A plant-based diet might be ideal for a wide range of reasons — whether you’re working on weight management, energy support, or your overall health and wellness.
But how do you make the switch, and what foods should be at the top of your list? Let’s take a look.
What Foods Should You Reach for on a Plant-Based Diet?
Anytime you change your diet, there are a few concerns. First, is this diet going to help you support a healthy weight? Second, will this diet meet all of your nutritional needs? Third, will you be able to sustain this diet? Fourth, will this diet suck?
We all want to avoid answering “yes” to the fourth question because if the answer to the fourth question is “yes,” then the diet collapses. It won’t be sustainable, and even if it meets nutritional needs, it probably won’t help you maintain a healthy weight because you simply won’t be able to maintain the diet.
Switching to plant-based foods may feel like a big change, and it is. The good news is, it checks the boxes for maintaining your goal weight, meeting nutritional needs, and being sustainable.
Spoiler alert: If you diversify your portfolio of plant-based foods, you’ll be able to enjoy going plant-based (effectively answering “no” to question number four).
Here, we’ll count down the top 11 foods you need to include on your plant-based journey. These foods will help you maintain your health and wellness and will provide nutrients and vitamins to your cells to keep your body running properly.
1. Whole Grains
Many vegans and vegetarians enjoy a plant-based diet because it returns carbohydrates to the menu. A plant-based diet can be a welcome alternative if you’ve struggled with low-carb diets and failed.
Just make sure the carbohydrates you are choosing are complex carbs. Refined carbs, like added sugar and white bread, cause your blood sugar to spike and fall, making you feel tired and fatigued.
Whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole grain cereals contain slow-digesting fiber, which is important for colon health and protection against heart disease.
Get creative! This quinoa and cauliflower salad recipe is packed with plant-based protein, cholesterol-regulating fiber, and plenty of flavor.
Legumes and beans are in the same family, and both offer a good alternative to protein from animal products. Legumes refer to plants that bear fruit in pods, like black-eyed peas or edamame.
You can often substitute animal products with beans and legumes in plant-based recipes. For instance, you can swap out chicken with black beans or kidney beans in a burrito or chickpeas for tuna in tuna salad.
Lentils are often used in plant-based meals in lieu of ground beef. There are numerous recipes available to make lentil-based burgers. If adding more fibrous beans to your diet makes you feel bloated, consider adding a digestive superhero to your wellness regimen, like a greens powder.
L’Evate You Vitality Daily Greens gives you a blend of probiotics and prebiotics to support your gut health and help your digestion go smoothly, no matter what you eat for dinner.
The tang of the tahini and the creaminess of the olive oil and chickpea blend make hummus one of our favorite protein sources on a plant-based diet. It’s great as a substitute for mayonnaise, perfect for dipping veggies, and excellent with whole-grain chips. Hummus is an easy, go-to solution for upping the protein content of any meal on a vegan diet.
You can even make hummus at home with just a few simple ingredients. Hummus also contains iron and folate, two nutrients that people consuming a vegan or vegetarian diet may be lacking. Adding hummus to your daily diet can make sure you get these in your system.
4. Nut Butter
Peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter are all part of the plant-based beginner’s guide to eating, but before you pop the lid and start eating them by the spoonful, it’s important to remember that a serving size is usually considered two tablespoons. That’s the amount you’d spread on two pieces of whole-grain toast or a whole-grain bagel.
Nut butters contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are generally found in fish. Including these is part of a healthy plant-based diet. When you’re at the grocery store, look for nut butters that are “natural” and don’t include added sugars.
5. Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds
Think of them like sunflower seeds but smaller. Chia and hemp seeds are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber and help add texture and protein to your meals. You can add these seeds to whole-grain oatmeal, top off your almond milk yogurt, or mix them into a frozen fruit smoothie.
Flax seeds are also a good option for including in your plant-based diet. They can be ground into powder, mixed with water, and used as an egg substitute in many baking recipes.
The standard American diet is almost completely void of fruits and vegetables. Our grocery lists usually include packaged dinners, prepackaged snacks, and convenience foods filled with added sugars, trans fats, and deep-fried components. These foods increase our risk of developing chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. In addition, they supply poor nutrition to our bodies.
Instead, adding greens to your diet is one way to optimize your health and avoid other potentially harmful foods. Greens are superfoods filled with blood sugar-supporting fiber, essential vitamins, and nutrients to keep your entire body functioning healthfully.
The problem is that you can’t order a side of collard greens at the drive-through, and many of us simply don’t have time to cook.
That’s okay. L'Evate You Vitality Daily Greens is the solution for busy people who want to work on their health.
With each scoop, you’ll get nine whole-food greens and 30 superfoods to help keep your body thriving. There’s never been an easier way to get the plant foods you want without prepping, cooking, or storing them.
7. Tofu and Tempeh
Both tofu and tempeh are derived from soybeans. Soybeans are high in fiber and an excellent source of protein. Soy can sometimes mimic estrogen in the body, so if you’re sensitive to estrogen, supplementing with soy products may not be a good solution for you.
Using tofu and tempeh in lieu of animal meat can help you get the protein you want without any animal fat, which could make your next lipid panel a little unbalanced. Try adding tofu to your stir-fry dishes or even in place of scrambled eggs.
Another popular plant-based food that will help you get plenty of protein is seitan. This is derived from wheat gluten but doesn’t look or taste like wheat bread. Seitan has a mild flavor that is easily adapted with spices and marinades.
It can be used in place of chicken, beef, or pork in plant-based recipes. It’s important to remember that if you’re following a gluten-free diet, this wouldn’t be a good option for you to choose. You’ll do better with unflavored tofu.
9. Non-Dairy Nut or Seed Milk
Dairy products may be the hardest place to make those plant-based switches. We are a culture that loves cheese, butter, and ice cream. Thankfully, plant-based milks have grown in popularity and in taste over the past few years. You can now easily find substitutes for your favorite dairy products like almond milk, oat milk ice cream, plant-based yogurts, and even cheese.
Plant-based butter has also grown in popularity; you can even find soy-free versions if you don’t want to eat soy-based products. Many of these products have been fortified with calcium and vitamin D, just like the milk products that sit next to them on store shelves.
Bursting with antioxidants and flavor, berries help add a little sweetness to your plant-based diet without adding many extra calories. Tossing blueberries or raspberries into your favorite smoothie recipe provides an instant boost in flavor and nutrients that can help support your body and satisfy a sweet tooth, something very important if you’re focusing on weight loss.
11. Sweet Potatoes
Another superfood, sweet potatoes, are a good substitute for regular potatoes because they contain a wider variety of vitamins and minerals. Packed with fiber and natural sweetness, they also contain antioxidants and beta-carotene, important for your vision and immune system.
Try making sweet potatoes the focal point of your meal by roasting them and topping them with unexpected plant-based options, like black beans, greens, or cinnamon, and a dab of plant-based butter. You can alter the flavor of your meal by changing the toppings for a different meal every night.
Are Vegan and Plant-Based the Same Thing?
All vegan diets are plant-based, but not all plant-based diets are vegan. Feel confused? We’ll explain.
Vegan diets eliminate all animal products and all animal byproducts, right down to honey from bees. A person on a strict vegan diet won’t consume any product that involves an animal in any way. Animal products can be sneaky, like the gelatin included in gummy candy, which is harvested by boiling the skin, ligaments, and tendons of animals.
Plant-based diets aren’t as strict regarding what products may or may not come from animals. Plant-based simply means most of the person’s diet comes from plants, with little to no animal products or byproducts included.
What Should I Know Before Going Plant-Based?
Sometimes a plant-based diet can leave gaps in your nutrition. Although they’re usually jam-packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, some vitamins, like vitamin B12, is most abundant in animal sources.
For this, you can take supplements or increase your intake of foods like nutritional yeast, algae oil, and fortified plant-based foods.
How To Optimize Your Health When Going Plant-Based
You’ve got to get a greens powder. L’Evate You Vitality Daily Greens is a greens powder that delivers more than just a daily dose of super-nutritious greens.
With each scoop, you’ll get:
- Nine greens and 30 superfoods
- Probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that support healthy gut flora levels. Prebiotics are fibers that feed healthy bacteria. Together, they’re a super duo that helps support digestion and immune function.
- Antioxidants. The best recipe for graceful aging, antioxidants support your cells during exposure to free radicals, which can lead to damaged, sluggish cells and a damaged, older-feeling you.
- M-Charge Complex. Our blend of ATP-boosting compounds helps support the batteries in your cells (the mitochondria) and helps them produce energy properly. Over time, you’ll experience more energy in your cells and more energy in you.
- Mushroom blend. Used for centuries in traditional medicine, our blend of mushrooms helps support healthy cholesterol and sodium levels. They also help support brain health and cognition.
When you use L’Evate You Vitality Daily Greens, you’ll check all the boxes and ensure you’re getting the ingredients you need to thrive. It’s one less thing to worry about in your busy life.
The Bottom Line
Going plant-based doesn’t have to be intimidating. You’re just making a few simple swaps. Keep it simple and go slowly. This will help your goals become more attainable and make your changes sustainable.
Add L’Evate You Vitality Daily Greens to your plant-based diet to ensure you get balanced nutrition. Our vegan-friendly powder helps you get the health benefits of greens without ever needing to chop, slice, or dice a single veggie. In addition to a healthy diet and exercise routine, it’s one of the best things you can do to support your health and wellness goals.
So go ahead, grab your plant-based meal plan, and get started. You can feel better, support your health, and L’Evate your wellness.