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Tell You 21-Day Vegan Challenge

Tell You 21-Day Vegan Challenge

Ask the most well-respected nutrition researchers what the healthiest way to eat is, and they’ll give you a simple answer: unprocessed food, mostly plants. “All the research points to a plant-based diet—for your health and for the planet,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and a leading expert on nutrition and health.

A plant-based diet may be the secret to increased energy, better health, saving our planet, and becoming a more enlightened yogi. Here’s your roadmap for taking veganism for a test drive.

 Numerous studies show eating zero animal protein or significantly cutting back  can help lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. “DNA does not determine your medical destiny—dinner does,” he says.

If that dinner includes meat and dairy, it may not be inherently unhealthy—a growing body of evidence suggests their saturated fat might not be as harmful as once thought. Nonetheless, plants are exponentially healthier, says Philip Tuso, MD, a plant-based nutrition expert with Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute. “All the extra fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients you take in by swapping meat for plants have a healing and protective effect,” he says. In fact, eating a mostly vegan diet may even change the way your body reacts to meat if and when you do eat it: Studies suggest that when people who usually follow plant-based diets consume meat, their bodies don’t produce the same amounts of a chemical associated with heart disease, called TMAO, as omnivores’ bodies do.

The cost of the typical American diet goes beyond increased illness and subsequent health care dollars, however. It requires more than 1o times the energy, plus about 1oo times more water, to produce the same amount of meat protein as plant protein, according to studies on the true cost of farming. Mounting evidence suggests that every step of meat production, from feeding animals to processing meat, depletes resources, stressing an already- fragile environment. “Even if you could be healthy on an animal-based diet, it would be hard on a planet without enough water,” Katz says.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to go hardcore vegan to reap a large helping of the environmental or health benefits, experts say. The key is to simply eat less beef, poultry, pork, fish, eggs, and dairy, and make the majority of your food plants, including plant-based proteins, such as beans and nuts, says Sharon Palmer, RD, author of Plant-Powered for Life and creator of our vegan meal plan. How you do that is up to you. Perhaps you have vegan days or weeks, eat vegan before 6 p.m., or follow a true Mediterranean diet, in which meat plays a small role. Whatever you choose, you’ll feel the difference almost immediately. “People who eat unprocessed, whole food and mostly plants have more energy. They feel better, they’re healthier, so they’re happier,” Katz says. 

Why not see for yourself? Take our three-week vegan challenge, starting with the tasty and healthy recipes and tips on the following pages, then register online for more free recipes and support. For the full 21-day menu, sign up for our newsletters here. Whether you do it for a day, a week, 21 days, or forever, the proof will be in the (dairy-free) pudding.

See also 3 Ways Going Vegan Reduces Your Carbon Foot Print

WHAT TO EAT EVERY DAY?
All dishes in our meal plan follow Palmer’s nutritional guidelines, below.

Breakfast
1 serving of protein
13 serving of fat (5 g)
2 servings of whole grains
up to 2 servings of vegetables
1 serving of fruit

Lunch
2 servings of protein
13 serving of fat (5 g)
2 servings of whole grains
up to 2 servings of vegetables

Dinner
2 servings of protein
13 serving of fat (5 g)
2 servings of whole grains
up to 2 servings of vegetables
1 serving of fruit

Snacks
2 servings of protein
1 serving of vegetables
1 serving of fruit 

Serving-size examples
1 serving protein = 12  cup cooked beans or tofu; 1 cup protein-rich plant-based milk; 2 tbsp nut or seed butter
1 serving fat = 1 tbsp vegetable oil or salad dressing; 12  avocado; 20 olives
1 serving whole grains = 12  cup cooked quinoa or rice; 12  cup cooked whole-grain pasta; 1 slice whole-grain bread; 1 cup whole-grain cereal
1 serving vegetables or fruit = 1 cup raw, leafy greens; 12  cup fresh or cooked vegetables; 1 small apple or orange; 12  cup unsweetened fruit juice; 14cup dried fruit

See also 3 Ways Going Vegan Reduces Your Carbon Foot Print and learn more about the vegan-yoga connection.

Take our 21-day Vegan Challenge!

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