Dr. Achyuthan Eswar - Mar 21, 2021
Are there any negatives to
going on a plant based diet?
Learn the pros, cons and safe ways to remove meat and dairy products from your diet
Thinking about a plant-based diet and still unsure? Here are some details that can help you get started.
What is a plant-based diet?
No Animal Foods. A whole food plant based diet excludes animal foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, honey, and dairy products.
No Processed Foods. A whole food plant based diet excludes processed foods, such as oil, sugar, jaggery, white rice, maida, and alcohol.
Whole Plant Foods. Instead, you will maximise your intake of whole plant foods, including fruits and dry fruits, vegetables and greens, pulses and legumes, whole grains including millets, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and even mushrooms.
Technically, though, mushrooms are fungi, but plant-and-fungus-based-diet does not sound nearly as cool as a Plant-based Diet!
Are plant-based diets healthy?
Research has shown that whole food plant based diets can help prevent, treat, and sometimes even reverse chronic lifestyle diseases & related symptoms, such as:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
- Ischemic Heart Disease & Heart Attacks
- Breast, Prostate and Colon Cancers
- High Cholesterol
The least controversial advice in all of nutrition is that fruits and vegetables are good for you! When you eliminate unhealthy foods containing cholesterol, saturated fat, and zero fiber, and replace them with healthy whole plant foods that are calorie dilute, containing zero cholesterol, high fiber, low to zero saturated fat, and high in antioxidants, your body responds with great improvements in health.
The Cons of a Plant Based Diet
Any good diet has its drawbacks... right?
Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest healthcare insurance providers in the world, published a scientific paper called Plant Based Diets: Nutritional Updates for Physicians. In it, they asked physicians to encourage their patients to adopt plant-based diets. The one industry that would benefit the most from people staying healthy is the insurance industry, after all! However, because they are an insurance company, they had to list out the side effects of plant-based diets to watch out for - they mentioned that while plant-based diets may help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body weight, it may happen too quickly, so keep an eye out! That's it!
The only potential side effect of a well planned plant-based diet seems to that it may work too well! So, bottom line is, if you have a pre-existing condition, it may be wise to consult a plant-based physician to supervise the shift to a plant-based diet and experience all of its health benefits.
How to Avoid Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies on a Plant-based Diet?
Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D are not produced by plants, so these may be lacking from a plant based diet. Here's why.
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria that live in mud in natural environments. Up until the time we were living natural lifestyles, in physical contact with mud, drinking water from natural rivers and streams, we may have been able to get enough vitamin B12. However, today, our sanitised lifestyles in the city prevent us from getting B12 - and also cholera, so it's probably a good thing! The safest and most dependable way to get enough Vitamin B12 is through a supplement - that's why we created the Flaxseed B12 laddu, fortified with exactly as much Vitamin B12 as you need everyday, based on your age. We recommend cyanocobalamin, 70 mcg daily for ages up to 65 years, and 1000 mcg daily for ages 65+.
Vitamin D is produced by the human body when exposed to sunlight. In a tropical country like India, 20 to 30 minutes of direct sun exposure on face and arms may be sufficient to produce all the vitamin D you need. If you are unable to get sufficient sunlight exposure, we recommend supplementing with Vitamin D3 2000 IU per day after lunch or whichever is your biggest meal of the day.
How to Get Enough Protein on a Plant Based Diet?
Contrary to popular thinking, protein is NOT a nutrient of concern. Even if you ate an unhealthy plant based diet composed only of potatoes all year round, you would still get enough protein. Dr. Williams, the scientist who coined the term for protein deficiency in children, kwashiorkor, spent the better part of their life explaining that it was not protein deficiency, but just a deficiency of FOOD that caused kwashiorkor. They wrote , "...there is no real dietary evidence of protein deficiency."
Studies have found that regardless of whether you are vegan, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, you are probably eating 70% excess protein on a daily basis.
A good tool to use to ensure that you are consuming a well balanced plant based diet is Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen. It gives you a checklist of whole plant foods to consume everyday for optimal health and longevity, including fruits, greens, wholegrains, some special categories like cruciferous vegetables, and flaxseeds and more!
How to Get Started on a Plant Based Diet?
Permanent health requires permanent lifestyle change. Look at a plant-based diet as a long term lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet.
Start with increasing your intake of healthy whole plant foods. Eating fruits and vegetables to fill more than half your stomach at every meal is a great start.
Practice oil-free cooking. Most traditional Indian dishes can easily be made without oil, once you master oil-free tadka or tempering, like we use at Sampoorna Ahara.
Replace animal foods with healthier plant-based alternatives, such as cashew mylk and almond milk instead of dairy milk, peanut curds instead of dairy curds, tofu instead of paneer; soya chunks, raw jackfruit or mushroom instead of meat and fish.
21-day Plant Based Nutrition Course
Sign up for your free 21 Day Plant-based Kickstart on www.NutritionScience.in to get a day-by-day meal plan and a treasure chest of whole food plant recipes to try out at home.
Home Delivery of Plant Based Meals
For a more convenient option, choose our daily plant-based meal deliveries from Sampoorna Ahara.
Sample Vegan Whole Food Plant Based Menu for One Day from Sampoorna Ahara
🍉 Fresh Fruit Starter
🍉 Kachumber | Farm Fresh Salad with Cucumber, Tomatoes, Sweet Corn and Radish Garnished with Raisins and Roasted Peanuts
🍉 Tandoori Sabji | Dairy-free Cauliflower and Fresh Capsicum Slow Cooked in Tandoori Spices
🍉 Palak Masoor Dal | Pink Lentils Cooked with Fresh Spinach in Oil-free Tomato Gravy
🍉 Spiced Rice | Wholesome, Gently Cooked Low Glycemic Index Brown Rice
🍉 BONUS: Flaxseed B12 Laddu
2 Medium Sized Bananas
Oil-free Baked Methi Mathri
Peanut Butter Crunch Power Bar
🍉 Fresh Fruit Starter
🍉 Fresh Herb Salad | Cabbage and gooseberry salad with fresh coriander leaves dressing
🍉 Bendekai Kairasa | Oil-free Okra in a tangy tomato and kokum gravy
🍉 HurulikaaLu Chutney | Spicy Relish with Toasted Horsegram
🍉 Baked Oil-free Sabassige Jolada Paddu | Hearty, Dill-Flavoured Baked Jowar Millet & Lentil Dumplings
🍉 BONUS: Flaxseed B12 Laddu
Making the shift to a plant-based diet might seem challenging. But once you begin you will feel so much lighter and more active everyday, you'll want to keep going after that.
Be Blessed by the Divine!
Dr. Achyuthan Eswar.
Founder, Sampoorna Ahara, India's First Whole Food Plant Based Kitchen
Founder, Nutrition Science, India's First Whole Food Plant Based School
Article credit : Heidi Cohen ( https://heidicohen.com/use-blog-to-sell/ )