What is a Plant-Based diet?
What is a “plant-based diet?"
It's exactly as it sounds. A plant-based diet consists of foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and a variety of protein-rich foods like legumes, seeds, nuts and soy. Foods such as milk and dairy products, seafood, lean meat, poultry and eggs can be included if you fancy, but are not the focus of this diet.
This diet is higher in unsaturated fat (the good fats) AND fiber, both of which have been proven to promote better health. It can also be more nutrient-dense, meaning there's more vitamins and minerals packed into your food versus something that has empty calories or is higher with saturated fats (the not so good fats). This diet is intended to consume less meat but not go entirely meatless. Adapting the plant-based diet does not mean you have to be a vegetarian or vegan, it simply means that you will become more mindful of consuming more plant-based options into your daily routine.
Here at UNF, there are a plethora of on-campus options to fulfill a plant-based diet, if that's the lifestyle you seek!
One of my personal favorites is Jamba Juice located within the Student Wellness Center. Jamba Juice offers over a dozen of plant-based smoothies and smoothie bowls, both of which are a great source of natural sugars (fruit), vitamins, and fiber. There's also the option to add oats or other plant-based boosts such as chia seeds, kale or pumpkin seeds. You can request substitutions and try soy milk or peanut butter if you're trying to forgo dairy. My go-to order at Jamba is the Pitaya Paradise Bowl, with blueberries instead of pineapple. It gives it an extra antioxidant punch and offers a good deal of fiber.
Another great and healthy on-campus option is Chop’d and Wrap’d. They customize salads and wraps with lots of choices for veggies including tomatoes, black olives, carrots, onions, and cucumbers, and plant-based proteins such as black beans, chickpeas, and peanuts. They have dressings such as raspberry vinaigrette, spicy barbecue, Greek, and sesame ginger. Check out our newest addition and just in time for Healthy Campus Week, the sweet potato and black bean BBQ wrap! (Only available for a limited time!)
If you’re in need of an extra pick-me-up or snack, check out the Starbucks on campus by the library. They offer multiple non-dairy substitutes for milk such as almond and soy to add to your coffee or espresso. Another drink option is Starbucks’ line of Refreshers; it's a tasty and refreshing beverage that's a sure way to brighten your day. These drinks are filled with fruit and green coffee extract making it light and crisp. Starbucks also carries healthy snacks such as bananas, guacamole and Hippeas, which are similar to cheese puffs but are made with chickpea flour and are full of fiber and protein!
Lastly, at the Osprey Cafe you can find an assortment of steamed, sauteed, and fresh veggies on a daily basis. From the extravagant salad bar to the 'action stations' to the "Kitchen," there's always a tasty veggie side to enjoy. Don't forget to check out the 'Vegan and Vegetarian' section at the "Kitchen" in case you're experimenting with plant-based proteins such as tofu and tempeh. And, if you're looking for a healthier dessert, there's always the smoothie bar!
As you can see, our campus has endless options for all types of diets and lifestyles, especially if you are trying to be more plan-base minded. Happy eating!