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What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?

Eating a plant-based diet is eating for you and the planet.

The topic of plant-based eating is a message that is becoming more mainstream every day.  Celebrities are discussing their experiences with it, restaurants are adding more plant-based options to their menus, and people in general are sharing the benefits they are gaining.

But why all the attention? What are the benefits? Why should I no longer eat meat and what can I eat? These are great questions. Starting a plant-based diet can provide some enormous benefits with dedication, but it takes some creativity as people who transition tend to be initially concerned with how they will get their protein without eating meat.

Let's take a look at the benefits of a plant-based diet.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

A plant-based diet consists of eating foods that are derived from plants, including unrefined whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. It is void of animal derived ingredients such as meat (including chicken and fish), dairy, and eggs as well as refined sugars, flours, and oils. 
Evidence supports a plethora of benefits from eating a plant-based diet.

Decreased Saturated Fat Intake

Most saturated fats come from meat and dairy foods, which raise cholesterol levels and increases your exposure to heart-related illnesses. Some plant foods do contain saturated fat and it is a good idea to consume these in moderation, but they also provide great health benefits.
Here is a list of plant oils that contain saturated fat but are beneficial to consume from time to time.
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Soybean oil

Increased Fiber Consumption

Because a plant-based diet is centered around fruits, vegetables, and grains, people who follow this way of eating mainly meet the minimum requirements needed for daily fiber intake. 
Incorporate some of these high-fiber foods for better digestive health.
  • Lentils/Chickpeas/Black Beans
  • Sweet Potatoes/Beets/Carrots
  • Almonds
  • Raspberries/Pears/Apples
  • Flax Seeds/Chia Seeds
  • Oats/Quinoa/Brown Rice

Disease and Other Food-Illness Prevention

The American Diabetes Association recently endorsed a plant-based diet for diabetes risk reduction or elimination. In fact, there are numerous studies proving a plant-based diet reduces the risk of other major illnesses such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and more.

Less Harmful Impact on the Environment

A plant-based diet is not only healthier for the body, but also has a lower environmental impact.  According to the American Journal of Nutrition, an estimated 2 billion people live primarily on a meat-based diet while 4 billion people live primarily on a plant-based diet. The World Health Organization reported that more than 3 billion people are malnourished due to rapid population growth and the declining availability of land, water, and energy resources.
Beef production requires a huge amount of water, resources, and land for grazing on mineral-rich grasses, all of which could be used to help feed the malnourished and clean water deficient communities or the world.
Furthermore, meat production emits greenhouse gases like methane, which is connected to issues like climate change. The less demand for meat, the better for the earth.

Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

When starting any new journey, whether it be a new workout routine, trying to drink more water, or becoming a morning person, the beginning is usually the hardest part. Incorporating new habits into your life takes belief, effort, and preparation.
Here are some tips to help you on your journey:
  • Go to the market and try a bunch of plant-based snacks. Find your favorites and keep them with you at all times. Hint: Lenny & Larry’s
  • Learn how to meal prep. This will save you money and time.
  • Find some friends who would like to try a plant-based diet and do it together. Support is important.
  • Always listen to your body. If you have any concerns about your well-being, talk to a nutritionist about better ways of going about properly getting what your body needs. It is also a good idea to have regular blood tests to check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies so you know what to eat more of.

Example of a Plant-Based Diet

To help you stay fueled for the day, try a breakfast of grains like oatmeal loaded with nuts and fruit or fruit and vegetable smoothies with superfood powders like maca, spirulina, and cacao.
For lunch, try a salad packed with plant proteins like organic tofu, quinoa, or chickpeas with seeds and nuts, hummus, sea salt and spices like turmeric and a vinaigrette. 
Dinner may consist of veggie burgers, bbq tempeh, or soup.
With some creativity, the meal ideas are bountiful and with over 10,000 varieties of edible plants, you have the opportunity to try something new all the time!
And don’t forget dessert...if you like something sweet and crunchy, check out our new Crunchy Cookies!