The plant-based diet focuses on foods primarily from plants. In today’s era, people are aware of their health and environment. That is why they do not want to harm nature’s creatures much and become vegan to have a healthy vegan diet. Plant-based food includes plants that provide food and vegetables and plants that give seeds, nuts, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
Some people consider a plant-based diet vegan, avoiding all animal products. However, for others, a plant-based diet means food from plant sources, but they may occasionally consume meat, fish, or dairy products. It is also true that plant-based diets focus on healthy whole grains rather than processed foods.
Importance of Plant-based diet
Sometimes it becomes difficult to know what to eat and what not due to various food trends that hit social media daily. But, a plant-based diet is the consistent one. Doctors will also recommend filling two or more of your plate with these plant-based foods due to their various benefits for the body. It helps to maintain a healthy weight and lower the risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as compared to those who eat meat.
When you follow a plant-based diet, you get many health benefits. These are as follows:
- Better weight management: It is being proved by researchers that following a plant-based diet helps you have a lower body mass index and lower the rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates than those who eat meat. Plant-based diets are those foods that are high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and water content from fruits and vegetables. It also helps people to get fuller for a long time and increase energy use while resting. The plant-based food also helps you to lose fat mass and improves insulin sensitivity. A study found that vegan people have the lowest average of lower body mass index, followed by those who ate dairy products and eggs and those who ate fish but no other meat. The non-vegetarians had the highest body mass index.
- Lower risks of heart disease and other conditions: It is being found that the youth who prefer to eat diets that are high in healthful plant foods and low in animal products have fewer chances of heart disease. Eating less meat can also reduce the risk of:
- high blood pressure,
- high cholesterol,
- certain cancers,
- type 2 diabetes,
- Diabetes prevention and treatment: Plant-based food also helps to manage and prevent people from diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin resistance. People who eat vegetarian diets, which include dairy products and eggs, have a low chance of type 2 diabetes as compared to those who eat meat. Even a study has proved that vegetarian and vegan diets could help people with diabetes reduce their medication needs, lose weight, and improve their metabolism.
- Improved digestion and gut health: Plant-based foods rich in fiber and fibers are the best for improving your gut health. A fiber-rich diet helps you in regulating your bowel movements. This further results in great digestion and gut health. Some forms of fiber work as prebiotics – they feed the microorganisms in your gut and promote good bacteria growth. Prebiotics can also lower the chances of harmful bacterial growth in your gut.
- The high energy level and improved sleep: Food derived from plants are rich in micronutrients, a natural booster of your energy level. A plant-based diet also includes phytochemicals that can increase your immunity and help you fight diseases vigorously. Also, when you have a great balanced diet in your meal, you feel relaxed and stress-free. This results in great sleep. You wake up with a fresh look to have an excellent day start.
Being an animal lover is not essential; a healthy environment is necessary for everyone to survive. You can do a little bit step by step for this. These are some benefits of a plant-based lifestyle that will help you to protect this wonderful world and all its creatures:
- Veganism saves water worldwide: When you start following a plant-based lifestyle and healthy diet, you save a lot because plants need much less water than animal products. Scientists proved the fact that meat eater drinks three times more water as compared to vegan people. When you become vegan and leave the meat for plants, you waste less water and more to go around to those who need it.
- Reduced greenhouse gases and emissions: Greenhouse gases are gases emitted into the environment through various factors and contribute significantly to global warming. The leading cause is high carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide levels entering the atmosphere. These gases impact the environment in a harmful way, and there is a limited amount of time to reverse this action. Adopting a plant-based lifestyle is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases.
- Ditching fish reduces pressure on over-fished oceans: People start over-fishing to meet the demand for fish and meat. This over-fishing has led to catastrophic imbalances in the world’s oceans. This way, it can lead them to extinction. Overfishing has a huge knock-on effect on marine life. It creates an environment in the ocean where diseases spread widely and cause pollution. That is why adopting a vegan diet can protect the fish population.
- Going vegan reduces energy consumption: Animal-based protein takes approximately eight times more fossil fuel energy than plant-based proteins. These fuels also emit harmful greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere, and fossil fuels are running fast. So, plant-based foods play a significant role in this environmental benefit.
- Being vegan protects rainforests from deforestation: Forests or jungles are the primary sources for plant and animal-based diets. But, due to the harmful gases in the environment, both of them are draining at a fast speed. Resultingly, the environment is becoming worse than ever before. Even though it is not easy for humans to live here easily, imagining the life of animals and plants is far away.
- Protects wildlife and endangered species:Plant-based diet offers endangered species and wildlife a new life to live When people become vegetarian, they start avoiding animal food everywhere. It protects wildlife and all the species that will be extinct soon. Due to more need for space for livestock, the natural habitat of wildlife is ending, which is the main reason for their fear. So, being vegan helps protect all species and lets them live peacefully.
- Veganism promotes cleaner soil:Extreme farming and deforestation significantly impact soil worldwide. Far more land is needed to rear livestock, so people cut down trees and natural habitats. This further results in soil erosion. Being vegan, you will plant more trees and will play your part in promoting clean soil.
Lowering animal deaths and decreasing animal cruelty is always the ethical foundation for many vegetarians. Veganism is a moral position where you oppose exploiting and harming animals in any manner, including hunting or fishing. It would be best to try many things for the animals as their species rapidly become extinct. You can consider the following ethics for this:
- Animal welfare: You can join any animal welfare society or club to protect wildlife. Through these societies and clubs, you can promote a plant-based diet, which is a great way to save wildlife from becoming extinct. Also, you can encourage people to join your group and play their roles very well. Animals are also nature’s creatures and have full rights to live and enjoy their habitat. But, being selfish, people are not letting that happen. That is why by being aware of the vegan diet, you can encourage others to adopt this lifestyle and follow the proverb, “Live and Let Live.”
- Social justice: Animals are an equal part of nature. They are as crucial as human beings. But, even after that, they do not have the right to live peacefully. Why are they being killed for people’s pleasure? Being a vegetarian community, you will provide social justice to them. They cannot fight with humans because of the big difference between you and them. But you can offer them social justice by being vegan for life.
- Impact on global food security: Plant-based food is the best way to provide global food security to the people. Due to various animal species’ extinction, non-vegetarians feel insecure about their food. That is why those people are trying to do whatever they can to get food security. But, if you become a vegan and follow a high protein and fiber-rich plant-based food, you will not suffer and will overcome the feeling of food insecurity.
Practical tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet
Diet is one of the most significant pillars of a balanced and flourishing lifestyle, whereas a plant-based diet consisting of whole foods can be the optimal approach. This diet is naturally rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. But when you have to transition to a plant-based diet, it becomes difficult, especially when eating a western diet.
Here are some tips that you can use while transitioning to a plant-based diet:
- Start gradually: Becoming vegan at once is difficult. That is why you can start this transition step by step. You can try the below-mentioned ideas to help you:
- Start by eliminating two animal-based products from your meal and replace them with healthy alternatives.
- Start consuming whichever fruit and vegetables you love or are readily available in increased quantity. You can also try them in a daily meal or smoothie.
- Then try eating new fruits and vegetables you do not eat regularly. You can start with one or two of them, one or two weekly.
- Try to add one new plant-based food every week. You can add any new grain or legumes you never had before.
- Start cooking at home to avoid animal-based food readily available at restaurants and outlets.
- Stock up on healthy food: People may think otherwise, but plant-based foods are cheaper than animal-based products. That is why you should stock up on various fruits and vegetables at home. This stock will eventually encourage you to eat it; resultingly, you will start liking them and becoming a vegan sooner than possible.
- Do planning of daily meals in advance: It would be best to plan your daily meal and pre-cook all the elements. In this way, you will not wish to order food after a long, busy, and tiring day. When your meal is planned, all you have to do is to organize your plant-based plate. You can also try to do meal preparation during the days when you are not busy and tired. You will find how tasty a bowl filled with various veggies, grains, legumes, and a delicious plant-based sauce can be.
- Getting enough nutrients: While following plant-based diets, it would be best to take care of all the nutrients, which means all nutrients should be in your diet. Add enough protein, iron, calcium, vitamins, and minerals to your meal.
Common misconceptions and concerns
Every belief has some misconceptions and concerns, but it is essential to break these myths nowadays. Similarly, plant-based food also carries some myths that should be busted immediately. These misconceptions and concerns are explained below:
- Protein deficiency: It is said that if you only eat a plant-based diet, you will not get enough proteins. Animal-based products are considered excellent sources of proteins. But it is not valid. You will not get protein deficiency if you are eating enough calories to maintain a healthy weight.
- Iron deficiency: It is true that your body quickly absorbs the iron you get from meat. But many plant-based foods, such as lentils, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, and dried fruits, are rich in iron.
- Nobody likes plant-based food: Everybody loves plant-based foods when cooked well. It is not true that kids do not like healthy food. They will enjoy the food very much while participating in the cooking and selection processes.
- Few varieties of plant-based diets: It is not true that there are not many plant-based eating options. It is not limited to salads only. It would be best to commit to eating more fruits and vegetables, legumes, and grains, and you are opening yourself up to thousands of plant-based food options.
- A plant-based diet is costly: Plant-based diet is considered costly, but it is not valid. The plant-based diets are cheaper than any animal-based products. You can even grow them at home in a fully organic way.
Becoming a vegan is indeed tricky when you are a non-vegetarian. But if you are determined to do something, you can achieve your goal at any cost. Plant-based diets are necessary for all humans, animals, and the environment. By following plant-based food patterns, you will save everybody on the earth. You can even grow them at home, save yourself from diseases caused by various fertilizers and pesticides, and live a happy, healthy, and peaceful lifestyle until death.