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Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet

David Prado Perucha/

by Joni Rampolla

Anyone can thrive on a plant-based diet; it is a lifestyle choice. They can choose simply to eat more plants, eat vegetarian or even vegan (no animal products at all). Eat mostly whole plant-based foods, such as a variety of colorful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds; limit or avoid animal products (meat, eggs, fish, dairy, honey, etc.) in a flexible way that meets our individual needs; pay attention to the quality of food consumed, limiting sugar and highly processed foods.

Eating more plant-based whole foods may reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, reduce weight and the risk of cognitive decline. These benefits are seen with a high-quality plant-based diet; remember that jellybeans, soda and potato chips are also plant-based, but will not help prevent disease. Switching to a whole-foods, plant-based diet is not only good for our health; it can benefit the planet by reducing our carbon footprint.

To start, simply add more plants as the focus of the plate, with meat as a complement, such as in soup, stew, stir-fry or fajitas. People often wonder if they are getting enough protein when not eating meat. Plants provide sources of protein from lentils and beans, edamame, seitan, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, nut butter, seeds and spinach. Good fats are found in avocado, olives, nuts, nut butters and seeds.

Including more whole foods and less ultra-processed food is a way to thrive on a plant-based diet. Over time, eating plant-based whole foods becomes second nature and can help us thrive.

Joni Rampolla, RDN, CSOWM, LDN, of GIANT/Martin’s Food Stores, is a board-certified specialist in obesity and weight management, a certified trainer in Weight Management and a graduate of Coach University. For information about nutrition services, visit