People are gravitating towards implementing healthier changes to their diet more than ever. With covid19 still lingering, it is no secret that everyone wants to ensure their immune systems are at their peak.
The cons of a plant-based diet are typically within the ability to consume vitamins such as zinc, iodine, B12, and iron. It’s also hard to solely eat grains, plants, and nuts. The pros, however, state that a plant-based diet with a multivitamin can provide all the nutrients a person needs and lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
If you have been on the fence about starting a new diet for the new year, then keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of a plant-based diet.
So You're Thinking About Switching To A Plant-Based Diet?
If you are one of the many people who have decided this is the year you stop thinking about switching to a plant-based diet and are ready to dig deep into the how and why’s, then look no further.
You are not alone in the quest to make healthier lifestyle changes. More and more individuals have been looking for ways to tweak their everyday routine to create a more significant difference.
It is recommended that small changes to your meal plan are made in lieu of going cold turkey. Some ideas on how to slowly incorporate a plant-based diet into your life can be,
- Make a list of plant-based foods you do and don’t enjoy
- Research substitutes for the foods you don’t like, dairy, and proteins
- Plan two entirely plant-based meals for the week
- Watch YouTube videos on people who already do plant-based
- Purchase plant-based diet cookbooks
- Take a plant-based diet online course
- Talk to your doctor or Nutritionist
Let’s keep reading to find the answers to some of those burning questions you may have; finally, take action and begin the journey!
Is A Plant-Based Diet Actually Healthier?
According to the World Health Organization, many health professionals are leaning towards advocating a plant-based diet to many of their patients. This is partly due to their belief that animal product consumption is correlated to health risks.
These health risks, according to WHO include,
- Heart Disease
Before starting any diet, whether it be plant-based or otherwise, it is always recommended to consult your doctor or a licensed nutritionist. Being educated on what meal plans would best fit your dietary needs, health concerns and ensuring your overall health is considered the best course of action.
How Long Does It Take For Your Body To Get Used To A Plant-Based Diet?
Typically it will take your body anywhere from one to six weeks to fully acclimate to a plant-based diet. Many factors occur within different parts of the body during this time, each at their own rate according to your health levels before starting this lifestyle change.
According to Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director of clinical research for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), those who have diabetes can see a change in blood sugar levels in as little as an hour.
The reason being is that consuming high amounts of fiber in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains stabilizes insulin spikes that would typically occur eating high crab and sugar-packed meals.
The chart below lists what changes your body can experience and the health benefits of each.
|Decrease in sugar
|Decrease in Saturated Fats
|Increase bowel movements
|Lose excess weight
|Lower glucose levels
|Lower blood pressure
|Tastebuds will change
|Clear skin conditions
|Increase in energy
|Heart Disease decrease
|Increase in libido
While these are just some of the biological changes your body may or may not experience by consuming a plant-based diet, it is always recommended to contact your physician if you experience any symptoms you are not familiar with, pain, or discomfort.
What Are The Negatives Of A Plant-Based Diet?
When deciding whether or not a plant-based diet is an optimal choice for your health, it is always a good idea to research what the negatives may or may not be. While one might be confused by the words negative and plant-based in the same sentence, here is a list of what could be called negative when eating plant-based.
Plant-based diets may be a little expensive. Since a considerable amount of food you will be eating are perishable items and nuts, having to restock fruits and vegetables on an as-needed basis can become a bit pricey. Also, nuts are already on the higher end of the price tag, so buying in bulk might be the best option as they are likely to be a staple in your meal plan.
There’s no more snacking on a plant-based diet. If you are a late-night snacker or love sugary and salty snacks, elimination may be a bit harder for you in the beginning. You may feel it is difficult to detox from processed and prepackaged foods for at least the first two weeks.
Fast food is a big no, no. Goodbye, are the days of zipping in and out of the fast-food drive-thrus for an easy meal. Pre-planning and packing meals is now your favorite pastime, which can be challenging for some who aren’t regimented or enjoy planning. This will be another significant change to your lifestyle and everyday routine.
Eating out will take a bit of research. If you are a person who eats out often, either for personal or business reasons researching restaurants in the area and their menu options will be a pre-game step before making that reservation. Unless you enjoy eating a salad every time you go out for dinner, ensuring you have several food options anywhere you go is a must-do when dining out.
While these negatives are not meant to deter anyone from choosing a plant-based diet, they are factors one must consider when deciding to change their lifestyle. Some changes are drastic, and others just take a bit of extra time or maneuvering; you need to be fully informed of whatever path you choose.
The Pros And Cons Of A Plant-Based Diet
Now that we have educated ourselves on the ins and outs of what a plant-based diet is and possible roadblocks that may occur let’s dive into the pros and cons of a plant-based diet.
- Beneficial to gut health- Eating primarily plant-based has a significant effect on our digestive health. Eating more fiber allows our bodies to break down foods and avoid diarrhea, cramping, or constipation that could typically occur when eating animal products. This increase in fiber also creates a bulking effect in the stool and increases bowel movements for those who previously had difficulty.
- Beneficial to heart health- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can lower your risk of heart disease. The decrease in consuming saturated fats, processed sugars, high caloric foods, and high sodium items assists in lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, reducing heart attack, stroke, and failure by 32%, source
- Beneficial for weight loss- Decreasing processed, prepackaged, sugary snacks and fatty foods plays a significant role in weight loss while on a plant-based diet. Eating plant-based reduces caloric intake and animal fats due to increased fiber that assists in being satiated for a more extended period of time.
- Beneficial for immune health- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are known to be high in antioxidants and several of the significant vitamins and minerals necessary to the immune system to run on peak performance. This can reduce inflammation in the body and decrease glucose that causes diabetes and prevent illness from chemical additives found in animal products and processed foods.
- Increased chance of protein deficiency- Consuming animal products is typically how most people can meet their protein needs. Eliminating animal protein makes it challenging to ensure protein percentages are being met. You will have to measure out and take note of foods that are protein-rich daily until a routine is set.
- Possible deficiency in vital nutrients- Vitamins such as iron, zinc, B12, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc are found in higher amounts within animal products. Switching to a primarily plant-based diet may cause deficiencies in these vitamins because plants don’t either contain these vitamins, or an excessive amount of them must be eaten to ensure efficient levels. A multivitamin will be necessary alongside a nutrient-dense meal plan of plant-based food.
- Food options are limited- While there is plenty of meat, dairy, and cheese substitutes out there that can take the place of animal products, in the end, they are still not the real thing. Some people may find it difficult to entirely eliminate their favorite food items such as burgers, steaks, and ice cream and replace them with tofu and soy-based alternatives. Granted, there are a plethora of exceptional plant-based meal services, recipes, and cookbooks that can do the work for you; there is still a minimal assortment of meals available.
- Menu prep and planning will take a chunk of time- When it comes to a plant-based diet, creating a menu ahead of time, cooking, and packaging meals and snacks will take a significant amount of time, not to mention adjusting. While some plant-based meals and snacks are available on the market, they tend to be a little on the pricey side and may not satisfy that sweet tooth or salty craving you desire.
Hopefully, these pros and cons helped make a plant-based diet appear less challenging and opened up some questions you could ask your doctor or a Nutritionist.
With any major changes in a lifestyle, there will always be pros and cons. The vital aspect to take away from this article is deciphering what is best for you, your routine, and overall what health differences you want to create.