This summer, Maple Tree is challenging our friends, patients, and supporters to join us for Meatless Mondays! To date, we have had more than 100 people sign up for this community group. If you are reading this and you haven’t joined us yet – I want to take this chance to challenge you to do so!
Why Meatless Mondays?
It’s pretty simple, actually. It is our not-so-sneaky way to get you to try a more plant-based diet! A plant-based diet focuses on foods that come primarily from plants.
NO – this does not mean you must become a vegan or vegetarian in order to follow a plant-based lifestyle. Plant-based diets are similar to vegetarian and vegan diets in that they limit consumption of animal products. However, they are more flexible because they do allow for eggs, seafood, and lean meats on occasion.
So, YES – this does mean you will eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. BUT also included in a plant-based diet are foods like nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans!
Plant-based diets can vary greatly, depending on the extent to which someone decided to include animal products in their diet. The basic principles include:
- Whole, minimally processed foods are emphasized
- Animal products are used as more of a compliment to a plant-based meal, but not as the main focal point
- Plants (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts) make up the majority of your diet
- Refined foods, included added sugars, white flour, and processed oils are avoided
Plant-based diets offer all the needed proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health. They have also been shown to lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer, Alzheimer’s, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
An added benefit is stimulated weight loss! This is caused by the high fiber content of fruits and veggies, as well as the exclusion of processed foods.
In order to experience these benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, it is important to pay attention to the quality of foods in the diet.
Yes, it is true – there is a such thing as an unhealthyplant-based diet! Eating foods with added sugars, refined grains, and sugary drinks will lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Food to avoid include fast food, added sugars and sweets, refined grains, packaged and convenience foods, processed vegan-friendly foods, artificial sweeteners, and processed animal products.
Plant-based foods to consider include the following:
- Fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas, etc.
- Vegetables: Kale, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, peppers, etc.
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, rolled oats, farro, quinoa, brown rice pasta, barley, etc.
- Healthy fats: Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, etc.
- Legumes: Peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans, etc.
- Seeds, nuts and nut butters: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural peanut butter, tahini, etc.
- Unsweetened plant-based milks: Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
- Spices, herbs and seasonings: Basil, rosemary, turmeric, curry, black pepper, salt, etc.
- Condiments: Salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.
- Plant-based protein: Tofu, tempeh, plant-based protein sources or powders with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.
- Beverages: Coffee, tea, sparkling water.
If you are supplementing your plant-based diet with animal products, these would be good choices:
- Eggs: Pasture-raised when possible.
- Poultry: Free-range, organic when possible.
- Seafood: Wild-caught from sustainable fisheries when possible.
- Dairy: Organic dairy products from pasture-raised animals whenever possible
Transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle can seem daunting….but it shouldn’t be! That is why we created Meatless Mondays!
Give us one day each week, and we will help set you up for success!