For centuries, subsets of people would refuse to ‘eat anything with a face’. It was believed that consuming animal products could be detrimental to overall health and safety. It turns out that these subsets may have been ahead of their time.
Overconsumption (3x per day) of meat and dairy may be linked to an accumulation of systemic toxins which could spiral into disease. The other link is how big agriculture or corporate farming has compromised so much of our land, water and air it is now one of the top contributors to global warming and overall pollution.
Labels like vegetarian or vegan are moving aside for the mainstream embraced description of plant-based. There are many studies that show the benefits of a plant-based diet, yet you may be hard pressed to find reputable research that recommends eating meat. Learn how choosing more plant-based options may not only enhance your health but how such a change will surely support a more sustainable planet.
Just by choosing more non-processed whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits and less processed meat, dairy, sugar and oils, study after study corroborates the enormous health benefits of such a move.
Some of these include:
Reduce Plaque - Netherland and Brazilian studies of 6,000 and 4,500 participants respectively, showed a 60 percent less likely chance of plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart when consuming a plant-based diet.
Avoid Disease - It was reported that South Asian people living in America and consuming a strictly vegetarian diet had less reports of diabetes and heart disease.
Lose Weight - Researchers from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, examined data from over 125,000 study participants over a four year period. It was found that those who ate a lot of high-quality plant-based foods were less likely to gain weight compared to eating animal products.
Scientific examples of the health benefits of a plant-based diet are abundant, but the positive effects to the planet may not be so well known.
Significant Carbon Footprint Reduction
By simply choosing a plant-based meal over a conventional burger and fries could set you on a path of significantly reducing your carbon footprint.
One of the most comprehensive studies by researchers from the University of Oxford looked at the environmental impact of nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries. Published in Science (June 2018) it was concluded (as reported by The Independent) that,
“...cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent.”
The report continues with an astounding hypothetical,
“...if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined. Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction.”
Joseph Moore, lead author of the study, commented,
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.”
With this study and many others to back it up, it is now well know that choosing a plant-based diet will significantly reduce your carbon footprint.
You may have good intentions and want to try a plant-based diet, yet it could be overwhelming at first which may lead to you giving up altogether. Take your time during a transition to this committed, lifelong way of eating.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Loose Lips Sink Ships - Don’t tell anyone you are changing your eating habits...just do it. The biggest obstacle to any dietary change is friends and family. Also, don’t refer to it as a diet as it is a dietary change instead.
Educate Yourself - Read books like: ‘Diet for New America’ or ‘Diet for a Small Planet’. Watch movies like: ‘What the Health?’, ‘Cowspiracy’, ‘Forks Over Knives’ and ‘Vegucated’.
Start Slow - Get a good vegetarian cookbook and make a few meals in-between your changeover. Don’t get overwhelmed but also don’t get sucked back into poor, habitual dietary choices. Know that you are making such a change for your health and the health of the planet.
Avoid Fakes - Processed vegetarian meats may taste good but too much soy or preservatives can be detrimental to your health. Stick to fresh produce and prepared meals. Leave the fake meat to once in a while treats or time savers.
Supplement - Supplement your plant-based diet with B12, zinc, D3, Omega-3 (the best non-fish source is algae based), calcium and iron. Eventually you won’t need as many supplements as you learn about the different plant-based foods that can cover these nutrients.