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Living green and eating clean

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(ARA) - The trend of protecting the environment continues to gain momentum, and people everywhere are adopting more eco-friendly lifestyles. Within this movement, a growing number are taking a look at their diets and seeing how eating more natural foods can improve their health while minimizing the impact on the environment.

The health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables may be intuitive, but switching to a plant-based diet also has a positive effect on the natural world. Processed foods and meats, while plentiful and convenient, have a huge impact on the environment. The methods used to manufacture, package and transport many of these products emit harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and create tons of waste.

Environmental organizations are promoting the positive impact of plant-based diets and encouraging citizens to eat more fruits and vegetables. This can be difficult for those who are accustomed to consuming large amounts of meat, dairy and packaged foods. However, adopting a whole-foods diet could benefit both your well-being and the planet, and these three tips can help ensure an easy transition.

Drink your greens
Green smoothies are a delicious and easy way to incorporate several servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet each day. Many recipes for these easy-to-make drinks include ingredients that will help you reap nutritional benefits without sacrificing taste. Author and celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder recommends the Glowing Green Smoothie to her clients and readers in her book, "The Beauty Detox Solution."

Snyder says blending releases the full nutritional benefits of greens, emphasizing the importance of using a high-quality machine like the Vitamix, her personal choice. Able to completely pulverize whole fruits and vegetables, the Vitamix makes any combination into a silky-smooth beverage in minutes says Snyder. This versatile machine is capable of a number of other whole-food applications, including grinding whole grains, creating frozen sorbet, and even making hot soup, making it the must-have tool for anyone adopting a more plant-based diet.

Meatless Mondays
Preparation is key in the transition to a plant-based diet, and creating a meal plan for the week can be extremely helpful. Take into consideration your work and personal schedules, such as lunch meetings, special events, recreational activities, etc. You might begin by creating all plant-based meals just one or two days a week and then gradually increasing the number as you adjust. Adapt your weekly meal plan into a shopping list, and purchase the produce you'll need once to save time throughout the week.

Alternative eats
If you have favorite meat- or dairy-based foods that you can't imagine giving up, check out plant-based alternatives as an option. From veggie burgers made from beans, falafel, lentil or even walnuts to grilled portabella mushroom panini to breaded eggplant parmesan, there are countless recipes to help you find the perfect plant-based replacement to any meal.

Eating more whole foods will have a number of positive effects on both your health and surroundings. Keeping the planet healthy has never been more important, and transitioning to a plant-based diet will keep your body healthy as well.

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