Plant-Based Foods – Colours of the Rainbow
We all know the excitement or even the sense of surprise we feel when a rainbow appears on the distant horizon. The beautiful colours dancing across the sky are a joy to behold. This performance always makes marvel at what nature can produce and the diversity of the natural world when we stop to notice.
What strikes me as the most interesting aspect of a rainbow is that all the colours are present at the same time. Of course each colour can signal certain feelings or emotions, but when taken together the whole spectrum is always pleasing. This idea got me to thinking about food and the colours that can create a rainbow on the plate.
It is not processed foods or animal products that create the amazing array of colours. If you want to eat a tasty palette; plants, or fruits and vegetables are the way to go. Nature has already coded the colours into the DNA of the natural world and therefore our only job is to consciously enjoy them. The side effect is how much the human body loves fruits and vegetables!
But most people don’t care so much about what their plate of food looks like. They want the food to taste good and to feel satisfied once it is consumed. In the West, we have been told that ‘perfect plate’ needs to include animal protein. How much and what type of animal protein seems to vary depending on any number of cultural and economic factors. We were also lead to believe that plants do not offer a complete protein.
Some basic research confirms that animal protein is complete with all 9 amino acids in one package. Therefore, regulatory agencies are offering the safest advice possible when they recommend animal derived protein. But the body is so much more complex than that! We don’t need to process protein, complete with all 9 amino acids coming from one food source, consumed at the same time. As long as we accumulate the 9 amino acids throughout our diet, we will satisfy the healthy consumption of a complete protein.
There is no need to worry or calculate how to combine fruits and vegetables in order to consume a healthy balance of vitamins, nutrients or amino acids. The colours of the rainbow, the variety of different flavours and the abundance of textures already include everything that a human body needs to be healthy. But, I am not a nutritionist or a vegetarian and I’m not prescribing anything. I’m merely fascinated by moving towards a state where I feel healthy and happy most of the time.
Instead of consuming food with an underlying worry about what is bad for me or being driven by the fear of developing a disease, I want to strive for wellness. That means swapping out red meat for other protein options and saving red meat for a once in a while occasion. Bacon and all the other yummy, salty processed meats are greatly reduced in frequency and serving size. I add in fruits, vegetables and other whole foods with great variety and I eat them until I am full with gusto.
Will I become vegetarian or vegan? Probably not as a general rule. But I tend to feel better when I’ve had a run of days focused on plant-based foods. I’m not sure if I would have noticed this effect when I was younger, but I sure do now. Who doesn’t want to feel good more of the time?
While I am on the journey of adding more plant-based foods, I refer to those who have dedicated their lives to it. The recipes they create look amazing with a variety of colours and the flavour profiles are rich in texture and taste. Sometimes when I go back to what was a comfort food from my younger days, the colours are bland and the taste is often too salty. Plus I feel a little sad to be missing all that I gain from a plant-based plate.