Is eating a plant-based diet worth it? Of course! But why? In this post I want to share with you 6 benefits of eating a plant-based diet that were a deciding factor for me on my journey and could impact your health like you won’t believe!
If that sounds like something you want or need to hear, keep reading!
Let’s get started here.
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…..)
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.
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 create most of the cholesterol we need to be healthy and function properly.
What I want to talk about in this article is the top 6 health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
6 BENEFITS OF A PLANT-BASED diet and Lifestyle
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.
RELATED: Non Meat Protein Sources
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Plant-Based Diet For Obesity Management Study
2. Disease prevention or 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 it 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 but it hasn’t cured me by any means.
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!
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Plant-Based Diets and Kidney Disease Study (Just one example)
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 This is one of the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet that everyone can likely benefit from.
PS: Animal foods contain ZERO fiber. Zilch.
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Keeping Your Gut in Check
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.
BACKED BY SCIENCE: Health Benefits of Fruits and Veggies
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!
If you are looking at these benefits and thinking that this is something you would like to try, learn how to get started today!
Join a group (like our free Facebook community) and connect with others doing this same thing.
What other health benefits have you experienced on a plant-based diet?
More from Realistic Plant-Based Mama: