It's a great day to talk about the impact a plant-based diet can have on our health and the environment.
How to Get the Most Out of a plant-based diet
In order to receive the maximum health benefits of a plant-based diet, it's important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds and whole grains daily. A variety of whole plant-based foods creates a healthy balance of macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fats (no need to worry about protein deficiency while eating a variety of plant-based foods!). Choosing a rainbow of colors will also ensure adequate intake of essential vitamins (such as vitamin A and vitamin C) and minerals (such as calcium and magnesium) as well as phytonutrients (such as resveratrol and flavonoids), which are not essential to survival, but essential if you want to live your healthiest. Of note, vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products but can also be consumed through nutritional yeast and fortified foods, such as plant-based milks. However, it's difficult to get sufficient B-12 daily through diet, therefore a B-12 supplement or B-complex that contains vitamin B-12 is recommended.
Benefits of a plant-based diet on our health
Lower blood pressure
Decrease cholesterol (Fun fact: cholesterol is only found in animal products and you don’t need it in the diet — the body is able to make what it needs. A high-fiber, plant based diet is essential to lowering high cholesterol!)
Decrease incidence of heart disease
Prevent Type II Diabetes
Lower risk of colorectal cancer
Decrease BMI (weight loss can be a great bonus of following a plant-based diet, IF that's your goal!)
Strengthen bones and decrease osteoporosis (calcium from plants is better absorbed than from dairy. Yep, it's true.)
Create radiate skin (the more phytonutrients in your diet the more your skin will glow!)
Increase energy (feel energized with every BITE of plant-based goodness)
Plant-based diet and the environment
Forty percent of land in the world is used for the purpose of feeding humans, with the majority of that (30 percent) used for raising livestock. Livestock includes not only the animals we consume for meat, but also those for milk and egg production. One estimate from 2006 indicated that livestock is responsible for approximately 18% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions each year. Estimates show that 91% of destruction of the Amazon Forest occurs for animal agriculture. By making the switch to a plant-based diet we can significantly impact greenhouse emissions, allow more of our crop production to go to feeding the hungry instead of livestock, and maintain our forest.
Finally, two BIG reasons, in our minds, to follow a plant-based diet:
Images of our friends at Full Circle Farm Sanctuary💜
Why do you choose plant-based? Please share in the comments below!
Eichelmann, F., Schwingshackl, L., Fedirko, V., & Aleksandrova, K. (2016). Effect of plant-based diets on obesity-related inflammatory profiles: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials. Obesiity Reviews, 1067-1079.Harland, J., & Garton, L. (2016). An update of the evidence relating to plant-based diets and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and overweight. Nutrition Bulletin, 323-338.Pierson, J. (2016, April 6).
Animal Agriculture's Environmental Impact Is Still Being Ignored. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jimmy-pierson/animal-agriculture-environmental-impact_b_10276250.htmlWalsh, B. (2013, December 16).
The Triple Whopper Environmental Impact of Global Meat Production. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from Time: http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/
Written by Katherine Bechdol who graduated from the University of Georgia in 2008 with a bachelors degree in geology. After working as an environmental consultant she decided to follow her passion for healthy eating and is now working towards her Master's Degree in Health Science from Georgia State University while working in the Coordinated Program in Nutrition in order to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She believes that food can heal the body and her long term goal is to become a research scientist in order to help individuals suffering from chronic disease heal in a functional and integrative way.