By: Christina Chong, RD 

So, what is “plant-based?”

You may have heard a lot about “plant-based” eating or a “plant-forward” eating plan – but what does that actually mean?  The truth is eating “plant-based” actually looks and means different things to different people.  At Unite for HER – “plant-based” simply means being more intentional about including more plant foods into our everyday eating, in favor of animal foods.  This is absolutely individualized!  Eating a plant-based diet does not necessarily mean you are following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.  There may be some people who decide a vegetarian diet is the best fit for them to help incorporate more plant foods, while others may just want to try a meatless dinner once or twice a week to start.  It could also just mean re-thinking the ratio of these foods on the plate.  For example, you can think of chicken as a topping or “garnish” to your salad or grain bowl, rather than the entrée or center of your meal. These can all be examples of plant-based eating! 

Why plant-based?

Plant-Based eating is also not simply eating more fruits and vegetables (though that’s part of it!) but eating more plant foods in general – which include whole grains, legumes, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Increased research shows the benefits of following a plant-based eating approach to long-term health. The fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals found in plant foods help to combat stress, inflammation, and reduce the risks of chronic disease.  It helps build up our immune systems and gut microbiome, as well as neutralize free radicals and toxins at the cellular level (refer to the first 40 pages of the Cancer Fighting Kitchen Cookbook to see these foods’ natural healing powers!) 

What can I do?

This month we are so excited to bring you Plantuary, where each week we will provide you with ideas and culinary tips on how to incorporate more of these wholesome, nutritious foods – and make them delicious!  We’re doing this together – one step at a time. A great place to start might be to consider adding a serving of any plant food to what you’re already eating! This could look like adding a spoonful of seeds to your morning oatmeal or replacing some ground meat with an extra can of beans or chopped veggies. We’ll be sharing some of our staff’s favorite recipes and ways to eat more plants, so be on the lookout for additional blog posts and videos on our social media.  Best of all, we would love to hear from you and learn how plant-based looks for you in your own home!  Remember, we’re not aiming for perfection – but a journey towards health, wellness, and healing. We’re right there with you! 

For recipes and more about Plantuary, visit uniteforher.org/plantuary