Why Plant-Based?


"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates

So a lot of people want to know - why plant-based?  Why a whole foods diet?  What exactly are the benefits and why should I be eating this way?  Well there are a few reasons - but the most important of all, is your health and well-being.  See below for a list of reasons to GO VEG.

FOR YOUR HEALTH


There is absolutely, positively, without a doubt, nothing better you can do for your health and disease prevention than eat a whole foods, plant-based diet.  Period.

· Disease Prevention


o   Reduce Cancer Risk – Animal protein has been consistently linked to the proliferation of many different cancers.  Read just some of the research here.

o   Prevent Heart Disease – It’s a well-known fact that animal protein, mainly saturated fat and cholesterol, greatly increase your risk of heart disease.  There is a plethora of data and statistics that make this fact pretty undeniable.  Read the 30 year Harvard study, or this article for more information.

o   Type 2 Diabetes – Animal product consumption has also been linked to type 2 diabetes.  Read this article here, for just one example.

·  Lose Weight!


o   Plant-based foods are what we call “nutritionally dense” foods – as opposed to animal products and processed foods, which are “calorie dense” foods.  This means that you can eat more plant-based foods, because they are rich in nutrients, and low in fat and calories.  While animal-based foods are rich in fat, high in calories, and are much less nutritionally dense (read more about this here).  Therefore, eat more plants and lose weight!  Read more about the association between a plant-based diet and weight here.

·  Nutrition


o   Vegetables are loaded with all sorts of amazing vitamins, nutrients, fiber, even a little protein.  At the same time, they’re very low in fat and calories.  Making them very efficient.  Love that.

o   Fruits – same thing – packed with vitamins and minerals, while low in fat high in fiber!

o   Whole grains are amazing too, full of nutrients, protein, and again, very low in fat.  Brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains pastas and breads.  Love ‘em all!

o   Nuts, seeds, beans, and other legumes are great ways to get your plant-based protein, without all the animal fat and cholesterol that comes along with meat and dairy. 

·  The Protein Myth


o   We really don’t need as much protein as you think we do.  In fact, too much protein can lead to a lot of diseases.  Instead, we should be focusing on getting more FIBER.  And guess what foods are the best sources of fiber?  That’s right.  PLANTS.

o   So it’s not that you’re not getting your protein on a plant-based diet – it’s that you’re getting it in a much healthier way!  A way that doesn’t include all the other crap!  There aren’t antibiotics, hormones, and disease-promoting animal protein in a can of beans.  Got it?

It’s becoming undeniable.  More and more research continues to come out on the benefits of a more plant-based diet, as well as the dangers of eating processed foods, meats, and even dairy.  However, I am a skeptic by nature – as I think everyone should be.  Especially when you hear something new every single day:

 “Drink coffee! Don’t drink coffee!  Eat carbs!  Don’t eat carbs!  Drink wine!  Don’t drink wine!”

We are inundated with information and research on diet on, what it seems like, a daily basis.  And it sucks.  Because now we’re all confused – and confusion can lead to making bad choices, because whatever choice you want to make, you can find a new study or data to back it up.  Like the Atkin’s diet – yeah, eating bacon, sausage and eggs all day will make you skinny, and whole grains and fruit will make you fat.  Sure.  The only thing the Atkin’s diet will lead you to is your cardiologist’s office.

Let’s take another example – what is the first food you think of when you think of getting calcium?  Milk, right?  Well here’s the beauty of the food industry – they typically take one or two good qualities of the product they are trying to sell, and use it for marketing and PR.  So let’s go with the milk example.  Is cow’s milk a good source of calcium?  Yes it is.  HOWEVER – along with that calcium, you are getting animal protein (which feeds disease), fat, cholesterol – and the most ironic part?  Milk is acidic (as is all meat), which raises the Ph level in your body.  Guess what that does?  Leaches the calcium out of your bones, in the body’s attempt to balance its acidity level.  Which is why the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis, are the countries that consume the most dairy, and vice versa.  Interesting huh?  They sure don’t focus on THOSE facts about milk.  (Don’t believe me?  Read this.)

So why should you buy into the plant-based diet?  Easy – you would find it extremely difficult to find any health professional that would tell you eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, while staying away from processed foods, meats and dairy is a bad decision.  It’s a slow process though – it doesn’t happen overnight.  Take smoking as an example.

We all know the horrible health problems and diseases that come along with smoking cigarettes.  But just a few decades ago, it was considered to be an accepted habit.  In fact, movie stars made smoking looks sexy and chic (you know, those long cigarette holders?  Totally used to want one....).  Well I dare you to find anyone that would argue that smoking is good for your health. 

That's where we're headed with eating meat and dairy products. 

As more of the research comes out, and it becomes clearer and clearer to people, eating a plant-based diet will be accepted by the majority of people as the very best thing one can do for one's health.

Here are some great resources - these literally changed my life:


FOR THE PLANET


  • Pollution - Factory farms cause a ton of crap - literally.  The manure emissions are not only bad for our health, but the run-off sludge pollutes rivers, streams, and damages our eco-system.  Read more about this here.

  • Global Warming - "Raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and the trucks in the world combined" (read more here).  Crazy huh?  Also, cows are gassy, and their burps and flatulence emit a huge amount of methane gas - which has way more global warming potential than CO2.  You know what doesn't burp and fart and screw up our planet?  Plants.

  • Fossil Fuels & Water Usage - Eating a plant-based diet will significantly reduce water usage, and minimize our dependence on fossil fuels.  Take these statistics into consideration:
    • Amount of water needed to produce one pound of wheat:  14 gallons.
    • Amount of water needed to produce one pound of meat:  441 gallons.
    • Number of fossil fuel calories needed to produce one calorie of beef:  40 calories.
    • Number of fossil fuel calories needed to produce one calorie of soy:  2.2 calories.

You can read more about the effect of eating meat on our environment here, here, or here.

FOR THE ANIMALS

  •  Modern day factory farms ain't no Old McDonald's farm anymore, my friends.  It's all about making money - and the best way to make the most money is efficiency.  It's more efficient to cram as many animals into as little space as possible.  Conditions are deplorable, the animals are sick (or pumped with so many antibiotics to prevent illness), mutilated, and often slaughtered while fully conscious. 
  • You can read more on this here or here.