The plant-based diet emphasizes whole, minimally processed foods while restricting animal products.
Animal products include meats (beef, chicken, pork, and fish) as well as animal bi-products like eggs, milk, and cheese. A plant-based diet consists of a wide range of choices, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.
While studies have found that a plant-based diet results in health benefits. The higher the percentage of a diet that comes from whole-plant foods, the lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune diseases.
A lot of researchers have looked at plant-based eating habits like the Mediterranean diet and a vegetarian diet.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by:
- A variety of plant foods,
- Olive oil as the primary source of fat,
- Moderate consumption of fish and seafood, eggs, and fermented dairy products,
- Low consumption of red meat, Low consumption of processed foods,
- Moderate consumption of red wine.
Vegetarian diets come in a variety of different forms and you can pick the right one for you. A vegan is theoretically an exclusive plant-eater who relies exclusively on plant products and excludes all animal meat.
A vegetarian does not eat animal meat but can consume other animal-based foods such as eggs and dairy products.
Diets rich in plant-based protein have been shown to improve health outcomes compared with meat-based diets, particularly those consisting of large amounts of red and processed meats.
The association between meat consumption and adverse health outcomes is expressed in various international health organizations’ dietary recommendations and a growing number of nutritional guidelines issued by individual countries.
|International Health Organizations Nutritional Recommendations|
|Year||Organization||Recommendations For Meat Consumption|
|2018||The World Health Organization Europe||Eat foods which consist of “mainly plants rather than animals.”|
|2015||The World Health Organization||Limit consumption of fatty meat.Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and legumes, whole grains, and nuts.|
|2009||European Food Information Council||Limit the consumption of animal products containing high total and saturated fat.|
|2017||American Diabetes Association||Does not recommend red meat consumption.|
|2017||Diabetes Canada||If meat is consumed, fish and lean meats are advised.|
|2016||Canadian Cardiovascular Society||Emphasizes a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, whole-grain cereals, and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils.Recommends the Dietary Portfolio.|
|2017||HEART UK||Consume less fatty meats.|
|2016||European Atherosclerosis Society||Advocates for a more plant-based diet.Recommends the Dietary Portfolio.|
|2015||The International Agency for Research on Cancer||Limit intake of red meat.|
|2014||American Heart Association||Reduce meat consumption.Limit fatty/processed meats.|
The Canadian guidelines recommend individuals “Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.”
The Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Scientific studies have led to findings over the last few decades, which could dramatically impact the healthcare landscape. These studies have shown that the secret to successful medical treatment can be consuming a plant-based diet.
- Vegetarian diets seemed to have significant weight-reducing effects compared with non-vegetarian diets.
- When adopting a plant-based diet, eating the right kinds of food is essential to prevent heart disease. A slightly increased risk of heart disease was associated with unhealthy plant-based diets that included sugary beverages, fruit juices, and refined grains.
- Vegetarian diets appear to give cancer prevention.
- Eating more fruit and vegetable is linked to a reduced risk for cognitive decline and dementia.
- Plant-based diets are associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially when it is rich in high quality plant foods.
- Consumption of a plant-based diet produced positive improvements in chronic pain and function.
In summary, a plant-based diet can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive impairment, diabetes, and chronic pain.