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In recent years, going vegan has become a trend. Having spoken to a few people who have been vegans for over 5-10 years, I found there is a major difference between “conservative” and “new wave” vegans. Are you considering eating only plant based foods for a period? Read on to see what benefits you might experience when doing so, but make sure you do research on the risks too.
Before the new plant based revolution blew up, before it became easier to find vegan friendly foods in shops and restaurants, before celebrities decided to cut meat and make it the new evil, people who cared about animal welfare and environmental sustainability had to work very hard if they wanted to cut all animal products from their diet.
We think you don’t have to go vegan to enjoy all the health benefits of plants. You can make the most of the nutrients in certain foods by combining the right meat with the right vegetable. Let’s see 6 ways that eating more plants can benefit you.
1. Fight Type 2 diabetes
Increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your diet can help regulate blood sugar levels more efficiently and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Replace processed sugary desserts with fresh fruit for a few weeks and see how you feel.
2. Protect the heart
Research data shows that vegetarians have a lower chance of mortality from heart disease. Consuming more vegetables and focusing on getting more protein from plant based sources can result in lower cholesterol levels.
3. Lose weight
Provided that you are not just adding calories to your current diet by eating more plant based food, carefully plan to replace empty processed carbs and high-fat protein sources with good quality carbs and protein from grains and vegetables. This will mean you will consume less calories and thus may see weight loss benefits in the long term.
4. Save money
Eating more plants and less animal products can help you manage your food budget better, as most locally available plants, vegetables and grains are cheaper and provide the same amount of nutrients as you would get from animal products. If you’d like to cut your diet costs, look into how often you eat out and how much meat do you eat when cooking at home. Replacing just one meal a day with purely plant based food can make a big difference.
5. Be more energised
Your energy level has more to do with how consistent you are with your meals and recovery times, however many people experience that a diet rich in heavy fat and carbohydrates can take up too much energy for digestion and leaves them feeling more tired throughout the day. Try having lean poultry and fish with stir fry or steamed vegetables and fibrous carbs for a week. Cut out beef, processed meals and heavy desserts, ensure you have at least 7 hours of sleep every night and see how you feel.
Before you decide to go completely plant-based, there is a very important aspect to consider. Nutritional vitamin B-12 can only be sourced from animal products, like meat and dairy. If you intend to cut all animal products from your diet, you want to make sure your body gets a sufficient amount of this nutrient from supplements or fortified products like cereal. The danger is real as a B-12 deficiency takes years to form and is irreversible. This is according to research and is more common in vegans.
The debate is real and we don’t say one or the other side is right or wrong. I think everybody needs to find what works the best for their own bodies, but eating more plants has proven benefits so why not take on the challenge and experiment for a few weeks?
If you need any advice on how to include more vegetables and grains in your diet, feel free to get in touch!
Gareth Allen - Personal Trainer and Owner.