How many of your clients or students say they follow a vegetarian or plant-based eating pattern – and think they’re eating healthfully – when in reality, they’re just consuming lots of non-meat processed foods?
Healthy plant-based and vegetarian eating patterns are about more than opting for the Impossible Burger with fries. To be healthy, this way of eating has to be centered on a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
It seems like processed and ultra-processed foods have been in the news a lot lately.
While some people get mired in conversations about what foods should be considered processed (canned beans? whole grain bread?), you can’t go wrong by promoting a plant-based eating pattern that’s centered on vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.
We have some great ways to get your students, clients, or employees off the processed food track and on the road to a plant-based eating pattern.
1. One of our newest posters uses pictures to encourage nutrient-dense foods over ultra-processed ones:
From the Impossible burger to the Beyond taco, plant-based ‘meats’ are everywhere. Products like these are fueling the plant-based diet movement.
While we’re thrilled to see this healthy way of eating become more popular, let’s make sure the right messages are getting out there. Today we want to share a few materials and tips to help you quickly put together a class on real-food plant-based eating.
Our Grown, Not Processed poster says it all. The elegant photographs of fresh produce are a reminder of what real food looks like, in stark contrast to the images of fake-meat sandwiches that consumers see every day.
Our Plant Power! poster might be better for younger audiences. They’ll be drawn to the iguana, then realize he’s made up of vibrant photos of plant foods. And the poster comes with a handy plant-based diet quiz!
These are just two examples of materials that can spark a conversation about real food, plant-based eating, and where processed plant-based ‘meats’ fit in. Here are five teaching tips to use:
Eating Out: Bring some local restaurant menus to class, or ask participants to look up their favorites on their phones. Have them find plant-based items on the menu. Are these options highly processed? High in fat or salt? Help them find the healthiest plant-based menu items, and discuss how not-so-healthy items could be modified.
Some Meat is OK: Ask participants to name their favorite meat or poultry-based dish. How can they change it so the meat is more of a side dish or garnish? Discuss how a plant-based diet doesn’t have to mean a completely meatless diet.
Plant-Based MyPlate: Working in small groups, have participants come up with a few plant-based meals that follow MyPlate. On a large piece of flip-chart paper, have them draw a circle (plate) for each meal and fill in the MyPlate sections with the name (or drawing) of the food. The groups can then come together to share their meal ideas.
Unprocessed Plant Protein: Do a cooking demo featuring beans, peas, or lentils. Pass around small zip-top baggies holding different types of dried legumes so people can see the huge variety of choices.
Processed Plant Protein: Bring in packaging from products you can find in the supermarket, like frozen veggie burgers and corndogs, chicken-less tenders, fish-less filets, etc. Let individuals or small groups take one or two packages and tell the class about the product, its ingredients, nutrition facts, and how they think it fits into a plant-based way of eating.
Let’s show people that it’s not impossible to fit more plant foods into their diet. In fact, if they go Beyond the processed products advertised on TV, they’re sure to find lots of healthy, delicious, real-food options in the produce section of the grocery store!
Use the code PLANTS15 to get 15% off all of our plant-based teaching resources and prizes! Good until February 1st. Hurry!
No matter how much people know about heart-healthy eating, the hard part is putting it into practice. Show them how to remake their favorite dishes with a heart-healthy cooking demo.
Why cooking demos? Because we think there’s no better way to get the message across than with food. Show people how to cook, let them taste healthy food, and they’re more likely to try it at home.
Cooking demos are great for:
Parent nights at school
Home school groups
Cooking in front of a crowd may sound daunting, but our Cooking Demo Book and CD Kit will make you look like a Food Network Star. The 300+ page book contains more than 30 lessons plus PowerPoint shows on Recipe Modification and Menu Planning & Shopping Tips.
Each lesson includes:
Recipes (tested and simple, with easy-to-find, affordable ingredients)
Make-ahead & presentation tips
Shopping & equipment lists
For heart-healthy eating, we suggest the lessons on:
Fruits & veggies
Heart healthy recipes
For makeovers, it is always great to show these switches, featured in all of our cooking demo kits:
Whole milk to skim milk
Butter to olive oil
A little grated Parmesan cheese instead of a lot of grated regular cheese like mozzarella or cheddar
Adding more veggies for most recipes
Lean ground beef or turkey instead of regular ground beef
The microbiome is a hot topic and the emerging research is exciting. Our Gut Health poster does a great job of explaining what we know so far – diet impacts your microbiome and your microbiome impacts your health.
Whether you’re counseling a patient with an autoimmune disease or teaching a class on weight control, the microbiome is relevant. Researchers think gut health affects the immune system, mood, body weight, inflammation, food allergies, certain autoimmune diseases, and more.
Here are 6 microbiome basics and lesson talking points to go along with the Gut Health poster:
Your gut is home to trillions of microbes – we call this your microbiome. Some of the microbes are beneficial and some are not.
Researchers think the microbiome influences our health, including the immune system, mood, body weight, inflammation, food allergies, and certain autoimmune diseases.
In a healthy microbiome or a healthy gut, the beneficial microbes keep the bad ones from taking over and causing problems.
What you eat impacts your microbiome, as does adequate sleep and physical activity.
These foods support a healthy microbiome: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein (plant and animal sources).
These foods support an unhealthy microbiome: added sugars, processed foods, alcohol, too much animal protein, and saturated fat.
Make sure everyone knows that a healthy gut is just one more reason to eat a plant-based, high fiber diet. For more information, check out the microbiome glossary on our sister site. You can also purchase our PowerPoint presentation and floor decal.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, choose a word for 2020. This word or phrase becomes your theme for the year. It guides you through making decisions, facing challenges, and just living your day to day life. (For a good overview of the word of the year concept, check out OneWord365.com.)
Why not have your clients or students come up with their own health and wellness word for the year? Help them decide what they want to focus on, then come up with a word or phrase that will remind them of this intention. Here are some ideas:
Ten: One of the best words – or numbers – for people trying to lose weight is ten, because a 10% weight loss brings big health benefits. If losing 10 percent is overwhelming, choose ‘five’ as your word. Resources:
“Plant Slant,” a new category in our store, provides tools to help you educate your clients about a plant-based eating style. Plant Slant is a hot topic these days, because eating more plant foods (and less animal products) is good for your health and good for the environment. It doesn’t take a vegetarian or vegan diet to reap the benefits, making a Plant Slant an easy goal for everyone! MyPlate is based on 3/4 plants or more and a plant based eating pattern is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and it is the base of the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet. By teaching the idea of a “plant slant” you open a whole new world to your clients as well as a different way of seeing and appreciating healthful foods.
Our colorful Plant Slant poster shows these fun lessons that you can use with this poster or to plan any class on your own:
Foods that make up a plant-based eating pattern include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds as well as foods made from these like vegetarian milk or vegetarian meat substitutes.
How eating more plant foods benefits your whole body, from the brain to bones, and helps prevent diseases like cancer and diabetes. A plant based diet that is high in fiber and low in added solid fat, sugar, and sodium is healthier for your heart and helps you control your weight because you feel full on fewer calories.
The environmentalimpact of eating more plant foods and less animal products is one of the most important changes anyone can make to have a smaller carbon footprint.
How eating more plant foods is for everyone who wants to be healthier, not just vegetarians or vegans.
How do you go about implementing a more plant based diet into your own routine right now?
What are easy switches? Meal ideas?
What are whole foods? (Whole foods are foods in their near natural state and do not include highly processed foods like white flour, sugar, or processed meats to mention just a few)
What is plant based? (Plant based means foods that are made from plants versus items from animals like meat)
MyPlate is 3/4 plants!
While vegan excludes all animals, plant based is mostly plants and a little more flexible. It is healthy and easy!
Our eye-catching Freedom From Chronic Disease banners feature a veggie-filled Statue of Liberty raising her “torch” of fruits and vegetables. What better way to show the benefits of eating with a Plant Slant?
Use a plant slant theme for any class, wellness fair, classroom, cafeteria, or event!
The Plants: Many Beneficial Parts poster is a beautiful visual for plant-based eating. The message goes beyond “eat more fruits and vegetables” to bring a positive message about how there are so many colorful and abundant choices you have for fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Use the poster to generate discussions like these:
The edible parts of vegetables are often wasted. You can eat the stems! And the leaves!
A cooking demo and taste test would be great for introducing many new plant foods listed on this poster. Items like salads or crudite platters require no cooking equipment while soups or smoothies provide a palatable way to introduce more plant foods to the picky eater.
Each part of the plant provides different nutrients, tastes, and textures. What’s an example of a tuber? A root? What nutrients do they provide? This will reinforce why eating a wide variety of plant foods is important. Use these tips from Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD.
Moving toward a plant-based eating pattern might mean venturing into unfamiliar territory. Start out by asking people to name each item on the poster. What are those fruits on the top right, below the tomatoes and apple? What kind of nuts are those on the top left? Which of these foods have you tried? Do you like them? Brainstorm different ways of preparing some of the foods pictured on the poster.
The Plant Slant Poster is new! The idea is to show the benefits of a more plant-based diet so everyone can think about how their diet can help them achieve a more optimal health status. You do not have to be on a diet or be vegetarian or vegan to slant your eating towards plants!
And plans benefit 9 different health points from vision to digestion to weight control to the avoidance of chronic diseases.
This colorful poster proclaims the benefits of eating a plant-based dietary pattern with MORE vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds and LESS animal-based and processed foods. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this eating pattern is more health promoting and has a lower impact on the environment.
The image of two positive, active bodies made up of brightly colored plant foods catches the eye. Just a quick glance at the poster shows how a plant-based eating pattern is better for the whole body (bones, brain, heart, eyes, digestive system) and influences body weight and the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
The vibrant graphics encourage individuals to linger long enough to read that eating more plant-based foods is better for the environment. From vegans to lactovegetarians and flexitarians, there are different ways to enjoy a plant-based eating pattern.
The Food Navigator has a great list of food trends for 2018. One thing is for sure. There are more choices for plant-based milks, dairy products, and meat alternatives than ever before in the store. This trend is predicted to continue. Sales of plant-based foods are estimated to be around $3.1 billion dollars.
“Plant Based” is a great educational message for the new year, too.
Plant-based is just a new way to present most of the lessons from the US Dietary Guidelines. After all, MyPlate is 3/4 plants with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And legumes are listed as both a vegetable and a protein.
Here is a handy glossary:
Plant based – A diet higher in plant–based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Whole foods – foods that are nearly in their original, whole state and have little processing; specifically they are not primarily filled with added sugar or fat or refined flour. For example, whole wheat cream of wheat is more whole than corn flakes or fruit charms. Whole wheat bread is more whole than muffins. Potatoes are more whole than potato chips. Apples are more whole than apple pop tarts. Whole foods have more fiber, fewer calories, less salt, sugar, and fat. So you get more nutrients and fiber, and fewer calories or fewer grams of artery-clogging fat or blood pressure-rising sodium. Unfortunately the trade off is that you get less convenience. But planning ahead and cooking at home and planning leftovers is a simple workaround that is better for your pocketbook and your health.
Non-dairy milk – a “milk-like beverage” made from a plant-based ingredient(s). Examples include almond milk, flax milk, and soy milk. There are also many others in this category with the newest being from peas (Rippl). The advantage to this type of milk is that it is not regulated by the FDA the same way dairy milk is and thus it can contain many beneficial additives such as more calcium or omega-3 fatty acids. You should still read the label to make sure that it is not a significant source of saturated fat, trans fat, or sugar. Coconut milk often contains a lot of saturated fat and flavored milk may contain a lot of sugar. Some of these milks do not contain any calcium so that is another item to check, too. Regular milk always contains about 30% of the daily value for calcium so try to stay close to that amount since dairy products are usually the most significant source of calcium in the modern diet. The benefits of this plant-based milk are that it is plant based, sweetly flavored, thicker than skim milk, and easier on the digestive system for most people. It is also an option for people who choose to be vegan or vegetarian.
Dietary Guidelines – a set of guidelines mandated by US law that provides an academic committee to review the most recent nutrition research and provide guidelines to Americans and their health care providers every five years.
MyPlate – the icon for a balanced diet from the USDA. It is based on the dietary guidelines and helps people balance their meals by providing a plate graphic with 5 proportional food group sections that include dairy, protein, fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Vegan – a person who does not consume any animal products or foods that contain them and who does not use any products that are the byproducts of animal slaughter
Vegetarian – a person who chooses not to eat any meat but who may or may not consume eggs or dairy
Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian – a person who is vegetarian but who might eat fish or poultry on occasion
Grains – the seeds of grasses that are produced for food; examples include oats, wheat, rice, barley, quinoa, teff, amaranth, and many more
Vegetables – The parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables. This includes leaves, seeds, bulbs, stems, roots, flowers, and fruits.
Fruits – in botany, fruits are the seed-bearing structures of plants. In the culinary world they tend to be the sweet ones like oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, kiwis, melons, berries, peaches, pears, and more. The more savory fruits like tomatoes and avocados are used as vegetables in a kitchen.
Beans – seeds from a legume pod also called dried beans, legumes, or pulses are from flowering plants in the Leguminosae family. This includes the soybean, chickpea, bean, and pea, among others (Morris 365). Other lesser known members of the legume family include clover, licorice, lentils, and the peanut.
Aquafaba – the cooking liquid of beans and other legumes like chickpeas, which can be used to replace egg whites since it can be whipped. It is a mix of protein, starches, and other substances which leach into the water during the cooking process. FMI see aquafaba.com
Organic – food that is free of certain pesticides and fertilizers; using organic processes for sustainable farming.
Local – food that is grown and sold locally; retains biodiversity of food and diversity of local land plus keeps money in local economy
Conventional – food that is grown without organic certification
Meatless – meals made without meat, poultry, or fish
Meatless Monday – a tradition among vegetarians where Mondays feature meatless meals
Meat as flavoring component or garnish – a topic and general tenet of plant-based diets where meat becomes a flavoring agent or garnish instead of being the main entree on the plate.