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Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
Plant-based diets inherently focus on whole grains, beans, fresh produce, seeds, and nuts, but not everyone who eats plant-based diets eschews animal products entirely. As with all diets, it’s important to consider a person’s genetics, activity level, pre-existing medical conditions, and any nutritional deficiencies or food allergies. In particular, those adopting plant-based diets are wise to make sure they’re getting sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals, from B12 to omega-3 fatty acids.
Inflammation is caused by white blood cells fighting off invaders—whether foreign objects, such as a splinter; irritations, such as allergies; or pathogens, such as bacterial or viral infections. In the case of autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy, normal tissue in the body. Overactive inflammatory response is widely considered by experts to contribute to chronic disorders including Type 2 diabetes or heart problems.
Acute, or short-term inflammation, comes on as localized pain, redness, loss of mobility, or swelling. The area may be hot to the touch, as in the case of a bee sting, and can last from a few hours to several days. Chronic inflammation can last months or years, and can come on as a hyper reaction to an external trigger, such as is the case with allergies; a mistaken reaction in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue, as with cancer or eczema; or long-term exposure to an irritant. But it’s not enough to just avoid meat: For heart health on a plant-based diet, it’s important to steer away from processed foods, including white rice and white bread, which lack nutritional value and contain a high glycaemic index. This increases your odds for spiking blood-sugar levels and increased appetite. Similarly, whole fruits are healthier than fruit juice, even 100% juice, which often loses nutrients and vitamins while being processed and contains high levels of sugar.
You may be surprised at how quickly protein can add up during the day! You don’t need to eat large amounts of protein food to meet your nutritional needs. For example, even a slice of whole grain bread contains 4 grams of protein.
If you eat a balanced diet following Canada’s Food Guide you will get enough protein. This means choosing a protein food at each meal. If you want to eat more plant-based, don’t just cut out the animal proteins, make sure to swap it with a plant-based alternative. For example, if you usually eat pasta Bolognese, you could try using lentils instead of ground beef. If you like to eat eggs and toast in the morning, try a tofu scramble instead.
By including protein foods at every meal and making sure to eat a variety of foods, you should have no trouble getting protein, even if you’re eating plant-based.
If you are just beginning to eat more plant-based, start with a few plant-based meals a week and work up. Plant-based proteins often have a neutral flavour, making them easy to incorporate in many dishes. As you gain experience working with plant-based proteins, you can experiment with different combinations and flavours. Choosing plant-based foods and proteins more often is good for your health and helps prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes. By eating a balanced diet and choosing a variety of plant-based foods, you can get all the nutrients your body needs. 

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