As society grows more environmentally conscious, people are shifting to more sustainable living, which includes switching to a plant-based diet. You’ve probably seen carefully arranged, colorful photos of vegan bowls on various social media platforms, with many new converts, excitedly talking about all the benefits that the diet has to offer.
The good news is that it isn’t a marketing ploy—a plant-based diet is much better for your health, can help you lower your risk for developing various diseases, and make you feel more energized. As a diet rich in minerals and vitamins from plants, you’ll have the nutrients you need to live healthily and happily. Here’s what you need to know about plant-based diets:
The Types of Plant-Based Diets
More people have begun switching to plant-based diets as they slowly eliminate or reduce the animal products they consume. However, not everyone can completely cut out all animal products, so there are many kinds of plant-based diets to accommodate different needs.
One of the most famous plant-based diets is veganism, where you do not consume animal products, including dairy, eggs, and honey. Ovo-veganism allows you to eat eggs only, but you must stay away from dairy. Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products, but they do not eat eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood. Lastly, lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat dairy and eggs but no meat, poultry, or seafood.
There are also some variations of plant-based diets. Pescatarians consume fish and shellfish but do not eat meat and poultry. Semi-vegetarians or flexitarians occasionally consume meat or poultry but usually stick to a plant-based diet.
The Rise in Popularity of Plant-Based Diets
Due to the rising awareness of environmental issues, there has been a surge in individuals who have worked to inform others of the implications of their food choices. Now that more people discovered its benefits, they have begun to adopt and advocate it to others, teaching their friends and family how to start a plant-based diet.
Plant-based diets improve your health in many ways. They lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat, which means they reduce your likelihood of developing and suffering from obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It also reduces the risk of a stroke and some kinds of cancer.
Getting Enough Nutrition From a Plant-Based Diet
Plant-based diets’ main concern is whether they can supply enough nutrients, particularly quality protein, iron, and calcium. It is a valid concern, as animal products have the most abundant amount of these nutrients, but you can get the same amount by consuming various plant-based foods.
Popular plant-based sources of protein are tofu, beans, chickpeas, seeds, nuts, and lentils. However, consuming only one source won’t give you the protein you need. However, if you eat more than one of these sources, you’ll get complimentary protein, giving you all the amino acids your body needs.
Plant-based calcium-rich foods include almonds, tofu, sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, figs, and kidney beans. You can also get iron from nuts, dried fruits, whole grains, seeds, and green leafy vegetables. It’s important to note that your body absorbs the iron in plant foods less efficiently than animal sources, so you may want to take your iron sources with Vitamin C, which helps in its absorption.
How to Start a Plant-Based Diet
If you have health concerns, the best way to start a plant-based diet would be to consult your doctor to receive medical clearance. You may also want to get advice from a dietitian to get a tailored diet. However, if you’re generally healthy, you can start switching to a plant-based diet by incorporating it into your routine once a week, gradually increasing its frequency. You could also increase the portion of vegetables you eat while reducing the amount of meat you eat. Adding in some plant-based supplements, like sea moss capsules, can also help you transition to the diet faster.
Plant-based foods offer all the nutrients you’d usually get from animal products, making them a viable diet to maintain. By switching to a plant-based diet, you’ll look and feel better while reducing your impact on the environment.
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