What is a Plant-Based Diet?

How to be More Plant-Based With Your Diet - For You and the Earth

Food is everyone’s day-to-day fuel and is even a source of motivation for some, but there may be long-term financial, environmental, and health impacts caused by your food choices. Whether you eat out, eat premade food, or cook your own meals, there is a lot to ask yourself about your food choices. Is what you’re consuming good for you? Is it good for the environment? Is it good for your wallet? Well, a plant-based diet is a great option to consider in order to keep you, the Earth, and your wallet healthy.


Plant-based diets are diets that mainly emphasize consuming plants, fruits, and whole grains, or as the name suggests, basically anything that comes from plants. On the other hand, one should avoid meat, dairy, seafood, and essentially anything that comes from animals. Unlike vegan diets, animal-based products are not strictly prohibited, but an effort should be made to steer clear of these foods. If you are interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet, here are some tips to help you get started.


Tip number one: Make sure you incorporate as many vegetables as possible, especially leafy greens, into your everyday meals. This can be done by adding vegetables into your dippings, drinks, or even desserts. If you are deciding on eating meat for a certain meal, try to include it as a side piece, or an embellishment, and make sure the vegetables remain as the main meal.


Tip number two: Speaking of desserts, fruits are a great replacement for items like ice cream, as they will leave you feeling healthy and will satisfy your sweet tooth


Tip number three: When using fats or oils, try to use plant-based fats such as olive oil, canola oil, and other nut or seed oils. Keeping all of these tips in mind, you can successfully start your plant-based diet journey today!


Committing to a long-term plant-based diet also has many upsides to your health and wellbeing. These diets have been shown to boost your energy, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease, some forms of cancer, and reduce your risk of type-2 diabetes. It can also reduce inflammation and the risk of obesity, as it allows you to sustain a healthy weight. On top of the health benefits, there are also added financial benefits. For example, buying ingredients for plant-based diets are more cost-efficient than buying animal-based products. A study found that plant-based diets can help you save up to $750 a year on groceries, as the protein from meat can be replaced with much cheaper alternatives such as beans, nuts, and chickpeas. So, not only are you saving the planet and your health, but you are also saving money.


Not only are plant-based diets nourishing, but they also benefit the environment. Raising livestock is said to account for 14.5 % of global greenhouse gases. Livestock, such as cattle, tends to emit methane on a daily basis as a result of enteric fermentation, which is how cattle digest their food, and that methane ends up depleting our ozone layer. In addition, to contributing to our production of greenhouse gases the livestock industry requires large sums of land in order to meet consumer demands. The ever-growing need for more land has led to an increase in global deforestation. Deforestation not only terminates healthy, thriving ecosystems and puts animal species at risk of endangerment, but it also emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, furthering global warming. Moreover, much of the crops produced are being used to feed livestock, rather than to feed humans. According to Cornell, 40% of the world’s grain is fed to livestock. If the grains utilized for livestock in the United States were diverted to people, around 800 million people could be fed. Livestock within the United States ingests five times more grain than humans meaning that if we all try to be more conscious about our meat consumption we can allocate more grains towards feeding humans.


Hopefully, this convinces you to consider implementing a greener diet. Whether you decide to start a plant-based diet for health reasons, environmental reasons, or other reasons, remember that the benefits you will reap will be long-lasting. It may be difficult to get started at first and to stick with the diet, but always take things one step at a time. Remember, this does not mean you have to completely cut-out animal-based products but to simply be more aware of what you are consuming, and how it affects your health and the Earth’s wellbeing.


References:

  1. https://www.forksoverknives.com/how-tos/plant-based-primer-beginners-guide-starting-plant-based-diet/

  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-a-plant-based-diet-and-why-should-you-try-it-2018092614760

  3. https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/how-eating-more-plants-can-save-lives-and-planet

  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/plant-based-diet-food-list-meal-plan-benefits-more/

  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-right-plant-based-diet-for-you

  6. https://news.cornell.edu/stories/1997/08/us-could-feed-800-million-people-grain-livestock-eat

  7. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/livestock-feed-and-habitat-destruction/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20USDA's%20website,being%20used%20to%20feed%20livestock.

  8. http://www.environmentreports.com/how-does-agriculture-change/

  9. https://thebeet.com/is-it-expensive-to-be-plant-based-quite-the-opposite-it-turns-out/#:~:text=One%20study%20published%20in%20the,that's%20likely%20even%20higher%20today.


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