Want to be healthy, and live sustainably at the same time? Well, look no further – a plant-based diet is the answer you’ve been looking for. Its benefits extend way beyond health as it also promotes a more sustainable, ethical way of living.
What Is a Plant-Based Diet?
You may be wondering what a plant-based diet actually is. To put it simply, it focuses on consuming products primarily produced from plants. Don’t be deceived, the likes of dairy, meat and fish are still permitted, just on a much narrower scale. It means mainly choosing to consume plant-based foods as opposed to animal-based ones. So, let’s dive into the benefits it can bring us, and our wonderful planet.
A Healthier Heart
Did you know that foods that are high in saturated fat mainly come from animal sources? These include: red meat, poultry and dairy. The good news is that this type of diet equates to a much lower intake of such products. Foods high in saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, in turn increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. It can also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. High cholesterol levels lead to a higher chance of having a stroke, heart disease or a heart attack. But beware, other foods that are high in saturated fat include baked goods and fried foods.
Ethical Living Meets Compassion
We’re educated to be compassionate, yet we often fail to do this when it comes to our diet. A strong desire to alleviate suffering was my reason for turning veggie and I’ve never looked back. The famous book Sapiens, pointed out that “animals are the main victims of history”. It rightly points out that animal farms are “perhaps the worst crime in history”. Cutting out animal products is an effective solution, and a great way to start making a difference.
The Environmental Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
The environmental impact is also huge. Dr John Cullimore sheds light on how a vegan diet uses only a third of the energy, land, and water than an omnivorous diet uses. In terms of individual changes, it’s an effective way to help reverse the effects of climate change. According to the United Nations University, “twenty servings of vegetables have fewer greenhouse gas emissions than one serving of beef”. Dietary shifts can also help prevent wildlife and habitat destruction. David Attenborough is also an advocate of the plant-based diet being one of the most effective ways to take action.
Good for Weight Loss
In addition, plant-based diets can also be great for weight-loss. Not only does it tend to reduce our intake of saturated fat, it also means a higher intake of fibre. The magic of fibre is that it helps fill you up, without the dreaded surplus of calories. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we should ideally aim for around 40 grams of fibre a day. Foods that are high in fibre include: wholegrain products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. According to Mayo Clinic, vegetarians are “less likely to be overweight, a known risk factor for some types of cancers.”
Meat’s Impact on Cancer Rates
Research suggests a link between the consumption of meat and cancer. This is because of the chemical compounds created when red meat is cooked. These harmful compounds are also found in processed meat. This diet not only radically reduces the harmful effects of meat consumption, it also contains more phytochemicals and fibre. Phytochemicals, literally – plant chemicals, are an anti-inflammatory. These compounds work to protect cells from damage. According to Breastcancer.org, they are also believed to “help stop carcinogens from attacking cells”. See, plants really do have powerful medicinal value.
Going plant-based can bring excellent nutritional value to your diet, help save the planet, and improve your overall health. Like any diet, this requires consciously healthy eating habits. Take a look at One Green Planet’s Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition if you have any nutrition-related queries. Let me know in the comments below why you made the transition, or why you’d like to be.
“The future is about a plant-based diet.” – Jamie Oliver