In most cases, like exercise, changes are hard to see and usually take a while. However, moving to a plant-based diet, even once a week, can have pretty immediate results. Many of us tend to think that we need to make big changes in order for them to be beneficial.
In regards to going plant-based, it could be a good thing to do it slowly. Making the transition to plant-based eating can be intimidating. Then, of course, some people won’t want to completely make that shift. Eating plant-based is better for you and better for the environment. The best part is that eating plant-based just once a week could help to improve your health and boost longevity.
Eating plant-based food could help with health concerns
Studies when it comes to the potential health benefits of plant-based eating are endless. Even eating plant-based once a week can have great health benefits. According to the Cleveland Clinic, studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet can definitely reduce your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Colon and breast cancers
Plant-based diets all seem to be good for weight management and reducing bad cholesterol in the body. However, it is important to remember that even plant-based foods can be heavily processed.
Any heavily processed food is to be avoided. This is because they can have precisely the opposite effect of what you might be expecting. Ultimately, eating plant-based is a great idea, but you also need to make sure that you are eating clean in order for it to be truly healthy and beneficial.
Plant-based eating could help boost longevity
It seems that eating plant-based, even if you aren’t doing it all the time, can have significant benefits. One of the major ones is living a longer, healthier life.
A large Japanese study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who eat more plant-based protein tend to live longer. The study followed 70,696 Japanese adults for an average of 18 years.
The same study also found that those who substituted plant protein for animal proteins (particularly red and/or processed meat) were less likely to die prematurely. Most especially from cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
Harvard Health Publishing later backed these findings. When researchers combined data from multiple, separate studies, they found that “getting 3% more of the total calories in the form of plant protein (like beans, nuts, and whole grains) lowered people’s risk for premature death by 5%”. Granted, many of these studies don’t prove that eating plant-based will add to your lifespan. However, they do indicate that eating a meat-heavy diet could have a negative impact on your life span.
It could aid in weight loss
A diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and tofu could be the answer to weight loss. These foods are all rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Eating these types of foods regularly will help to reduce inflammation in the body. Ultimately, it will also aid you in losing those extra pounds.
Another benefit of plant-based foods is that pretty much all of them are rich in fiber. Eating more fiber is great for weight loss, as it “will help to fill you up and give you sustained energy”.
These foods empty slowly from the stomach. This then prevents a spike in blood sugar and helps to keep insulin levels regulated. This is vital because insulin itself is a fat-storage hormone that also lowers blood sugar levels. Reducing the spike in insulin will mean that the food you eat can be used as fuel and not simply stored as fat.
Eating plant-based food is good for the planet
According to a 2018 study, maintaining a “western” diet that is high in both animal products and processed foods could be detrimental to the environment.
In fact, at the current rate, it could cause a substantial spike in water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Both of which are massive contributors to climate change. In fact, these emissions, if they go unchanged, could mean a 90% increase in emissions by 2050. A report in The Lancet went as far as to say that a plant-based diet is “the healthiest diet for the planet”.
Giving up meat, even if it is just once a week, can have significant benefits for the planet. When it comes to water, livestock needs a lot more than grains and plant produce. In fact, the numbers are quite startling.
According to Clean Eating Magazine, approximately 1,850 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of beef. Only about 39 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of vegetables. Swapping out meat for a plant-based diet once a week will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) than vegetables.