6 Incredible Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Is eating a plant-based diet worth it? Yes! But why?
Here are 6 benefits of a plant-based diet that were a deciding factor for me on my journey and could impact your health like you won’t believe!
Are you overwhelmed with making a big change in your diet but are tired of feeling exhausted, bloated, and plain old crappy day after day? I have been there. Exactly where you are and it sucks. I remember the idea of eliminating something like DAIRY AND CHEESE from our diet seemed “extreme” or scary. (We were already vegetarian and I swore to never cut out cheese….silly ole me.)
I promise you, it’s not scary at all! If you’ve considered a plant-based diet but haven’t fully jumped on board yet, I want to share something with you…
Your body is missing out on so much!
Let me explain. Many people can thrive on an omnivore diet (and truly a plant-based or vegan diet is NOT ideal for everyone) but at the end of the day, we ALL (yes, you too) can benefit from a more plant-based way of living.
What do you mean a more plant-based way of living?
If everyone increased their vegetable and fruit intake by 1 serving and decreased the animal products by 1 serving, overall health would begin to increase. Why? Animal products do some crazy things to our bodies. For example: eggs (for me) are a huge inflammatory food. I used to eat 2-4 per day because I THOUGHT they were a healthy protein. When I found out that not only they were causing my body to swell up but that they contained DOUBLE the cholesterol I needed, I was flabbergasted. (Man, did that word just make me sound old?)
Fun Fact: Our bodies created most of the cholesterol we need to be healthy and functioning properly.
What I want to talk about in this article is the top 6 health benefits of a plant-based diet.
1. Weight Management
A plant-based diet, done in a balanced form, can help manage your weight, lose weight if needed, and get your body to a natural and healthy place. Many people find they don’t need to count calories or worry much about what kinds of food they are eating as long as the majority are whole plant foods to lose weight.
Why? Calorically speaking, plant foods have less calories than animal products and processed foods. This means you can eat more to be full, but are consuming higher nutrient foods at a lower calorie to volume ratio.
TIP: You will want to make sure you are eating proteins and fats on a plant-based diet. This will help will getting enough calories but will also provide you with some nutrients that greens and fruits don’t provide.
2. Disease prevention/management
If you struggle with different diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, or even autoimmune issues, you may find that going plant-based can drastically reduce your symptoms. I will not make any claims that is can heal or cure but some do say it completely reverses their disease. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I do find that a plant-based diet makes a big difference in my symptoms!
Studies show that eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and more. More importantly, limiting animal foods has been shown to slow down or stop progression of disease, so a great first step is less animals more plants!
If you're concerned about chronic disease or they run in your family, switching to a plant-based diet (specifically whole foods plant based with limited process foods) is a great way to make a positive change!
3. Improve digestion and increase regularity
Whole plant foods are the BEST fiber you can give your body. Most people struggle with digestive issues and the main culprit I’ve found is dairy. Studies show that your digestion will be better on a plant-based diet BUT if you are new to it, take it slow as you might feel adverse affects in the beginning. Nobody wants to be backed up, am I right?!
Examples of high fiber plant foods include spinach, broccoli, lentils, whole wheat bread or pasta, fruits, and beans! My favorite thing about high fiber foods like lentils and beans is that they contain fiber AND protein, which no animal product has. #VeggieWin
PS: Animal foods contain ZERO fiber. Zilch.
4. Naturally Increase Your Energy
As you can imagine, plant foods are super high in vitamins and minerals which are amazing for energy. When you consume foods rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients you will probably notice better brain function and happier mood. Did you know that healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, etc) are great for brain health? (Especially for plant-based kids!)
As someone who has experience with sports and regular fitness routines, I noticed a huge increase in my performance level once I cut out animal products. I didn’t get tired as fast, my muscles seemed to recover faster, and I found I saw results quicker.
5. Environmental Impact
One thing I never thought about growing up was my environmental impact. (Not really a health benefit, I know, but totally worth mentioning!) I didn’t think twice about what I was choosing to purchase or eat and how it was impacting the world we live in. However, there is something beautiful about knowing that your choices are directly positively impacting the earth. No longer supporting the animal industry does exactly that.
Talking about water alone, the water footprint of beef is 1,800 gallons per pound of beef whereas the water footprint of corn is more like 100 gallons per pound. If you follow a vegetarian diet you are making a good start (I was one for 15 years!) but it still takes almost 900 gallons of water are needed for 1lb. of cheese. (source)
When we start talking about agriculture there is a lot to learn. I’m not up on it all but this fact really hits home for me: Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation, including cars, trains, busses, and planes. (source)
Small changes will make a big difference.
6. Improved Mood / Balanced Emotions
Most people probably don’t realize how much diet impacts our moods. When I went plant-based, one thing I noticed was that I was less irritable and my emotions/mood was MUCH more balanced. Do I still get in funks? Yes, of course. But on a daily basis, I feel much more controlled and my mood is much more positive!
I don’t know about you but if nothing else, this is a great health benefit of this lifestyle.
As you start or continue on this plant-based journey I want you to remember that you are not alone. The feelings you feel, the symptoms you experience, you are not the first to feel these things. Reach out to others who follow this lifestyle and talk about it! Join a group (like our free Facebook community) and connect with others doing this same thing.
If you want an easy way to start, I invite you to try my 3-day program, Your Plant-Based Weekend. It’s the perfect tool to answer your questions and get your started on a simple and totally doable foot.
What is your plant-based weekend?
Your Plant-Based Weekend, a 3-day nutrition program, was created to help people just like you to try a plant-based diet without overwhelm and stress and offer the basic tools and knowledge to successfully go plant-based for 3 days.
The idea behind it is that you will get a taste at how simple and manageable eating plant-based is but also gain understanding on how to shop, what to look for, and why. At the end of the 3 days you will feel more confident in adding plant-based choices to your weekly schedule and may even decide to go in, 100%!
why should you try it?
When I went plant-based I had no support, encouragement, tools or resources. I was overwhelmed by all the information out there and had no idea where to start. This program eliminates those obstacles for you! You will have the opportunity to embrace a plant-based diet, see how your body feels, and begin the process to bettering your health and overall wellbeing.