Is A Plant-Based Diet The Best For You? (infographic)

Plant-based diets are coming into the mainstream. Major fast-food, restaurant, and grocery chains are jumping on board by offering more plant-based items on shelves and menus. Last year alone, McDonald’s, Q’Doba, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, KFC, Red Robin, and Subway all introduced plant-based foods to their menus, as did all the dining establishments at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Plant-based diets have gone mainstream for the health and environmental benefits they offer.

What Is A Plant-Based Diet?

86% of people who eat plant protein regularly don’t identify as vegetarian or vegan. Food is food to most people. When it comes to the mainstream definition of a plant-based diet, though, this means three basic things:
  • Eat minimally processed whole foods
  • Maximize intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit or eliminate meat, eggs, and dairy
A plant-based diet, proponents say, is one of the healthiest most people could adopt. As writer Michael Pollan says, “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

Health Benefits To Plant-Based Diets

Many people adopt plant-based diets to lose weight, and it does work. People who adopt ovo-lacto vegetarian diets in one study lost 3.26lbs over 18 weeks, while those who adopted vegan diets lost 5.56lbs in the same time period. But it’s not just weight loss most people are after when they change their diet and lifestyle.

Plant-based diets may also help with heart disease and hypertension. Vegetarian and vegan diets have also been proven to reduce the risk of all types of cancers. With ovo-lacto vegetarian diets, the cancer reduction is in colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers, while with vegan diets cancer reductions are seen in all cancers but specifically female-related cancers.

Dementia is another area being studied in relation to plant-based diets. Plant-based diets have been shown to reduce and slow Alzheimer’s and other dementia symptoms in people over the age of 65, reducing the risk and progression of cognitive impairment. Polyphenols are thought to be primarily responsible for this phenomenon, and they are found in things like dark chocolate, berries, nuts, green and black teas, beans, and soy.

Whole food, plant-based diets are also shown to help prevent and manage diabetes. Meat consumption is linked with an increased risk of developing diabetes, and vegans show the lowest risk for type II diabetes of any diet group.

Plant-based diets are also shown to reduce inflammation, which can mean it’s an effective way to bolster cancer treatment, rheumatoid arthritis treatment, and any disorder that has a basis in inflammation.

The Environment Stands To Benefit, Too

The environmental impact of meat production and industrial farming has long been understood, but consumers have been slow to react until recently. Both meat and dairy consumption have declined over the last decade in the United States, which have made a small but meaningful positive impact on the environment.

Across all types of plant-based diets, the world could see a 22% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 28% decline in land use, and an 18% decline in water use. The decrease in pollution could further impact our health in a positive way.

With an entire continent on fire and the polar ice caps melting at an alarming rate, every little bit helps stave off climate disaster.

Is It Safe, Though?

As with all things, it’s important to fully understand what you are getting yourself into and what your limitations are before you make any major lifestyle changes. Always talk to your doctor first to see if such a dietary change is safe for you before embarking on this journey. You’ll still need to pay attention to nutrients to ensure you are getting what you need, a job that is more difficult when not consuming animal products.

Learn more about the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet below.

 Eat Plants, Feel Whole - Infographic

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