It involves a more flexible approach to plant-based eating—one you may already be taking!
People have been identifying themselves as vegetarians and vegans for years. Then came flexitarians. Now, it’s all about “plantivores,” or people following a predominantly plant-based diet, usually for their own health and that of the planet.
The plantivore diet encourages people to focus on eating more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the form of plant-based foods, rather than simply avoiding meat and dairy.
Unlike a vegan diet, a plantivore diet can’t be based on french fries and cheese-free pizza. But being a plantivore means you may occasionally eat animal products while incorporating more plant-based meals into your life overall.
How to tell if you’re a plantivore
Do you sometimes swap in chickpeas for chicken? Are you addicted to the peanut sauce on your local vegetarian restaurant’s best-selling rice bowl? Have you spent hours googling recipes for jackfruit tacos? You might already be a plantivore without knowing it.
For some, becoming a plantivore will be part of a transition to a fully vegan diet. For others, it won’t. According to plant-based blogger Susan Pratt, that’s okay.
“You can be plant based and still enjoy your grandma’s lasagna. The vegan police aren’t going to come get you,” says Pratt. The most important thing, she adds, is to feed your body what it needs while trying your best to do no harm to animals.
A focus on health
To Pratt, the difference between vegans and plantivores is that many vegans focus on animal welfare rather than on eating whole foods. “Plant-based [eating] is more for health; it’s more whole foods and complete grains,” she says. “Whole foods, by definition, are foods that have been processed or refined as little as possible and are free of additives or other artificial substances.”
That’s why many plant-based eaters on a strict whole foods diet avoid oils and even limit ingredients such as soy sauce, vinegar, and miso paste. “Butters and oils have been processed, with the end result containing very little to no nutrients while being very high in calories,” explains Pratt.
“Soy sauce and vinegars fall under the category of seasonings and can be used sparingly. For someone on a strict whole foods diet, the best seasonings are spices and lemon juice.”
Choose your own adventure
Pratt isn’t so strict, which is why recipes on her blog, <susancooksvegan.com>, sometimes call for coconut oil, sugar, or vegan butters. She also often offers substitutions and adaptations to appeal to all eaters.
Pratt and her husband, Randy, turned to a plant-based diet three-and-a-half years ago after deciding to have a baby. Their awakening came after immersing themselves in everything they could find about being vegan, including the documentary <What the Health>. They decided to just try a plant-based diet for 30 days—“and we’ve never turned back.” Now, they have a daughter, who’s also being raised on a plant-based diet.
Despite this, Pratt says she’s only 99.9 percent vegan, though she’ll never again eat meat. “If push comes to shove, if I go to somebody’s home and they make me a meal with dairy and egg in it, I’m going to eat it and be grateful. Because for me, it’s not an allergy; it’s a preference. This diet isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. Just, ‘Okay—tomorrow, let’s do our best.’”
Helpful supplements for a plant-based diet
If you’re considering a plant-based diet, you might require some of the following supplements:
- vitamin B12
- vitamin D
- omega-3 fatty acids
Tips for getting started as a plantivore
Make easy swaps
Try reducing the meat each time you make a dish you like—and increasing the plant-based ingredients.
Create opportunities to love plants
Consider plant-based eating as an opportunity to add more plants to meals rather than deny yourself something. Throw extra mushrooms, zucchini, or tempeh into curries, soups, chilis, and rice bowls, either alone or in addition to the meat or fish you’d usually add.
Write down plant-based recipes you love, then cook these more often. Try variations with different vegetables or grains.
Do your research
There’s plenty to learn about factory farming and monocrop soy, corn, and coconut production, but don’t forget the delicious research on recipes for jackfruit tacos, buffalo cauliflower wings, and even plant-based cakes.
Get inspired by plant-based culinary traditions
Check out Thai salads, spiced Ethiopian stews, Caribbean rice and peas, Turkish pilafs, or Greek mezze.
Stock your pantry
Fill your shelves with plant-based snacks and quick-cooking staples so you’ll be less likely to reach for non-plant-based foods.