What we choose to eat is very personal. Some people eliminate foods because of taste or texture, some for environmental, health or ethical reasons. Others eat the way they always have, giving their choices little thought. The growing trend of plant-based eating challenges people to consider all of the above. A 2018 Nielsen survey found that just 6% of Americans consider themselves vegetarian — the number of vegans is smaller — but almost 40% make an effort to eat more plant-based foods. The proof is in grocery stores, on bookshelves and in restaurants, as plant-based offerings continue to explode. Meatless meals aren't just for Mondays anymore. Health experts have long touted the advantages of fruits and vegetables (and nuts, seeds, oils and legumes), and this movement — some call it a flexitarian diet — brings those foods front and center. Here we offer some guidance and resources for adding more delicious, nutritious foods to your diet. How far you take it is up to you. After all, it's personal. We asked local experts to share the reasons why they adopted a plant-based diet, and why you should, too.

Nicky Stewart Owner, Comfort Candy

"I had high blood pressure and cholesterol, and didn't want to go on medication. I had been a vegetarian, and I cut out all dairy and eggs. The next time I went to the doctor, my levels were normal. I was almost as shocked as he was."

Louis Hunter Chef/owner, Trio Plant-Based

"Start with something once a day, and it will change the way you feel. It's a beautiful feeling. That's what fruits and vegetables do to your body. It's like exercise. The more you practice, the more it will become a habit."

Mykela Jackson Chef/owner, Keiko's Kitchen

"Becoming vegan changed my life, and I don't say that lightly. It opened a lot of doors, spiritually and mentally. I stress the fact that it's a process. It allows people to be their best selves and to put their best selves forward."

Rachel Beaudry Co-founder, Rawr Organics

"Eating plant-based, I maintain a leaner muscle mass, while eating a lot more calories. I feel more energized and just naturally incorporate a lot more raw fruits and vegetables and significantly less processed carb sources into my diet."