The Economist and Forbes have both declared 2019 as “Year of the Vegan”. More and more experts are hailing the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. There has been an explosion of new dairy free and vegan products put on the shelves.
We’re putting all the hype aside and giving you 5 reasons why people switch to a plant-based diet.
We all know that eating fruits and vegetables are great for us and can lead us to a healthier lifestyle, but just how exactly does that impact our bodies in the long-term? Is the recent hype about the wonder cure that is a plant-based diet true?
If you’ve seen documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Food Choices or What the Health, they all explore the question of the impact of animal products on our long-term health. In these documentaries, they claim that plant-based diets can reverse hypertension, type 2 diabetes and heart disease among other diseases.
Just how big of a problem are these chronic diseases? According to the World Health Organization, the top 3 causes of death globally are CAD, stroke and COPD, which together accounted for 18.2 million deaths in 2016. Diabetes also made it into the top 10 for the same year.
So what’s the link between diet and these diseases? Studies have shown that all 4 of these diseases link to our dietary choices. In these studies, consumption of animal products can lead to increased risk for chronic diseases, increased insulin resistance and links to weight gain, whereas a plant-based diet helps reduce this risks.
How do these facts, figures and studies translate into experience? Health was my reason for switching to a plant-based diet, and it’s one of the many that I’m still eating this way for almost 2 years now. As someone who didn’t have any glaring health issues when I switched, I still have great health benefits including more energy, better workouts and faster muscle recovery times. If you’re an athlete, you can check out how switching to a plant-based diet impacted my performance here.
However, I’d like to share my partner’s experience, who actually saw a powerful change in his health. At 23, Jeff was a regular weight lifter at the gym. He trained consistently, focused his diet on protein (chicken primarily) and stayed away from junk foods. Even on the stereotypical weightlifter brown rice and plain chicken diet, he could not seem to escape his family history of heart disease, which seemed to be apparent in his blood work. At 23 years old, doctors were already advising him to go on preventative medicine, despite having a clean diet and working out regularly. After switching to a plant-based diet and completely eliminating all animal products from his diet, Jeff (now 30) was able to completely erase all evidence of heart disease in 6 months, returning blood work with optimal or near optimal levels in all categories.
If you’re looking to switch to a plant-based diet for either disease prevention or reversal, it’s stories like Jeff’s that prove it is possible. If you’re looking for more stories, I would highly recommend watching Forks Over Knives, in which they detail how two individuals were able to eliminate their chronic diseases by using this diet.
Whenever you’re switching diets, it’s very important to make sure it’s done under the supervision of a medical professional to make sure that you’re doing it safely, even more so when health issues are involved.
Eating plant-based can not only be great for you and the animals around you, but also the environment as a whole. It seems that almost every day we’re confronting with the growing mounds of plastics in the ocean, loss of animal habitats and the polar ice caps melting at an alarming right. While these changes did not happen overnight, there are certain things that you can do to help slow emissions. Other than bringing your own shopping bags to the supermarket, shaving a few minutes off your shower and reducing your waste among other things, eating plant-based can be a great way to help fight climate change.
Since the rise in popularity of veganism and plant-based diets, more and more scientific research has come to light about the effects of a plant-based diet not only on your health, but the environment as well. According to a study done by Oxford University, eating vegan can cause up to a 73% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Why is the impact of our dietary choices so severe on emissions? Until recently, the effect of the agricultural sector on the environment has often been overlooked. As Dana Hunnes at UCLA points out, the domestic raising of animals (also known as animal husbandry) produces more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector in a single year. While the figure is slightly less than the global average for the United States according to the EPA, animal products do certainly contribute to emissions.
Even if we’re not eating animal products, won’t we still have to use that land and possibly more for farming? According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, approximately 30% of Earth’s land (ice-free) is used for animal husbandry, while 8% is used for crop production directly for human consumption.
Another additional factor linked to land and animal consumption is water usage. As published in the New York Times, vegetables use on average 11,300 gallons/ton, while beef needs approximately 145,000 gallons/ton and pork 120,000/ton.
Other factors associated with animal husbandry can also include deforestation as a result to clear land, disposal of animal waste and other issues impacting biodiversity.
In short, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest right now that if you want to save the planet, then switching out your animal products for plant-based alternatives can help.
3. Animal-Friendly Lifestyle
Though this may go without saying, a plant-based diet may be a great fit for animal lovers. Animal cruelty is a predominant factor as to why people switch to veganism as opposed to eating animal products.
However, veganism goes far beyond the kitchen. Though vegans and plant-based people have the same diet, vegans will not use any product that has been tested on animals or contains any animal products whatsoever. This can include leather, furs, as well as a multitude of household and beauty products. Along with the explosion of food products, there are now many other vegan alternatives for make up, skin care and other products.
4. Great Tasting Vegan Food is Not a Myth
A huge misconception about vegan food is that it doesn’t take as good or it’s just downright awful Before I switched to a plant-based diet, I was definitely guilty of believing that. In reality, it’s just like any other dish, taste relies on the quality of the ingredients, skill of the chef and of course, your personal preferences.
While we’re talking about taste, it is important to note that a lot of people undergo a change in their taste buds when switching to a plant-based diet. If you’ve ever seen Forks Over Knives, Food Choices or various other vegan documentaries, experts mention how your taste buds become more intune with the natural flavors of food. One example often mentioned is how a carrot tastes. While eating animal products, a carrot often tastes...well like a carrot. It’s not really anything special on its own. After switching up your eating to a plant-based diet, you can absolutely taste the natural sweetness. It almost tastes like dessert it’s that sweet - no joke.
I’ve personally had the so-called carrot experience and noticed a huge shift in my food cravings. I was no longer craving cheese and chocolate, but baby spinach and oranges. When you’re switching to a plant-based diet, it’s important to note that your food preferences may change and may find a dish that you previously didn’t like now is making a recurring appearance in your meal plan.
So, my point in all of this is to keep an open mind in your food preferences, experiment and just have fun creating your food.
For those of you who are still on the fence or maybe know that a full-out plant-based lifestyle isn’t for you, vegan food can still be great tasting. I’ve made many holiday dishes or even just food for get together with my animal-product eating friends, and they’ve really enjoy it. So, please don’t feel like vegan food has to be a polarizing experience.
5. Get Creative
Experimenting with plant-based meals does not necessarily mean that you need to stop eating animal products all together. Whether you’re just trying one dish or looking for your next “meatless Monday” inspiration, cooking plant-based foods can be a great way to get creative and vary up your diet. For seasoned vegans and plant-based people, we also need to expand our pallets every so often and get a little creative.
When I first started out, I thought it was going to be very challenging to find ingredient combinations that were not only going to taste great, but be sustainable in terms of calories, macros and just overall feeling full. Even as someone who cooks a lot, I was really hesitant about my abilities to come up with something week after week. Once I started switching my cooking to this style, it pushed me to begin using ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas, and even nutritional yeast (I had never even heard of it before I switched to a vegan diet) that I normally would not use in my cooking.
This can also be a great opportunity for you to find a new favorite food. My partner, Jeff, is a seriously picky eater before and after deciding to eat vegan. However, this experience pushed him to try new foods, and in the process, he found his favorite new food - lentil parm. I would absolutely encourage you to explore foods that you haven’t tried before and give it a try.
Let me tell you, there are chefs out there doing some crazy amazing things to make incredible plant-based creations. If you had asked me two years ago if I would be blending up chickpea patties, I would have told you were crazy. Now, I find myself concocting up ways to make my vegan meals even more unique and of course delicious.
If you’re interested to switching to a plant-based diet or even just trying it, this is a way for you to have a lot of fun in the kitchen and find something new and interesting you like.
How To Get Started
If you’re thinking about beginning or maybe have just begun a plant-based diet, you’re in the right place. Live Grow Green has a lot of different resources to help you through your plant-based journey. From recipes to articles, we have you covered. Here are a few to help you get started:
We also have a multitude of free plant-based recipes on our blog, which you can find here:
If you’re interested in getting a developed plan, we offer plant-based meal plan subscriptions that you can check out here: