The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

Summertime offers the perfect opportunity to start eating healthier. During summer, many of us want to feel great in our bodies. So, we adopt better food habits in hopes of wearing a skin-baring outfit and embracing the entire experience. And, we clean things up so we can have energy for all of the fun seasonal activities.

If you’re wondering what you can do to healthify your diet for summer – in addition to making fresh yummy juices – consider switching to a plant-based diet.

There are so many benefits of a plant-based diet.

Sustainability and the plight of animals are a couple of them. But, humans enjoy better health when they eat only plants.

Why Eat Plants

When you focus your diet on plants, you can live in a healthier and more energetic body.

Plants provide all of the nourishment we need to stay optimally-fueled each day.

They promote balanced weight, glowing skin, a strong immune system, and harmony in all of the body’s systems.

Choosing plants as food gives some people what they’ve been looking for to continue further on their spiritual path.

Eating plants is a peaceful way to feed the nourish ourselves, as it provides sustenance while also allowing the Earth’s creatures to be free.

Going plant-based means you’re making a difference in your health and in the health of the global community.

Plants keep our bodies and the environment clean.

Plants feed a lot more people than animal products can, and they typically don’t pollute the air and ground water like animals raised for food do (buy organic when you can).

How to Choose Great Plants for Your Meals

You can get access to fresh, excellent-tasting plant foods – including produce, nuts, and seeds – from local farmers’ markets, through CSA’s (community supported agriculture) in your area, directly from farms, at health-oriented supermarkets, or by growing your own.

If you’re purchasing your fruits and veggies, make sure you choose organic versions of the items found on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list (which includes heavily sprayed foods like strawberries, peaches, apples, leafy greens, bell peppers, and grapes).

Make sure you buy only organic soy and corn, or varieties that are clearly labeled as “non-GMO.”

More than 90% of soy and corn grown in the United States is reported to be genetically modified – so it’s of questionable safety to your health.

Things to Remember on a Plant-Based Diet

When you switch to a plant-based diet, remember that this way of eating should include a lot of plant foods.

Some people think that going plant based means cutting out animal products and that’s it. They remove dairy and meat from their diet, but then they fill up on junk food vegan products.

A plant-based diet should have tons of plants in it.

Opt for the food that you find in the produce section of your local market – or at the farmers market.

And, eat minimal amounts of packaged vegan foods that are found on shelves. While these can be flavorful, they’re often not full of the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Another thing to remember when eating plant-based is that you should experiment a bit.

Make great meals in your kitchen with your vegan dinner and juice recipes, but treat yourself to an amazing plant-filled restaurant meal now and then.

This will help you keep an eye on trends in plant-based cooking and enjoy some treats you miss by eating at home all of the time.

Plants Have Protein

Many people who follow a plant-based diet get asked the following question quite often: “Where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?” Or, they hear the question framed as a statement, such as “Humans need protein.

You have to eat meat.”

The amount of protein the human body requires is actually much less than most people think.

And, plants can absolutely provide for all of our protein (and other) nutritional needs.

Some plant-based proteins that I love include nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts), legumes (beans like lentils, black beans, and kidney beans), chickpeas (garbanzo beans), oats, quinoa, soy, leafy greens, and avocado.

I’ve put together a few juice, smoothie, and other recipes that you can enjoy when eating plant-based.

There are so many great ways to prepare these types of meals, though. Play around with some plant ingredients and you’ll probably agree that there are lots of options that await your discovery!

Glowing Juice

Ingredients

1 bunch organic spinach

1 red beet

1 stalk celery

1 bunch organic kale

1 organic green apple

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger

1/2 of a lime, peeled

Method

Process all ingredients through a juicer. Serve juice at room temperature.

Serves 1

Prep and cook time: 5 minutes

 

Date Shake (smoothie)

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk

3 medjool dates, pits removed and sliced in half

1 banana, peeled and frozen

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or pulp from 1 vanilla bean

1 tablespoon raw, organic honey

1 teaspoon spirulina or Vitamineral Green (optional)

Method

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until smooth and creamy. You may have to use a tamper to get things moving.

Serve immediately in a tall glass and enjoy!

Serves 1

Prep and cook time: 5 minutes

 

Tom Kha Gai Soup

Ingredients

3 cups organic vegetable stock
Juice from 1 lime
5 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
1 2-inch bundle lemongrass
1 1-inch piece galangal root, cut into chunks

24 ounces (2 cans) full-fat coconut milk

3 tablespoons expeller-pressed coconut oil
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 stalks green onion, tops removed and chopped

1 package kelp noodles
Cilantro leaves for garnish

Method

Bring vegetable stock, lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal to a boil in large stockpot. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. While stock is simmering, soak kelp noodles for 15 minutes in warm filtered water, and then drain, chop, and set aside.

Strain the lime leaves and galangal root from the stock liquid and discard. Return liquid back to stockpot.

Add coconut milk and coconut oil, then return liquid to a boil.

Lower heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and kelp noodles. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour soup into individual bowls or cups, and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serves 2-4

Prep and cook time: 40 minutes

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