What It Really Means to Eat Plant Forward, According to a Dietitian

What It Really Means to Eat Plant Forward, According to a Dietitian

What Does it Mean to Eat Plant Forward?

Eating ‘plant forward’ is a phrase that has become popular recently in nutrition. It essentially means basing your meals around plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. The idea is to build your plate with mostly plants, using smaller portions of animal proteins to complement the vegetable-focused meal.

What Are the Benefits of Eating This Way?

There are many benefits to structuring your meals around plants:

  • Increased fiber intake, which is great for digestion and heart health
  • More vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from all the produce
  • Lower saturated fat and higher unsaturated fats
  • Meals tend to be lower in calories yet very nutrient-dense

How to Shift Your Diet to Be More Plant Forward

Making small changes to your eating pattern can help you transition to a more plant based plate. Here are some tips:

  1. Bulk up on veggies and fruits – aim for at least 50% of your plate to be covered in produce
  2. Experiment with beans, lentils, whole grains as the base of bowls or salads
  3. Look for plant-based protein options like tofu, tempeh, edamame
  4. Use animal proteins as more of a garnish or side rather than the main portion of the meal
  5. Try meatless Monday or have a designated veggie-focused day each week

Sample Plant Forward Meals

Here are a few delicious plant-based meal ideas to get your creativity flowing:

  • Chickpea coconut curry over brown rice with sautéed spinach
  • Quinoa power bowl with roasted vegetables, avocado and walnuts
  • Buddha bowl with tempeh, kale, sweet potatoes, beans, tahini dressing
  • Falafel wrap with hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce
  • Veggie fajitas with grilled onions/peppers, black beans, brown rice, salsa and guacamole

Incorporating More Plants Can Be Simple

The great thing about plant forward eating is that it’s very flexible. You don’t have to follow a strictly vegetarian or vegan diet to reap the benefits. Simply focusing on fitting more vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains and nuts into your weekly meals can make a big impact. Creativity and experimenting with new plant-based recipes is key to discovering new staples you enjoy.


What does plant forward mean?

Plant forward means structuring your meals and plates around mostly plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Animal proteins and dairy play a supporting role rather than the main focus.

Is plant forward better for you?

Yes, eating more plants and less meat/dairy provides many health benefits including more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as less saturated fat and calories.

How often should you have plant based meals?

There’s no strict rule, but many experts recommend aiming for at least 4-5 plant focused meals per week. Going meatless for a day (like Meatless Monday) is an easy way to incorporate more plants.

What are good plant forward dinner ideas?

Some tasty plant forward dinner ideas include vegetarian chili, lentil shepherd’s pie, veggie stir fry tofu with broccoli, chickpea curry coconut soup, bean & veggie enchiladas, or lentil sloppy joes.

Can you build muscle on a plant forward diet?

Absolutely! With a little planning, it’s totally possible to meet protein needs for building muscle on a plant forward routine. Great vegan protein sources include lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, nuts, seeds, vegan protein powder and more.