Why go Plant-Based?

Recently it seems as though everywhere I look, whether it be browsing through a grocery store or reading a restaurant menu, the word vegan pops up. I can’t escape it- from “tofu”rky to vegan ice cream, it seems almost everything these days has been “veganized”. This is no coincidence, veganism is on the rise! Studies show that there has been a 600% increase in veganism in the US in the past three years- but why? Food is very personal and there are many unique reasons why someone may choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle. However, growing evidence shows that eating a plant-based diet is one of the best things we can do for our health.

The overconsumption of meat in the human diet is causing a pandemic of disease. Over $285 billion per year is spent treating illnesses proven to be caused and exacerbated by eating red meat. Consuming animal products has been linked to 15 of the 16 “big killers” in the west, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. A plant-based diet scientifically reduces the risk for chronic degenerative diseases including obesity, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. The Western diet which is high in saturated fat and processed foods but low in plant-based foods and complex carbs is detrimental to the human lifespan. Whereas, a vegan diet decreases the risk of food-borne illnesses which account for roughly 76 million illnesses a year. The main culprits- meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.

Additionally, the high volume of antibiotics used in the agricultural industry is a significant contributor to the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis. The majority of antibiotic use in this industry is to promote the growth and yield of livestock- not to treat illness in animals. In some areas, the amount of antibiotics used in livestock is four times greater than the amount used for human treatment. The extremely high volume of antibiotics used in agricultural practice is forming antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in settings of intensive animal production. These resistant bacteria are transferred to humans through the food chain and causing antibiotic-resistant infections in human consumers. These infections prove extremely difficult to treat as the bacteria are resistant to the majority of treatment options. This can result in prolonged illness and even death.

Many argue that humans cannot get adequate nutrition from a plant-based diet. The simple fact is that in this day and age, we do not require animal products for a healthy diet. It is proving to be even healthier to completely omit animal products from one’s eating habits. A plant-based diet is inherently healthy because animal fat and cholesterol are replaced with fiber and nutrient-rich produce. Furthermore, a true plant-based diet steers away from refined and process foods and encourages the consumption of vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, nuts, and whole foods. There is no doubt in my mind that making the switch to a plant-based diet is making the switch to a healthier form of eating.

For your health, for the animals, or the environment, start the journey to becoming plant-based. If you are new to the journey keep in mind it is okay to start slow. Next month is officially World Vegan Month- I challenge you all to try the plant-based diet for November and see how it goes. As I said before, vegan options are everywhere- you can't escape them! All you have to do is start looking.

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