How a Plant Based Diet Can Save Your Life
Let food be thy medicine. This may seem like a quote from some new age practitioner of alternative medicine, but it is actually attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates who is considered the father of Western medicine and namesake of the Hippocratic oath (an oath all doctors must take before practicing medicine). There’s no debate when you look at the latest evidence. Eating a whole food, plant-based vegan diet, without the consumption of meat or dairy is beneficial for our health and wellbeing. Not to mention our planet! What if one simple change could put you on a path to better health? And what if that change could even save you from obesity, heart disease, cancer and other diseases? You have the power to transform and even save your life by maintaining a plant based diet.
While many omnivores feel that a meal without meat just doesn’t feel like a meal, the vegan and vegetarian plant based lifestyle is growing in popularity just the same – and with good reason.
A plant based diet moves away from animal-based foods like meat, eggs and milk, and incorporates more fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains. The less meat and dairy you eat the less fat you take in. This goes a long way when it comes to maintaining healthy weight and cholesterol levels.
If you’re wondering whether you should try out a plant based diet, consider the top 7 benefits listed below. Keep in mind that you don’t have to jump into a full-on vegan diet or vegetarian diet. Just limiting your intake of meat, poultry and dairy, and increasing vegetables, fruit and grains can do wonders for your health.
Vegan foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are low in saturated fat. Even high-fat plant foods (such as avocados, nuts and seeds), contain no cholesterol whatsoever, so a vegan diet is cholesterol-free.
A vegan diet is also packed with antioxidants and fibers which can enhance your health, your body and muscle recovery.
Eating a whole food, plant based diet without meat, dairy or eggs can help lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health.
Top Seven Benefits of a Plant Based Diet
Reason #1 Lower Cholesterol
Going green can dramatically lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood – the bad kind that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Avoid butter, cut out fatty meats and opt for plant-based foods.
Dairy and animal products are loaded with fat and have no fiber. Plant based foods contain no cholesterol whatsoever. That means vegan nutrition is much better for your heart and your health.
It’s even been proven by a recent study out of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, which found that a low-fat plant based diet can lower LDL cholesterol by 28 percent.
Reason #2 Lower Blood Pressure
When you eat fatty meats and dairy products, the viscosity of your blood increases, placing more pressure on the blood vessels. A plant based diet fills you up with veggies and fruit, which are high in potassium.
Higher intake of potassium modulates blood viscosity. This is why vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower rates of hypertension, “the silent killer,” according to observational studies published in the Nutrition Review.
Reason #3 Prevent Cancer
High-fat diets have been linked to higher rates of cancer. In fact the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s Cancer Project showed vegetarians to be 40 percent less likely to develop cancer than meat-eaters.
Meat tends to be high in saturated fat and low in fiber. Fiber plays a key role in keeping your digestive system clean and healthy, removing cancer-causing compounds before they can create harm.
A vegetarian diet and vegan diet are high in fiber, low in saturated and trans-fats and typically include more fruit, vegetables and other cancer-preventing phytochemicals.
Reason #4 Avoid Heart Disease
The American Heart Association says 83 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease, and many of the risk factors, such as obesity, are at all-time highs. But you reduce your risk.
Research has found that a balanced, low-fat, plant based diet can help reduce cholesterol, contribute to weight loss and lower blood pressure. All of which lead to heart problems.
Reason #5 Maintain Healthy Weight & Fitness
Those who follow a plant based, vegan or vegetarian diet generally consume fewer calories and have lower body weights than those who don’t, according to the Mayo Clinic. Still, a plant based diet doesn’t guarantee weight loss.
You’ll want to keep your intake of sweets and fatty foods low, choose whole grains, eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, and choose fat-free and low-fat dairy products. Also remember that cooking method counts. Steam, boil, grill or roast instead of frying. Your new diet will even give you renewed energy for physical exercise.
Reason #6 Love for Animal Welfare
For those of you who care about animals and feel badly about slaughtering them for food, the time is right to stop eating meat and go vegan. Can you roughly imagine the number of animals that people consume with a meat based diet?
Now just imagine the number of animal lives you can save if you switched over to a vegan diet. Not trying to be graphic, but why is one animals’ life more important than another? For example, most people squirm at the thought of eating a horse, hamster, dog, cat, or guinea pig but don’t think twice about eating a cow, pig, chicken, or fish.
Even if you’re not concerned about animals on an individual basis, the effect of factory farming on the planet is undeniable.
Nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gasses on earth are produced by the beef industry alone, an that’s not all they do.
Feeding such large animals requires a huge supply of grains, which in turn requires millions of gallons of water.
For each pound of beef, farms must go through thousands of gallons of water to provide food for the cow to slaughter it.
#7 To Salvage the Planet
It seems that moving toward a plant-based diet on the other hand leads to significantly less of an impact on the planet.
The typical carbon footprint of a meat lover is around 3.3 tons CO2 equivalent each year, and that of the average American is around 2.5.
Switching to a vegetarian diet, however, can reduce your carbon footprint down to 1.7, and if you were to take it a step further, the vegan diet carries a carbon footprint of 1.5 tons CO2 equivalent.
It seems that getting rid of meat and dairy could have more of an impact on the environment than swapping your conventional car for a hybrid.
Even if we were to just reduce our consumption of animal products rather than cut them out completely, the planet would experience benefits. If everyone in the U.S ate no meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be equivalent to taking around 7.6 million cars off the road.
A Plant Based Diet Can Limit Land Degradation
As well as affecting the atmosphere above, our current eating habits are also placing a large strain on the surface of the planet. As populations rise and industrialization spreads, the demand for food increases. If we were to carry on at the current rate of growth with the same dietary preferences, it is estimated that, by 2050, the need for animal products will double.
Thirty percent of our land is however already dedicated to raising livestock for food, some 17 million square miles. In many places, overgrazing has led to soil erosion and desertification, reducing the fertility and depth of the soil. These areas can take many years to recover, and an increased demand for meat and dairy will only place more strain on the land.
Half of the plant foods that we produce are used to feed the animals that we then consume. This is a very inefficient means of transferring energy, and if we are to continue to feed our growing populations, we clearly need to think about using our space in a more sustainable way.
The Issue of Water
Water security is becoming an increasingly urgent issue and is exacerbated by the changing climate.
Only a small percentage of the world’s freshwater is currently available for human use, as the majority of it is locked in ice caps and underground aquifers.
The small amount that is available is not being used sustainably.
Agriculture, particularly for meat and dairy products, currently accounts for 70 percent of the world’s freshwater usage.
Not only does agriculture place a strain on the quantity of freshwater, but it also affects the quality.
Runoff from the heavy uses of pesticides and fertilizers can often leave the surrounding groundwater polluted, affecting drinking water supplies and harming fragile ecosystems.
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How to Transition to a Plant Based Diet
Aside from simply avoiding meat, there are ways to ease the transition to a primarily plant based diet. Increase the amount of grains, fruits and vegetables on your plate gradually until the meat is the smallest portion of your meal.
An online vegan delivery service can also make the process effortless.
Body Builders and Fitness Pros on Plant Based Diets
A number of body builders and fitness enthusiasts are vegans and more every day are joining in.
You can certainly get bigger and stronger on a vegetarian diet. You can even do it on a vegan diet (no animal products whatsoever). Just take a look at some well known body builders in the FREE plant based cookbook below!
Just make sure that you eat a variety of food to get a full array of muscle building amino acids.
Some examples of good combinations include: black beans and quinoa, lentils and brown rice, almond butter sandwich, rice protein/soy milk shake, green peas and almonds. Have some veggie burgers and other fake meat products from time to time, but make sure that the majority of your diet comes from fresh organic food.
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Vegan Diet – For Life!
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