Eating Plants May Save Your Life and the Planet

plant based diet

There are a lot of healthy eating and diet fads out there. We’re taking a look at the latest trend of a plant-based diet. This is arguably one of the simplest eating lifestyles out there. It has no fancy name. It wasn’t created by someone. It is as easy as it sounds. It’s a diet where you eat only plants.

Definition of a Plant-Based Diet

There are no tricks here. This way of eating consists of eating food that is only in plant form. No processed foods, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, etc. You may be asking isn’t this just a vegetarian or vegan diet? Yes and no. A vegetarian may consume some animal protein such as dairy or eggs. They may be just opposed to the killing of animals or they don’t wish to consume animal flesh. Vegans don’t eat anything of an animal – basically anything that ever had a face. But they do consume other things that aren’t solely plants. And it could be processed. A person choosing a plant-based diet consumes only plants, i.e. anything that grew out of the ground. No processed foods of any sort. And while technically sugar is a plant, they don’t consume processed sugar, only sugar in its raw form. For example, a candy bar that doesn’t contain any animal protein would be consumed by a vegetarian or a vegan, but not someone practicing a plant-based diet. The diet is based on the premise that humans were never meant to consume large amounts (or even any amounts) of animal protein and fats. While we can choose to be omnivores, our biology is that of a herbivore.

The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

There are health and environmental reasons to engage in a plant-based diet. Research has connected the consumption of meat proteins with a higher risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. While it isn’t yet known why there is compelling evidence to suggest that cutting out meat and/or dairy can halt or reverse the proliferation of cancer cells and cardiovascular disease. During World War II Germany confiscated livestock and farm animals in Norway between 1939 and 1945. Almost immediately deaths caused by coronary artery disease (CAD) dropped significantly. The Norwegians largely ate grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit during this time. Then in 1945 livestock became available again. And almost as fast as the death rate dropped, it rose again.

How does a plant-based diet benefit the environment? It may shock you to know that most of the world’s grain crops go to feeding cows, not people. According to Global Issues, worldwide animals farms use 40% of the total grain production. In the United States, almost 70% is fed to livestock. That is enough grain to end world hunger. That grain also takes up land (deforestation), gas, and electricity to process it, and not to mention the methane gas being released by all of the livestock. The methane gas from cows is the major contributor of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, not automobile emissions. The less demand for meat, the less impact on the environment.

The Downside of a Plant-Based Diet

Unfortunately, it can be more expensive to engage in a healthy lifestyle. In some places, it is more expensive to buy fresh fruit and produce than it is to buy processed foods. The price tag goes up when you talk about organic or non-GMO. With the rise of food desserts, especially in urban areas, a person is lucky to find an apple let alone an array of plants to make for meals. The best option if you’re on a budget is to shop the perimeter of the store or farmers markets. If you have a few dollars to spare there are online options that deliver to your house, such as Purple Carrot.

Another downside is cutting out your favorite cooking oils. Yes, even the plant-based ones such as olive, coconut, grapeseed, and so on. These oils rarely reach us in the best state. My personal philosophy is cut down, not out. These oils can still add great taste to food but can be enjoyed in small amounts when coupled with flavorful seasonings.

The Myths of a Plant-Based Diet

Your first thought may be how are you going to get protein if not from animals. It’s a myth that you can only get protein from animals. There are plenty of plant-based sources of protein that support building as much muscle mass as you would like. It’s also a myth that you can only get omega-3 from fish. It’s also found in walnuts and other plants. Besides, omega-3 is needed to reduce the impact of the consumption of omega-6. When you stop eating animal protein, your intake of omega-6 will also fall off. And you won’t need as much omega-3.

A plant-based diet is boring. It doesn’t have to be. Search online for free and easy recipes. They require no more planning than regular meals that include meat. Lastly, you don’t have to do 100% plant-based but at least shoot for five meatless days a week. That can make a real difference in the environment and in your health.

Get Started with a Plant-Based Diet

First, I suggest watching the documentaries “Forks Over Knives” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, both of which can be found on Netflix. I also suggest checking out Dean Ornish’s work with reversing heart and vascular disease through diet.

Second, do some research on plant-based recipes. Forks Over Knives has an accompanying website that can be a great resource. They do offer a meal plan. But if you’re on a budget I suggest heading down to the public library and checking out cookbooks. Take the time to check out home-delivery meal services as well such as Purple Carrot, Hello Fresh has a vegetarian option but is not focused on being plant-based.

Third, set an initial goal for three days per week without any animal protein (meat and dairy) and work your way to at least five. You may feel so great that you want to do away with meat altogether. Don’t forget to cut out oils, or at the very least cut way down, no more than a tablespoon per meal.

Have you noticed how more and more celebrities are giving up meat and dairy and simplifying their diets? This isn’t just about maintaining weight. It’s about maintaining life. Please share this post, mention #BlackEVEolution, and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Google+. We know you’re looking for more great content like this. Connect with us now to receive original and informative content that will help you be healthy, wealthy, wise and woke.

Nile Harris
Nile Harris, the Chief Chick, is a word weaver and dream believer with 20 years of experience in healthcare, finance, and education. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action. Her views are her own.
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