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What is a Plant-Based Diet?

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

Find out more about the Plant-Based Diet.

Among the various types of diets that periodically pop up in the nutritional panorama, there is one in particular that is attracting the attention of many professionals.

I am referring to the so-called ” Plant-Based Diet “. What are the pros and cons and does it help you to lose weight? Find out more!

What Is The Plant-Based Diet?

The diet is at the top of the guidelines and dietary recommendations for proper nutrition and for the prevention of various diseases related to what we eat.

But what does Plant Based mean? Is it a completely or predominantly plant-based diet?

As often happens in these cases, there is an improper use of the term, whose real meaning, or at least its true origin, is not known.

History of the Plant-Based Diet

The only way to objectively and unequivocally understand what the term plant-based diet really represents is to refer to the scientific literature.

Thus, going back a few years in time, we discover that the first document dealing with plant-based diet dates back to 1999 and was drawn up during the Third National Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition.

In that context, the speakers examined various nutritional approaches: diets based exclusively on plant foods (“ plant-only ”), diets based mainly on plant foods (“ plant-based ”) and omnivorous diets.

It is clear that plant-based diets were mainly made up of plant foods, but could also include foods of animal origin. Vegan diets, on the other hand, fell within the definition of plant-only.

To tell the truth, the researchers concluded the congress by stating that both plant-only diets and plant-based diets, if properly planned, were able to meet all nutritional needs and be healthy for humans.

After having listed all the health benefits of the fundamental nutrients (macronutrients and micronutrients), and having provided indications for the initiation and assistance to patients who decide to undertake this choice.

It comes to the conclusion that the plant-based diet has advantages for all both for healthy people and for patients.

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This diet, in fact, turns out to be an important and powerful tool in the treatment of chronic diseases, capable of bringing lower health costs and probably better results in terms of prevention and treatment.

Plant Based Sandwich

The following year (exactly in May 2017), in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology, an article was published, entitled ” Definition of a plant-based diet overview of this special issue “, in which a precise definition is provided of a plant-based diet.

In fact, the first paragraph reads verbatim that ” A plant-based diet includes all types of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices minimally processed and excludes all products of animal origin, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products “.

In addition to this definition, the benefits of the plant-based diet are reiterated, with particular reference to cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors.

Thus we arrive in December 2018, with the publication, in the journal Nutrients, of the review ” Plant-Based Diets: Considerations for Environmental Impact, Protein Quality, and Exercise Performance “

The purpose of this review was to “examine the impact of plant-based diets on human physical health, environmental sustainability and exercise capacity.

Based on the literature currently available, plant-based diets are unlikely to offer many advantages, but also no disadvantages, compared to omnivorous diets, for strength, anaerobic or aerobic performance.

However, plant-based diets typically reduce the risk of developing numerous chronic diseases over the course of life and require fewer natural resources to produce than diets containing meat.

Therefore, plant-based diets appear to be viable options to adequately support athletic performance, while contributing to overall physical and environmental health ”.

Also in this case, therefore, plant-based diets are those based exclusively on foods of plant origin.

In addition, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – a US medical committee – has also provided precise indications in this regard, through the publication of the Power Plate, that is the dish that faithfully represents the four categories of food that make up the plant-based diet:

  • Cereals (possibly whole)
  • Legumes
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
plant based diet

Even the British Dietetics Association – the UK’s largest association of nutrition professionals – does not categorically exclude foods of animal origin from the definition of a plant-based diet.

By extending the research to some authoritative journals, such as “ Disease Reversal and Prevention Digest ”, we can see that, even in this case, foods of animal origin are not completely excluded from the definition of a plant-based diet.

Wikipedia itself confirms this inclusive or, at least, not totally exclusive orientation.

What Is The Correct Definition?

In light of all this to use a famous journalistic phrase, the question arises: what is the correct definition of a plant-based diet?

The answer is very simple: it depends!

Yes, it depends on the researcher or the international agency, or on the authors; in fact, in each article or publication, it is the author himself who specifies, at the beginning of the paper, whether he intends the plant-based diet as predominantly based on vegetables or exclusively based on foods vegetables.

Ok. Definitions concluded?

Unfortunately not, because another sub-category was born within the plant-based diet: the Whole Food Plant-Based diet.

The Whole Food Plant Based Diet

The Whole Food Plant Based Diet

Describing this type of diet is very simple to do. In fact, just take everything we wrote about the plant-based diet and remove the oils and “processed” (or packaged) foods.

In short, it is the integral (or integralist-healthy) version of the plant-based diet.

Examples Of The Plant-Based Diet

Example Of A "Whole Food Plant-Based" Diet

Calories: 2,500 kcal on average
Macronutrients: 120g PRO / 70g FAT / 340g CHO


– whole oat flakes 60g
– water
– dried fruit 15g
– coconut flakes 10g

Mid-morning snack:


Mid-afternoon snack:

– chickpeas * 40g
– one teaspoon homemade tahini
– lemon juice and water


– Whole grain of your choice 100g
– Edamame 150g
– Vegetables of your choice 200g
– Dried fruit 15g
– Ground flax seeds 15g

Example of a "Plant-Based" Diet

Calories: about 2,500
Macronutrients: 140g PRO / 75g FAT / 315g CHO


– 70g oat flour
– 20g fruit compote
– 20g dried fruit cream
– water

Mid-morning snack:

– Vegetable drink of your choice 150ml
– Vegetable protein 30g
– Fresh fruit 150g
– Ice


Mid-afternoon snack:


** By vegetable protein derivative we mean a portion of food is chosen from Tempeh, Natural and flavored Tofu, Wheat Muscle, Quorn 100% vegetable line, Mopar, Beyond Meat, Soy or Seitan, Lupine or Legume Burger, Vegetable Sliced.

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