Plant-based diets are no fad. There are big reasons to make the switch: it’s more nutritious, it’s better for the Earth, and it’s better for animal welfare.
But there are big reasons holding many of us back. Speaking to Coach, Simon Hill, who has a plant-based nutrition certificate from Cornell University, clears up the common myths about this way of eating.
Myth: Plant-based means going full vegan
A plant-based diet isn’t all-or-nothing: it doesn’t mean eliminating animal foods entirely, but simply changing the focus of your diet to plants.
Hill cites food movements like flexitarianism (flexible vegetarianism), pescetarianism (limiting animal foods to fish) and meat-free Monday (exactly what it sounds like) as some of the many different approaches to plant-based eating.
“The way that we eat, we like to label it,” he says. “But it’s not black and white. Health is a spectrum, and people can move along that spectrum to whatever extent works for them and fits into their lifestyle.”
Myth: It’s a hard switch to make
It does take some effort and experimentation to eat more plant-based foods, but the learning curve isn’t as steep as you probably think.
“It might take you a couple of weeks to find your favourite [plant-based] recipes,” Hill acknowledges. “But once you work out how you like to season or spice or marinate those foods, just like you would with your steak and chicken, the preparation time is exactly the same.”
The internet and social media overflow with plant-based inspiration and support, while savvy restaurateurs are adding plant-based options to their menus. Food providers, like Eimele, deliver plant-based meals to your door (tomato, basil and lentil soup, anyone?) that are not only tasty and convenient, but also high in plant protein, vitamins and minerals.
Myth: You won’t get enough protein
A biology primer: Protein is made up of molecules called amino acids, which are the building blocks of life, and there are nine amino acids that humans can only source from food.
High-protein animal foods (meat, eggs, dairy) typically each contain all nine of these amino acids, whereas high-protein plant foods (grains, nuts, beans) don’t have the complete set. That’s long been interpreted to mean that plant protein is lower quality than animal protein.
“Very, very big myth,” says Hill. “As long as you’re eating a healthy mix of different plant-based food groups, and you’re consuming enough kilojoules, then you’ll be getting all the adequate amounts of the essential amino acids.”
Myth: It doesn’t allow you to build muscle
Your body uses plant proteins to build strong, lean muscle just as well as it uses animal proteins.
“I get hundreds of messages from people who are amazed by the gains that they’re getting in the gym [after they switch to a plant-based diet],” Hill says. “They feel better, they’re recovering better, they’re able to maintain or build their muscle.”
Take a moment to check out Hill’s Instagram profile. Still think someone who only eats a plant-based diet can’t build muscle?
Eimele offers a delicious range of plant-based soups, porridges and snack bars. The entire range is tasty, healthy, high in fibre, plant protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling satisfied.