Plant Based Food Programs are becoming increasingly more popular and now have the backing of years of scientific research to back up the claims of the vital role our food plays in determining our current and future health. Below are 10 things everybody should know about a plant based diet including all the pro's and con's.
#1. What does plant based even mean? Well, it depends on who you ask! Plant Based can mean a variety of things when you hear it or hear others speaking about it. It can be confusing at times so here is the low down.
- Vegan (or total vegetarian): Excludes all animal products, especially meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Does not require consumption of whole foods or restrict fat or refined sugar.
- Raw food, vegan: Same exclusions as veganism as well as the exclusion of all foods cooked at temperatures greater than 118°F.
- Lacto-vegetarian: Excludes eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry and includes milk products.
- Ovo-vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy products and includes eggs.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, and poultry and includes eggs and dairy products.
- Mediterranean: Similar to whole-foods, plant-based diet but allows small amounts of chicken, dairy products, eggs, and red meat once or twice per month. Fish and olive oil are encouraged. Fat is not restricted.
- Whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat: Encourages plant foods in their whole form, especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds and nuts (in smaller amounts). For maximal health benefits this diet limits animal products. Total fat is generally restricted.
No matter which plant based eater you are this information is vital.
2. The Health Benefits of eating Plant Based are crucial in deciding whether this approach is right for you. The science is undeniable in terms of just how important it is to incorporate a plant based approach into our lifestyle choices. Choosing plant based will help :
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Lower Cholesterol
- Better Blood Sugar
- Lower Rates of Cancer
- Weight Loss
3. The Science suggests:
- The food that we eat can help ward off common known diseases such as Crohn's, colitis, diabetes, auto-immune, obesity, Eczema, Acne, Irritable Bowel, Celiac to name a few
- A plant based diet is important in creating the right environment to help us knock out the bad bacteria (pathogens) by feeding our good bacteria.
- Highly saturated fatty foods and processed foods feed bad bacteria allowing the pathogens to thrive and takeover the good bacteria, which ultimately leads to illness and disease
- The bacteria in our bodies is more prevalent in determining which diseases we may develop than even our own human DNA.
- We have the ability to create a strong immune system that attacks disease by eating whole foods, unprocessed grains, a variety of vegetables, fruit, legumes, root veggies, and various whole grains.
4. Eating a plant based diet can help improve our environment. By cutting back, or cutting out, animal products we can:
- Cut our carbon footprint. Getting rid of the animal waste causes the release of methane gas which is 20x more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.
- Cut our water consumption. Agriculture is the largest consumer of water on the planet, being that it takes 100x more water to produce 1 pound of meat compared to one pound of grains, cutting back on animal products can certainly help our conserve our water supply.
- Have Cleaner Air. In the U.S. alone, our animal based agriculture produces more than 300 million tons of manure. That waste produces ammonia, which causes smog, kills our fish and produces algae blooms. The air surrounding the animal factories produces harmful gas like methane, carbon dioxide, endotoxins and hydrogen sulfide.
5. You must eat a variety of plants, vegetables, legumes, unprocessed grains, healthy fats, its and seeds in order to achieve a diet that is balanced with macron and micro nutrients. Often times, plant based eaters have a hard time consuming enough plant protein for tissue repair and growth. Protein sourcing for plant based is possible and learning how to combine certain grains and legumes to optimize your efforts can help you achieve optimal health.