The benefits of a plant-based diet: A nurse practitioner offers her thoughts

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Jennifer Bramley has been following a plant-based diet for 15 years, including during her current pregnancy as well as when she was carrying her now four-year-old daughter.

“Some people questioned my diet, but I’ve had no issues and my daughter, who also doesn’t eat meat or dairy, is very healthy,” said Jennifer. “I was a pretty hard-core vegan when I first started but will eat honey now and occasionally eggs.”

Jennifer has multiple reasons for choosing a plant-based diet.

“I made the change for ethical, environmental, and health reasons,” she said. “I’ve noticed a huge difference in my health and have less anxiety.”

Jennifer, who is a nurse practitioner, works throughout VGH including the Emergency Department, as well as part-time in family practice. She notices the ill effects a poor diet and lifestyle can have on patients.

“You are healthier when you pay more attention to what you’re eating,” she said.

Challenges to a plant-based diet

Initially Jennifer found it difficult to explain her diet to some people who would grill her about her choices. Nowadays she finds some people disagree about the environmental reasons for going plant-based and try to find loopholes in those arguments. She says, however, that it is now relatively easy to find suitable menu options at restaurants.

“It’s always good to be prepared,” she adds. “If I’m going to a social event, I’ll let people know ahead of time or I’ll take something in case there are no non-meat or dairy choices. I do this for places my daughter will be going to too.”

Popular misconceptions

Jennifer has found that most people she talks with are concerned about getting enough protein when you have a plant-based diet. She has never had an issue with this and even found she was fine taking part in fitness competitions.

“People also worry that it will be difficult to stop eating certain foods,” she said, “but I’ve found that once you stop eating something, you stop craving it too.”

Why everyone should try more plant-based meals

Jennifer finds that most people want to prevent the animal cruelty that comes hand in hand with meat and dairy diets. She also believes people who want to help our planet are more likely to be interested in reducing their meat and dairy consumption. What some people don’t realize, she says, is how good the meals are.

“Try it!” she encouraged. “Once you see how good the food is, you’ll soon realize you’re not missing anything.”

To help get you started, Jennifer has shared her delicious recipe for plant-based shepherd’s pie. Check it out along with other great recipes contributed by your colleagues here.

Get involved!

We’re looking for more VPSA members who follow a plant-based diet to profile. If you’re interested, please send us an email.

We’re also hungry for plant-based recipes. You can submit one (or more!) here.

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