As people’s awareness of health and sustainability keeps increasing, more and more young people are beginning to choose a plant-based diet, believing that it has many benefits not only for their own health but also for the planet.
The concept of a plant-based diet is developed from a pure vegetarian diet. It advocates a “low-fat, high-fiber, vegetable-based, health-conscious diet”. In short, it replaces animal protein with plant protein. A plant-based diet is particularly effective in preventing metabolic chronic diseases and cancer (especially rectal cancer), and maintaining one’s normal weight. Moreover, growing large amounts of plants can establish a better ecological environment in the long run.
A plant-based diet may seem simple, with a wide selection of ingredients, including vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and other cultivated plants, as well as the popular new protein-rich ingredients such as plant meat, plant eggs and oat milk made from soybeans, wheat and grain extracts. But in fact it has a high requirement on ingredient combination, nutrients’ ratios and cooking skills. To make up for the lack of nutrients in animal foods, it is necessary to use a variety of plant ingredients in a good proportion in order to maintain health. Therefore, it is best for people on a plant-based diet to take their daily meals under the guidance of a dietitian or an experienced nutritionist. If you also want to reduce your animal food intake and achieve a healthy and sustainable balance between meat and vegetables like me, then a daily plant-based diet of 70-80% with moderate amounts of meat, fish and dairy products is recommended. Or, of course, you can have a pure plant-based diet for a period of time during the year to give your body a detox.
Although plant-based diets have many obvious benefits, they may also bring some problems. For example, the amino acids in plant proteins are not as comprehensive as those in animal proteins and are not as easily digested, absorbed or utilized by the body. In addition, plant-based foods contain high levels of dietary fiber, which can reduce or prevent the absorption of important minerals such as calcium and iron, making them unsuitable for children, the elderly, people with sensitive physical conditions, and patients with medical conditions.
A sample menu for plant-based diet
A bowl of red bean with mashed taro ball congee
A glass of unsweetened black soya bean juice
A bowl of mix yam, quinoa rice
Tofu, seaweed, vegetarian crab stick soup
Pan fry pine nuts, peas, carrot, black wood Fungus and asparagus
Pan fry cauliflower and broccoli in garlic sauce
A glass of royal jelly water/drink
A small bowl of mixed berries
Mix spinach, arrowroot/Pueraria noodles in sesame oil and minced garlic
Pea sprout, telosma cordata clear soup
Braising dry mushroom, straw mushroom with bean curd sheet
A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice
Erica is a UK-registered Dietitian, holding degrees in Anatomy & Cell Biology and Dietetics and a post-graduate degree in Exercise and Nutrition. Erica has many years clinical experience, specialized in Cancer, pediatrics, geriatrics, and metabolic nutrition. She worked in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (Scotland), Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Hong Kong), and Li Ka-Shing Elderly Care and United Family Hospital (Shanghai). Erica is also a private dietitian for many celebrities, artists and musicians in China.