Well-known figures Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Gandhi, Paul McCartney, Charles Darwin and Betty White all have something in common. No, they’re not a list of washed-up celebrities (Portman’s still young!) – they’ve all embraced a plants-based diet at some point in their lives.
They likely had their own reasons for doing so, which could be anything from efficient weight loss, improved heart health, or supporting the environment and animal rights. People that turn to plant-based diets also enjoy a decrease in blood cholesterol levels, which some studies cite as low as a 35% decline. Plant-based diets are also generally higher in fiber, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients.
Recent studies have linked Type 2 diabetes with animal proteins, particularly red and processed meats. New research has also found people who eat meat more than once a week over a 17-year period had a shockingly high 74% increased risk of diabetes. Overall, omnivores were found to have double the diabetes rate compared to vegans, as well as large discrepancies in weight.
Adopting a vegetarian approach has a positive impact on not only the body, but the environment as well. In terms of climate change, food-related emissions would be cut by 63% by consumers adopting a vegetarian diet; going vegan bumps that total to 70%.
One of the common ‘negatives’ of turning to a plants-based diet is the noted dearth of protein; meats provide a boon of our recommended protein intake. But, there are tons of tasty protein alternatives to meat – think tofu, beans, lentils, and nuts.
“Tofu can be substituted for the same amount of meat, poultry or fish in almost any recipe,” Cynthia Sass. RD — a vegan and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association — told Vegetarian Times.
Switching to greens won’t have you aching for a filling meal, either. Vegetarians and vegans have a plateful of options to snack on for satisfaction and smart eating.
“Recent studies show that even though nuts are high in calories, eating them does not lead to weight gain,” Sass continued.
While a healthy, balanced diet that includes meat can still be achieved, there’s no ignoring the potential upside – both for our bodies and the environment – that switching to a plants-based diet can provide. If you’ve been thinking about going vegetarian, or all-out vegan, try going meatless 1-2 times a week to ease into the transition.