BENEFITS OF A PLANT-BASED DIET
WHAT IS A PLANT-BASED DIET?
A plant-based diet is primarily made up of plants. This means that animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy products are reduced to a minimum or excluded.
While vegan diets are often called plant-based diets, the term "vegan" also tends to carry an ethical connotation, as animal products are completely excluded due to the belief that animals should not be exploited for the benefit of humans. People who refer to themselves as vegan usually also exclude animal products from their home and wardrobe (ex. refusing to purchase leather shoes, wool blankets, silk clothing). Thus, vegan diets are plant-based diets, but plant-based diets are not always vegan diets.
Regardless, a plant-based diet is rich in foods grown in the ground: fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
WHY A PLANT-BASED DIET IS GOOD FOR YOU
People who follow plant-based diets typically eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. A diet high in produce, whole grains and legumes are associated with lower rates of chronic disease (ex. heart disease and diabetes) than diets low in these plant foods. Around the world, cultures that eat plant-based diets tend to live longer and healthier lives.
We can identify some components of a plant-based diet that are especially beneficial to good health. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals in the body, protecting cells and tissues from environmental damage. Phytonutrients have a wide range of roles in the body, such as protecting eye health, reducing inflammation and supporting a healthy immune system.
Plant-based diets are also high in fibre. A diet that's high in fibre is associated with lower rates of certain cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
Furthermore, plant-based diets are usually lower in saturated fat because meat and dairy are significant sources of saturated fat. A higher intake of saturated fat is associated with high cholesterol levels in the body and cardiovascular disease, which may contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
WHY A PLANT-BASED DIET IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
The raising of animals for food supply is one of the major contributors to global warming. The animal agriculture industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation combined. For this reason, one of the single most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint is adopting a plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets are much more efficient in terms of the energy that goes into producing food. Less energy and land goes into producing a single calorie of plant food than a single calorie of animal-based food. This means that if more people went plant-based, less energy would be used and more land would be available to feed our global population.
Therefore, a plant-based diet is better for both the planet and the people who live on it.
A plant-based diet provides many vital minerals, vitamins, dietary fibre, protein and heart-healthy fats that help to reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, some of which can be life-threatening.
It is also the most sustainable and beneficial diet for the environment, minimizing the energy used for food production, helping to decrease pollution, using fewer resources such as water and electricity, and reducing our carbon footprint.