5 Things You Should Know About Embracing A Plant-Based Diet
Giraffes do it. Rabbits do it. Kangaroos do it. It can’t be that difficult to switch to a plant-based diet, right? Plus, the health benefits that come with the lifestyle change are usually worth it. Maybe it’s for moral reasons, maybe it’s the doctor’s orders or maybe you just want to change up your life. No matter what the reason, becoming a full-fledged herbivore doesn’t have to suck. You can still eat your favorite dishes with the right substitutions.
A plant-based diet revolves around whole, unrefined or minimally refined plants and it’s based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers (ex. potatoes), nuts, seeds and legumes. If you’re going plant-based, your diet should exclude meat, dairy products, eggs, oil, refined sugar and processed flours. Before committing to the plant-based life, here’s what you should know.
1. Plant-Based vs. Vegan
The two lifestyles could easily be confused if you’re not fully immersed in either one. A vegan diet means you don’t eat any animal-based products including meat, dairy, eggs and any animal-derived foods like bee products. Veganism can take over all aspects of your life, not just your diet. A whole plant-based diet, on the other hand, is more focused on the contents of the food from a holistic perspective. It’s more about avoiding processed foods like oil, white flour and refined sugar. The best way to describe the fundamental differences between these two lifestyles is that a vegan person can eat a cookie (made without animal products, of course) and people who are plant-based cannot. A lot of people who are vegan are doing it for ethical reasons and those who choose the plant-based life are often looking out for their overall health. Neither one of these lifestyles is about counting calories.
2. Weight Loss
Overall, it’s been said that vegetarians consume way fewer calories and have a lower BMI (body mass index) than people who eat meat. If you eat three meals a day packed full of whole grains, vegetables and beans and cut out processed foods and limit the cracked grains (ex. most forms of bread), then it’s likely you’ll see a difference in your weight. If possible try to avoid using a lot of oil in your cooking and instead get your oils from natural sources like seeds and nuts. You can still fill up on grains, fruits and veggies without all of the calories from a meat-based diet.
3. Skin Care
If you’ve ever seen someone’s face breakout from eating too much sugar, dairy or alcohol, you know how much of an impact diet can make on your skin. Using an acne treatment or all organic moisturizers won’t always do the trick. Skin problems often occur from the inside out and you can help your body by switching to a plant-based diet. Unprocessed plant-based foods like raw nuts, fruits, veggies and anything with Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful for achieving that natural glow. This change in lifestyle can aid in illuminating redness, irritation and rosacea. Cutting out dairy from your diet might even help with dark circles. By increasing your fiber and water intake, everything in your system will flow easier and this can lead to overall clearer skin.
4. Prevent Chronic Disease
By switching to an herbivore diet, you can help to prevent yourself from getting chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, according to this study. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable and by sticking to a strict plant-based diet, you may be able to fight off the disease. This diet has no animal fat and no cholesterol and has been shown to reopen narrowed arteries. Consuming all of these fruits and veggies will also help with heart health, for those of you who have a Cardiovascular disease that runs in the family. If you’re choosing foods that are nutrient-dense, you’re getting the best type of carbohydrates — the kinds that are minimally refined with a lower glycemic index.
5. Boost Athletic Performance
When you think of athletes getting ready for a workout, eating lean pieces of chicken might seem like a solid source of protein and an energy enhancer. Some athletes, like tennis champion Venus Williams, have switched to a plant-based diet for that much-needed boost in their athletic function. Aside from eliminating protein, a plant-based diet will let you get rid of chemicals in the body, lower harmful cholesterol and it’ll give you high amounts of nutrients. When athletes eat foods with anti-inflammatory proteins and antioxidants like sweet potatoes, bananas, broccoli, greens, nuts and seeds, they give themselves a better chance at easy recovery. Food like kale, beets, spinach and blueberries can help enhance oxygen flow to the brain and muscles and improve stamina.
On top of all of these health benefits that will come from switching to a plant-based diet, you’ll also be contributing to the health of the environment. Mind Body Green says, “Animal agriculture is responsible for about 91% of Amazon destruction.” Cutting down could help make an impact on deforestation, which is the reason “a hundred animal and insect species are lost every day.”