Plant based diet

As more people become interested in plant-based diets for health, ethical, and environmental reasons, many are seeking the guidance of a registered dietitian to ensure they’re meeting their nutritional needs. Here’s what you need to know about plant-based diets and working with a dietitian.

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet emphasizes foods derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, and sometimes includes small amounts of eggs, dairy, and fish. Many people who follow a plant-based diet choose to exclude meat, poultry, and sometimes other animal foods.

What are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?

Research has shown that plant-based diets can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, as well as improve overall health and longevity. This is likely due in part to the high nutrient density of plant-based foods and their associated phytochemicals, which have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-boosting properties.

Why should you work with a dietitian on a plant-based diet?

While a plant-based diet can be healthy, it’s important to ensure that you’re meeting your body’s nutritional needs. Some nutrients that can be more challenging to get enough of on a plant-based diet include protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12. A registered dietitian can help you plan balanced meals that meet your individual needs and preferences, and can also help you identify potential nutrient deficiencies and offer guidance on supplements.

What can you expect when working with a dietitian on a plant-based diet?

Working with a dietitian can involve an initial nutrition assessment, during which the dietitian will ask about your health history, eating patterns, and lifestyle habits. They may also conduct a nutrient analysis of your current diet to identify areas where you may need to make changes or incorporate more variety.

From there, the dietitian can work with you to develop an individualized plan that takes into account your dietary preferences, goals, and lifestyle. This plan may include meal ideas, recipes, and recommendations for nutrient-rich plant-based foods and supplements to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

As you continue to work with the dietitian, they may monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed to ensure that you’re adequately nourished and meeting your health goals.


– Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vegetarian diets.
– Craig WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1627S-1633S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N
– Le LT, Sabaté J. Beyond meatless, the health effects of vegan diets: findings from the Adventist cohorts. Nutrients. 2014;6(6):2131-2147. doi:10.3390/nu6062131
– Mangels R, Messina V, Messina M. The dietitian’s guide to vegetarian diets: issues and applications. Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2010.

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