Plant-Based Benefits Health and Environment
March 16, 2021 by Samuel Anthony
Discover the vegan diet's benefit on health, how athletes are setting new personal bests, how we can all benefit the environment with diet, for the millions of animals killed every year, for healthy skin and so much more.
So, firstly, is vegan the same as plant-based and which is best known for its benefits?
Veganism is a lifestyle committed to reducing one's harm to animals in any and every way possible.
Plant-based specifically refers to a diet that seeks to exclude animal products as strictly as is possible, but not necessarily altogether nor necessarily for ethical reasons.
However, the superior diet for health benefits is whole food plant-based - this natural diet seeks to increase whole plant foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, etc.) and increase fibre intake all while reducing to none processed and sugary foods.
For this article, I will use a mixture of terms primarily to help this post to reach people, but the greatest health benefits will be felt on a whole foods plant-based diet.
Vegan Benefits for Health
What exactly are the health benefits of a plant-based diet?
Everyone already knows fruit and vegetables are great for their health, so it is no surprise that a plant-based diet can also have significant positive health-giving effects on the mind and body.
When we follow a plant-based diet properly, ensuring we are getting balanced nutrition from a broad variety of whole plant foods, we typically consume more fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds etc. than those following the standard Western diet.
Nutrients from plant foods can boost immunity, assist with weight management, reduce systemic inflammation, give you more energy, help control obesity and diabetes risk - all while avoiding artery-clogging fats found in meat and dairy.
Plant-based typically delivers greater amounts of fibre and can benefit health in many ways.
Firstly, the balanced vegan diet (especially the whole food plant-based diet) benefits the health of our gut bacteria, which can, in turn, reduced excess inflammation and encourage better sleep.
Remember: plant-based diets have no cholesterol and increased fibre intake can help to reduce internal cholesterol.
But... where do you get your protein?
Any of you who are already plant-based will have been faced at some point or other with the question: where do you get your protein? The answer to that is very simple - plants.
I typically eat the higher end of recommendations for protein intake - with no protein shakes or supplements, just with a normal, plant-based diet.
Just like the beef cow, who only grows to full size using proteins found in plants, vegans don't rely on animals' lives for their protein.
Beans, peas, tofu, seitan, hummus, peanut butter, cashew nuts, fruit, vegetables, greens, seaweed, seeds, nuts - all sources of protein.
Essential proteins (proteins that are essential for human beings), alongside fibre, are broken down by bacteria in the gut into health-promoting compounds.
All 9 essential proteins are found in plants, including tryptophan which encourages a long nights sleep (found in tofu).
Protein is incredibly beneficial for health, in the healing and recovery process, protein helps to grow new cells!
This is how muscle is grown - after tearing muscles in an exercise session protein is utilised to repair with new muscle cells.
Plant proteins are the most efficient and least detrimental to health, partly because of the absence of significantly fatiguing saturated fats and absence of haem iron.
Athletes are setting new personal bests after switching to plant-based.
If you haven't already, check out The Game Changers (2018) on Netflix to truly understand the impact of meats and fats on athletic performance as well as haem iron (found in meat) on inflammation.
Meat not only inhibits energy release but contains inflammatory proteins which can, in turn, reduce their efficiency in assisting recovery by creating further damage.
Meat is also void of any fibre, which is utilised in a healthy gut by microbes to be broken down into anti-inflammatory SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids) which are essential for long term energy release - helping athletes improve cardiovascular or muscular endurance.
Human beings derive their energy from a mixture of simple and complex carbohydrates.
The complexity only describes the amount of time it can last in the body before being broken down or absorbed.
Meat is ultimately not a great source of carbohydrates and is unlikely to ever provide the "macho energy" it has become so falsely attributed with.
One of the most significant vegan benefits is the increase in energy and output when the diet is followed properly.
The added fibre, the increase in complex carbs, will help you last for longer in any session at the gym or in everyday life.
I say if properly followed as some may transition poorly, feel awful and then return to their previous diet in a short space of time.
If you make the change, never simply remove meat/dairy (they are very high in calories) as this can cause massive slumps in your calorie intake, so always seek to replace them!
Not necessarily with substitutes/faux meats, but with high calorie, high fibre, high protein whole foods - like tofu, seitan, beans etc.
Vegan Benefits for Skin
Dairy is inflammatory. Full stop.
Often, milk contains pus. Sometimes a glass of milk is so infected it contains more pus than milk.
Why? Cows are milked repeatedly for the span of their life. This leads to infections.
But what has this got to do with skin health?
Plant-based encourages the consumption of plant foods, rich in antioxidants, while also reducing dairy consumption to none ideally.
This benefits the skin by reducing the inflammation and toxins the skin is exposed to while increasing antioxidant relief.
Vegan Benefits for the Environment
Our environment, whether you believe in climate change or not, will always benefit from climate action!
There are no longer means to sustain our abuse of Earth - which provides enough food for everyone.
America consumes Earth's resources at such a rate that 5 Earth's would be needed to meet demand.
The global average demand for resource consumption requires 3 Planet Earths.
Animal agriculture is causing damage to our planet, with up to 75% of our planet's land designated for the raising of livestock for us to consume.
This needs to stop - it is consuming water, land and resources at an unsustainable rate, which makes turning to vegan foods the single biggest way an individual can improve and reduce their environmental impact.
This is according to Oxford University.
Animal agriculture accounts for greater emissions than the world's transport added together.
Simply put, eating animals at the rate we do is killing our home.
So slow down now, or best - stop! One meal less makes a difference.
Veganism, and plant-based diets, are regarded for their potential benefits for our environment.
There are many reasons to go plant-based - the environment requires that we act now!
Ethical Benefits of a Vegan/Plant-Based Diet
This one may seem self-explanatory and many dismiss this very valid point as preachy - but animals feel emotions, they fear and they hurt.
We do not need meat to survive, nor is it plausibly natural to the human diet as a main source.
So I believe it is time we left them alone and allowed our planet and its animals to have another chance at once again being wild.
If we stopped feeding animals to feed humans and instead just fed humans, we can grow more than enough food to offset the "food crisis".
95% and up of the worlds soy production is to feed animals for us to eat or take products from.
Many vegans around the planet enjoy soy products every day and this is happening worldwide, yet only up to 5% of all soy goes to humans... Earth grows enough for all of us.
Organic or not, animals are killed or harmed for food products. Dairy cows are continually forced pregnant, their young taken off them and often killed at one day old.
40 million one-day-old chicks are killed in the UK each year.
They often make their way into the food chain.
The scale of brutality against other species is monumental and catastrophic to sentient beings around the world.
We do not own animals, they are not for our consumption and we must recognise that healthier alternative food can not only satisfy and nutrify us but also reduce the harm we have on other lives and start to make a positive difference to our planet.
So that is where this preach ends, and I sincerely hope you learned something and urge you to continue reading into veganism yourself to appreciate its many benefits.
I will be uploading videos, posting recipes and articles and so much more to help you all to understand how and why we should change our lifestyles for the planet, animals and ourselves.
Take the pledge to go plant-based and get free support in helping you transition to a fresher, healthier, sustainable you.
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