If you were told that eating a primarily plant-based diet may not only prevent, but treat and reverse disease, would you believe it? That’s the position Catherine Murray, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student, found herself in as she listened to Dr. Tim Radak, a faculty member in the School of Health Sciences and registered dietician, as he presented at the Plant-Based Prevention of Disease Annual National Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, this spring.
You can lower your weight naturally, stabilize your blood sugar, and lower your blood pressure, all of which reduce your risk for preventable diseases. “We know we can reverse these diseases,” Dr. Radak explains. “That’s how much the body wants to do the right thing.”
It can lead to high-quality sleep. “I can’t get over how much better I sleep. I’m in my 60s, so it’s not the easiest thing to do,” Murray explains. This, Dr. Radak points out, is also linked to stress reduction. The better you sleep, the more prepared you will be for all life throws your way.
You will increase your endurance, physically and mentally. “Eating a plant-based diet is eating unadulterated, unprocessed food, the way it was intended to be consumed,” Murray explains. “I’ve noticed that not only can I do more, longer, I also think more clearly.”
Ready to increase your intake of plant-based foods and reduce your meat consumption? Here are a few recommendations:
Rethink your plate. If you’re focused on a plate that’s one part meat, one part grain, and one part vegetable, envision a satisfying, one-pot dish. Maybe it’s choosing a bean and rice meal, going Mexican or Thai, or making a curry. “There’s so much out there,” Dr. Radak says. “Most of the world eats plant- based to begin with, so ethnic food may be a nice place to start for ideas.”
Rethink how you consume protein. When writing your grocery list, slowly shift away from animal-based products and toward more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, which also contain the protein your body needs. “We typically get two to three times the amount of protein our bodies need to run efficiently, so a plant-based diet helps us shift to more reasonable levels,” explains Dr. Radak.
The next time you go to a restaurant, choose a plant-focused dish. “The restaurant industry says the top trend is to put a plant-based item on the menu because they’re finding you don’t need to be a vegetarian or vegan to have interest in these menu selections. Seventy percent of the population chooses them on a weekly basis,” Dr. Radak says.
Two places to start are Forks Over Knives and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. “These sites have a lot of recipes—and they aren’t hard to make or expensive. Make your plate colorful and have fun with it,” Murray says. “I eat more calories and carbs than ever in my life and I’m still losing weight. You will enjoy your food more because the full flavor comes out in plant-based meals.” —Claire Blome