One of the most effective steps you can take to boost energy levels, prevent chronic diseases, and improve your overall health is moving to a plant-based diet. Recognized as the most sustainable action an individual can take, in tandem with rising climate concerns, going plant-based is increasingly gaining popularity. Because who doesn’t want to live longer, take care of their planet, and reduce their risk of getting sick?
As major proponents of plant-based diets ourselves, the team at So Good So You often receives messages from community members exploring the diet and looking to learn more. Knowing this, we decided to compile a list of the most commonly asked questions and share our point-of-view on this hot topic. If there is anything else you’d like us to answer, leave us a comment below.
How will I get enough protein without consuming meat?
Let’s start by dispelling the myth that you need to eat ridiculous amounts of protein to be healthy. The medical community is clear on this, and that’s .36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight - for an average woman, that’s 46 grams of protein, roughly equal to one large chicken breast. Most people actually eat too much protein, which is not good for your digestive system.
Many of us still equate protein with foods like meat, eggs, and fish. The truth of the matter is that there are many plant foods that are rich in protein. A few of our favorites include nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu and soybeans. As another point of reference, veggie burrito bowl from Chipotle contains roughly 20 grams of protein, and you have 2 more meals and snacks to get the rest of your day’s needs from plant-based sources of protein, too!
Is it an all or nothing type deal?
No! If you’re new to eating primarily plant-based, go easy on yourself. It is easy to feel defeated early on for not eating 100% plant-based, but try not to get discouraged. Simply focusing on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is a step in the right direction and something to be celebrated!
Will I start consuming too many carbohydrates?
Like the protein myth we already discussed, carbohydrates are another category rife with misinformation. The science is that carbohydrates are brain and body-fuel that your cells metabolize into energy. The key here is not to obsess over carbohydrate numbers, rather, focus on the quality of carbohydrates - choose whole grains over refined bread and cereals, and remember that fruits and vegetables, packed with nutrients your body needs, are also carbs and not to be vilified.
Although it can be easy to focus meals around carbs like potatoes and grains when going plant-based, it’s important to maintain variety by incorporating greens, plant-based proteins such as tofu and legumes and high-quality fats that will balance the meal. Some of our go-to healthy fats include avocados, nuts and seeds.
How many fruits and vegetables should I be eating each day?
A good rule of thumb is to make every meal so at least fifty percent is made up of veggies. Each day, shoot to get 7-9 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit. Yes we know this is a daunting number, but we challenge you to try it! Many people report feeling amazing after shifting to eating significantly more vegetables and fruits. Our favorite way to add in fruits and veggies first thing in the morning and knock out 3-5 servings right out of the gates each day? Smoothies.
Will I need to take supplements to get adequate nutrients?
While the experts do recommend consuming supplements to ensure you’re getting the necessary nutrients, this is not exclusive to eating plant-based. For example, Vitamin D is a commonly recommended supplement but that is because many Americans, regardless of diet, are Vitamin D deficient. Whitney English, RDN, also recommends vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians take a daily B12 supplement. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new supplement regime, as all individuals' supplement needs vary.
Our hope in answering these questions is that we can shed light on lessons we’ve learned along our own plant-based journeys. Our best advice: start with small shifts in your diet and pay attention to how you feel. Chances are, you will feel positive shifts in your body that will hopefully encourage you to make further changes. Of course, our probiotic shots are all plant-based, made with only the finest ingredients, in our sustainably-powered zero-waste manufacturing facility - because we’re all about doing things for the love of body and planet.
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