by Shawna Dolzonek
In adolescence, being told to eat vegetables always seemed to be a form of punishment from adults. What if vegetables and plants could solely fuel the human body? This is in fact possible– many men, women and children choose to live a plant based lifestyle.
A plant based lifestyle can be described as obtaining all of the bodies’ needed nutrients from plants, legumes, seeds, grains and beans (1). Animal products, animal byproducts and most processed foods are not consumed.
The body needs fats, carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids to function on a daily basis (2). The needs of each macronutrient vary from day to day and from person to person (3). Macronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in larger quantities each and everyday(5). Macronutrient needs vary from children to adults as well. We can get all of the needed macronutrients from consuming plants, legumes, seeds, grains and beans (1).
Fruits and vegetables are the most colorful way to consume plants. Berries of all colors, oranges, apples, spinach, eggplant and beets are all great examples of the color we need in our diet. Apple smiles, star fruit and fruit tasting are a few exciting ways to incorporate more fruits into the diets of little ones. Star fruits are small yellow star shaped tropical fruit, they are sweet and have a fleshy inside similar to that of a grape.
Legumes consist of lentils, peas and even peanuts! Legumes provide the body with fiber to aid in digestion (3). As well as vitamins and minerals. They can also be used as a source of protein. Lentils can be mixed with other foods and added into soups.
Chia, poppy, pumpkin and sunflower fall into the seed category. These can be incorporated in most foods and can be eaten on their own. Seeds are a great addition to any salad, baked goods and yogurt parfait made with a plant based milk yogurt, almond milk based yogurt is always yummy! Seeds are where some of our much needed healthy fats come from (3).
Grains are an example of carbohydrates, everyone’s favorite macronutrient. Pasta, rice, bread and potatoes are a couple of the most popular. Grains and carbohydrates are used to fuel the body and keep us full (3).
The “ideal” plate is one that includes one or more items from each group(4). Our bodies need some carbohydrates, proteins, and fats on a daily basis. Making our plates as colorful as possible is a good way to ensure that each group is being consumed. The more colorful the plate, the more our bodies thank us.
We can gather all of the nutrients we need from consuming plants that are around us. We could even grow our food in our own backyard. Animals such as rabbits and deer fuel themselves with plants, why can’t we?