I think that as a society, we are quite aware of the health problems in westernized countries. We are suffering from diseases of indulgence. Diseases that were once only found in the wealthiest people of society. Look around your circle of friends and family, and I bet you know at least one person suffering with one or more of these diseases. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and gout, just to name a few.
I’m not here to lecture you about these diseases. I just want to share a few of the reasons that eating more of a whole food plant based diet can give you the nutrition that your body needs to avoid diseases of excess and to thrive. So let’s get right into it.
- Micronutrients – think vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The more colorful your food is, the more micronutrients you’ll be taking in. These are essential to normal bodily functions, immune system function, digestion, and overall health. Want to look young? Eat the rainbow!
- Lower in fat – dietary saturated fat and cholesterol are a recipe for heart disease. Saturated fat and cholesterol are only found in animal products and processed foods. Sure, you can eat nuts, nut butters, and avocados which are all high in fat but those have one thing animal products don’t have: fiber. Your body digests whole plant foods with higher fat differently than it digests processed or animal foods that have higher fat and cholesterol content.
- No chemical shit storm – let’s not fool ourselves on this one. Any packaged food has some sort of chemicals in it. Take a look at the ingredient list on the package of pretzels in your cabinet or hummus in your refrigerator (both of which are staples in my kitchen). There’s bound to be an ingredient or two in there you can’t pronounce. While some of these chemicals mimic natural ingredients that help to extend shelf life or enhance color, it doesn’t change the fact that the chemicals in processed, packaged foods are not meant to be processed by our bodies.
- Less Exposure to Hormones – Kids are currently going through puberty at incredibly young ages. This can be attributed in part to the amount of meat and dairy those children are consuming. Animal flesh is full of hormones, just as your body is full of hormones. Dairy is also full of hormones. Think about milk for a moment. Cow’s milk is designed to fatten up a young calf into a fully grown adult cow. Of course it’s packed with growth hormones. When you eliminate dairy and meat from your diet, you also eliminate the hormones that they sneak into your diet.
- Fiber – Fiber is a wonderful thing. Only produced by plants and not readily digested by the body. Think of fiber as the street sweeper for your insides. You know what they say about fiber – it keeps you regular. Keep the waste moving. There’s no need for it to linger! Fiber is also critical for countless other functions and is best consumed in it’s whole form from plants, not from supplements.
I’d like to make the disclaimer that yes, a plant based diet is lacking in B12. If you begin eating a fully plant based diet, it’s important to take a B12 supplement regularly. I’d also like to point out that B12 is found in animal products only because those animals are also fed B12 supplements and when you consume animal flesh, you also consume whatever they have eaten. B12 is produced by bacteria in the soil. Many moons ago we would have ingested B12 through fruits and vegetables. However, in our highly sanitized world, B12 is no longer readily available from the dirt leftover on your lettuce and strawberries.
So there you have it. 5 reasons a plant based diet is the most nutritious diet.
You don’t have to go plant based over night. You can make the transition slowly by replacing one or two meals each week with plant based options. Over time, those plant based meals will crowd out the animal and processed foods.