How can I decide if a plant-based diet is right for me?

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Answered by: David, An Expert in the Nutrition - General Category
Thanks for asking a great question. While food and health providers may believe they have one answer for everyone, that is an oversimplification, much like the Model T was for car owners. Nowadays, consumers are seen as individuals, and technology helps us customize solutions for specific needs.

A plant based diet is getting a lot of attention in the media, as there has been much research on how we can create more health, peace, and sustainability with a plant based diet, particularly if it is mainly comprise of whole foods.

In order to answer the question of whether a plant based diet is right for you, there are several things to consider. Here are some questions to start off.

What are your needs for your body and mind? If you are an olympic swimmer, I would not recommend a plant-based diet. You need a large amount of protein, fat, and carbs, and similar to Ian Thorpe, you may need to have steak and eggs for breakfast every day. But, if you are a copywriter, perhaps you can get by on miso soup and brown rice, as I do. There are far fewer calories, there is less fat, and there are fewer toxins such as pesticides, hormones, and bacteria in plant-based foods.

Are you healthy? What is your age? Do you suffer from specific ailments or perhaps just a few minor symptoms? Do you love certain foods and find yourself unwilling to give them up? All of those questions can help you determine if a plant-based diet is for you. It's also important to consider where you live, and the time of year. If you are in Siberia in winter, you might need more and stronger food just to stay alive, as compared with Bermuda in summer.

Do research on what a plant-based diet can do. My belief is that a balanced, whole-foods, plant-based diet can help put the body into balance, and heal many chronic and acute conditions, from cancer to ADD to osteoporosis. But, it also requires improved eating habits, such as chewing well, not mixing foods, separating your eating and drinking, and not eating right before bedtime. It's also a good idea to do more walking on a plant-based diet, to help the body with digestion and circulation, so you can absorb the proper nutrients.

Finally, you may not want to go 100%. I call myself a flexitarian because I'm willing to have fish a few times a month, and keep an open mind about other foods as well, so I can be social. Remember, the key is to be happy, so if you become very strict, you may find yourself to be suffering too much, and abandon the improved eating program. That would be a shame.

In summary, it's important to know yourself, and know your goals. Then understand the basics of the diet, and get support to create a plan which can help you achieve your goal, in a stated length of time. It's also important to know how to handle travel, getting back on track after a setback, and dealing with an illness.

Most of all, make sure you enjoy the project of learning how dietary adjustments can improve your life. Good luck!

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