Thanks to a growing body of research and knowledge surrounding the benefits of a plant based diet, more and more people are turning towards this healthy way of eating. In Europe, plant based foods consumption has increased 49% over the last 2 years.(1) From reducing your environmental footprint to improving your overall health, loosing weight or improve your skin, there are countless benefits to a plant based diet.
For its proven health benefits
- decreasing heart disease mortality
- helping sustainable weight management
- lowering medication needs
- decreasing the risk for most chronic diseases
- lowering the incidence and severity of obesity
- possibly reversing advanced coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown links between increasing your fruit, vegetable and fibre consumption and a reduced risk of certains cancer and in particular bowel, colorectal, liver cancer (4) as well as lung cancer (5). Whilst there is not one magic plant based food which can prevent the disease, as these studies have shown, following a largely plant based, whole foods diet overall is what can help contribute to a reduced rate of cancer.
Other research has shown that a plant based diet can reduce chronic inflammation (6), therefore reducing the risk of conditions that are often associated with it such as heart disease, arthritis and high blood pressure.
To boost your sporting performance
For anyone who leads an active lifestyle, research into the benefits of a plant based diet for athletes is particularly interesting. If you worry that cutting on meat and fish might affect your athletic performance, studies have shown that it is not the case (7). In addition, a recent study has shown that a plant based diet can increase the size and flexibility of our arteries, and increase the thickness of blood. Both of these factors contribute to more oxygen being able to reach the muscles, which can help to boost endurance (8).
Added to this, it’s been shown that in just three weeks of following a plant based diet, measures of inflammation in the body are dramatically decreased (9). As inflammation can play a major role in injury, pain, or recovery from an injury, reducing both acute and chronic inflammation has been linked with quicker recovery times from injury as well as less pain and swelling at the site of an injury.
So, if you love to be active but you’re prone to injury, or you’d simply like to boost your personal best, following a plant based diet may be the missing link that you’ve been searching for!
For the environment
With researchers from Oxford University stating that a plant based diet may be the single best way to rescue your impact on earth (9). There couldn’t be a more pressing reason to make the switch. No longer simply a lifestyle choice, the UN report on climate change similarly concludes that plant based diet may dramatically reduces our carbon footprint and impact on the environment in many ways.(10)
From the vast amounts of water that are used in commercial animal agriculture to the deforestation which clears land to make space for cattle, the impact of the industry is enormous. Alongside this, species extinction, the production of methane which is a huge contributor to climate change and overfishing are all excellent reasons to cut down your consumption of animal products.
To save money
It may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but following a more plant based diet may help you to save money! A study comparing the cost of adopting a plant based diet in the US reported a minimal increase of 1,22 $ per person per week. (11) As producing plant based food requires much less land, and there are far fewer steps in the process to get from farm to table – even more so if you choose unrefined, whole foods – the end products are naturally cheaper.
But a lower food budget doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality or nutritional benefits! In fact, it’s the opposite. By filling your plate with around 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% whole grains and 25% legumes and nuts, you’ll probably find that your diet becomes much more varied, and nutritious.
For animal welfare
Whilst following a vegetarian diet undoubtedly reduces the number of animals slaughtered for meat, it doesn’t put a stop to intensive farming practices which are behind the dairy industry. Many animal rights activists would also argue that the production of milk, cheese and other dairy products also heavily exploit animals’ welfare. And whilst cutting out these products might be what many animal lovers first think of if they were to wonder how to reduce their own direct impact, humans’ reliance on animal products reaches much further.
From whales, dolphins, turtles and other sea creatures that are killed as by-catch by the commercial fishing industry to species whose natural rainforest habitats are razed to create space for more agricultural land, consuming animal products has far-reaching consequences for animal welfare.
And as a bonus, making the transition to a more plant based diet is fun! If you’re anything like me, you may come from a cultural background where a meal typically consists of meat, a carbohydrate like rice or potatoes, and a vegetable. When I switched to a plant based, whole foods diet, I was able to discover so many new foods. Rather than being limited by a more traditional way of eating, a plant based diet will allow you to experiment and be inspired by a much wider variety of foods.
Interested in transitioning to a plant based diet?
Work with me and discover a Holistic Nutrition 4 weeks Challenge, including a nutrition assessment, personalized recommendations and much more.