According to a 2020 study by Ipsos Retail Performance, there are around 9.7 million vegans in the US now, an astounding increase of 3,000% from 2004. Businesses have taken notice of these dietary shifts, which have led to a thriving vegan market where even established meat industry behemoths have entered the imitation meat arena.
According to data from SPINS for The Good Food Institute and Plant Based Foods Association, sales of plant-based food increased by 27% in 2020, twice as quickly as food sales as a whole. A whopping 57% of Americans say they choose plant-based items over animal ones while shopping.
People switch to a plant-based diet for a variety of reasons, including environmental concerns relating to factory farming, animal rights, and personal health. We’ve compiled a list of 11 advantages of a plant-based diet by reviewing various scholarly papers that were published in peer-reviewed magazines including Frontiers in Nutrition and Nutrients.
Whole grains, beans, fresh produce, seeds, and nuts are the mainstays of plant-based diets, but not everyone who follows a plant-based diet abstains altogether from animal products. As with any diet, it’s crucial to take into account a person’s genetics, exercise level, current health, any nutrient shortages, and dietary allergies. It’s a good idea for anyone eating a plant-based diet to make sure they’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, from omega-3 fatty acids to vitamin B12. Foods such as hemp seeds and hearts are high in protein, Omega-3, and other important nutrients. Recipes like an Omega-3 seed mix can be useful and is often used to garnish meals and snacks.
White blood cells defend the body against pathogens like bacterial or viral infections as well as external things like splinters and irritants like allergies. This is what causes inflammation. The immune system assaults the body’s healthy, normal tissue in autoimmune illnesses. The widespread belief among doctors is that chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes or cardiac issues may be influenced by an overactive inflammatory response.
Localized pain, redness, immobility, or swelling are symptoms of acute, or transient, inflammation. The discomfort might linger for a few hours to many days and may be warm to the touch, similar to a bee sting. Chronic inflammation can linger for months or even years. It can be brought on by an overreaction to an outside trigger, as is the situation with allergies, by an immune system that mistakenly assaults healthy tissue, as is the case with cancer or dermatitis, or by prolonged exposure to an irritant.
Both diet and exercise have a significant impact on inflammation. While factors like obesity, smoking, irregular sleeping patterns, and a diet high in unhealthy fats and added sugars have been shown to exacerbate inflammation, certain nutrients found in fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce it.
The most significant individual step a person can take to lessen their environmental effect is to transition to a plant-based diet, according to a widely-cited 2018 review of the global food sector. These statistics, which include the fact that the ecological footprint of cattle accounts for 83 percent of farmland and 18 percent of calories, are startling, but they don’t account for all the nuances of sustainable eating practices.
It is true that producing oat milk uses 60% less energy and releases 80% fewer greenhouse gases than producing cow’s milk. However, animal protein requires 100 times more water per pound than grain protein. However, adopting a plant-based diet does not ensure that you will have access to more environmentally friendly foods. The methods used for growing the food, how the workers are treated, how far it travels, how it is packaged, and where the ingredients come from all affect how sustainable the food on your plate is—or isn’t.
According to results from the Singapore Chinese Health Study released in 2017, eating red meat and chicken has been associated with an elevated risk of diabetes, in part due to the high content of heme iron in those foods.
This study examined the relationship between various types of meats and the amount of heme iron in each, as well as recruiting more than 63,000 persons between the ages of 45 and 74 between 1993 and 1998, and monitoring their health development for 11 years. Red meat and poultry eaters were more likely to develop diabetes (23% and 15% more likely, respectively). Consuming fish and shellfish did not appear to increase the risk of diabetes.
Meanwhile, studies have demonstrated that plant-based diets not only prevent Type 2 diabetics from acquiring kidney disease but also aid in the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. Diets high in plants may also lower mortality rates in those with chronic renal disease.
Whole plant-based foods are high in fiber, low in saturated fats, and free of dietary cholesterol, which is a winning combination for heart health. Meanwhile, saturated fats and cholesterol found in foods like meat, cheese, and eggs can contribute to the building of plaque in a person’s arteries if consumed in excess.
But avoiding meat alone is insufficient. Avoid processed foods, such as white rice and white bread, which have a high glycemic index and lack nutritional value for heart health when following a plant-based diet.
Your chances of experiencing a blood sugar spike and an increase in appetite increase as a result. Similar to this, whole fruits are better for you than fruit juice, especially 100% juice, which frequently loses vitamins and nutrients during processing and has a lot of sugar.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of the plant-based diets on cholesterol levels, particularly a vegetarian or vegan diet mixed with nuts, soy, and fiber. Lower blood levels of TC and LDL cholesterol were observed in people eating plant-based diets, according to five observational studies mentioned in a 2009 article in the American Journal of Cardiology.
A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience identified a direct link between increased fruit and vegetable intake and a significantly lower risk of dementia and cognitive decline. The main elements, which are plentiful in plant-based diets and have been linked to significant cognitive advantages, are antioxidants, vitamins, and folate.
It has been demonstrated that vegetarian and vegan diets encourage a balanced mix of good bacteria that benefit the gut and general health. A healthy gut microbiome encourages a fast metabolism, a robust immune system, regular bowel movements, and the right hormone levels that help control eating.
According to research led by Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and presented in 2019 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona, just 16 weeks of a healthy vegan diet focused on whole fruits and vegetables has been shown to cause a documented improvement in gut health.
Plants produce a large number of phytochemicals, which act as both anti-inflammatory agents and protective mechanisms against cellular harm. These advantages of eating whole plant foods instead of processed foods, according to a number of long-term studies, may really be able to prevent up to a third of all cancer cases.
The ability of plant-based diets to aid in preventing breast, colorectal, gastrointestinal, and prostate cancers have received the most attention.
To perform at their best, an increasing number of professional athletes are switching to a whole-foods-based, plant-based diet. Vegan athletes include Venus Williams, Alex Morgan of the US soccer team, Colin Kaepernick, Tia Blanco of the WNBA, Diana Taurasi of the Olympics, and dozens more.
Like the rest of us, athletes’ food decisions can have complicated justifications. However, a ton of research supports the use of entire plants as a fantastic athletic supplement: Whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts are just a few examples of heart-healthy plant-based foods.
Plants’ immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties are also very helpful to athletes. Venus Williams, a professional tennis player, switched to a plant-based diet after learning she had the autoimmune condition Sjögren’s syndrome. She claimed that by following a vegan diet, the ailment could be controlled without the use of prescription drugs.
The fact that low-fat, high-fiber diets have been shown to lower inflammation is fantastic news for individuals who consume a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Plant-based diets have been demonstrated to be extremely beneficial for those with inflammatory kinds of arthritis because of how well vegetables reduce inflammation.
Researchers examined the impact of a plant-based diet on osteoarthritis in a 2015 study that was published in the journal Arthritis. In just two weeks, those who followed a whole-foods, plant-based diet saw significant reductions in pain and increases in motor function.
Related: 13 Reasons Hemp is a Superfood
A plant-based diet has shown patterns that support the claim that a plant diet high in fiber will help you lose weight and keep it off.
Data to support the claim that a healthy high fiber plant diet can lead to weight loss are listed below.
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