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Nutrition & Fitness Newsletter

Plant-Based, Vegetarian & Vegan


Lately, we're been hearing more about plant-based diets.  When I first heard the term I wondered how this differed from a vegetarian diet.  After some research, it seems that a plant-based diet isn't strictly vegetarian.  The plant-based diet is mostly vegetarian but allows for meat on occasion as a small percentage of the diet.  This is probably a good option for those who don't want to completely give up meat.  Let's first look at the different types of vegetarian diets.  Vegetarian can be a general term regarding a meat-less diet but if you've a lacto-ovo vegetarian - dairy and eggs are included or a lacto-vegetarian that includes dairy.  Some refer themselves as pescatarian - a vegetarian diet that includes fish, which isn't really vegetarian but a term to understand.  The strictest form of a vegetarian diet is vegan, which excludes all meat, animal-based and sometimes insect-based (e.g. honey) products.  It excludes dairy, eggs and any type of meat or animal-based food, honey can be excluded as well, depending on an individualized on personal definition of being vegan.

Many choose these diets for various reasons, personal principles related to the ecology and treatment of animals, religious, food preferences and/or for health reasons.  For the purposes of this newsletter we'll mainly focus on the health benefits and refer to plant-based diets as a general term.

Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

  • Low in Saturated Fat - Unless there's a lot of plant-base oils such as coconut or palm in the diet a plant-based diet can be low in saturated fat.  The animal-based foods such as butter, full fat dairy, fatty cuts of red meat tend to high in saturated fat which influences unhealthy cholesterol levels leading to cardiovascular disease and other health problems.  Plant-based diet are high in unsaturated fats which help to reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels and improve health.

  • Higher in Fiber - The plant foods such as beans, nuts seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber.  On the other hand, meats and dairy have no fiber.  Think of fiber normalizes bowel movements and improves the health of the GI system, removing toxins and potential carcinogens.  Plus fiber is more filling which will be more satisfying and prevent excess intake of calories.  Additionally, fiber lowers cholesterol and improves blood sugar control.

  • Nutrient Dense - Most plant foods are nutrient dense in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, and low in calories.

  • Eco-Friendly - What's good for the planet is good for your health.  A diet of less meat uses fewer resources and produces less pollution.  Meat production requires high amounts of water,  additional resources to produce animal feed and generates many waste products, from growth, processing and transportation.

  • Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease - Many research studies show that a diet high in plant foods lowers the risk developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers.

What's Healthy and Unhealthy

Although any diet can be unhealthy even when it's considered vegetarian, the dependency is on the foods selected.  Consider what an unhealthy vegetarian or plant-based diet could look like - donuts, French fries, potato chips, many processed meat alternatives such as Impossible Burgers, lots of cheese or sugary foods.  There's no meat here and you could still claim to be vegetarian but you won't reap the benefits of a meat-less or reduced meat diet while eating like this.

Here's what a healthy vegetarian or plant-based diet looks like - fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil and other healthy fats.  Now that is very much a plant-based, whole foods, unprocessed diet!  This type of diet is considered eco-friendly, humane and healthy.  Even if you're not ready to give up meat, try to eat more plant-based and you'll be healthier for it.  Consider seeing a nutritionist to address dietary changes to ensure that you're getting the right amount of protein and the full complement of nutrients to stay healthy.

Here are few reasons to visit with a nutritionist/personal trainer/health coach: relieve tension and stress in the body, properly train or progress in an activity, improve your microbiome, assess nutrient intake, disease prevention through evidence-based diet, and exercise, maximize exercise performance, improve sleep quality, enhance mental clarity, optimize digestion and nutrient absorption, establish long-term healthy habits, meal planning for a whole foods diet and eat in a way to sustain the planet.  Please consider Sheri for nutrition counseling and/or fitness appointments to help you develop a healthier lifestyle for you and the planet.


Pesticides and Farmworkers  
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed loosening a key Obama-era rule that was meant to prevent farmworker exposure to pesticides.  The EPA has proposed dropping a rule requiring safety zones when spraying pesticides   This is a great concern to our farmworkers who are considered essential workers supporting us during the pandemic.

Sheri is a Certified Nutritionist with a master's degree in nutrition, with over 15 years of clinical counseling experience, an ACE-certified Personal Trainer with advanced certifications in medical exercise, senior fitness and health coaching.  All nutrition consultations include exercise guidance, dietary analysis and meal plans to meet your individual lifestyle, calorie and nutritional needs.

Free introductory 15-minute appointments are also available.

To schedule an appointment with Sheri Mar, email:  or call:  206.789.6440

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