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Plant-Powered: Making the Change to a Plant-Based Diet

 By Dr. Mary Hall, ND
Doctor’s Note
A new series featuring leading physicians who love plants as much as we do!

 

In the last few years, the “plant-based” diet has grown in popularity. More and more people are discovering the benefits of eating plant-based, but the term itself still means different things to different people. 

Some consider it a new term for the well-known vegan diet, meaning no animal products whatsoever. This means no meat, eggs, dairy and honey. For most vegans, the primary reason is related to animal welfare, environment and ethics. The focus on veganism is primarily to avoid animal products, but the priority is not necessarily placed on health reasons. 

Being plant-based on the other hand, is primarily focused on living an unprocessed, whole foods lifestyle. It may also include avoiding processed foods like sugar, oils and refined foods. However, it may not be as strict as a vegan diet. People may decide to include animal proteins on occasion, yet they typically serve as more a supporting role to veggies and whole grains. 


Strict definitions aside, changing your way of eating and living is never black and white. 


The most successful way to change is to understand, experience, and learn from the process. Food choices may seem trivial, but it encompasses your interactions with friends, family, and even yourself. 


Being confident in WHY you’re doing it and knowing what your ultimate goals are is the most important factor in your decision. Knowing your why is essential to making your journey as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. So, as you consider your health and the changes you want to make to reach that best version of yourself, those things need to be examined as well to tilt the scales in favor of success. 


We believe in the true power of plants to transform your health, so no matter what you decide and what diet you decide to follow, we can all benefit from eating more plants! 

 

WHAT IS IT: The Plant-Based Diet In a Nutshell

So what is the plant-based diet? Ultimately, a plant-based diet is one built around minimally processed, whole plant foods, excluding animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, seafood), and limiting the use of salt, oil, and sugar. This means keeping the focus on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, etc), nuts, and seeds. 


Not so hard...right? But why - why give up that delicious cheese, the cream in your coffee, or that big juicy hamburger? Some of the reasons may surprise you. 

WHY DO IT: The Evidence 

Now, there is a lot of evidence pointing towards the plant-based diet as the pinnacle of a healthy lifestyle. That’s no surprise. T. Colin Campbell, PhD -- the nutritional biochemist behind one of the most comprehensive nutritional studies ever undertaken - proved it almost 40 years ago. Since then, the research just continued to pile on. Dr. Campbell’s study, now referred to as The China Study as it surveyed the entirety of the Chinese population still holds true: those consuming diets low in fat and high in fiber and plant material had significantly lower rates of chronic disease (ie. cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, etc). This was in stark contrast to those consuming a western (dare we say, American?) style diet that is rich in fat, protein, and animal products; these people were riddled with chronic disease (1). 


But, health isn’t the only reason to adopt a plant-based diet. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions; responsible for a whopping 18 percent. Globally, this is more than all emissions from the transportation sector combined (2). 

Cut out animal products, replace them with plant-foods and save yourself, and the planet. It’s in many ways, that simple. So how do you do it? 

 

HOW TO DO IT: Getting Started on a Plant-Based Diet: 

If we can impart any words of wisdom when starting a plant-based lifestyle it is this: start simple and don’t beat yourself up. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

The most simple thing you can do to start, is crowd out the bad with the good. A lot of diets aren’t sustainable because of how restrictive they are; so don’t think of it that way. Think of all the things you CAN eat: you’ve got 1,097 vegetables to choose from, 2,000 fruits, 400 beans, dozens of grains… the list goes on. It’s an adventure for your bored taste buds! Get excited! 

Some basic tips: 

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal (if struggling with that in the morning, try drinking an Organic Pressed Greens or Revive Beets + Roots for that morning energy boost). 
  • Replace white rice and white flour products with whole grain rice and whole wheat flour products. This will increase fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your diet.
  • Replace dairy products with nut, seed, oat, or soy based alternatives when you can. 
  • Play around with how you can make your staple dishes “plant-friendly” - ie. whole wheat spaghetti with fresh living veggies, tofu scrambles instead of eggs, black bean tacos, etc. It’s not ruining your favorite meal, it’s diversifying it, giving it new life (literally, nothing is dead in it)! 

If you want to make it even easier for yourself, Smart-Pressed Juice can help. Start by consciously getting more plants in your diet. 

Including a daily green juice such as Organic Pressed Greens is a wonderful way to begin getting more plants in your diet. This fantastic green juice mix contains over 22 organic vegetables like kale, spinach, celery, wheatgrass, aloe, spirulina, chlorella, dandelion, and the undisputed queen of stress relieving herbs, ashwagandha. Add some water and boom, you’ve got your day started with a vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, and electrolyte bomb. 

Want to get even fancier? Combine your Organic Pressed Greens with some frozen fruit and nourishing fiber (like in Pineapple Chia Cleanse) and blend; you’ve got a solid post-workout boost. Even if this is all you do in the beginning, your body will still thank you. 

Here’s a wonderful smoothie that get you over 35 plants all in one wonderful, tropical debloating smoothie: 

https://www.smartpressedjuice.com/blogs/pineapple-chia-cleanse/tropical-debloat-smoothie

Plant-based diets aren’t inherently calorie restrictive. You’re hungry? Go back to that long list of plant foods, and eat. You’re craving sugar? Have some fruit - nature’s candy! If you are in a time pinch, Smart-Pressed Juice can also provide an easy alternative - our Vegan Vanilla Protein Powder provides a solid source of 10 different plant proteins and essential fatty acids to keep you full and energized when you need a quick plant-based meal. Getting onto a routine with the Everything Bundle or Life Bundle is a fantastic way to get over 60 different organic plants and superfoods into your diet every single day!

Keeping all of that in mind, the most important thing to remember when you’re doing this is: be kind to yourself!! You went to a BBQ and had a hamburger? That’s ok - this is a learning process. Next time, consider bringing a veggie burger. You went out to dinner with your friends and caved when they ordered that mozzarella stick appetizer. That’s ok too - consider how you felt the next morning. Remember those feelings next time you order - I bet you that hummus appetizer will taste just as good. But most importantly - don’t beat yourself up! 

If you want to start exploring what it’s like to include more plant-based meals in your diet, we have a wonderful library of plant-based and plant-forward clean meals for you to try. 

https://www.smartpressedjuice.com/blogs/clean-meal

Keep learning, keep incorporating, keep experimenting. It’s your journey and we are with you every step along the way.  We're here to help! 

By Dr. Mary Hall, ND


For more SMART lifestyle tips like this, visit our other blogs at www.smartpressedjuice.com and follow us on Instagram and Twitter, or like us on Facebook. You can also visit our store to stock up on our delicious juices.


Sources: 

  1.  https://nutritionstudies.org/the-china-study/
  2. Miller, Gabriel. 2019. The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners. Rockridge Press. Emeryville, California. Pg 6.

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