Seven Benefits of A Plant Based Diet
Currently, 100 million or 33% of people in the U.S. are eating more plant based meals. And, the numbers keep climbing. Between numerous documentaries, blogs, and other social media outlets, the plant based diet is definitely gaining recognition. While everyone’s food regimen looks different, science has proven that there are a lot of perks to eating a diet filled with more plants and cutting back on animal products. Let’s look at some of the reasons why more and more people are increasing their vegetable and fruit intake.
What a Plant Based Diet Actually Is
A plant based diet consists of grains (ancient or whole are best), beans, lentils, fruits, and vegetables but does not mean that it is exclusively vegetarian or vegan. There are multiple approaches to having a plant based diet but overall it is largely plant based and less focused on meat and dairy.
1. Nutritionally Sound
Eating more vegetables and fruit gives the body fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats are all being absorbed. Other essential components that come from eating a plant based diet are phytochemicals and fiber that assist bodily functions. Carrots and spinach, which are rich in Vitamin A, help skin and eye sight. A plant based diet has other properties that repair and help proteins grow better including mending damaged cells and slowing down aging. Eating well provides proper nourishment and enriches the body internally and externally.
2. Disease Prevention
Been looking for ways to lower blood pressure and cholesterol? Plant based diets are scientifically proven to reverse and heal bodily diseases. It is known to treat heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and chest pains. That may be due to the fact that vegetables are lower in saturated fats. In fact, studies show that people who followed plant centered dietary guidelines, had a 20% lower risk of dying from a heart related issue. Fruits, like blackberries and blueberries, high in antioxidants fight disease causing radical delays in aging and the development of chronic disease. As more people make the switch to a plant based diet, the faster health improves and life expectancies are prolonged.
3. Improves mental and emotional health
When you eat those roasted sweet potatoes or take a bite out of ripe cantaloupe, you are satiating physical, mental and emotional needs. Eating more plant based foods promote better sleep through stabilizing the control of blood sugar spikes, diminishing nightly cravings, and producing more energy during the day. Disease prevention groups have reported better emotional health by eating more nutrient dense foods. Research shows that people who have depression, anxiety, and fatigue are more stabilized on a diet with more plants.
Stress is another factor that weighs heavily on mental and emotional health. Vitamin B is found in a lot of vegetables and helps offset stress and mood swings along with Omega 3. Nutritionists recommend avocados as a good source of Omega 3 to help ease nerves and tension. Kale has a lot of Vitamin K, a powerful anti-inflammatory that also reduces the bodily effects of stress. Sometimes, you really are what you eat!
4. Shaves off weight
One cup of vegetables usually ranges between 10 and 50 calories. Incorporating veggies means consuming fewer calories while feeling fuller longer. Since the calorie count is much lower than that of processed foods or foods that include animal byproducts, you can eat more vegetables without gaining a lot of weight. Vegetables significantly reduce bloating unlike dairy and meat. A world renown study called the China Study, shows that parts of the world that do rely more on plant based foods have lower rates of obesity and chronic disease. This is in comparison to the current American diet based on higher consumptions animal proteins, saturated fats, and less fiber. However, the American diet does seem to be changing quickly.
5. Environmentally friendly
As individuals enjoy the fruits of a healthier lifestyle (pun intended), the environment reaps the benefits as well. As several documentaries and food movements have pointed out, the meat industry contributes to harmful emissions like methane that is produced from the fertilization of soil and cattle digestion which are just as toxic as greenhouse gases. Based off of federal reports, limiting meat intake by X amount(?) could cut emissions in half. Only 30% of the grain grown in the United States is for people while the other 70% is given to to farm animals. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to current environmental issues. It takes more land, fossil fuel, and water to produce one pound of meat versus one pound of soy protein. Buying more plant based foods reduces emissions and contributes a to cleaner planet.
6. Can Help Save Animals
A plant based diet not only helps the environment but it also saves the lives of animals. According to the Humane Society, 4.6 billion animals were slaughtered by the US meat industry alone in 2016. Statistics also show that over 8 million animals are killed every year in the UK. The quickest solution to decrease these numbers is to limit the amount of meat ingested. Not consuming or buying meat for at least a day can save one animal’s life. That adds up to be 365 animals a year if going completely vegan. Curious to do the math yourself? A vegan calculator can sum up and exhibit the positive effects of eating a plant based diet.
7. Anyone can do it
No matter what your diet consists of, adopting plant based practices is doable. It can be the smallest food changes such as cutting back on cheese for a week or throwing in a little more broccoli here and there. Good eating habits and healthy lifestyles are an investment in both ourselves and the world. Either way, you can’t really go wrong with a plant based diet! If you’re interested in trying it out, here is a website that lists delicious plant based recipes.