A Handy Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

Man and woman in the produce section of the grocery store

Photo: LightField Studios/shutterstock.com

A Handy Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

Photo: LightField Studios/shutterstock.com

Whether it’s making changes for just one meal of the day, one day of the week or every day, choosing plant-based foods produced through sustainable and fair labor practices when possible can support meaningful change for animals, humans, and our planet.

Why Eat Vegan?

Why are millions of people choosing to eat more just and sustainable plant-based foods?

  • To reduce animal suffering.
  • To lessen their impact on the environment.
  • To benefit their personal health.
  • To demonstrate solidarity with agricultural workers.
  • To reduce harm to communities living near factory farms.

For more reasons, click here.

Find Your Reason

A woman going to pick up a vegan burger at a restaurant / Photo Credit: Joshua Resnick, Shutterstock

Photo: Joshua Resnick/shutterstock.com

Explore Plant-Based Foods

Check local restaurants and grocers to see what plant-based foods might be available near you.

GlobalData reported that 70% of the world’s population is reducing or eliminating their consumption of meat.

Dining Out

When out on the town, ask your server, “What do vegans usually order?” If there isn’t an option on the menu, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some chefs are happy to accommodate. No plant-based entree? No problem. Put some side dishes together for a satisfying meal!

  • Happy Cow finds veg-friendly restaurants near you! Check their website or download the app!
  • Use Yelp to find veg options by searching “vegan restaurants near me”.
  • Major chains like Chipotle, SUBWAY, Denny’s, White Castle, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Taco Bell, Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, and many other restaurants have plant-based options!

Dining In

Cooking at home with friends and family can be a wonderful celebration of healthy, just, and sustainable plant-based foods! Here are some recipes and resources to get you started!

Healthy foods

Photo: Natalia Lisovskaya/shutterstock.com

Tips for Eating a Healthy Vegan Diet

The foods that we put in our bodies matter.

  • Eat the rainbow. A whole, plant-based diet should include a variety of foods that are naturally orange, yellow, green, red, and purple, because all of those colors signal potent and important nutrients that help improve our health. Think of how colorful your plate is. Could you be adding more veggies to your dinner?
  • Have a regular source of fresh fruit in your diet. Foods such as berries, apples, plums, oranges, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and peas are excellent for your health.
  • Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber-rich foods help protect us from disease, reduce chances of cancer, dementia, depression, and help ward off inflammation. High fiber foods include lentils, sweet potato, almonds, bananas, whole wheat pasta, and avocados, just to name a few.
  • Get plenty of calcium. which is widely available in all sorts of plant foods! Make sure to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods such as kale, collards, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and beans.
  • Eat plant-based proteins! As long as you are eating a healthy, plant-based diet that gives you enough calories on a daily basis, you’re going to get more than enough protein. Protein-rich plant-based foods are beans, nuts, oats, rice, peanuts, and more!
  • Mind your B12. Plant-based foods can provide you with all of your essential nutrients with the exception of vitamin B12. Many doctors suggest a B12 supplement of 1,000 micrograms twice a month.

Replace This With This ...

  • Tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, almonds, peanuts, Beyond Meat, Gardein chick’n strips, Chick’n nuggets, Tofurky deli slices, Gardein fishless filets

  • Follow Your Heart slices, Chao slices, Nutritional yeast

  • Tofutti, Kite Hill cream cheese

  • Kite Hill, Trader Joe’s, Silk, So Delicious

  • Ben and Jerry’s, Breyer’s, So Delicious, Coconut Bliss

  • Earth balance, Miyoko’s butter

  • 1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 2 tbsp hot water OR 2 tbsp. instant mashed potato mix OR 1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer + 2 tbsp water

  • 1 flax egg OR ¼ cup applesauce OR 1 mashed banana

Woman learning on her phone and from a book in the kitchen / Photo Credit: Motortion Films / Shutterstock

Photo: Motortion Films/shutterstock.com

Vegan Diets

are fully endorsed by The Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics for everyone from infants to pregnant persons & adult athletes.

Choose Just and Sustainable Food Sources

    • Support Community Supported Agriculture. Through CSAs, local farmers offer “shares” to the public. The share translates to a box of fresh produce delivered to you each week through farming season. This is an excellent way to support local farmers and know that your produce is coming from farmworkers who are being paid and treated fairly.
    • Find your local community garden. These are wonderful spaces where you can volunteer to help grow produce for your community and then harvest some for yourself and your family.
    • Familiarize yourself with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program (FFP) a groundbreaking partnership among farmworkers, farmers, and major food brands that leverages the brands’ purchasing power to end decades-old human rights abuses in the fields, from sexual harassment to forced labor. Learn how you can help expand the program’s life-changing protections by visiting FFP’s website and following @fairfoodprogram on social media.

Handy Vegan Resources

Elkin, Elizabeth. “Plant-Based Food Sales to Increase Fivefold By 2030, BI Says.” Bloomburg News, 11 August 2021,


“An exploration into diets around the world.” Gamechangers, August 2018,


Anthis, Jacy Reese. “US Factory Farming Estimates.” Sentience Institute, 11 April 2019, www.sentienceinstitute.org/us-factory-farming-estimates.

Kelto, Anders. “Eggs Not Always What They’re Cracked Up to Be.” MPR News, 26 December 2014, www.cornucopia.org/2014/12/eggs-not-always-theyre-cracked/.

“Meat, Eggs and Dairy Label Guide.” American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,

www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources/meat-eggs-and-dairy-label-guide. Accessed 04 February 2022.

P.J. Gerber et al. “Tackling Climate Change through Livestock: A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013, www.fao.org/3/i3437e/i3437e.pdf.

“Key Facts and Findings.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/#:~:text=Total%20emissions%20from%20global%20livestock,analysis%20and%20improved%20data%20sets. Accessed 04 February 2022.

“Enjoy Vegetarian Meals.” U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.myplate.gov/tip-sheet/enjoy-vegetarian-meals.  Accessed 04 February 2022.

Melina, V., Craig, W., & Levin, S. (2016). “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116 (12), 1970–1980.

“Blood, Sweat, and Fear.” Human Rights Watch, 24 January 2005, www.hrw.org/report/2005/01/24/blood-sweat-and-fear/workers-rights-us-meat-and-poultry-plants.

“Size and Composition of the U.S. Agricultural Workforce.” USDA Economic Research Service, www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-labor/#size. Accessed 04 February 2022.

Lewis, B. J., Coronado, J. D., & Martinez, R. “Food Insecurity Among Farmworker Families and their Children.” www.ncfh.org/uploads/3/8/6/8/38685499/food_insecurity_among_farmworker_families_and_their_children.pdf.  Accessed 04 February 2022.

“Farmworker Justice Special Immigration Policy Update April 6, 2017.” Farmworker Justice. www.farmworkerjustice.org/blog-post/farmworker-justice-special-immigration-policy-update-april-6-2017/. Accessed 04 February 2022.

Ye, M., Beach, J., Martin, J. W., & Senthilselvan, A. (2013). “Occupational pesticide exposures and respiratory health.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(12), 6442–6471.

Alavanja, M. C. R., Hoppin, J. A., & Kamel, F. (2004). “Health effects of chronic pesticide exposure: cancer and neurotoxicity.” Annual Review of Public Health, 25, 155–197.

May, S., Romberger, D. J., & Poole, J. A. (2012). “Respiratory health effects of large animal farming environments.” Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part B, Critical Reviews, 15(8). doi.org/10.1080/10937404.2012.744288.

Winslow, T. “Industrial Agriculture Linked to Birth Defects.” Waters Kraus & Paul, 23 August 2016, waterskraus.com/industrial-agriculture-linked-to-birth-defects/.

Hribar, C. “Understanding concentrated animal feeding operations and their impact on communities.” National Association of Local Boards of Health, 2010, www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf .

Mirabelli, M. C., Wing, S., Marshall, S. W., & Wilcosky, T. C. (2006). “Race, poverty, and potential exposure of middle-school students to air emissions from confined swine feeding operations.” Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(4), 591–596.

Newsome, M. “Unchecked growth of industrial animal farms spurs long fight for environmental justice in Eastern NC.” North Carolina Health News, 20 October 2021, www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2021/10/20/environmental-justice-and-industrial-farming-in-eastern-nc/.

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