As a society we are moving away from highly restrictive, specific diets, (e.g. low carb) and moving towards a more general, relaxed, healthy “lifestyle diet.” One of these “lifestyle diets” is a plant based diet. What exactly is a plant based diet? For starters it is NOT a vegetarian or vegan diet, so meat lovers can embrace this style of eating as much as vegetarians or vegans. All foods are allowed on a plant based diet, but the bulk of the foods eaten come from plant sources: think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans. A few of the many benefits to the diet are listed below:
Cost- Meat is expensive. Animals have to be raised and fed. The average cost of feed alone to raise a steer is $378 (1). That, plus the cost of boarding, vet bills, and slaughter costs rack up the cost of beef. Chicken and pork have similar requirements, which is why meat costs much more than plant based foods. It’s much more expensive to buy meat that had to eat corn to grow vs. just buying the corn for you yourself to eat.
Health- Plant based diets are naturally high in fiber from fruits and vegetables and healthy fats from nuts and seeds, both of which have been shown to reduce levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Plant based foods are also chock-full of vitamins and minerals, which are better absorbed than those from a multivitamin.
Difficult to overeat- When was the last time you overate a salad? Probably never. Fruits and vegetables are filling, thanks to their high fiber and water content. Plant based foods are filling and delicious, but lack some of the somewhat “addictive” properties of processed foods that make it so difficult to stop eating (think large amounts of sugar and salt).
Plant based diets are nutrient dense, filling diets that don’t place restrictions on any foods but promote an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. If you’re a hardcore carnivore and the idea of basing your diet around plants sounds daunting, just try incorporating one extra plant based food per meal or having one entirely plant based meal every other day to start. You’re body and health will thank you.
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