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Plant-Based Buzz

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FROM Jarť Cervantes, VLCE,
April 2022

We can be vegan for ethics AND take care of our health. My hope is that plant-based becomes much more than a buzzword and that we eventually embrace its true meaning.

Main Street Vegan

Plant-Based is the new buzzword, itís everywhere lately, not only with food but also in household products like laundry detergent and menís body wash. My Instagram feed is ablaze with flashy headlines about Impossible Nuggets and the McPlant finally making its U.S. debut.

I went vegan in 2016, and the amount of vegan and plant-based food products that have since emerged is astounding. This market growth is music to the vegan communityís ears because more McPlants means less McChickens and spares more animal lives every day. Maybe these new products are the little push someone needs to go vegan, making the potential for a more plant-based world incredibly exciting.

But what is the real driver behind all this buzz? Will plant-based be another diet trend or will it evolve to what it needs to becomeóa food revolution that saves our planet and health?

As a recovered chronic dieter-turned-nutritionist (a.k.a. forever food label reader), Iíve seen a lot of marketing buzz words. As public awareness grows about a certain diet or healthful nutrient, the food industry jumps in to capitalize on the trend. Maybe you remember the popularity of Fiber One products about a decade ago, or more recently, the high-fat trend showcasing Bulletproof coffee. Although itís awesome #plantbased is trending, we must be aware that most companies are slapping this phrase on everything to sell products, not to save animals or improve our health.

Not too long ago, vegan treats were limited to sorbet, French fries, and Oreos. Now, with many more plant-based food products, itís very easy to eat a highly processed, yet although animal-free, diet. New vegans and anyone open to a plant-based diet must learn that there is a big nutritional difference between an Impossible Burger and a homemade black bean burger.

A plant-based diet is one that includes mostly, if not all, foods derived from plants. This includes vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If you extend this definition to whole food, plant-based, then we are talking about foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed. It seems that the food industry has taken the liberty of reforming plant-based to mean ďdoes not include animal products,Ē which is essentially vegan, but they donít want to label it as such (thatís another topic altogether). As much as we want to believe otherwise, just because a food is vegan doesnít mean itís healthy.

If we donít hold strong onto what eating plant-based really means and why itís important, we will not come out healthier from this trend, despite what we are persuaded. And companies selling plant-based products continue to profit without having to lean into vegan values.

Choosing to go vegan or eat plant-based is about saving animals, the planet, and improving public health. Letís support companies and products who care about the same things we do. We can get excited about new plant-based fun foods while eating mostly whole foods. We can be vegan for ethics AND take care of our health. My hope is that plant-based becomes much more than a buzzword and that we eventually embrace its true meaning.

Jarť Cervantes is a Nutrition Coach and Main Street Vegan Academy Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator who specializes in plant-based nutrition, meal planning, and body re-composition. She operates Heroic Strength with her husband Saul, a personal trainer, helping people build healthier habits so they can look and feel their best. You can follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for high-protein plant-based recipes, awesome workouts, and adventures around Los Angeles.

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