The scientific evidence is really stacking up that eating a more plant-based diet is beneficial for both people’s health and the environment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has to give up all animal products, but it does make sense to cut back on these foods significantly. There are some companies, such as Hampton Creek, that are working to use more plant-based ingredients in foods and find plant-based ingredients to replace common animal-based ingredients.
Increased Vitamin, Mineral and Fiber Intake
Many of the nutrients that people tend to not get enough of in the typical American diet, such as fiber and potassium, are found in many plant-based foods. While there are a few nutrients that aren’t easily found in plant foods, including vitamins B-12 and D, the majority of the essential nutrients can be gotten through consuming plant-based foods. These foods also contain beneficial plant chemicals, such as carotenoids, isothiocyanates and flavonoids, all of which are beneficial to health.
Potential Health Benefits
People with plant-based diets tend to live longer than those that eat a lot of meat. They have lower cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. When animal-based foods are eaten, choose the healthiest options. Skip the processed meats, which are associated with the greatest health risks, and limit red meat. Instead, opt for fish and seafood, which are rich in essential omega-3 fats. When choosing meats, pick those with the least fat and cook them using a healthy method that doesn’t involve a lot of added fat.
Good for the Environment
Raising animals for food and producing animal-based products, such as cheese, dairy and eggs, takes a lot of resources, including water. Animals also release methane, which contributes to global warming, and conventional farming practices include the overuse of antibiotics and the risk of contaminated waste products overflowing and polluting waterways. Just think, you can grow plant-based foods and eat them, or grow those foods and then feed them to animals which are going to eventually be eaten. It isn’t a very efficient conversion — you can feed a lot more people with the original plant-based foods than with the resulting animal products.