Did you know that one of last year’s biggest trends was going vegan? You heard right, many people are now adopting a plant-based diet for a multitude of reasons. These may include personal health, concern for the environment, and ethical issues, among others. Here are a few reasons why going veggie just might be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself and the world around you.
Did you know that animal agriculture is negatively impacting our planet? It is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and is a leading cause of deforestation, wildlife destruction and species extinction.
For example, 2,000 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef in the U.S.
And the majority of crops grown worldwide are going towards feeding livestock, not people.
One of the first questions people wonder when adapting a plant-based diet is, “Where do you get your protein?” Did you know that by going vegan or vegetarian, you will get not only the correct type of protein, you’ll also get the right amount? The average omnivore in the U.S. gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein in their diet. Most of this is from animal sources. Excess protein is stored as fat or becomes waste. And did you know that animal protein is a major cause of diabetes, inflammation, cancer, weight gain, and other types of ailments?
Plant protein, on the other hand, protects us from disease. With plant protein, if you are meeting your daily calorie needs, you will get plenty of protein and there is no need to track your protein intake or take supplements.
Meat and cheese can cause inflammation in the body. And chronic inflammation has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and other ailments.
However, plant-based diets are anti-inflammatory because they are high in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
- Type 2 diabetes.
Animal protein has been shown in studies to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. And an estimated 38% of Americans have pre-diabetes which is the precursor to type 2 diabetes. Can you believe that eating meat only once a week for over 17 years can increase the risk of diabetes by 74%?
Why does eating meat lead to type 2 diabetes? Animal fat, animal-based iron, and nitrate preservatives in meat have been linked to damaged pancreatic cells, inflammation, weight gain, and impaired insulin functions. You will lessen your chances of type 2 diabetes by adopting a plant-based diet. In fact, a plant-based diet might help reverse type 2 diabetes if you have already been diagnosed with this disease!
Saturated fat is a major factor in driving up cholesterol levels. And an elevated cholesterol level is a key component in heart disease and strokes. Saturated fat is found primarily in meat, poultry, cheese, and other animal products. Studies have shown that when people adapt a plant-based diet, their blood cholesterol level drops by up to 35%. This is because a plant-based diet is high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and contains no cholesterol.
- Your microbiome
Did you know there are literally trillions of microorganisms that live in your body that are called “the microbiome”?
These minute microorganisms are vital to good health. They help us digest our food, produce nutrients, aid our immune systems, protect us from cancer, and turn genes on and off. By eating a plant-based diet, you will help promote a healthy microbiome.
Studies have also shown that when you eat choline or carnitine that is found in meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy, your stomach bacteria makes a substance that is converted by your liver to a toxic product called TMAO. TMAO leads to cholesterol plaques and elevates the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Your genes
The antioxidants found in eating whole plants can change the way genes work to optimize how our cells repair damaged DNA. Eating a plant-based diet also lengths our telomeres, the caps at the end of our chromosomes. This helps to keep our DNA stable.
And finally, most people like animals and do not want harm to come to them. The animals raised for food are conscious beings that suffer in factory farms and slaughterhouses. By eating a plant-based diet you will lead a more compassionate life and you will enjoy your meals that much more knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of it.
Are you considering becoming a vegetarian or vegan but afraid to take the first step? Try eliminating meat and dairy gradually. You don’t need to go cold turkey but eventually, you probably won’t want it anymore. And if you do, there are plenty of substitutes!