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Interested in a plant-based diet? Here's how to start living better

by Staci Gulbin | Contributor
April 19, 2022


Plant-based diets continue to show a variety of health benefits to those of all ages. You may want to reap those rewards of plant-based eating, but perhaps you don't know where to start.

Research shows that there are many forms of plant-based eating, which we will talk more about later. Therefore, you don't need to completely overhaul your way of eating to receive the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Any way of adding more plant-based foods into your daily routine is beneficial to health.

If you have concerns about the cost of adopting such a plant-based diet, then you will be happy to learn that buying fruits and vegetables in season can cut your costs.

Read below to learn more about what a plant-based diet is, the benefits of adding more plant-based foods to your diet, which fruits and vegetables are in season throughout the year, and tips for budget-friendly and simple ways to add more plant-based foods to your daily routine today.

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet is a way of eating that consists of mostly plant-based foods. Plant-based foods not only include fruits and vegetables, but also include:

  • Nuts
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Beans and legumes
  • Soy-based foods like tofu and tempeh
  • Plant-based milks like almond, soy, cashew, and rice milk, for example

Research shows that eating a majority of such plant-based foods in the diet can help reduce the level of inflammatory markers in the blood and can improve cognitive function in older adults. There are various plant-based diets that will fit just about any lifestyle that include the following:

  • Vegetarian:
    • lacto-ovo vegetarian: excludes animal-based foods, but allows dairy products, eggs, honey, etc.
    • lacto-vegetarian: excludes animal-based foods, but allows dairy products, honey, etc.
    • ovo-vegetarian: excludes animal-based foods, but allows eggs, honey, etc.
  • Vegan: Excludes all animal-based products
  • Pescatarian: Excludes meat, but allows fish, dairy products, eggs, honey, etc.
  • Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian: rotates between a vegetarian diet and meat-based diet, but typically consists of a vegetarian diet with minimal intake of meat.

The good news is that you can gain health benefits from any addition of plant-based foods to your daily routine, even if you don't adopt one of the diets above. If you follow an omnivore diet, which includes animal products, then you can simply add more fruits and vegetables to your meals and snacks for extra nutrients and antioxidants.

About seasonal produce

As the seasons change, different fruits and vegetables will reach harvest. And when certain fruits and vegetables are in season, they will not only be at the peak of their flavor, but they will also be more abundant. In turn, this increased supply will lead to lower prices at the farmer's market or grocery store.

Read below to learn more about the seasonal produce for each of the four major seasons:


Springtime is the time of year most of us associate with flowers blooming and bright blue skies. So, it's no surprise that the fruits and vegetables in season this time of year are also brightly colored. From the reddish hues of apples, the orange color of carrots, the yellow in bananas, the bright green color of asparagus and the reddish-pink hue of rhubarb, seasonal springtime produce brings with it just about all colors of the rainbow. Other seasonal produce for the spring includes:

  • Fruit like apricots, avocado, kiwifruit, pineapples and strawberries
  • Leafy-green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard
  • Root vegetables like celery, radishes and turnips
  • Citrus fruits like lemons and limes
  • Bulbs like garlic and onions
  • Herbs
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas


a senior couple shopping for plant based food at a market

In the summer months, when the weather becomes warmer for many places, it's refreshing to enjoy crisp, cool salads, refreshing fruit smoothies and juicy melon fruits. Here's a list of delicious produce that is seasonal in the summer:

  • Berries like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
  • Citrus fruits like lemons and limes
  • Melons like honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe
  • Stone fruits like apricot, cherries, peaches, plums, and mango
  • Other fruit like apples, avocado, bananas, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant
  • Root vegetables like beets, carrots, and celery
  • Other vegetables like corn, green beans, lima beans, and bell peppers
  • Garlic
  • Herbs
  • Okra


In most places, fall, or autumn, is the time of year when leaves change color on the trees and the weather starts to cool down. This time of year is known for pumpkins and squash that create visions of comfort foods and drinks. Some seasonal in the fall includes:

  • Citrus fruits like lemons and limes
  • Berries like cranberries and raspberries
  • Other fruit like apples, bananas, grapes, kiwifruit, winter squash (acorn, butternut, buttercup, carnival, delicata, hubbard and spaghetti types), pineapple, mango and pears
  • Root vegetables like beets, carrots, celery, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, radishes, rutabaga and turnips
  • Leafy green vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard
  • Other vegetables like cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms and peas
  • Bulbs like onions and garlic
  • Ginger
  • Herbs


In most places, the winter season is when the weather becomes cold and is the perfect time for warm, comforting foods like soups chock full of filling root vegetables like carrots and potatoes as well as delicious desserts like baked apples and pears. Read the list below to learn more about other seasonal winter produce.

  • Other fruit like avocado, bananas, pumpkin, winter squash, pineapples and kiwifruit
  • Other root vegetables like beets, celery, leeks, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, yams and sweet potatoes
  • Leafy green vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale and Swiss chard
  • Citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemons, limes and oranges
  • Herbs
  • Onions

How to add more plants to your meals and snacks

Now that you know which fruits and vegetables are in season, let's talk about how you can fit such foods, as well as other plant-based foods, in your daily routine.

Adding plant-based foods to meals:

  • Simple side dish option: Steam or stir-fry vegetables with your favorite seasonings and protein source.
  • Comfort food side dishes: Roast root vegetables with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and spices for a delicious and comforting side dish.
  • Entrée salads: Chop and dice leafy green lettuce or spinach and toss with chopped tomatoes, shredded carrots, and diced cucumber for a refreshing and fiber-rich salad. Top with your favorite diced and cooked protein, as well as healthy fats like Greek yogurt dressing or olive oil-based vinaigrettes for a balanced meal option.
  • Fiber-rich soups: Sauté onions, carrots and celery in some oil or butter before adding to a pot of bouillon-seasoned water, and then add in other vegetables like diced tomato, diced potatoes, green beans and/or corn with your favorite cooked and diced protein for a filling and comforting bowl of soup.
  • Sandwich or wrap: Dress your favorite sandwich, burrito, taco, or wrap with sliced tomato, avocado, lettuce, onion, sliced pepper or other produce you enjoy for extra fiber and nutrients.

Plant-based foods for snacks:

  • For a filling snack, have some sliced fruit like apples or pears with a protein-rich side of nut butter to dip them in.
  • Enjoy produce like bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, sliced cucumber or baby carrots with protein-rich Greek yogurt dressing dip or fiber-rich hummus.
  • You can enjoy nuts like almonds, peanuts, or pistachios, for example, along with a piece of fruit for a fiber and protein-balanced snack.
  • For a delicious and healthy dessert option, enjoy sliced strawberries or banana with a drizzle of dark chocolate sauce or a few tablespoons of whipped cream.
  • Top some plain Greek yogurt with berries or sliced peaches and a teaspoon of honey for a sweet and satisfying snack option. Add a few tablespoons of granola or chopped nuts for even more fiber and protein.
  • For a filling snack or easy breakfast option, you can have some cottage cheese topped with either berries or pineapple for a sweet option, or sliced pepper or cucumber for a savory option.

Budget-friendly ways to enjoy more plants in your diet

Although plant-based foods are a healthy way to improve your eating plan, the cost of such foods may stand in your way of adopting such habits. Read below for some tips on budget-friendly ways to add more plants to your diet today.

Choose produce in season

As stated earlier, produce that is in season can cost less because since it is in harvest, it is more plentiful. Therefore, use the lists above to plan weekly meals and snacks around seasonal produce. Buying produce from local grocery stores and farmers markets can also help to reduce the cost of plant-based foods.

Buy mostly frozen versus fresh

Unlike popular belief, research shows that there are many frozen produce items that contain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts. And the bonus is that frozen vegetables are typically less expensive than fresh produce, and they can be stored in the freezer for many months versus a few days to weeks with fresh produce.

Look for low-cost produce options

When you are at the grocery store, try to buy the most produce for your buck by choosing common lower cost produce items. Such items usually include bananas, apples, oranges, carrots and onions, for example. Just buy the amount you know you will consume so you can prevent wasting food as well as wasting money.

Purchase certain plant-based foods in bulk

When you buy frozen produce, and you know that you will eat a certain vegetable often, it's more budget-friendly to buy in bulk. Such bulk items are often at a lower cost per serving than smaller bags, and they can last you much longer so you can save trips to the grocery store.

Also, other plant-based foods like nuts can be cheaper in bulk too. Some grocery stores may have a bulk section where you can buy just the amount of nuts, oats, flour or dried fruit, for example, that you need. And the prices are often cheaper than what you would pay for a similar pre-packaged item.

Opt for canned produce as needed and choose store brands

Research shows that those who purchase canned foods most often are more likely to consume more important nutrients like potassium, calcium and fiber, than infrequent can users. Therefore, do not believe those who tell you that canned food can't be healthy. Canned food is cost effective for many and can increase your chances of consuming enough nutrients daily.

And choosing generic or store brands are often a fraction of the price of name brands of frozen and canned vegetables and fruits. So, look for those canned produce items that are on special and try to plan meals around those items to receive the most plant-based bang for your buck.

If you choose canned foods, look for those without added salt, seasonings or sauces since these items will contain less sodium and fat, which are more heart healthy than their pre-seasoned and sauced counterparts.

Final note on plant-based eating

Eating more plants can provide many benefits to the health of body and mind. And there are many ways to enjoy fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods at mealtime and as snacks. However, it's understandable if your budget stands in your way of eating as many plant-based foods as you would like.

That is why it's important to call your health insurance company to see if there are any programs you qualify for that could help provide funds or vouchers for healthy foods at the grocery store or farmer's markets. The access to such programs will depend on your health insurance company and the state you live in.

And if cooking, preparing, or purchasing food is difficult for you, then this is also a situation in which you should call your health insurance company. This is because you may have access to resources such as free healthy meal delivery or home health care that could assist you in preparing healthy meals. Never hesitate to call your health insurance company to ask for assistance on such resources since many older adults qualify for them and should take advantage of any program that could help them lead the healthiest life possible.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company dedicated to the art of personal financial planning. Our financial professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and achieving your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

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