Dear Leah Renee,
Do I need to be vegan to have a “plant based” diet? I want to incorporate more vegetables and “whole foods” into my diet but I don’t want to be completely vegan! Can I have the best of both worlds? ~Denise, CA
Good for you! The power of vegetables is indisputable. Study after study has found that eating more plant based foods contributes to greater health and well being. Have high cholesterol? Eat more veggies. Diabetes? More veggies. Overweight? More veggies. OK, you get the point.
Our society loves to put label things. Heck, we like to label ourselves. It gives us a sense of belonging and a way to define our lifestyle. But you don’t have to; you can think a certain way, eat a certain way, or dress in a particular way that can vary from one day to the next. You can love yoga but not be a ‘yogi’.
Case and point: just like any other category in your life, your diet too can be diverse. You don’t need to commit to one way of eating all the time, every meal, every day. If it’s made up largely of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains, that doesn’t mean if you crave a burger you can’t have one! No judgments! I think the world we live in makes it a little difficult anyway. You can go sugar free (I’m not talking about Splenda here, I mean sugar–real or fake) but still have a treat now and again. Or a glass of wine! It doesn’t mean you’ve fallen off the bandwagon and need to throw away your habits overall. You really can have your cake and eat it too.
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” ~Albert Einstein
There’s a lot of people that may even want to break out of the vegan mold, but have an identity that goes along with it that’s difficult to move past. On the contrary, there’s also a lot of people who may want to go more plant-based (like yourself), but friends and family they associate with and the lifestyle they lead could be altered and confused by that, making it difficult to start implementing changes. We are not the only ones who label and judge ourselves, others do too. But…that’s OK 🙂 Let them.
Here’s a short list (it is truly endless!) of some plant-based foods to stock up on:
- Leafy Greens
- Nut Butters
- Seed Butters
- Avocados (because that’s in a league of it’s own, right?!)
- Soy (fermented like tempeh)
- Whole Grains (rice, oats, quinoa…)
- Veggie Stocks
- Cocoa Powder (you like that one, don’t ya!)
- Pickled & fermented veggies
- Milks (coconut, almond, etc)
Regardless of what kind of lifestyle you lead, it will vary throughout the years depending on your age, your emotions, your friends, you interests, and schedule. No matter what goes on, making whole, plant-based foods a big part of your diet, even if it’s gradual, is one of the best choices you can make for your health!