Why You Should Try a Plant-Based Diet in 2021
Professional Athletes, Social Influencers, Arnold Schwarzenegger… It seems like everyone these days is converting to veganism or vegetarianism.
But is it worth it?
Every day we try to do better, eat better, and be better than the day before.
We shop organic, we reuse straws, we bring reusable grocery bags and water bottles everywhere. We recycle and we keep up with the latest discoveries in health and wellness…
The same discoveries have been presented in a new documentary called The Game Changers. The docu-film argues that eating animal products can hinder athletic performance, wreak havoc on your heart, impair sexual function, and lead to an early death.
Now everyone from Mike Tyson to your great-grandmother is eating plant-based.
Those who do report they’ve lost weight… dropped their cholesterol levels… AND increased their energy levels dramatically.
What is Plant-Based?
People understand and use the term plant-based diet in a number of different ways. Some people interpret it as a vegan diet, which involves avoiding all animal products. Actually, plant-based diets are an approach that emphasises minimally processed foods from plants. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
However, It doesn’t have to mean that you are vegetarian or vegan and never eat meat or dairy. Rather, it means that you are choosing more of your foods to come from plant-based sources. But in any term plant-based diets focus on healthful whole foods, rather than processed foods.
Plant-based Diets can provide these exceptional health benefits:
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
According to the International Diabetes Federation, the number of people living with diabetes is expected to soar to nearly 600 million by 2035.
Yet, Type 2 diabetes is entirely preventable! Research suggests that including more plant-based foods into your diet can help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Increased Heart Health
About 1 in 3 American adults suffers from high blood pressure, meaning they’re at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
A Harvard study found people who averaged 8+ servings of fruits and veggies a day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, compared to those who had less than 1.5 daily servings.
As well as this, diets loaded with fruits and veggies can lower blood pressure, decreasing the risk of hypertension.
Healthy Pores & Glowing Skin
Animal products are higher in saturated fats, which are notorious for clogging pores.
When cutting down on animal products and replacing them with more fruits and vegetables, you can avoid these saturated fats. Plus, many of the vitamins, pigments and phytochemicals in fruits and veggies contribute to healthy skin.
Creative Cooking Opportunities
Every now and then, it’s a great idea to try something new and unexpected in the kitchen. If you always stick to the same old meat and potato dishes, switching to a plant-based diet is the perfect opportunity to change things up.
Take this opportunity to try out some delectable vegetarian dishes, you will almost certainly be surprised and impressed!
Before starting a plant-based diet, people should ensure they take steps to get enough of the following nutrients: Vitamin B-12 & Iron.
Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient (found in many animal products) for blood and cell health. B-12 deficiency can lead to anemia and nerve damage. People who eat an exclusively plant-based diet should consider taking a B-12 supplement or consume products fortified with B-12. Foods containing B-12 include some cereals, plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast.
Iron found in plant-based foods has lower bioavailability than its meat counterparts. People following a plant-based diet may need to take extra precaution to ensure they’re receiving enough Iron. Great sources of iron include kidney beans, oatmeal, and dark leafy greens. Make sure to combine citrus and other vitamin C sources with plant-based sources of iron to increase absorption.
Protein from Plant-Based Sources
Some people may have concerns about getting enough protein from a plant-based diet. However, there is a wide variety of plant protein, including:
Consuming proteins from a variety of food sources can help provide all the necessary amino acids for good health.
Making The Switch
If you want to make the switch to a plant-based diet, start by gradually reducing your meat and dairy intake.
Take a few meals a week and swap out the animal products for plant-based ones. As this becomes easier, eating entire plant-based meals will become more commonplace.
Luckily, with the growing demand for plant-based meals – a surge of new plant-based products have popped-up in the food supply chain. Start-ups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are now taking up entire sections of the grocery store with their meat-free alternatives.
In addition to carrying more vegan meat options, some grocery stores even offer their own lines of vegan meat. Here are some grocery chains where you’ll find tons of options for plant-based diets.
One of the best options for affordable, plant-based grocery shopping. Trader Joes’ carries pantry staples like dairy-free milk, organic fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and more!
In addition to carrying plenty of affordable, whole foods, Trader Joe’s also carries its own line of vegan meats that won’t break the bank.
Although it has a well-earned reputation for being pricey, Whole Foods’ bulk buy section is fantastic for stocking up on dry grains, pulses, and dried fruit without having to commit to a full package.
They also happen to carry a decent selection of meatless meats under their house brand, 365 Everyday Value.
As one of the first chains to offer Hampton Creek’s all-vegan Just Cookies line of products, Target launched itself onto the plant-based map. They’ve even begun to offer their own line of plant-based foods under house brand, Simply Balanced.
As one of the largest retailers in the world, Costco offers bulk options for brands like Dr. Praeger’s and Gardein at affordable, family-friendly prices. In addition, Costco are constantly adding new, innovative plant-based options to their shelves on a regular basis.
In the frozen aisle, Wegman’s offers a range of meatless meat alternatives under their house brand, Food You Feel Good About. As well, they carry a wide range of plant-based pantry options at affordable prices.
There are plenty of options out there for your plant-based needs. Just open your eyes on your next grocery trip and try out some of the new alternative options.
However, as with all dietary changes – you may wish to speak to a doctor or dietitian before making significant changes in your diet.