So you’ve decided to shift to a plant based diet. In the first of this 2 part series we explained what a plant based protein diet contained and briefly touched upon the health and environmental benefits of the same. In this part we will delve even deeper into these benefits and help you decide on successfully switching to this type of a diet.
It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are full of health, nutritionally adequate, and can provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage.
An in-depth look at the benefits of a vegan protein / plant food diet
Some of the benefits of a plant based / plant food / vegan protein diet are as follows:
Easy Weight Management:
If weight-loss and maintenance is on your mind, then a whole food, plant based diet is definitely one of the best ways to do so. According to research conducted by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute various, 2022 based in the United States, people who eat plant-based diets tend to be leaner and more physically energetic than others. A peer-reviewed study (study authors in 2020 looked at 19 intervention studies (a study where participants were given a strict diet for a specified amount of time. The results concluded that in each of the 19 studies participants ascribed weight-loss, increased in activeness and feelings of well-being through plant based diet.
What key indicators in plant based diets that made them more effective in weight loss? Research indicates that the crux was calorie density. The fact that dairy and processed foods were avoided, and plant based whole foods took their place meant that there was an increase in fibre, and a subsequent decrease in high caloric intake. The fibre in plant food helps fill one up and fuels a healthy gut microbiome, regularising metabolism.
Improved cardiac functioning
A diet high in plant based protein has been credited with promoting better cardiovascular functioning. It can prevent and slow the progression of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), one of the world’s leading causes of death. A 2019 review of 99 studies references found that diets rich in whole plant foods were associated with significantly lower risk of CVD compared with diets high in meat and dairy products. As plant based diets can restrain dyslipidemia which leads to progression of CVD.
How to Get Started on a Plant-Based Diet
If you're thinking of making the switch to a plant-based diet, it's important to do your research and make sure it's the right choice for you. There are a few things to consider, such as your current health status, lifestyle, and food preferences.
Here are a few tips to help you get started on a plant-based diet:
- Start slowly. If you're not used to eating a lot of plant-based foods, start slowly by adding a few new plant-based foods to your diet each week.
One should consume foods as following: Cereals - 30 g x 12 portions, Pulses - 30 g x 2 portions, vegetables - 100 g x 3 portions and fruits - 100 g x 1 portions (Dietary guidelines for Indians, ICMR)
- Plan your meals. Planning your meals in advance can help you make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need.
- Choose nutrient-rich foods. Make sure to fill your plate with nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Find substitutions for your favorite foods. If you're having trouble giving up your favorite foods, try finding plant-based substitutions. For example, you can use almond milk in place of cow's milk, lentils in place of meat, and moderate amounts of plant-based PUFA rich oils.
- Get support. If you're struggling to make the switch to a plant-based diet, consider joining a support group or working with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist.
Making the switch to a plant-based diet can be a big change. But with a little planning and preparation, you can be successful in following a plant-based diet long-term. Plant based diets also increase sustainability. In this way we’re contributing to our planet’s health as well.