Filipinos are consuming more meat, and less fruits and vegetables, today. At the same time, more of them are becoming obese and falling ill to heart diseases.

The environment is suffering from the rise of meat consumption, too. Livestock emissions account for about 14 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which is comparable to the emissions from the entire transport sector.

Now is the time to #DietforClimate. But this doesn't mean saying goodbye to meat forever. You can start by adopting a plant-based diet.

According to BBC Good Food, this consists of food derived from plants, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and soy products. You can still eat animal products like meat and fish, but in smaller amounts. It depends on what kind of plant-based diet you want to have.

How can you practice having a plant-based diet? The Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Health Publishing recommends the following:

- having a great variety of vegetables; 
- eating different fruits; 
- replacing refined grains like white rice and white bread with whole grains like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice; 
- eating fish, poultry, beans, and nuts for protein; and 
- avoiding processed meats like bacon and cold cuts.

Making the switch doesn't have to be difficult. It can be as simple as having oatmeal rather than processed cereal for breakfast, and drinking water rather than juice drinks.

Here are the kinds of plant-based diets to guide you as you make choices that are good for your health, and for the planet.

1. Flexitarian diet


Flexitarianism has advocates eating more plant-based meals but not totally eliminating meat. BBC Good Food says it is more about "adding new foods to your diet, as oppo)sed to excluding any".

The publication attributes the rise in flexitarianism to "people taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to what they eat by reducing their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources." The latter include lentils, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.

BBC Good Food cites dietician Emer Delaney as saying that the healthiest meats to include in a flexitarian diet are lean meat​​​​​, such as chicken and turkey. With the World Health Organization saying that "every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18 percent," Delaney recommends limiting the intake of bacon, sausages, and ham.

2. Pescetarian diet


HuffPost 
writer Chloe Spencer, who has been a pescetarian (or "pesco-vegetarian") since she was 14, explains that this kind of diet cuts out red meat and poultry, but still includes seafood.

She recommends avoiding seafood from fish farms, as these can be inhumane, and instead consume freshly-caught fish from their natural habitats.

"This way you get omega-3 acids in their purest and healthiest form, and also reduce your risk of consuming sick fish that may be packed with chemicals from fish farms," she writes.

BBC Good Food
 links this diet with lower levels of blood cholesterol and blood pressure, and lower risk of diabetes, as compared to diets that include meat.

To make up for pescetarians' lesser intake of red meat - which has iron - eat plant-based sources of iron, like spinach and broccoli.

3. Vegetarian diet


There are different types of vegetarian diets. The pesco-vegetarian diet, as mentioned previously, includes seafood and fish. Lacto-vegetarian include​s​ dairy, such as milk and cheese, while ovo-vegetarian include​s​ eggs. Then there is  ovo-lacto vegetarian, which include​s​ eggs and dairy. ​The vegan diet also falls under this category, and will be elaborated on in the next item.

Dietician Toby Amidor, writing on the Food Network's website, explains that vegetarians in general eat grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Obviously, red meat and poultry are not included in this type of diet.

She also recommends a healthy dose of green leafy vegetables, almonds, lentils, and beans to make up for the iron usually found in meat.

Harvard Health Publishing 
explains that vegetarians "consume less saturated fat and cholesterol, and more vitamins C and E, dietary fiber, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and phytochemicals" as compared to meat-eaters. Thus, "they're likely to have lower... bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index, all of which are associated with longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases."

To keep their bones healthy, the publisher recommends eating calcium-rich vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, collards, and kale. Green, leafy vegetables can also be a source of vitamin K, while supplements can be a source of vitamin D.

4. Vegan diet


Vegans do not eat or use animal products at all. According to Health​​.com, they don't eat "meat, dairy, eggs, or honey​,​" and "don't wear animal products (think leather) or use products tested on animals". 

The website cites the Vegan Society as saying veganism "seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose."

Their meals include "vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and fruits," says People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The Independent does note that,​ due to the absence of red meat in the vegan diet, proponents​ can become​ "typically deficient in vitamin B12 and iron"​ ​​if they aren't conscious of this​.

This deficiency "can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness and​,​ if left untreated, anemia". 

The publication recommends taking supplements or eating nuts and spinach, which are rich in iron.

Soy-based drinks, meanwhile, can be a substitute for milk as a source of calcium.