Fad diets for weight loss run rampant in our society. The problem is, most of them either don’t work or are so extreme they are impossible to stick to.
So when you hear about a new diet, such as a plant-based diet, you might be tempted just to go along your merry way and pay no mind.
But stop and take note. A plant-based diet is an extremely healthy way of living, offering many benefits beyond weight loss. Plus, with the variety of options available it isn’t so hard to stick to. Let’s check it out!
Why (and How) Are So Many People Eating Plant-Based Foods?
An astonishing 69% of adults in the US are considered either overweight or obese. A discouraging list of health problems is linked to obesity including diabetes, breathing problems, and even some cancers.
People are waking up to the danger and looking for ways to remedy the problem.
However, fad diets and 5-minute exercise sessions aren’t going to cut. They need a lifestyle change that involves healthier food and a more active lifestyle. A plant-based diet is just the answer they’re looking for.
What Is a Plant-Based Diet?
At first glance, you might think that a plant-based diet means vegetarian. Not necessarily. People who follow the plant-based diet simply work to include more plant-based foods into their diet.
They still may eat eggs, cheese, fish, and even meat and other animal products, but they try to limit their consumption in this category.
What Is a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet?
A whole food plant-based diet (WFPB) takes things one step further. People following this diet tend toward whole, minimally processed foods. They exclude refined sugars, white flour, processed oils, and the like from their diet.
Many proponents of this diet also advocate for choosing organically grown, locally sourced foods as much as possible.
There is a range of ideologies within this way of eating.
The strictest are the vegans who avoid all animal products including things like honey. Next, are the vegetarians who will eat animal products like eggs, milk, and sometimes fish, but avoid meat like chicken, pork, or beef.
The most flexible is the flexitarian diet. The bulk of this diet is plant-based but they will still enjoy some animal products and meat here and there.
What Are the Health Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet?
Aside from weight loss, there are a number of health benefits that come from eating a plant-based diet.
Make Your Heart Happy
Heart disease is consistently the leading cause of death in the US making it something people should really pay attention to. Many plant-based foods are excellent for keeping your heart happy and a diet high in these foods helps lower your risk of heart disease.
However, they have to be the right foods. A plant-based diet full of sugary juice drinks won’t be as effective.
Lower Risk of Cancer
There are many factors that come into play for developing cancer. However, this study found that eating a plant-based diet lowered the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 43%.
Lower Risk of Diabetes
Obesity is one of the risk factors for diabetes and people following a plant-based diet tend to be slimmer. This study found that people who ate an unhealthy diet were 34% more likely to develop diabetes than those on a plant-based diet.
Furthermore, a healthy plant-based diet is more effective at controlling blood sugar in people who already have diabetes.
Lower Risk of Cognitive Decline
What causes Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia still isn’t fully understood. However, the antioxidants and other nutrients in a plant-based diet have been shown to slow and even reverse cognitive deficits.
What to Eat on a Plant-Based Diet?
If you’re like most Americans, your diet probably relies heavily on processed foods and animal products. You might wonder how you could possibly get by eating like a rabbit all the time.
But there is a whole world of delicious plant-based whole foods out there to explore beyond lettuce and carrots. Explore interesting flavors and textures through foods like:
- Seeds and nuts (pumpkin, chia, almond, macadamia, etc.)
- Quinoa, brown rice, rolled oats, and other whole grains
- Plant-based milk (almond, rice, coconut, cashew, etc.)
- Spices and herbs
But what about protein? This is always a big question for people that have primarily gotten their protein from meat.
While meat is an excellent source, it isn’t the only one. Some of the foods we just mentioned like nuts, chickpeas, lentils, and beans are also great sources of protein.
These are the types of foods that make it possible for vegan athletes to do vegan bodybuilding, as incredible as it might sound.
You also don’t have to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to produce these meals. There are products like this Earth Nut burger that are perfect for satisfying that meat-eating craving — which really just means your body wants protein.
A Win for You, A Win for the Planet
There is one more benefit to eating a plant-based diet that helps us all. This study reports that shifting the entire Western population to a more sustainable diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% and reduce water usage by 50%.
By changing your eating patterns, you can not only enjoy a healthier you but also know that you are doing your small part for the planet.
Get started by making small changes today!