From Oprah to Ellen, to the hit documentaries Forks over Knives and Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and the book, The China Study, the latest trend seems to be focused on eating a plant-based diet. While there is no formal definition, a plant-based diet is based on eating predominantly fresh, minimally-processed plant foods. Vegetables, beans, and grains are of primary focus. A plant-based diet generally consists of limiting (or eliminating) consumption of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Many people have been turning to a plant based diet for a variety of reasons. A plant based diet is environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free and has amazing health and wellness benefits. A plant-based diet is good for you and good for the environment.
Livestock farming has a huge environmental impact. It consumes an enormous amount of energy, uses tons of water and pollutes it along the way, requires a lot of land, is expensive, and generates significant amounts of gases. By going green and plant-based, you can help reduce your carbon footprint, save water and land, promote growth of natural resources, protect the oceans and rain forests, reduce pollution, and save the animals.
Plant-based diets have also been found to have many health benefits. Many people who eat a plant-based diet eat fewer calories and less fat and therefore weigh less. They exhibit lower levels of heart disease, cancer and lower risks of death. Plant-based diets have been found to reverse aging, prevent heart disease, treat diabetes in addition to many other health ailments. The same diet which prevents diseases in their early stages can help treat them in their later stages.
A plant-based diet offers 99 percent of the nutrients you can find in animal-based foods and are of a better quality. Supplements are rarely necessary. Plant-based diets offer enough protein, unlike what many meat eaters believe. Soybeans, legumes, grains and some vegetables are excellent sources. Add nuts and seeds to your list, you will be able to get everything your body requires. Only if you do not eat any animal products at all, you may require a B12 supplement, but that’s not even a guarantee as many products are fortified.
Because there is no formal definition of a plant-based diet, it is how you define it. Even if you choose to eat meat or some animal products, by incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, you will be helping yourself and the environment. Hopefully, this is one trend that will be here to stay and I’m going to help you get started today.
The Meatless Monday is a blog you should read, sign up for their mailing list. The concept is simple, just cut back on your meat intake, starting on Mondays. Meatless Monday has tons of resources, recipes, and an enormous online community you can join.
Your diet is going to have to include healthy meat alternatives such as tempeh, edamame beans, tofu, and bamboo to add texture, fiber, and protein to your new healthy diet. Be careful what soy products you consume though, some commercial soy beans today are genetically engineered to feed animals, so go organic. Legumes are also top on my list. They provide high amounts of fiber, carbs, and protein, and are considered feel good foods for satiety and maintaining proper weight and energy.
And for those of you that don’t want to give up all your meats, fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid content. Farmed fish is a recent development that is not recommended. Just like anything else, you’ll need to watch your fish intake. Some fish, like tuna, are high in mercury and should only be eaten twice a month. I avoid imported fish from Asian markets, try to keep it local and stick to wild varieties.
I’m sure many of you have had great experiences with your plant-based diet, please share them with us in the comment section below.
[Image credit: Public Domain Photos, Flickr]