What is a Plant-based Diet? A new Type of Vegetarianism?

October 13, 2023

In the Com4Agriplant project, we talk a lot about plant-based diet, as one of the things we want to promote for a healthier environment and lifestyle. But what is a plant-based diet? Is this some new vegetarian fad or what is it and why is it called that? Well, no, it is not vegetarianism. Although, vegetarianism is also one kind of plant-based diet.
Plant-based diet is a term indicating a conscious shift away from eating animal-derived products, such as meat, eggs, dairy and seafood, towards eating more plant-based food, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and mushrooms. It might seem like vegetarianism according to this definition, but in fact, any kind of conscious reduction in intake of animal-based products and going for a majority plant-based food intake becomes plant-based diet. Sometimes people might use the term Flexitarian to describe this approach, where animal-based products still are an option, but efforts are taken to keep consumption of such low.
Reducing animal-based diet and moving towards a plant-based diet has health benefits, can often end up cheaper and is also beneficial to the environment (as livestock emissions of greenhouse gasses is a significant contributor to global warming, more on that in a separate article later). It’s long been recommended by dietitians to have a well-balanced diet, with a heavy focus on Grain products, fruits and vegetables, as seen in typical food pyramids. Humans also historically have eaten much more plant-based and many cultures know plenty of traditional dishes that are mostly plant-based from times when meat was expensive and much harder to produce in large quantities than fruits, vegetables or grain products. And it still is to this day cheaper to do so.
We in Com4Agriplant project recommend a plant-based diet because there are numerous advantages for consumers, society and the environment. Because it is economically advisable for average households that want to have greater savings without compromising the quality of nutrition and because it is not even hard to do, because whether someone wants to be vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or just decides to expand their repertoire of traditional vegetable soups, stews and vegetable or fruit-filled dumplings, any steak or egg eaten less is a step towards healthier consumers and a healthier environment.