Ready to start enjoying plant-based diet benefits?
If you’re looking for a positive change in your overall health, then a plant-based diet may be for you. You may also consider it a bit of a lifestyle change, too, if you’re used to eating meat often.
Some people question whether a plant-based diet or a more restrictive vegan diet offers enough sustenance. According to researchers, a well-balanced plant-based diet does indeed offer all you need. If you eat a varied diet and supplement accordingly, you can get your necessary fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and proteins needed to stay healthy.
Additionally, plant-based diet benefits include:
- Increasing good health
- Helping the environment
- Losing excess weight
- Improving immunity
- Reducing inflammation
But, it’s important to note that reaping the benefits of a plant-based diet don’t just happen overnight. It takes dedication, planning, and ensuring you intake enough vitamins, minerals, and protein daily to see the benefits.
Want to know more about the perks of going plant-based?
Check out the reasons below!
Why Go Plant-Based?
There is some debate as to what constitutes a “plant-based diet”, but however you choose to define a “plant-based diet” is ultimately up to you. Cleveland Clinic states it eliminates “all animal products” and is a vegan diet. Harvard Health Publishing, on the other hand, states a plant-based meal can include fish and poultry but limits cold cuts and other processed meats.
However it’s defined, a plant-based diet is often healthy as it tends to help you focus on eating wholesome foods closest to its natural state.
When you eat plant-based, your gut health improves and allows you to better absorb your food’s nutrients.
A plant-based diet doesn’t mean you can’t eat meat. It just means you consume mostly plants including vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Those on a plant-based diet may also eat a lot of beans, seeds, and nuts. Individuals who are on a plant-based diet often eat little or no animal products.
In fact, perhaps one of the best benefits of a plant-based diet is how adaptable it is! You don’t necessarily have to give up your favorite ice cream or cheese. When you consider a more plant-based diet, you can go hardcore (vegan) or opt for easing into it by just reducing the amount of animal products you consume.
Here’s a look at the different ways you can go plant-based:
Lacto-ovo vegetarians - On this diet, you may eat eggs and dairy foods, but not meat, seafood, or poultry.
Ovo-vegetarians - This diet includes eggs but excludes other animal foods, including dairy.
Lacto-vegetarians - Those on this diet will eat dairy, but exclude meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs.
- Vegans - Peeps on this diet don’t eat animal products whatsoever. This includes honey.
Other types of plant-based diet eaters include semi-vegetarians (occasionally eat meat, but not daily) and pescatarians, who will eat fish but not meat.
A good example of a mostly plant-based diet is the Mediterranean diet, which includes fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. On the Mediterranean diet, red meat is limited. But, you can also explore a vegan diet, which eliminates all animal products.
Top Plant-Based Diet Benefits
Anyone who explores more plant-based options does so for their own reasons. Whether you’re looking to feel more energized through healthier foods or help the environment, pick your reasons, and make it personal. Doing so will make it easier to stick to your new healthy habit.
As you alter your diet, be sure to speak with your doctor or a nutritionist on ways to get all your essential vitamins and minerals. You can get all you need through a plant-based diet, but you’ll need to be more mindful of getting enough protein, B12, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamin D, and iron.
Here’s a look at the top perks of going plant-based:
1. Improves Overall Health
Nutrition plays a huge role in our general health. If you eat well, you keep your gut health balanced, nourish your cells, and maintain your energy to keep up with life’s activities. When you consume the foods that make-up a plant-based diet, you enrich your body with fibrous foods full of essential vitamins and minerals.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, research shows plant-based diets lower your risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Digestive disease
Plant-based diets include lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which are also low in fat and calories. This can help you maintain a healthy weight, heart, and cholesterol levels. It’s even been shown to potentially reduce or reverse cases of type 2 diabetes!
Additionally, when you consume lighter, wholesome foods, you tend to feel better overall. Think about how you feel after a decadent meal like fried foods or a rich dessert — sluggish and slow, right? When you replace those less healthy foods with ones that are full of fiber and essential nutrients, along with sufficient protein, your body responds accordingly with more energy.
When you go plant-based, you can also consider going organic when you choose your produce. This eliminates risk of unnecessary exposure to pesticides and harmful chemicals sprayed on fruits and vegetables that are known to cause certain health conditions.
2. Helps the Environment
While there are a variety of reasons individuals choose to go plant-based, perhaps one of the most common reasons is to help the earth. Research shows that the effects of food production are starting to have a lasting negative impact on the environment due to greenhouse gas emissions.
When you go plant-based it:
- Saves lives - Those of the animals and of humans. Studies show that eating less meat and more plants can reduce the risk for obesity, heart disease, and other serious health conditions.
- Saves water - It takes a huge amount of water to keep livestock alive. A National Geographic article on agriculture found that if the U.S could cut animal production consumption in half, it would reduce our need for water by up to 37 percent!
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions - Livestock production creates massive amounts of greenhouse gases thanks to the methane produced by the animals themselves. Greenhouse gases are what create a “warming effect” on the earth. The less livestock that are needed for food production, the less impact the environment would experience, is the theory.
And if you love meat too much and can’t bear the thought of giving it up? Consider at least limiting your consumption or cutting back on beef.
As one Harvard Health Publishing article put it, “According to the World Resources Institute, far and away the most destructive food is beef. In terms of all three markers — greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater consumption, and land use — beef is an environmental disaster. Just behind beef is dairy, followed by poultry, pork, eggs, and fish.”
3. Encourages Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, you may have heard that a plant-based diet is one way to do it. While potato chips and pasta are technically vegan and “plant-based”, if that’s all you eat if you go full vegan, you’re not exactly going to be shedding pounds fast.
You can lose weight if you choose nutritious meal options that are plant-based, though.
Plant-based foods are usually full of fiber — especially options like carrots, apples, beets, and artichokes — which keeps you feeling fuller longer and less likely to snack. For those who choose a vegan diet, it may lead to a reduction in high-calorie foods and replacing those foods with high-fiber options that lead to fullness and less desire to eat again sooner than necessary.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found people on a vegan diet lost more than three times as much weight after two years compared to those eating a low-fat diet.
4. Boosts Immunity
In this day and age, we all want to maintain a strong immune system. It’s essential to give your immune system all the resources you can to help you from catching a cold and fending off other viruses.
A healthy immune system is based on a variety of factors including:
- The quality of sleep you get
- The quality of the foods you eat
- The quantity and quality of your exercise
Since 80% of our immunity lies in our gut, it only makes sense that what we put into it has an impact on the rest of our health. When you ingest high-fiber foods like whole grains, seeds, nuts, along with fruits and veggies, you offer the best nutrients for your gut to create the good bacteria it needs.
When you eat a varied diet with lots of plant options, you provide your gut the essentials it needs to keep the rest of your immune system functioning well.
5. Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation harms the body in a variety of ways. If your body stays inflamed for too long, it causes damage to healthy cells and tissues.
Dietary choices can play a huge role in your body’s inflammation levels. Processed meats, in particular, can be dangerous due to the preparation methods. Often, these meats have been cured, fermented, smoked, or salted for flavor. Research shows that processed and red meats can cause inflammation due to high levels of saturated fat.
Consumption of plant-based meals, on the other hand, doesn’t have that side effect.
Some of the best plant-based foods to try for inflammation?
- Olive oil
Check out our Easy-to-Try Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food List!
Plants are powerhouses full of antioxidants and nutrients your body needs to do its best. The nutrients inside of many plants reduce inflammation in the body. These are the very same antioxidants and phytochemicals that keep your immune system running in tip-top shape.
Wondering Where to Find Healthy Plant-Based Foods?
You can shop at natural food stores, but you can just as easily locate plant-based diet items at your local produce stand, farmer’s market, and in your favorite grocery store.
As you shop, keep an eye out for health food sections. The produce section is the first place to start! When you start out on your plant-based food journey, you’ll start noticing grocery stores have a natural- or health-food section. This is where many plant-based items can be found. Some products may be kept in open coolers. For example, tofu and tempeh are often right in the produce section next to fresh veggies.
Final Tips for Trying a Plant-Based Diet
Below are just a few simple tips for giving a plant-based diet a go.
In whatever way you can work more veggies and whole foods into your diet, do it! Everyone is different, so if you have to trick yourself by throwing greens into a smoothie or prefer to dine on salads three times a day, do it. It’s all up to you on how you enjoy nature’s best offerings when it comes to plant-based foods.
A few tips worth trying:
- Try multiple veggies - There are tons of different vegetables out there beyond the typical broccoli and potato options. Check out recipes that include delicious veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, collard greens, and more. Explore ways to incorporate vegetables in as many of your daily meals as possible.
- Stock up on protein sources - If you do decide to go vegan, there are plenty of protein options for you. Beans, tofu, tempeh, and seeds are all great options to try and add to your diet for each meal.
Aim for good fats - Avocados, oils, nut butter, nuts, etc. are necessary (and delicious!) options for ensuring your body gets enough fat to maintain optimal function.
Put whole foods on your plate - It’s easy to follow marketing trends and pick up all the plant-based snacks. When shopping, pick up fresh produce to cook with and liven up your meals with healing spices like turmeric and ginger.
Keep an eye on your nutritional needs - Certain vitamins like iron, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids are more available when eating animal protein, so it’s important to ensure you get these nutrients from other sources like nutritional yeast and other fortified foods.
- Get creative - If you get a regular subscription of KOR Shots, consider implementing our shots into your plant-based recipes. Give our newest recipe, VITALITY Turmeric Focaccia Bread a try and let us know what you think!
What are your favorite benefits of being on a plant-based diet? Let us know your thoughts below!