A Plant-Based Diet is a special diet consisting primarily or completely of plant foods. Plant-based foods consist of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seeds, nuts, and legumes (such as black beans). While a plant based diet generally has limited or no animal-derived foods or other artificial ingredients, it’s not necessarily completely vegan. Most vegetarians, ecologists and animal rights enthusiasts eat plant-based foods for many reasons, none of which are harmful to animals or the environment. Even if you’re not interested in animal meat or dairy products, you can eat a plant-based diet with few or no problems.
A plant-based diet can lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. It helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Studies have shown that a plant-based diet lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, and improves a person’s kidney function. Animal protein is commonly used in the diet and is almost exclusively obtained from red meats, processed meats, cheese, and poultry. While this isn’t an ideal diet for everyone due to the high saturated fat content of most animal foods, many vegetarians and vegans enjoy great tasting food such as lasagna, chocolate, soy sauce, and ice cream.
The health benefits of a plant-based diet are well known and proven. However, some people are turned off by the idea of restricting animal meat in their diet. To accommodate this type of clientele, vegan diets are also widely popular. Whether a vegan diet is right for you depends on your views on animal rights, your health care needs, and what you hope to accomplish. If you’re considering going vegan, here are a few things to consider before making the transition:
While plant-based diets provide many good benefits, they also come with several possible side effects. Vegans and vegetarians do not receive enough fiber in their diets and may suffer from constipation, fatigue, gas, bloating, and weight gain due to insufficient fiber. Diabetics, especially those with type 2 diabetes, should be sure that they receive enough carbohydrates and fats to maintain proper blood glucose levels. A vegan can be a good source of protein, but is unlikely to meet recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals. If you decide to pursue plant-based diets for weight loss or general health reasons, be sure to talk with your doctor first.
While it may seem appealing to completely substitute all animal products with plants, the health benefits of a plant based diet may be limited. Most people get enough protein, minerals, and fiber from plant based foods, so they do not need to eliminate animal products altogether. Of course, many vegetarians and vegan diets are also free of saturated fat, salt, and sugar, so getting enough of these important nutrients is important. In addition, processed foods usually have a lot of calories, so eating more often may not be as easy as going to the store twice a week.
As you can see, there are many health benefits to a plant based diet. You should be sure to do your research, consider your individual lifestyle, and talk with your doctor before adopting any drastic changes. While a plant based diet can provide many positive benefits, you will still need to watch your nutrition and make smart food choices. You may want to consider organic whole foods if you cannot eat fresh in most cases. Also, remember that most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, so adding them to your daily meals can be beneficial.