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Plant-based diets are full of colorful, delicious vegetables.

From veggie chicken nuggets to food bloggers, plant-based eating seems to be everywhere right now.

It’s a lifestyle that allows you to get most, or all, of your nutrients from plant-based foods. Although this may seem obvious, many people confuse plant-based diets with eating vegan.

“Plant-based eating can include eating meat too, while veganism is strictly no animal products,” Amanda Allen, Hy-Vee dietitian, says in an email. Any amount of animal meat can be included in a plant-based diet based on an individual's needs.

The mindset and reasoning behind these diets is another distinguishing factor. “People become vegan for a lot of different reasons,” says Anna Meyer, owner of Range Free Bakery & Café. “The overarching one for that is usually based in animal treatment.”

This is different than plant-based eating for a few reasons. The mentality behind plant-based eating can vary from person to person, but one major factor that contributes to the growing popularity of the diet is environmental awareness. As people become more conscious of the harmful effects that animal industries have on our environment, moving to a plant-based diet feels like a manageable way for individuals to make a difference.

Common misconceptions

Due to the prevalence of plant-based eating in popular culture, there are some common questions people have. One misconception is that it is difficult to acquire enough protein in a plant-based diet. However, there are plenty of options that make it easy for plant-based eaters to get all the necessary nutrients.

“You can get enough protein through a plant-based diet by including beans, lentils, tofu, hummus and even a little animal protein too,” Allen says. 

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Beans and chickpeas are great ways for plant-based eaters to get protein.

Another myth is that if you switch to a plant-based diet, you will become healthy. “That's not the case because we're all individuals and our bodies react differently to things,” Meyer says. “The idea that all plants are good for everyone is a misconception.” Instead, it’s all about listening to your body and focusing on what is best for your individual health.

How to approach a plant-based diet

America's trendy diet culture can cause people to eat a certain way for the wrong reasons. “Choosing to be plant-based because you saw it in a magazine or because Gwyneth Paltrow is telling you on her podcast that you should be plant-based are really terrible reasons to focus on plant-based eating,” Meyer says.

When looking into adjusting your diet in any way, it’s imperative to focus on what's good for your body above all else. Whether it be for environmental or personal health reasons, it’s essential to do your research and know what you are getting yourself into. 

“Nutrition isn’t one size fits all,” Allen says.

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