Whether it’s the food coma you are transported into every time you eat a cheese laden meal, or the extra calories you constantly put on as a result of excessive sandwich consumption, plant based diets are the way to go. They’re good for your heart, weight, overall health and the environment too.

Health studies have always shown that eating too much meat increases the risk factors for heart related diseases as well as helping you put on weight. Additionally, a recent study carried out by the UN suggested that the consumption of excessive meats by human beings disrupts the food chains established by mother nature and can potentially be very harmful for the environment.

A plant based diet doesn’t in any way mean that you have to stop eating meat completely. It helps you strike a healthy balance between the various food groups and incorporates more and more plants into your diet as they are an essential component. Here are a few popular plant based diets to help you get the picture.

The Mediterranean Diet:

It has been found that people in areas close to the Mediterranean live longer and be less prone to heart diseases as those compared to those in the United States. Along with an active lifestyle and weight consciousness, the secret to their success is their primarily plant based diet. The characteristics of the plant based diet followed by mostly all the Mediterranean countries are:

  • Maximum concentration on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, herbs and spices.
  • Consumption of fish and other seafood at least twice a week.
  • Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be eaten carefully and in moderate amounts.
  • Desert and red meat should be saved only for special occasions.

This plant based diet helps improve the functioning of your brain and heart prevents various types of cancer and diabetes and may help you lose weight.

The Asian diet:

You will tend to notice that people living in Asian areas will be leaner, slimmer and have low levels of diseases like obesity, cancer and diabetes as compared to those in the highly developed areas of the world. The reason is again the plant based diet that they follow. Researchers at Boston University contributed to the construction of the Asian diet pyramid thereby coming up with the following results:

  • Whole grains like rice, noodles, millet, corn and breads should be consumed daily. These should be accompanied by fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Fish and dairy products are an option every day but should be eaten in moderation if on a daily basis.
  • Eggs, poultry and desert should be limited to once a week.
  • Red meat is only allowed once a month.
  • This diet needs to be supplemented by 6 glasses of water or green tea a day.

This plant based diet, like most others, will help you lose weight, maintain the weight loss and save yourself from various heart diseases.

Guidelines for beginners:

The plant based diet might seem difficult to adopt but there are a few basic guidelines that you need to remember and you will be set to go. Here are some of them.

  • Bring a gradual change. Start by eating vegetarian food once or twice a week.
  • Avoid overly processed foods by looking at the ingredients. Remember the trick is to not eat something which has ingredients your grandmother wouldn’t recognize.
  • Look for plant based diet recipes online. There are many excellent smoothies calling for a cup full of greens, excellent and healthy salad dressings as well as wraps and Paninis that are free of the forbidden food.