Going plant-based or elsewhere

Increasingly, conversations about optimal diets are moving toward a vegetarian or vegan approach. Eating more plants has some powerful benefits, so the trend is very beneficial. But – does that mean we have to eat plant-based or not? Some resources are worrying and use dramatic over-interpretations of research to portray climate change and infarction deaths as inevitable outcomes of eating animal products. We turn the brakes on this way of thinking and restore balance.

Yes, eating plants is amazing to us.

It cannot be denied that significantly increasing the intake of plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, olives, avocados, vegetable oils, etc.) brings health benefits. These foods contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All of these nutrients help to minimize the risk of heart and arterial disease, cancer, blood sugar, cholesterol, digestive and immune health, and a healthy microbiome. For all these reasons, eat more plants. Start with the general recommendation – 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 6-11 servings of whole grains (talk to your diet to find specific recommendations).

No, eating animal products doesn't kill us.

Many research conducted there concludes that eating large quantities of animal products such as meat, eggs and cheese is correlated with lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This can make many feel that they have to avoid these products. Before you go too far with this mindset, consider 2 very important factors that will leave out your initial results. 1) Many Americans get less than one serving of fruit a day and one serving of vegetables that do not meet their recommendations. 2) Many Americans eat animal products that exceed the size offered and daily recommendations. So, before you completely exclude animal products from your diet, make sure you eat enough plants and stick to protein portions (again, let your diet assess your personalized needs!)

Yes, eating more plants is good for the environment.

It is quite accurate that raising animals for food requires more resources (water, feed, cultivated land, electricity, heat, etc.) than raising plants for food. World meat consumption has increased by 20% over the last 10 years and the production of one kilogram of beef is estimated at 1800 to 2500 gallons of water. Given that we have 7 billion on the planet, the more we can choose from plant-based food to meet our calorie needs, the less we have on the planet's overall energy demand and the less agricultural practices for climate change.

No, adding meat to our diet does not reasonably mean the death of our planet.

As of last year, studies showed that 71% of all carbon emissions came from fossil fuel companies (oil and coal). Documentaries such as cow piracy seem to indicate that cattle farms cause the most carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, agricultural production represented about 13.5% of carbon emissions in 2016. While we can certainly contribute to reducing that 13.5% by choosing more plant-based options on the fork, the fight against climate change will continue to develop large-scale renewable energy systems as soon as possible. Earthday.org claims that if every American skipped meat only one day a week, that would be the carbon equivalent of taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Let's start there!

Want to add more plants to your diet? You may also enjoy: How to Build the Perfect Buddha Bowl

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