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Navigating plant-based diets, eating

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Health issues in his 20s inspired Tony Quintana to turn his life around with a different diet.

“I had a lot of health concerns related to my diet and obesity,” Quintana said. “I was in my early 20s and I started researching nutrition to exhaustion. I came across a lot of information about plant-based diets, healing, diabetes and heart

Courtesy of New Mexico Plant-based eating
Tony Quintana will lead a class on plant-based eating online on Wednesday, March 25.

disease and so forth. I transitioned to a meat-free diet and then eventually cut out eggs and dairy and just never looked back because I felt so great.”

Now he is sharing the benefits of a plant-based diet with others. Quintana, who is the plant-based eating program manager with Animal Protection of New Mexico, will lead an “Intro to Plant-Based Eating” class online from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. The class will be live streamed via the Protection of New Mexico Plant-Based Eating Facebook page or can be reached through a link on its website. There is no charge.

The class was originally scheduled to be held at Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, but due to COVID-19 concerns, Quintana decided to stream the class online so more people could partake without having to leave their homes.

“There are a lot of people who are interested in switching to a plant-based diet but they’re kind of lost on how or where to start,” Quintana said. “There will be a lot of that information kind of how to make the change looking at food ideas and ideas for veganizing your favorite meals.”

The class will also touch on making sure people get adequate nutrition when they convert to a plant-based diet.

“I often hear about certain nutrients that people are afraid they’re not getting enough of,” Quintana said. “Protein is a big one, as well as iron and vitamin B12 and calcium. Those are some of the main ones that people are concerned with. So we will talk about daily recommended amounts of those, and sources that people can look for to find out what they actually need and some plant foods that are high in those different nutrients.”

Quintana had originally planned to provide food samples at the event but change plans when the class went online.

“I’m kind of thinking of giving examples of breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said. “Give an example of what you might eat in a day. Going through a few example meal plans is really helpful for people to see what it looks like.”

Once Quintana is able to hold in-person events again there will be events where the public can attend cooking demonstrations and sample foods.

Plant-based diets have become more popular over the past few years. There are three main reasons that people cite for changing to a plant-based diet, according to Quintana.

“One is personal health,” he said. “People have become aware that diets that are high in animal-based foods contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and now that information is becoming more widespread with books and documentaries that have come out about health. The second reason is because of the environment, the climate crisis and people looking at how the food system and agriculture contributes to climate change, and so people are looking at shifting their diets to not contribute to the climate crisis. And the third is just animal lovers, animal protection people. … A lot of people start with one of them and the rest starts to unfold.”

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