Nutrition Experts

Question:
I heard that it's healthy to eat a "plant-based diet." Does this mean I have to give up meat?
Answer:
You can still enjoy meat, poultry and seafood on a plant-based diet—it's just a matter of proportions. To reap the benefits of this diet, downsize meat portions to trim saturated fat and cholesterol, and upsize the amount of plant foods you eat.

A plant-based diet emphasizes foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. In their natural state, these plant foods tend to be lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium, and are cholesterol-free. Plant foods also offer vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (beneficial plant compounds) that may help promote good health.

Put more plant foods on your plate with these tips:


Spring into action with produce. As a first step, add one extra fruit or vegetable to your day. Each week, add another until you eat a fruit or veggie (or both!) at each meal and snack.

Easy ideas: Enjoy juicy sliced strawberries on cereal or fat-free yogurt. Add a veggie-filled side salad to your lunch. Snack on an apple. Spear grilled asparagus at dinner.

Switch to whole grain. Swap white bread, pasta and rice for whole-grain versions. Seek out whole-grain cereals, too. Our SimpleNutrition "Made with Whole Grains" shelf tag makes it easier to find these products. Learn more about the SimpleNutrition shelf tags here.

Stir it up. Stir fries often mean more veggies and less meat per serving (a serving of cooked meat is the size of a deck of cards). Try our SimpleNutrition recipe for Pepper-Beef Stir-Fry served over brown rice.

Build a plant-based burger. Veggie burgers are made with ingredients such as soy, black beans and veggies. They're delicious dressed up with lots of lettuce, tomato and sweet onion on a whole-grain bun.

Want even more plant-based ideas? Get 10 extra tips here.

Nutritionist Experts
Our Nutrition Experts are registered dietitians who hold master's degrees and are members of the American Dietetic Association and several specialty nutrition groups. They combine over 40 years experience in food and nutrition science, communications and counseling, the culinary arts and the development of nutrition education materials. They are quoted frequently in the national media and have written about nutrition for many major magazines, newspapers, and newsletters.