The concept of switching to a plant-based diet has grabbed the attention of many recently, particularly because of Netflix series like ‘The Game Changers’. It’s something that benefits your health as well as the environment. It’s a win-win. So what exactly do we mean by a plant-based diet and should we all be switching to it?
Many people have questions about this diet. I’m aiming to tell you about the benefits, busting common myths, and telling you the most effective way to switch to a plant-based diet.
What is it?
A plant-based diet is exactly what it sounds like. The majority of your food comes from plant sources instead of meat. It’s a personal choice whether you want to eliminate animal products completely. Some choose to occasionally eat animal products, some become vegetarians and some vegan.
The benefits can be categorized into two sections:
Eating meat regularly has been proven to be harmful to your health in the long term. A plant-based diet can improve your health in many different ways. These are just a few:
- Reduces cholesterol
- Memory improves
- Improves mood
- If you eat correctly you can lose fat and gain lean muscle
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Increases your energy levels
- Reduces blood pressure
There are also studies showing how eating a plant-based diet can increase your life expectancy, decrease the risk of certain cancers, and reduce pain from arthritis. Animals are also given antibiotics to promote their growth. Therefore, if you eat meat there’s’ a chance of you becoming resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is becoming a greater concern now and eating meat plays a big part.
Meat is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases and has made global warming much worse. There are two primary reasons for this:
- Animals especially cows produce methane gas. This is a very powerful greenhouse gas as it’s able to trap 25% more radiation from the sun than carbon dioxide. This is speeding up the warming of the atmosphere and the planet as a whole.
- However, most of the carbon footprint of meat is often hidden in deforestation. Many do not often think about this but the land needs to be cleared in order to make space for cattle grazing. Trees are one of the world’s greatest carbon sink. They are able to take vast amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. In addition, when cutting these trees, all the carbon dioxide that is trapped in them gets released. Slash and burn (a method where they clear the land by burning the trees) is sometimes used which adds even more carbon dioxide.
There have been different documentaries coming out to raise awareness on this subject. In my experience, some of these have motivated a lot of people to go vegetarian or even vegan. However, that is a completely personal choice. The point is to reduce your meat intake as much as you can, not necessarily cut it out of your life completely.
This is important to live a long healthy life but also to reduce your carbon footprint. If we convince the western world, in particular, to switch to a plant-based diet, it will make a huge difference to the planet.
It’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Everyone thinks that making this switch is difficult but it’s just a matter of getting used to it.
We have many misconceptions and we need to change the way we think. We can’t blindly believe everything we are told. The following are some of the most common myths about this subject:
Most effective way to switch (and stick to it)
You don’t have to suddenly switch to a completely plant-based diet. Just small steps at a time. For example, you could eat one vegetarian meal a day or switch to a non-dairy milk.
It’s important not to suddenly jump into this diet. The majority of people who start diets cannot maintain it for more than 14 days. On the other hand, if you slowly adjust to it, you have a higher chance of sticking to it. You won’t be craving as much as you would do if you suddenly change your diet. Your body needs time to adapt.
You’re changing your way of life. It’s not something that you can do for a couple of weeks and then give up. That is if you want to feel the long-term benefits and truly make a difference to the planet.
Also, you need to stay strong because many feel pressure socially. Resist the temptation and resist other people’s opinions. You are doing this for yourself and the planet.
Finally, always plan ahead to make it easier for yourself. Plan your meals and plan when you go out. The last thing you want is going to a restaurant with no vegetarian/vegan options and end up starving.
I believe this is one of the steps we need to take in order to reduce our carbon footprint. The meat industry is one of the biggest culprits of climate change. You as a consumer can change that. Think about your health, think about the animals, think about the environment.
We cannot wait for our leaders to save us nor can we expect some new technology to change the world. These may be small changes but as a world, we can make a difference. But you, yes you, need to take initiative.
You will probably inspire people to follow what you’re doing. That’s what happened to me and let me tell you, it feels good knowing you’re motivating others to help the environment.
Originally published at https://www.terramovement.com on June 6, 2020.