Perhaps your diet is lacking in the fruit-and-vegetable department. Maybe you’re considering giving up meat for ethical reasons. You might just want to get leaner and healthier in order to look and feel better. No matter the reason, you’re considering embarking on a plant-based diet. In doing so, you’d be joining the 43 million Americans who already get their protein from non-animal sources. You’d also be choosing the perfect time to embark on a plant-based eating regimen. Here’s why.
The Environment Needs It
It’s no secret that the Earth is in crisis as global temperatures rise and resources start to disappear. One major depleting factor in all this is the production of meat and dairy.
In 2018, scientists said the biggest way for an individual to reduce their impact on the planet was to stop eating meat and dairy. At the time, the experts also theorized that slashing consumption would reduce the world’s need for farmland by 75%. The remaining fields – filled with protein- and nutrient-rich plants – could still feed the entire planet.
However, that wasn’t the only noteworthy statistic that came with the study. Meat and dairy production provides a mere 18% of the world’s calorie intake and 37% of the population’s protein. Somehow, though, it takes 83% of farmland to produce it all.
Then there’s the greenhouse gas emissions caused by meat and dairy production. You might think these gases only reach the atmosphere when released by cars and trucks, but livestock release methane gas with their waste. Plus, many farmers will remove trees to make more room for their animals. Deforestation causes greenhouse gas emissions, too.
Your decision to forego meat and dairy can have a hugely positive effect on the environment. Even if you partake in Meatless Monday, a dedicated plant-based day of the week, you could cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and hundreds of gallons of water waste.
It’s Good For You
Plant-based eating has its merits globally, which makes you feel good about your life choices. You might also feel validated in your vegetarian or vegan lifestyle when you realize how much better you feel.
There is a multitude of health benefits that come from a plant-based diet and, right now, we could all do with improving our personal wellness. For starters, vegetarian meals have been shown to promote weight loss. Creating a diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and beans, gives your body plenty of fibre. All the nutrients plus the digestive boost from the fibre makes for the ideal combination to help you shed pounds.
The same whole-food-centric, plant-based diet can help ward off life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. For instance, vegetarians – especially those who occasionally eat dairy and eggs – have a lower risk of gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers. Plant-based eaters also have a reduced risk of developing diabetes.
Those who follow this diet note a slew of other body-bettering benefits. Some notice they have fewer skin issues, and their blemishes fade. Others highlight their stronger, shinier hair. Then there are those who just feel lighter and springier because they don’t eat meat anymore.
Plant-Based Foods Taste Amazing
Meat lovers will grumble at the thought of ditching their favourite cuts of beef, pork and chicken. However, forgoing meat opens you up to a wealth of new foods that are equally as tasty and hearty, albeit in different ways.
Just because you want to go plant-based doesn’t mean you have to give up meat for good. You can slowly cut down on your consumption by filling the majority of your plate with hearty veggies. For instance, you could dedicate a quarter of your dish to your animal protein, half to green vegetables and the rest to a whole-food starch, such as a grilled ear of corn with added spice.
If you do choose to get rid of meat entirely, then have fun exploring new recipes that showcase beans, tofu, seitan and other plant-based proteins. With thoughtful preparation, you’ll be surprised at how delicious these non-meats can taste. When you do have that craving for fried chicken or hamburgers, you can find a meatless alternative that tastes incredibly close — no environmental or personal-health impact taken.
If you need some help, there are countless resources out there for first-time plant-based eaters. Follow along with a meal plan or keep up with a blog for recipe ideas. Soon enough, you’ll get the hang of it — and you’ll learn how to prepare fulfilling meals without any meat.
Go For The Green
There’s no time like the present to give a plant-based diet a try. You, your taste buds and the Earth will all be better for it. Give it a whirl and see how good it feels to do your part, just by eating delicious food.