Plant-based diets, are they the future?
Over the recent years, plant-based diets have become very popular, as seen by the variety of milk you can buy or by ordering a vegan roast dinner. So it does beg the question, is becoming the new norm and if so what are the benefits of it? We researched to find out more...
What is a plant-based diet?
To put it simply, a plant-based diet is a diet that focuses on food primarily from plants such as fruit, vegetables, seeds, beans, etc... There are a variety of diets that form from this common denominator. The most common is a vegetarian diet which includes eggs and dairy but no meat or fish. Others will include small amounts of meat and fish which results in the ‘flexitarian’ diet and there are those who don’t eat anything that comes from animals such as vegans.
Why do people go plant-based?
Most people lean towards plant-based diets for numerous health benefits.
- Lower risk of developing diabetes: Plant-based foods play a role in preventing and treating diabetes as you steer away from high levels of unhealthy carbohydrates, fat and sugars on a regular basis.
- Reduces the risks of heart disease: Studies have linked diets rich in healthy plant foods (such as whole grains, fruit, veg and nuts) with a lower risk of heart disease as it improves cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure, lower heart rate and reduced risk of cardiovascular events.
- Reduced Carbon Footprint: Shifting to a plant-based diet can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emitted from food production by 70% by 2050. Animal products, both meat and dairy, require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives.
Can it help with my fitness?
According to nutritionist Dr Lelia Dehghan, a plant-based diet can help boost c overall cycling performance. “A diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains is rich in antioxidants and can reduce post-exercise stress and inflammation. This in turn speeds recovery and allows athletes to avoid injury" thus being able to get themselves out on their bikes more.
Are there any downsides to a plant-based diet?
Like most things in life, they are some potential negatives that you need to be aware of.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: You need to pay extra attention to your nutrient intake. Whilst a plant-based diet has a lot of health benefits, it does lack a lot of important nutrients such as vitamin B12, iron, and calcium.
- "Incomplete" Protein Source: Protein is made up of a chain of amino acids, which the body needs in certain proportions to utilize the protein Amino acids are found in meats, milk, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, and grains. Animal products are considered "complete" protein sources because they contain all of the essential amino acids. Plant-based protein, however, is considered "incomplete" as they contain less than one or two of the nine essential amino acids. With careful planning, however, plant-based protein can provide the amino acids your body needs.
Naturally, what we eat depends on who is eating it. The general opinion around plant-based diets is slowly shifting from the strict ideals of vegan and v to a flexible way of life that can be tailored to the individual. Plant-based diets are generally considered safe and healthy nning and lifestyle shifts around the foods an individual chooses to consume. Choosing to eat primarily plant-based may positively impact the environment and improve the health of certain individuals.
We’re the last people to be removing pork pies from our diet, but it does make us consider taking the plunge by having a few plant-based meals every now and then.