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Plant-based diet options gaining in popularity

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va (WOWK) – You may have heard of “Meatless Mondays” or “Vegetarian-for-a-Day,” but according to the numbers, these plant-based options are here to stay.

Erin Dalton eats both meat and veggies, but she makes it a point to add as many plant-based options to her diet as possible.

“I eat real food,” Dalton said. “One of my favorite, easy ways to add some healthy fats and some protein into plant-based diet is using hemp seed.”

Dalton is not alone. According to a Nielsen survey, nearly 40-percent of people in the United States are trying to mix more plant-based choices into their diets.

Daniel Jarvis is a clinical dietician with Cabell Huntington Hospital. He explains you can get most of the protein you need from vegetable sources. He says the food culture in the U.S. gravitates to a lot of starches and fried foods, but there’s a problem with that.

“If you’re only eating two out of the five food groups you’re missing out on all the vitamins and minerals that you need to be healthy,” Jarvis said.

There’s been such an increase in people wanted a plant-based alternative to meat that even fast food chains are catching on. For example, Burger King offers the “Impossible Burger,” stating it’s impossible to tell that it’s meatless.

“I was definitely curious enough to try the “Impossible Burger,” Dalton said.

But Dalton said it wasn’t for her and added she’ll stick with what she finds in the produce aisle.

“It’s food. It’s nutrition. It’s sustenance,” Dalton said. “But I wouldn’t consider that, in my mind, what I would consider as food.”

Jarvis says to incorporated as many colors as possible when adding more plants to your diet. He says more color means more variety, and more variety means more bang-for-your-buck on nutrition.

“If you weren’t eating enough before and now you’re eating more fruits and vegetables and things like that,” Jarvis said. “You would probably see a benefit from getting more vitamins and minerals.”

The National Institute of Health says plant-based eating helps facilitate lower health care costs and a good diet can be a way to treat chronic illness.

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