By Meghan De Jong, RHN –
You don’t have to look too deep into the health industry to realize there is a whole lot of buzz surrounding the topic of plant-based diets these days. In fact, according to research by Global Data (2017) there has been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegan in the U.S. over the last three years, growing from 1% to 6% of American consumers.1 The term “plant-based” or “vegan” refers to a diet that avoids all animal products, including; meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and for some, honey.
Wondering what’s the reasoning behind this huge shift towards a fully plant-based diet? For starters, many people are waking up to the idea that a plant-based diet helps to support a more compassionate and conscious lifestyle. Beyond advocating for animal welfare, it has been found that this type of diet reduces one’s carbon footprint to less than half of that of a meat eaters!2 Not only that, most of those who ditch the animal products and adopt a vegan lifestyle experience a whole array of improvements in their life. Listed below are five of the many benefits plant based consumers often experience.
1) PREVENTION and TREATMENT of HEART DISEASE: Most animal products contain many health damaging properties such as glycotoxins, saturated fats, high levels of unhealthy cholesterols and chemical contaminants, all of which can lead to inflammation within the body.3 The constant stress that these toxic substances place on the body can eventually result in chronic illness, such as heart disease, which remains the world’s leading cause of death.3 There has been decades of research that clearly indicates the primary cause of heart disease is a poor diet, especially those laden with animal fats.4 A plant-based diet helps to protect and heal the body from heart disease as it is higher in both fiber and phytonutrients which perform powerful healing actions within the body.5
2) ENERGY: Plant-based diets are known to consist of dramatically greater amounts more of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Consuming such foods provide the body with lasting energy to balance blood sugars throughout the day. These foods are also much more nutrient dense and thereby provide the body with a concentrated source of the vitamins and minerals to thrive optimally. On the topic of energy, it is also important to note that when consuming a purely plant-based diet, one mitigates the impacts of consuming the harmful by-products of industrial farming. Such by-products include antibiotics, artificial hormones, stress hormones, genetically modified foods and toxic chemicals. These products affect the cellular and energetic make up of both the animal and the individuals consuming that animals’ meat.
3) SKIN IMPROVEMENTS: One of the most visible improvements by switching to a plant-based diet is the clearing of the skin. Dairy and other animal products are very hard to digest and often cause excess toxins to circulate within the body. As the skin is the largest organ of elimination, in desperation to rid itself of toxins produced from animal products, the body will attempt to force them to the external via the skin. This causes conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis and rashes. Foods that promote skin health are often consumed in much higher quantities on a plant-based diet. Some specific skin promoting plant foods include; avocado, sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, walnuts and sunflower seeds.
4) WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Adopting a plant-based diet is one of the fastest ways to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. This type of diet is often much lower in calories, unhealthy fats and cholesterol. It is also typically higher in fiber, which helps keeps things moving throughout your digestive tract. Alkalizing foods such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, coconut, fresh fruit and whole grains, are also eaten in more abundance, which create for a healthy, active metabolism.
5) CREATIVITY in the KITCHEN: Adopting a plant-based diet is an amazing way to get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen. Instead of the typical “meat and potatoes” diet, you get to think outside the box and prepare yourself beautiful meals filled with all the protein, carbohydrates and fats your body needs. You can think of innovative ways to recreate your favourite typical meat-based plates. Ever heard of “Lentil Sheppard’s Pie? “Squash Macaroni Cheese Sauce?” What about, “Kale Caesar Salad with Avocado Dressing and Beet Bacon?” Once you dive in, you will realize the sky is the limit when it comes to plant based cooking!
Plant-based living truly is the way of the future. It is best for the environment, animal welfare, and for improving your own individual life. Even if you aren’t ready to adopt a fully plant-based diet, simply reducing the amount of meat and dairy you consume is already a huge step in the right direction. So, do your best to embrace a more plant-centered life and watch the improvements unfold around and within you!
4. Fritsche S, Steinhart H. Occurrence of hormonally active compounds in food: a review. Eur Food Res Technol. 1999;209:153–179
5. Clemens R, Kranz S, Mobley AR, Nicklas TA, Raimondi MP, Rodriguez JC, Slavin JL, Warshaw H J Nutr. 2012 Jul; 142(7):1390S-401S.
Meghan De Jong is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) certified by the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN), Vancouver. She has a Bachelor’s degree Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia. Visit www.sproutednutrition.ca. Follow her on Instagram @megdejong.nutrition.