Is a Plant-Based Diet Healthy?
There are many arguments for which kind of diet is healthiest. Many people opt for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, while others choose to follow an Atkins or a raw food diet. No matter the type of diet one chooses to abide by, one thing is certain: avoid processed foods. Even if you do eat meat and other animal products, avoiding processed foods like sugary candy or salty chips is above all in terms of eating healthy. Whichever nutritional approach you choose, a plant-based diet can be a wise choice.
We’ll go over what a diet centered around fruits and vegetables is, and try to answer the question: is a plant-based diet healthy?
What Is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet focuses on whole-grain, plant-based foods. This is different from vegetarianism or veganism, which are two of the most popular diets around today and exclude certain animal products entirely. In reality, vegetarians and vegans follow a plant-based diet, but they aren’t the only ones who do. Our diet in question is solely based on consuming plants as food. This means someone who is a devout plant-based follower can still eat the occasional animal product, like cheese or milk. However, it’s discouraged and should be avoided when possible!
Choosing a plant-based diet can be a healthy move, and there are many ways to achieve it. Here’s a list of some plant-based diets one can opt into:
- Semi-vegetarian or flexitarian: Includes eggs, cheese, and occasionally poultry, fish, and meat.
- Pescatarian: Excludes all meat except for fish.
- Vegetarian: Doesn’t eat any meat, but does eat other animal products like eggs and cheese.
- Vegan: Strictly plant-based, and doesn’t eat any animal products.
No matter the category of plant consumer, a diet heavy on botanically based foods can still include all the required nutrients we need to live. As long as you keep a balanced diet and eat a wide array of plant foods, you can get all the proteins and vitamins you need.
Beans, soy, and other legumes will provide tons of protein. These can make up the bulk of many meals.
More protein-rich plants are seeds and nuts. Things like peanuts and Brazil nuts are full of protein, plus healthy fats!
Starchy plants such as potatoes and squash are packed with fiber and potassium.
Fruits, namely citrus, will give you a huge array of vitamins.
Green veggies like kale are also full of vitamins and minerals.
Bonus – Plant-Based Eating Is Good for the Environment!
As you may know, animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. These emissions come from the animals we farm – mostly cattle we use for beef. By reducing your meat consumption, even if it’s just cutting beef from your diet, you can help lower the amount of methane emitted into the atmosphere by a literal ton.
Plant-based diets can be extremely healthy when done right. Although it may take a bit more planning and thought about what you eat, it’s a good choice for someone who wants to make a healthy change of direction in their eating habits. Again, the best thing one can do to improve their diet is to limit the amount of processed foods they eat. Luckily, plants are easy to find fresh and unprocessed, unlike many of the animal products on the market today.