The plant-based or flexitarian diet does not exclude consumption of animal origin, but it reduces it to a minimum.
For various reasons that include rejection of animal suffering, concern for the environment, religion, health issues or dislike for meat, among others, more and more people choose to follow a diet plant based (plant-based). This type of diet is promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to promote a sustainable diet in the future.
Plant-based or flexitarian diets differ from vegetarian or vegan diets in that they do not completely eliminate meat, but minimize its consumption. “They are low in saturated fats, rich in unsaturated fats and limit the consumption of refined grains, highly processed foods and added sugars,” says nutrition graduate Paola Hernández, who maintains that more and more consultations are being received in clinics about this eating pattern popularly known as whole food plant based diets which, according to various scientific studies, positively influences health.
This type of diet is gaining every time more adherence especially among adolescents. According to Hernández, a professor at the Isalud University, this is linked to the rejection of cruelty to animals and speciesism. “They become more activists to protect them and also the environment, given the studies that speak of the pollution produced by large-scale livestock,” he says.
The nutritionist emphasizes the importance of consultation and professional supervision when facing change. “It is important to bear in mind that eliminating food groups from the habitual diet implies increased risks of nutritional deficienciesThat is why it is important to have a properly planned diet by a professional specialized in the area, in order to avoid those deficiencies that can affect health in the short, medium and long term. “
Legumes are often used to replace animal protein. In this sense, Hernández warned about the effects that can be derived from an abrupt change: “If we suddenly include a large amount of legumes, we can feel a sensation of discomfort and bloating. That is why it is important soak or sprout these foods, to soften the fiber and reduce this sensation. Another suitable technique is the preparation of meals where the legumes are processed, since this way the fiber is better digested “.
Likewise, he highlighted that “legumes contain antinutrients such as proteases, lecithin, phytates and some phenolic compounds that reduce the use of proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which is why soaking, fermentation and germination of these, so that improve the absorption of iron, calcium and zinc“.
For those who wish to implement a type of plant-based diet, the specialist recommends:
✔Combine a wide variety of foods throughout the day rich in protein, such as legumes, seeds and nuts. If you are a vegetarian, you can add eggs, milk and cheese to complement and improve their quality.
✔Include legumes every day such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and their derivatives such as tofu, tempeh, textured soybeans, soy drinks and hummus.
✔Incorporate pseudocereals such as amaranth or quinoa to diversify the diet and ensure the correct protein intake.
✔ Prefer the consumption of flax and chia seeds, algae, egg yolks, nuts, oils from: soy, canola, flax, chia and foods fortified with polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3s from algae, such as DHA milks, and eggs.
✔Reduce the consumption of corn and sunflower oils and most vegetable oil blends that displace other essential fat sources.
✔Incorporate three daily potions of foods rich in calcium, present in cabbages such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, pak choi or Chinese cabbage, which have a good bioavailability of this mineral that is also found in fortified soy drinks and tofu. In the case of vegetarians, they get it from dairy products.
✔In order not to increase urine loss of calcium, it is suggested limit consumption of salt, tea, coffee, cola, and energy drinks.
✔El soaking and germination of cereals, legumes and seeds, as well as the fermentation of breads, are essential to improve the use of iron and zinc.
✔Leafy vegetables are a source of iron for vegans, so it is important to incorporate them daily.