Can you be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet?
Eating a plant-based diet is quickly becoming the norm. More and more of us are shedding the meat and opting for a vegan lifestyle, but some have raised concerns over whether you can still be fit and healthy whilst eating plant-based; especially if you’re not getting nutrients from animal products.
So, can you be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet? Of course you can, but here’s the science behind it.
The health benefits of going vegan
Some of us are so conditioned to eating meat that we might never have considered the fact it’s not always good for us. In fact, we can get the same nutrients, vitamins, and minerals we need from healthier sources.
Though meat can form part of a healthy, balanced diet, red and processed meat, in particular, can cause some serious health problems. The NHS <a href=” https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/red-meat-and-the-risk-of-bowel-cancer/“>has said that eating more than 90g of red meat (including beef, lamb and pork) per day can increase your risk of bowel cancer</a>. Red meat is also exceptionally high in saturated fats, which can increase bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
White, leaner meats can be better for you in moderation. Still, increasingly, people are being encouraged to either decrease their meat consumption altogether or switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet for better health.
The environmental impact
Of course, one of the big benefits of the vegan, plant-based diet is its environmental impact. Unsustainable farming practices and global demand for meat has become a significant contributor to climate change. Science has shown that a plant-based diet has a number of positive benefits for the world.
<a href=” https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/9-reasons-why-veganism-can-save-the-world/“>Not only does it conserve water and reduce energy consumption</a>, but the UN has said that if we ate less meat, <a href=” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet“>we could literally save the world from climate change</a>.
The ‘protein’ question
“What do I eat now I’m plant-based? Where’s my protein coming from?”
This is a common question. Many of us believe we can only get protein and essential nutrients from meat, but that’s just not true.
All foods contain protein in some regard, and <a href=” https://happyherbivore.com/2012/02/plant-based-protein-sources/“>some actually have more than meat, per calorie</a>. Great sources of protein that are plant-based include nuts, legumes, lentils, quinoa, tofu, beans, plant-based yoghurts, whole grains and vegetables. These will help you build a complete chain of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need in the same way meat does.
If you’re looking for calcium without consuming dairy products, dairy alternatives are a great place to start. You’ll also want to incorporate leafy greens like spinach (also high in protein), Brussel sprouts and kale into your diet for a kick of calcium.
Switching to a plant-based diet doesn’t mean cutting everything out. It means replacing what you eat with substitutes, trying new ingredients and experimenting with new recipes. There are many different plant-based diets, and it’s all about finding which one works for you.
If you’re looking to improve your health and fitness, contact our team today.