“I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic while it is medically conservative to cut people open or put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs the rest of their lives.”
– Dean Ornish, MD
Maybe you’re curious what all the hype is about.
Maybe you’re facing a frightening medical diagnoses.
Maybe you’re looking for something beyond a diet fad to lose weight.
Maybe you’re trying to reduce your impact on the environment.
Or maybe you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired.
There are many reasons to try a plant-based diet. All of them are good motivation. It’s a big first step to acknowledge that you want to change. But how do you do it?
This is your guide to Plant-Based 101. Learn the basics on how to change, what to eat, and some easy recipes to get you started.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is, quite literally, a diet based on plants. It is centered around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds with minimal or no animal-based foods like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy. It often implies a whole foods diet, with minimal refined flours, sugars, and oils.
What is a Whole Foods Diet?
Whole foods cooking avoids refined ingredients. It avoids using refined flour, sugar, and oil. It uses minimally-processed ingredients, in their most natural, whole form. Specifically, it means avoiding white flour, cane sugar, brown sugar, syrups like maple syrup and agave, all types of oil (including coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil).
All of these foods have been refined: They’ve been processed and stripped away of fiber and nutrients. You’re getting maximum calorie bang with little nutrition. It is easy to overeat on these foods. Avoiding them means your body is better at knowing when it’s full and reducing addictive, binge eating.
What is the Difference between “Vegan”, “Plant-Based” and “Whole Foods”?
“Vegan” often implies an entire lifestyle focused on no harm to animals. In addition to removing all meat, dairy, and eggs from one’s diet, if often means avoiding buying leather or using products that have been tested on animals. Vegan food can (and often does) contain oils, sugar, and white flour. It’s quite easy to be a “junk food vegan”, eating French fries and vegan milk shakes.
A plant-based approach offers a bit of leeway as far as including animal products. Plant-based means most of your diet (over 90%) comes from plants. It focuses on minimizing animal products as much as possible, but some plant-based eaters will still eat animal foods like organic eggs or wild honey.
A whole foods diet is focused on reducing the amount of refined foods like oil, sugar, and white flour. It is not as strict regarding animal product. This approach can be more appealing for someone trying to lose weight and hesitant about making a quick switch from a meat-based diet.
What is Plants Rule?
This site is focused on a plant-based, whole foods diet. All of the recipes are 100% plant-based, vegan. There are no animal products: no meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, or honey. There are also no refined flours, sugars, or syrups. They are oil-free with a few exceptions for non-stick spray (as in cooking pancakes).
Here are the essential cooking videos you need to get started with a healthy plant-based diet. You can also check out my How to Cook channel on YouTube for more.
1. Quinoa 101: Rinsing, Toasting, and Knowing When It’s Done
2. Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing: Super-Quick, Easy Recipe
3. Red Lentil Dal: How to Cook Lentils with an Easy Indian Recipe
4. Chia 101: What are Chia Seeds? How to Make a 5-Minute Dairy-Free Chia Pudding Parfait
5. Flax 101: How to Use Flax Meal Instead of Eggs for Baking and Crunchy Coatings
6. Oil-Free Saute: How to Steam-Saute for Fat Free Cooking
About the Author:
Chef Katie Simmons
Katie is a Personal Chef based in Chicago. She specializes in creating delicious, healthy recipes for those with special dietary concerns like gluten-free, vegan, oil-free, and low-residue. Outside of the kitchen, she is a Fitness Instructor for Equinox, with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. For fun, she loves to travel. Some of her favorite trips have included hiking the Incan Trail, backpacking 5 months in New Zealand, and tasting the flavors of Northern India. The Irish love is an homage to her maternal Grandma, Rose Hagan, who wondrously fed 9 children every day with simple foods like potatoes, kale, and cobbler.