There are growing awareness and interest in a plant-based diet in the Philippines. I, myself, got interested in it 2 years ago, and then gradually transitioned to a 100% plant-based as I learned more about its benefits to health, environment and animals. Thanks to the information which are now becoming more available, science and evidenced-based studies being shared and published by experts and organizations, and social media, of course. However, you’ve probably been confused about the terms vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian or other terms which are being associated with a plant-based diet. So what exactly is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other food derived from plants. In a much simpler definition, it is proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.
Now, let me add the “whole foods” on it which makes it a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB). WFPB is not necessarily a set diet- it’s more of a lifestyle. This is because plant-based diets vary depending on the extent to which a person includes animal products in their diet which are the different types of vegetarianism.
The basic principles of whole foods, plant-based diet are as follows;
- Emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods.
- Focuses on adding more plants in your meals, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, which should make up the majority of what you eat.
- Limits or avoids animal products.
- Avoids refined foods, like added sugars, white flour, and processed oils.
- Whenever possible, chooses locally sourced, organic food.
Going whole foods plant-based (WFPB) is one of the most powerful steps we can take to improve your health, boost energy levels, strengthen the immune system and prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers, hypertension and others.
Its Difference from Vegan Diet and Note on Compassion
How is plant-based different from a vegan diet? It is strictly against animal products, in every form. It extends beyond just the diet because they also don’t wear animal products or use products tested on animals or anything that uses and promotes animal exploitation and cruelty. Thus, veganism is a way of living. It’s about ethics and mainly for animal welfare, then secondly, the environment and health too.
I identify myself as both plant-based and vegan, but I mostly use the term plant-based for these reasons;
- As a Registered Nutritionist Dietitian (RND), I would like to promote a plant-based lifestyle which emphasizes a healthy way of eating by focusing on whole foods, minimally processed plant-derived foods for optimal health.
- Here’s what I learned and agreed with from a plant-based RND who is also a vegan, “the term ‘plant-based’ offers compassion, especially to those transitioning making it more inclusive.” As it is not too strict, it’s less intimidating to start with and it’s sustainable long-term. I, too, was an animal-eater before, and I totally understand the concerns, struggles, and hesitations of most people. Thus, I would like to extend that compassion, not only for the animals and the environment but also to people. There’s an ‘Ichariba Code’ of Japan which I learned and try to live by. It means, “Treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before.’
Don’t get me wrong. As I mentioned, I also identify myself as a vegan because I totally understand the ethical aspect of it. When my clients’ goal is to be vegan or is receptive to go vegan, I fully support it and I make sure we’ll achieve his/her goal with his/her health as my priority. That’s also when I share my knowledge about the ethical aspects of the diet. This is my humble contribution to make our country (and our world) a plant-based one. Let’s all contribute in our own ways which are the best we know-how. No judgments and no criticisms. We each have our own time. It took me almost a year to be fully convinced to go plant-based. That’s my own pace. You have yours.
Own Your Plant-Based Journey
Do you have to go 100% plant-based right away?
It’s totally up to you. Move at your own pace that is comfortable and sustainable. Some can do it overnight and some do it in transition for weeks or months or years. I have no judgment on that because each plant-based meal, whether it’s a whole food or not, is a positive step towards your own goals. You, and only you, should decide what speed you want to move at, and how far you want to go. It’s your own journey.
Your transition may take time, and that’s okay. If you eat plant-based most of the time, that’s commendable. But here’s my request, I hope it will be your goal to be 100% plant-based and mostly whole foods, if possible. It’s totally doable and healthy as long as it is balanced and nutritionally adequate based on your personal needs. You’ll learn the reasons why as you go deep and learn more about the lifestyle.
Following a plant-based lifestyle, the majority of the time is a clear win compared to nothing at all. Go plant-based (and vegan) for whatever goals or causes you most identify with- health, environment, and/or animals. One meal at a time. One day at a time.
I am Here For You
In case you want a personalized plant-based nutrition coaching to help you on your plant-based journey, feel free to check my services here as a Registered and Plant-Based Nutritionist Dietitian. Guiding Filipinos to achieve their personal health and fitness goals through plant-based nutrition and holistic wellness is my purpose.
About the author
Roni is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian. She completed her certificate course in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell University and T.Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. She has long been passionate about helping individuals make positive and sustainable changes to their health, to be able to live and enjoy a better quality of life while being mindful of the environment and all beings. She founded Plants & Purpose where she offers her services and shares things about plant-based nutrition.