5 Benefits Of A Wholefoods, Plant-Based​ Lifestyle

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“Eat your veggies” my parents used to say, “it’ll help you grow up big and strong”. I choked down those veggies because my mom always overcooked them until they were MUSHY and she never salted or buttered anything! They were full of vitamins and minerals, I was told and while my infantile mind didn’t know how or why they were important, Mom and Dad told me that they were and this message was enforced after many nights staying at the table for hours because I refused to eat them and wasn’t allowed to leave until I complied. As an adult, I learned that if I don’t overcook my veggies and I actually season them – they really are delicious! I realize that my household was different than the majority of homes where most were told, “Eat your meat.” Regardless of what our parents told us, most of us were brought up to believe in a balanced diet. And better advice, our parents could not have imparted. A healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats, along with a sprinkling of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients allow us to be the best that we can be…

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Image by PxHere

And then came the fad diets

For generations, a balanced diet was enough for us. But then came the fads. The latter half of the twentieth century and the twenty-first century gave rise to a whole host of fad diets. The Atkins Diet, the Dukan Diet, the Pritikin Diet, the zone diet and various soup diets, juice cleanses and formalized methods of formalized starvation found fame when they gained celebrity advocates and were used by Hollywood stars who needed to lose weight quickly to slim down for a role. These fad diets aimed to convince us that we’d been getting eating wrong our whole lives. They tried to make us believe that we’d dedicated our lives to an inefficient form of eating and that they alone held the keys to a healthier, happier, sexier version of us. They often demonized entire food groups (usually either fats or carbs), and bade us to eliminate them altogether from our diets. They promised quick and easy results and often they delivered. Cutting your caloric intake significantly and dropping an entire food group will often result in initial weight loss. But this inevitably leads to cravings and lapses and whatever gains are made are often lost just as quickly.

That may be because these fad diets fundamentally damaged the way we see food in a number of ways. They’ve made us demonize fats or carbs and value a slim body over a healthy body. Moreover, they’ve made us jaded and cynical. Thus, as more and more people turn to a plant-based diet (with this year’s veganuary seeing record numbers of people eschewing meat and animal products) it’s easy for us to dismiss it as just another fad. But a plant-based diet that eschews processed foods rich in animal products for whole foods, is much more than a fad diet. Here we’ll look at why a vegan or plant-based lifestyle differs from the fad diets of yesteryear before going into some of the health benefits…

A plant-based diet is still a balanced diet

First, I do want to say that the definition of plant-based has changed over time. It used to mean entirely vegan, but then moved to also incorporate vegetarian diets, and now includes few or no animal products. Regardless, the MAJORITY of your diet consists of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits. A plant-based diet can still be perfectly balanced while fad diets advocate the omission of entire groups of macronutrients. There’s very little in an omnivorous diet that can’t be found in the plant world. “But what about protein?” you may be asking. Here’s the thing. All proteins come from plants. Only plants can take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into the amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. When we eat a T-bone steak or a chicken breast, we’re simply recycling the plant-based proteins stored in their muscle tissue. A plant-based diet has all the complex carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats and protein we need to live long and healthy lives. The only possible exception is vitamin B12. This is important in maintaining metabolic function and is found abundantly in eggs, meat, fish and dairy products but it’s harder to come by in the plant world. Mushrooms have some, but not enough to sustain us which is why a B12 supplement is advisable (I personally take SuperB from Young Living – you can buy it here and B12 spray from Dr. Mercola). But then most omnivores probably aren’t getting enough vitamin B12 either. Let’s look at some more benefits of embracing a whole food, plant-based diet…

Your risk of cancer is drastically reduced

History will remember our time as an era in which most of the population courted the risk of this dreadful disease. Modern cancer research has come an incredibly long way, with breakthroughs in gene editing meaning that a cure for this awful sickness could come within our lifetime… But until then, prevention remains the best cure. Those on a plant-based diet reduce their cancer risk in a number of ways. Plant-based diets are high in fiber and this has been directly linked to reduced risk of colon cancer. Unlike meat, eggs or dairy products, plants are rich in essential vitamins and minerals and contain phytonutrients which are essential for a healthy immune system and keeping serious illness at bay. It also means that they eschew processed red meats like bacon, salami, pastrami and pepperoni which have been labeled by the World Health organization as Type 1 carcinogens.

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You spend less money on food

It’s a common fallacy that eating right is more expensive than subsisting on processed convenience foods than ready meals. In fact, in many cases the opposite is true. Fresh veggies, fruits, grains, and pulses tend to be far cheaper than meat, eggs, fish and dairy products and in most cases are less expensive than high calorie, low nutrient processed foods as well. This Time magazine article shows that vegetarians save around $750 a year more on food than meat eaters.

You vote for your wallet against animal suffering…

The primary motivator for many to cut animal products out of their diet (as well as their clothes, shoes and beauty products) is because they’re voting against normalized animal cruelty in the only way that matters in a capitalist society… With their wallets.

… And for sustainability

As our population grows, our animal agriculture industry is going to more and more environmentally damaging lengths to feed it. Raising animals for their meat, milk, and eggs utilizes far more land, water, and natural resources than growing plants. Animal agriculture is the world’s leading cause of species extinction, habitat loss, water pollution and ocean dead zones. In fact, 70% of soy grown on the planet is grown to feed livestock rather than humans. That should tell you everything you need to know about world hunger right there.

What can you do? This spring, I persuaded my husband to stop eating his daily turkey sandwich for lunch to a big delicious salad (it took his stomach a couple of weeks to adjust so please keep this in mind as you increase your veggies and decrease your meat). If I’m not home to make him a salad, he will prepare a bag salad kit, and I’m really proud of him! This switch must be attainable and easy friends! Try going plant-based, or simply reducing the plants : everything else ratio in your diet. You may be surprised at how much you benefit. If you would like a daily smoothie, salad or other plant-based recipe inspiration, follow me on Facebook or Instagram!

 

5 Comments

  1. Shreya says:

    May I have that watermelon please? Haha
    oh well, I’ve made my youtube channel quite recently. Like and subscribe if you find it interesting.:):):)https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuhCrplZW926m5Y0Bl5AMfw?view_as=subscriber

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