More people are choosing to eat a plant-based diet, whether it be a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet; a pescatarian diet (includes fish); or a more plant-forward, flexible diet that includes plant-based meals mixed with some small amounts of meat and poultry. Reasons for including more plant-based meals include health, environment, religion, economics, and compassion for animals.
Eating a healthy plant-based or plant-forward diet is as simple as adjusting the amount of meat you consume while enjoying a wide variety of plants, including fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes (peas, lentils, and beans). Here are some tips to get you started:
Move your dial: Whether you eat meat daily, are a strict vegetarian, or fall somewhere in between, most people can benefit from adding more plants to your diet. Aim to make one additional meal per week a plant-based one – both health and environmental benefits are seen with small changes.
Include a wide variety of whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits: Don’t get in a rut with the same foods day after day. This will not only lead to boredom but may cause you to miss some important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and zinc.
Beware of higher calorie and lower nutrient vegetarian selections: Even a vegetarian diet can be high calorie and low nutrient if it is filled with processed foods, sweets, and too many servings of high-fat dairy products. As with any diet, eating mostly whole foods from a variety of plant sources is the foundation of a healthy plan.
Be relaxed about protein: As long as calories are sufficient and the diet is varied including plant-based proteins such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products, most vegetarians easily meet protein needs. You don’t need to rely heavily on dairy and cheese as a primary protein source.
Plant-based diets are simple and nutritious when you keep the basics of balance and variety in mind. Look for items in the café that are marked with the vegetarian or vegan icon and don’t be shy when talking to a server offering a meaty dish — try requesting a larger portion of plants and less meat. Your Bon Appétit staff is there to help you to eat a healthy, balanced diet.