What is a Plant Based Diet?

I cannot find a textbook definition of ‘plant based’ so I’ve concluded that Eating plant based is to eat mostly plants and plant derived foods. Mostly? That’s vague. Some people believe that in order to be eating ‘plant based’ you must consume all of your calories from plant sources, such as fruits and vegetables, legumes, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (wheat, oat, barley, and rye) others believe that if you eat mostly, or 80+% of your food from plant sources the other percentage can be non plant sourced and you are still eating a plant based diet. Generally Plant Based means consuming whole foods, thus foods in their natural state and unprocessed.

To me eating plant based is all about moderation, not depriving ones self and being healthy. If most of your plate or most of your meal is plant based you are doing it right. If you are eating predominantly fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains for breakfast lunch and dinner and suddenly you have a slice of pizza or piece of cake is it the end of the world? No! However you may feel sick afterwards because your body is not used to processed foods, animal’s protein or refined sugars. As long as you go right back to plant based foods for your next meal and continue to eat plant based foods for most of your meals you are following a plant based diet.

I need to put it out there that Plant Based to me is not 100% vegan; it is 100% plant foods 90% of the time. Yes plant foods are all vegan but one does not have to eat only plant foods to be a plant based eater. So if I eat plants 90% of the time what am I eating the other 10%?  In all honesty it ends up being less than 5% and equals traces of dairy and processed crap, like Oreos.

I am a strong believer in having ‘cheat’ areas or flexibility, when constricted to eat (or do) something 100% all the time it sets you up to fail, at least it sets me up to fail. 10% can be 10% of the day, week, month, year, whichever works for you.  I could eat a bacon cheeseburger and still be eating a plant based diet over all. With that said I should note that I have been a strict vegetarian for nearly 18 years, 100% vegan for part of that time and would not consume bacon or a burger because I do not and never really did enjoy them. My point? if you want to eat plant based do what works for you. No one is asking or forcing you to give up shrimp or grilled cheese, just consume more fruits and vegetables to off set the damage the shrimp or grilled cheese may cause (more on benefits of eating plant based in another post)

Summary? Eating a Plant Based is diet should be dominated by fresh and or very minimally processed plant foods with a decreased or eliminated consumption of meat, eggs, seafood and dairy products. Do you eat plant based?


    This is a great post! I am a relatively new vegetarian and never got into eating the processed meats or anything like that. I have learned to cook with new foods and use so many ingredients to create healthy, satisfying meals. I would absolutely say I have a plant-based diet. I also agree that restricting yourself is never a good plan! I have never felt healthier or happier and I am a very active person so I definitely splurge sometimes without guilt!

    Running Bun | 6 years ago Reply

      Splurging is necessary for sanity purposes ;) and those fake processed meats are maybe worse than actual meat, I have tried a bunch of them but I usually stick to real food, it tastes so much better anyway

      Josephine @ Plant Based Runner | 6 years ago Reply

    Your pics are making me hungry! Yum! Yes, I try to eat mostly from the earth but definitely eat my share of junk/processed food. I grew up in a village in the midwest where meat and potatoes are the norm. People there think my diet is strange. They also think I only eat carrots and iceberg lettuce. Beans/lentils/nuts don't even come to mind for most people where I was raised!

    jenbigham | 6 years ago Reply

      I understand, my family is like that... they still after nearly 18 years of not eating meat try to get me to 'try a little bit' and often ask 'well what the hell do you eat then, lettuce and bread?" its hard to shake the results of our upbringings... having vegetables as a child was rare and usually covered in some kind of dairy.

      Josephine @ Plant Based Runner | 6 years ago Reply

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