Last updated October 14, 2022
The plant-based diet is one of the latest wellness buzzwords and conscious lifestyle shifts. With the meat industry being the primary cause of environmental degradation and pollution, more and more people are turning to a more plant-based lifestyle to live more consciously and in harmony with the earth.
As people worldwide turn to a more plant-based way of living (and traveling), you might also be considering learning more about a plant-based diet and seeing if it’s the right move for you. Keep reading to find out about the most important benefits of a plant-based diet.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
The plant-based diet is not so much a diet than a lifestyle shift, an approach to being more conscious about what we eat. The plant-based diet is simply about eating more foods from plant sources and limiting or eliminating animal ones.
It’s also quite a flexible way of eating, which is why I believe it’s become so popular in the last few years. Being plant-based doesn’t mean you can’t eat limited amounts of meat, fish or dairy if you want to. Essentially you can choose how often you eat animal products, if at all.
The key is filling our plates with more food from plant sources than anything else.
What’s the Difference Between Being Plant-Based and Vegan?
One of the biggest questions surrounding the plant-based diet is how it differs from being vegan. The main difference is that plant-based eaters focus on eating more food from plant-based sources, while vegans never eat any animal products.
Being vegan is a complete lifestyle shift that also involves not wearing or using clothing that comes from animal sources such as leather and avoiding beauty products with animal products and brands that test on animals.
The plant-based diet is mostly focused on just diet and is somewhat more flexible. It doesn’t mean you have to abstain from eating animal products completely, but it is mostly focused on plants.
Plant-Based Diet Benefits
It will get you to eat more plants
There’s no denying that eating more vegetables, fruits, and legumes is good for us, and it’s certainly not going to do us harm, so adopting a diet that focuses on getting more fiber, vitamins and minerals into our bodies is surely a benefit.
Wholefood, plant-based foods are nutrient-dense foods, and having a diet that focuses on getting on more of these essential nutrients into our bodies is naturally going to make us healthier.
Lower risk of major diseases
A recent study by the American Heart Association found that eating a diet rich in plants and low in animal products actually lowers your risk of contracting heart disease.
Not only that but a plant-based diet that is high in fiber, healthy fats, and wholewheat carbohydrates can actually reduce the risk of certain cancers, stroke, type-2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
It supports a healthy gut
Over the years, studies have suggested that gut health is crucial for overall health and wellbeing. Emeran Mayer, in his book The Mind-Gut Connection, also draws on the latest neuroscience research when illustrating the connection between mind and gut.
A healthy, i.e., an optimal microbiome composition in the gut, is supported through a plant-based diet as it encourages greater microbial activity and diversity. On the other hand, lower microbiome diversity is linked to diseases such as Type-2 diabetes and obesity.
Can aid weight management
Eating a wholefood, balanced plant-based diet can help you manage weight and even lose weight without the need for extreme diets.
Natural plant-sourced foods are full of fiber and healthy carbohydrates, making you feel fuller for longer, meaning you’re much less likely to reach for the cookie jar mid-morning.
Lowers your risk of diabetes
Eating a plant-based diet of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables can make your body more responsive to insulin through better blood sugar control. This may mean a reduced risk of diabetes or diabetes-related complications and can even mean taking less medication if you have type-2 diabetes.
Research has shown that the Western diet—high amounts of animal products, saturated fat, processed sugar and refined carbohydrates—can cause Type -2 diabetes, meaning that eating the opposite – a healthy, plant-based diet – can lower your risk of getting the disease.
It protects your brain
As the plant-based diet becomes more popular, so do studies on the effects on the body and mind. We now have studies that confirm that a wholesome plant-based diet can protect against and aid depression, multiple sclerosis, stroke and even improve IQ.
One study shows that nutrients in leafy greens such as B-carotene, nitrates, folate, lutein and Vitamin-E are related to better brainpower. Dr. Morris, in this study, even suggests that those who eat leafy greens as part of a balanced diet have brains that aged 11 years younger compared to those who ate the least amount of greens.
Gives you more energy
When you eliminate animal products such as meat from your diet, it lightens the load on the entire system, especially the digestive system. This means less energy is needed for digestion and translates into more energy for your body and brain.
A plant-based diet also contains a powerhouse of nutrients that support the body and release energy over longer periods of time, keeping you going for the entire day.
The benefits of switching to a plant-based diet are clear for better overall health and wellness, energy levels and lower risks of disease. Have you tried it yet?