Plant-based or plant-forward eating patterns focus on foods primarily from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, you are proportionately choosing more of your foods from plant sources.

Mediterranean and vegetarian diets

What is the evidence that plant-based eating patterns are healthy? Much nutrition research has examined plant-based eating patterns such as the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet. The Mediterranean diet has a foundation of plant-based foods; it also includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt a few times a week, with meats and sweets less often.

The Mediterranean diet has been shown in both large population studies and randomized clinical trials to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers (specifically colon, breast, and prostate cancer), depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function.

Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health, including a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and increased longevity.

Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients. However, some vegans may need to add a supplement (specifically vitamin B) to ensure they receive all the nutrients required.

Vegetarian diet variety

Vegetarian diets come in lots of shapes and sizes, and you should choose the version that works best for you.

• Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian includes eggs, dairy foods; and occasionally meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.

• Pescatarian includes eggs, dairy foods, fish, and seafood, but no meat or poultry.

• Vegetarian (sometimes referred to as lacto-ovo vegetarian) includes eggs and dairy fooas, but no meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.

• Vegan includes no animal foods.


• Rolled oats with walnuts, banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

• Breakfast wrap: Fill a whole-wheat tortilla with scrambled egg, black beans, peppers, onions, Monterey jack cheese, and a splash of hot sauce or salsa.

• Whole-wheat English muffin topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices, and blueberries.


• Greek salad: Chopped mixed greens with fresh tomato, Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, crumbled feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Whole-wheat pita on the side, fresh melon for dessert.

• Tomato basil soup, whole-grain crackers with tabbouleh, and an apple.

• Vegetarian pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, peppers, and mushroom. Fresh strawberries for dessert.


• Grilled vegetable kabobs with grilled tofu, and a quinoa and spinach salad.

• Whole-wheat pasta with cannellini beans and peas, and a romaine salad with cherry tomatoes, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

• Vegetarian chili with a spinach-orzo salad

“Fresh Berry Caprese Salad”


• 1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar

• 2 Cup fresh strawberries sliced

• 1 Cup fresh blueberries

• 1/2 Cup fresh basil chopped

• 1 Cup fresh mozzarella cubed

• 1/4 Cup sliced almonds

• 1 Tbsp olive oil

• 6 Cup Spring Mix Salad Instructions

• Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat; cook 15 minutes or until reduced to a thick glaze.

Allow to cool.

• Place strawberries, blueberries, mozzarella, almonds and basil on top of spring mix salad.

Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze.

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