A plant-based diet, also known as a vegetarian or vegan diet, is one that consists primarily of whole, unprocessed plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. Many people choose to follow a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons, including improved health, weight loss, environmental sustainability, and ethical concerns.
Are you doing Veganuary this year? If so, here are 5 benefits you might see as a result of following your new plant-based diet…
1. Improved health
One of the primary benefits of a plant-based diet is improved health. Plant-based foods are generally rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. For example, a diet high in fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, and a diet rich in legumes and whole grains has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, plant-based diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can further reduce the risk of heart disease and other health problems.
2. Weight loss
Weight loss is another common reason why people choose a plant-based diet. As plant-based foods are typically lower in calories and fat, they can help you to shed excess pounds more easily. This is especially true if you focus on whole, unprocessed plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, rather than relying on heavily processed vegetarian alternatives. Additionally, plant-based diets tend to be high in fibre, which can help you to feel fuller and more satisfied after meals, making it easier to stick to your weight loss goals.
3. Environmental sustainability
In addition to the personal health benefits, a plant-based diet can also have a positive impact on the environment. The production of animal-based foods tends to have a larger carbon footprint, as it requires more land, water, and other resources. On the other hand, plant-based foods require fewer resources to produce, making them a more sustainable option. By choosing a plant-based diet, you can play a small but significant role in reducing your own environmental impact.
4. Ethical concerns
Ethical concerns are another reason why some people choose a plant-based diet. Many people believe that it is wrong to use animals for food, clothing, or other purposes, and a plant-based diet allows them to live in alignment with their values. Additionally, the production of animal-based foods can often involve cruelty to animals, and a plant-based diet allows individuals to avoid supporting such practices.
Finally, switching to a plant-based diet can be an economical choice, especially if you focus on buying in-season produce and bulk cooking grains and legumes. Plant-based foods tend to be cheaper than animal-based options, making it a budget-friendly way to eat.
Despite the numerous benefits of a plant-based diet, it is important to ensure that you are meeting your nutritional needs. Some nutrients, such as protein, iron, and zinc, may be more challenging to obtain on a plant-based diet, but with careful planning and education, it is possible to get all the nutrients your body needs. For example, you can get protein from beans, lentils, and tofu, and iron from leafy green vegetables and fortified cereals. It is also a good idea to consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement, as this nutrient is found almost exclusively in animal-based foods.
To ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs it is worth tracking what you eat. We recommend using MyFitnessPal to track what you eat. You can plug in your macro and calorie targets and easily scan your meals into the app to help you stay on top of reaching your targets.
If you are struggling to plan what to eat on your new diet it may be worth consulting a professional. Most personal trainers will have enough knowledge on the topic to provide some guidance but for more detailed help you may need to seek out a dietician or a personal trainer who is either vegan themselves or has a deep knowledge of plant-based dieting.
If you just want some ideas for recipes we have a plant-based recipe book with over 163 different plant based recipes. All recipes have macro and calorie breakdowns and a barcode you can scan to easily add it to MyFitnessPal. It is available for free as part of our free Essentials Membership, along with a load of other useful tools and tips. You can sign up for free here.
In conclusion, there are many compelling reasons to consider a plant-based diet, including improved health, weight loss, environmental sustainability, and ethical concerns. With careful planning and education, it is possible to get all the nutrients your body needs on a plant-based diet and enjoy the numerous benefits it has to offer.