nutritional experts have proven that obesity is a direct cause of a diet that abounds in meat and animal products. By switching to a plant based nutrition plan, you can stop the weight gaining process. More than that, you can even get rid of your excess body fat by consuming these ingredients: fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies, spinach, kale, potatoes, beans, almonds, berries and hot peppers. These plants are low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Also, they improve digestion and prevent your body from storing extra fat cells.
It has well-known that certain foods, like broccoli, red meat and dairy can have an adverse influence on the human body odor. If you are struggling with this bothersome condition, you can improve the way you smell to the ones around you by consuming more citrus fruits and aromatic herbs. Plants like rosemary, thyme, and peppermint can help your skin emanate a fresh odor. Fruits like oranges, lemons, and kiwi add a lively, improved scent to your body and cover the traces left by other foods.
Bad breath can lead to awkward social experiences. It is common sense that if you have consumed garlic, onion or alcohol, it is best to stay at home for the next 6-8 hours. Fortunately, some plants can make your breath smell good, such as lemons, oranges, anise, and fennel. These herbs and fruits are rich in vitamin C and can cover the usual stench you have in your mouth, making you feel comfortable in social interactions.
Apathy is the effect of a low level of energy, which in turn is the result of a chemical imbalance in your body. To solve this issue and regain your high-spirited energy, you must eliminate meat product from your diet and replace them with plants rich in potassium, magnesium, and iron. The ideal ingredients that can help you on this matter include spinach, bananas, brown rice, green-leafed vegetables and whole wheat grains.
You can treat hair loss with several medicinal drugs and lotions. However, the primary cause for losing your threads lies underneath your scalp, and it is the consequence of a severe lack of nutrients. Fortunately, you can nourish your body to better health and your hair follicles back to life by consuming these plants: spinach, oatmeal, guavas, lentils and sweet potatoes. These ingredients are rich in biotin, beta-carotene, iron and zinc, which are the essential nutrients for a shiny, luscious mane.
Your body lets you know if it is lacking nutrients through brittle, fragile nails. If you lack vitamin B, biotin and calcium, you are most likely endangering the health of your nails. To remediate this issue, you will need to consume plants that contain the nutrients mentioned above. Add to your daily meals these ingredients: carrots, cauliflower, spinach, whole grains, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, and nuts.
Headaches are usually the result of inadequate hydration, stress and mineral deficiency. Instead of taking prescribed medicine, try one of these medicinal plants every time you get a migraine: brown rice, broccoli, spinach, chard, cucumbers, apples, and watermelon. Their composition of antioxidants and fiber, as well as the high amount of water will relief the pressure off of your synapses.
Premenstrual syndrome comes with a significant number of pains for women who reach this stage in their lives. Many resort to comfort food to alleviate their problems, only to encounter further problems like weight gain and nutrient deficiency. A much better alternative to cure PMS pains comes in the form of plants that are rich in anti-inflammatory substances and dietary fiber. A few herbs, fruits and vegetables that you can include in your PMS-fighting diet include pumpkin seeds, whole grains, brown rice, soy milk, and oranges. Low-fat, vegan chocolate can also provide a smooth relief when the pains become unbearable.
An allergy is a natural response of your immune system that releases a high number of histamines when it comes in contact with a possible virus. The effects of this condition appear as swollen bumps, hives or red rashes on your body. To counter these issues, you can consume plants that are rich in vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, and quercetin, which is a natural histamine-reducer. The ideal ingredients that you can add to your diet include onions, berries, kiwis, quinoa seeds, pineapple, and parsley.
Benefits of consuming herbs on a daily basis
Every year, the medical field publishes more and more nutritional studies that support a meat-free diet. Many doctors believe that by consuming plants on a regular basis, you can increase your lifetime expectancy, avoid fatal diseases and maintain an active lifestyle. A diet based only on herbs, vegetables and fruit can quickly provide you with all the necessary nutrients and protein that sustain a healthy metabolism. Here are other benefits you obtain by eliminating animal products from your daily meal plans:
- An improved immune system
- More Youthful skin, hair, and nails
- Longer life
- More energy
- Healthier internal organs
- A lower Body Mass Index
- Reduced cholesterol
- Faster weight loss
- Smaller chance of contracting diabetes
- Low risk of heart diseases
- High cancer prevention
- A positive state of mind
- Less money spent on food
- An improved environment
Keeping a balance
Once you have decided to eliminate all animal products from your diet and adopt a nutrition style based solely on plants, it is crucial that you stick to your decision. Some people have failed in this endeavor, and they have reintroduced meat to their meal plan after just a few weeks of vegan dieting. Unfortunately for them, the consequences of this remission were negative. Very soon they were confronted with digestion problems, rapid weight gain, and skin allergies.
The idea is to consider this nutritional change as a long-term lifestyle and not as a temporary diet. The best way to ensure the success of your choice is to take it slow and steady. If you have been eating meat and animal products all your life, it is not a good idea to cut them abruptly from your meal plan. Unless a medical condition urges you to do otherwise, you should eliminate meat gradually from your daily meals. The same strategy works for dairy products and other ingredients of animal origin. Keep a balance of your nutritional habits and progressively insert new vegetables, fruits and herbs to your dishes.
The best option is your personal need
Ultimately, the best diet is the one that suits your particular need the most. You should always consume foods that match your lifestyle requirements and budget possibilities. If your work requires a high level of energy and physical effort, your best choice of plants includes whole grains, brown rice, bananas and starchy vegetables. On the other hand, if your budget does not allow you to purchase superfoods like quinoa, a chia seed, guavas and chickpea sprouts, your best alternative is to stick to highly-available vegetables and fruits, like potatoes, carrots, apples and beans.
There is no such thing as the ultimate nutritional plan, and the best plant based diet will work if you plan it correctly. Consider your medical history, your daily requirements and your determination before implementing this type of meals into your lifestyle. The immense benefits of a meat-free diet are yours for the taking, and you will notice them through the positive changes that will take place in your life.