First, let's address the elephant in the room. What is the difference between Vegan and Plant Based Diets? What you can eat is the primary distinction between Vegan and Plant-Based Diets. Animals are not allowed in Vegan diets. Plant-based diets, on the other hand, are considered to rely on plant-based ingredients, as the name suggests. But, it does not mean that they cannot eat meats. On the contrary, they can eat meats, but focus on plant based foods.
So, why go Plant Based? There's the positive environmental impact, as well as numerous health benefits that may pique your interest. It may be as simple as something you believe in. Whatever the reason, it is great that you are interested in Plant Based alternatives.
Is plant-based diet right for you? Potential Disadvantages of Adopting a Plant-Based Lifestyle
It's great that you want to go Plant Based. It has been a life changing experience to some. But, is it right for you? While plants may provide much of the nutrients your body needs, there are pitfalls in any life change. This is why Plant Based Diet is best of both worlds. While, the main focus of Plant Based Diets are eating vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts, it isn't the only thing one can eat.
Note: Please consult your GP or dietitian before going on any dietary changes. Due to many factors such as, meal preparation, monitoring your daily nutrition intake and the initial loss of protein and calcium are major issues that should not be overlooked. Especially, when first starting out, it will be difficult to determine what your body needs.
Plant Based Diets are not for everyone. Especially, when one is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. It may also depend on your lifestyle and why you're interested to begin with. Vitamins and minerals such a Vitamin B12, Creatine, Carnosine, Heme Iron, and Vitamin D3(Cholecalciferol) are only found in animal ingredients,** which are essential to maintain our immune system and to provide energy.
With that said, why should you still do it?
There's more good than bad. In certain cases, it can reduce heart disease, certain cancers & other Illnesses, and maintains youthfulness since plant based diets are high in vitamin C, lysine and antioxidants, which help create collagen.** It also protects the brain by vitamin E, folic acid, vitamin K1, lutein, and beta-carotene, which are linked to boost memory and brain health.
In addition, due to many plants based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans, its high fiber (roughage) content, allows better bowl movement. It might sound gross, but it is quite interesting. Since, we can not digest these fibers, it passes through our digestive system, taking the bad stuff such as, cholesterol and carcinogens out of the body. **
The Five Food Groups
As discussed briefly, the Plant Based Diet consists of 5 food groups, fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, and finally, nuts/seeds. Vegetables are packed with nutrients, but it's low in energy. Fruits have so much more to give than sugar found in such fruits as apples and oranges. It also has phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which releases a slow and sustained amount of glucose into the bloodstream. Legumes(beans, & lentils) are full of so many goodies such as plant protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Its health benefits don't stop there. It can prevent and treat chronic disease, regulating blood sugar levels, promoting healthy gut bacteria and more!**
Legumes provide a good source for protein without animal fats that can lead to obesity and other conditions such as asthma whereas an excessive amount fat has been linked on numerous occasions with cancer risk reduction because it alters cell metabolism.
It's been proven that eating whole grain provides fiber which releases a hormone, Peptide Y-Y, that reduces appetite. Keep in mind that we are not talking about refined grains. Refined grains may be bad for you since, many of the core grain is removed.
Where to Start?
How a Plant Based Diet Affects You Physically
How a plant based diet affects your digestive system;
A plant-based diet may be a healthier and more sustainable way of eating, but one of the adverse side effects can be digestive problems. Plant-based dieters are unable to consume protein from high-quality sources like red meat, which is a key macronutrient in traditional Western diets.
While it is true that animal protein is easier to digest and that the volume of meat consumed is proportionally lower than that of the plant-based substitute, you will get the same amount of protein in your body by consuming more. However, determining how much is enough for you is difficult. Many inexperienced dieters begin by eating whatever they want, forgetting that they will need to develop a healthy diet consisting of a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts/seeds. If this is ignored, the individual will experience stomach discomfort as well as discomfort from feeling under-nourished.
As mentioned previously in the section where we discussed the five food groups, it is important to remember that even though vegetables may be nutrient rich, the amount of energy that will be converted, is significantly less than other food groups such as fruits. As such, initially, one will tend to feel tired due to the decrease in many animal vitamins and minerals. So, you must be careful of what you eat and treat yourself like a science experiment. Test and hypothesize what is the best variety of ingredients for you. There will be a lot of planning, and preparation needed.
How Plant-Based Diet Affects You Mentally
A plant based diet can help reduce certain cancers, as well as, also be beneficial to those living with anxiety and depression. The connection between a plant centered diet and mental health can be looked at from the perspective of veganism, vegetarianism, and a plant-based diet. A plant based diet, which means that a diet contains no or very little meat, as well as no or low intake of animal fat and eggs, can reduce inflammation in the body and help to alleviate mental health conditions. These conditions can include anxiety and depression, but also Alzheimer's and dementia.