Why You Should Make The Switch To A Plant-Based Diet
Introduction : What is A Plant Based Diet?A plant based diet or a vegan diet is a part of the lifestyle called ‘veganism’. A plant based diet or ‘plant based eating’ is a dietary choice of people where foods essentially come from plants. People who eat a plant based diet are known as vegans, but veganism is based on avoiding all products that come from animals like oils, leather, ivory, etc. In terms of food and diet, plant based diet and vegan diet convey the same meaning. Non-vegans may think that vegans have nothing to eat, which is not true, because vegans still get to eat delicious food items prepared from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses & legumes, beans, cereals & grains, etc. In some cultures the people consuming a plant based diet do not completely avoid dairy and meat, but that wouldn’t be considered a completely plant based diet or a vegan diet.
Different Kinds of Diets
There are various types of diets depending on the people’s choices of what food sources they want to include or cut off from their diet:
- Flexitarian : The flexi in its name stands for flexibility. The Flexitarian diet doesn’t exclude anything. All kinds of foods from all kinds of sources are included and acceptable in this diet.
- Vegetarian : A vegetarian diet includes milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and honey. A vegetarian diet doesn’t include eggs, meat or fish.
- Vegan : A vegan diet cuts out milk and honey. It includes only those items that come from plants. It is also called a plant based diet.
- Raw Vegan And Fruitarian : These are forms of vegan diet where only raw fruits and vegetables are eaten. This diet is usually practiced for a short term.
Veganism is a new concept but it is becoming more and more popular across the globe due to the idea propagating fast through the internet, especially instagram where food photos are shared and more people get to know that food prepared with ingredients excluding meat and dairy can be beautiful and delicious. There are many health benefits of consuming a majorly plant based diet.
The Benefits of A Plant Based Diet
A plant based diet can provide you with all the nutrition required by your body, including proper protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals & vitamins, and fiber. You should consider the following benefits of a plant based diet as a reason to switch to it:
- Going on a plant based diet can restore normal blood pressure. The foods you consume make a great difference on your health. Plant based products are light and less processed thus they lower blood pressure. They also help maintain normal blood pressure.
- It can restore normal levels of cholesterol. Animal products themselves contain unhealthy amounts of low density and even very low density cholesterol in them. In fact animal products are the main source of unhealthy cholesterol in our body.
- A plant based diet is supportive of heart health. Reduction in low density cholesterol levels circulating in the blood directly benefits the heart because it improves blood flow to and from the heart. Therefore a plant based diet can help prevent stroke and heart attack.
- You can prevent and manage diabetes by eating a plant based diet. Eating more plants, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds reduces the intake of processed carbs and refined sugars, which is a primary reason for the development of type (2) diabetes.
- You can even lose weight by eating a plant based diet. No one can deny that there is a relation between a person’s dietary choices and his weight and body fat. If a person eats chicken popcorn or cheese sandwich everyday they are definitely going to become overweight and even obese.
- Eating a plant based diet can lower your risk of having cancer. There are certain nutrients in plants that have anticancer properties. Such nutrients can be found in tomatoes, grapes, etc.
- A plant based diet is extremely beneficial for the brain. Improvement in overall health definitely improves one’s energy level and enthusiasm, but here we are talking about brain health and not mental health. A plant based diet reduces the risk of development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
- You can reduce the bad effects of aging by eating a plant based diet. People who consume only plant based foods have been observed to be looking younger than those who have been consuming animal products. It is so because the phytonutrients coming from a plant based diet actually slow down aging and oxidation.
- Eating a plant based diet is beneficial for the environment. Rearing of animals and production of animal products consumes a lot of natural resources. Therefore a reduction in the consumption of animal products will also result in reduced production. It can help protect the environment by reserving the natural resources.
- You can live longer by eating a plant based diet. Considering all the above mentioned benefits, the one conclusion can be drawn is that mortality can be significantly reduced if communities switch to plant based diets.
Why You Should Avoid An Animal-Based Diet
A diet that includes animal based products, such as meat and fish, eggs and dairy, can cause harm to your health. According to the globally active organization ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' or PETA, there is no need for us to consume dairy and milk products. It further says that all the dietary requirements of humans can be fulfilled by a plant based diet right from early childhood.
- People who consume animal products regularly are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, because milk, milk products, eggs, meats and fish, contain unhealthy amounts of cholesterol, which builds up as plaque in the blood vessels carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, and clogs them. This causes chronic hypertension. These conditions further contribute towards heart disease and even heart attack.
- It is also said that consuming a diet rich in animal based products is similar to smoking cigarettes. People who depend on an animal source for their dietary requirements are more susceptible towards developing various kinds of cancers.
- It has also been observed that people consuming animal products are more likely to get overweight and obese, and develop diabetes and Alzheimer’s. They are more likely to have a shorter lifespan than people who consume a plant based diet for a major part of their lives.
- Animal products are more likely to get contaminated with germs and disease-causing microbes, while it is not so with plants.
How To Start Eating A Plant Based Diet
By now you might be wondering how to actually take a step and change your diet to a plant based one. It can certainly seem difficult at first, but it is not. Here are some suggestions for those who wish to make a change to their diet, making it more plant based at first and then completely plant based.
- Buy more fresh vegetables. In this way the consumption of fresh vegetables will automatically increase.
- Do not instantly quit milk. You can slow down its consumption at first.
- Decrease your intake of meat and eggs. Reduce the portion size of meats and eggs.
- Eat good quality oils and fats. The fats present in nuts and seeds are good quality and satisfy hunger more efficiently.
- Choose a day of the week for completely vegan meals. This will help in achieving the total plant based diet.
- Cook breakfasts that are based on whole grains. These are more satisfying than all other breakfasts. Include whole wheat, whole oats and quinoa in breakfast.
- Start eating different kinds of leafy green veggies. They will provide you with vitamins and minerals and prevent deficiencies.
- Make bigger portions of salads. In this way you and your kids will learn to enjoy vegetables.
- In place of sweets, eat fruits. In this way you can cut out the milk and sugar that is used in making sweets and desserts.
- Make vegetable and fruit smoothies. They can be consumed as breakfast and usually do not include animal products. Smoothies are great for increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.