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Is 2023 The Year To Try Plant-Based Eating?

Written by: Clare England, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

The new year is here. Resolutions, diets and resolved plans to eat in a certain way are everywhere. Here are four reasons to reject all the pressure of a strict diet and instead try going plant-based in January.

woman holding a plant based meat product at the grocery store.

Plant-based eating can improve your health.


Eating a whole food plant-based diet can offer a well-balanced, healthy, nourishing dietary plan. We know that eating fruit and vegetables is good for us. Eating fruit and vegetables in abundance is even better for us. Swapping out meat and dairy has positive health implications. It offers the option to reduce cholesterol and saturated fat intake, both responsible for cardiovascular disease, stroke and type II diabetes. It also boosts our fibre intake. Fruit and vegetables are packed full of fibre. On average, each person in the US consumes 10-15g of fibre per day. That is well below the recommended daily amount of 25-38g. Eating more fibre is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, type II diabetes and certain cancers. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/should-i-be-eating-more-fiber-2019022115927). Our bodies thrive when given all the vitamins and minerals they need to carry out the complex work of breaking down and building up cells. Eating plant-based is an easy way to introduce more fruits, vegetables and legumes into your diet, packing it full of fibre and supercharging your health.


Plant-based eating can help the environment.


Eating a plant-based diet is very likely to reduce your CO2 emissions. Removing meat consumption and switching from dairy to non-dairy are two of the biggest things people can do to reduce their carbon footprint. At a time when we all need to do our bit to help our planet, going plant-based is a winner.


Studies show that over 80% of humanity's land footprint is devoted to livestock. (https://earth.stanford.edu/news/could-going-vegan-help-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions). By reducing our consumption of meat and meat products we can give the land back to mother nature and help to reverse the damage done to the planet. Similarly, swapping from dairy to non-dairy milk can massively cut our carbon footprint. In a study in 2022, 1 litre of dairy milk produced 3.15kg of greenhouse gas emissions through the whole process of manufacture and distribution compared to 0.98kg per litre for soy milk, 0.9 kg per litre for oat milk, and 0.7 kg per litre for almond milk. (https://ourworldindata.org/environmental-impact-milks).


Plant-based diets offer an opportunity to live more in harmony with nature. When eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds you often want to know more about where they are from, how they are grown, whether they are organic, and how they change with the seasons. You might well seek out your local green grocer or farmers market and become enchanted with the array of varieties available. Suddenly, a lettuce is no longer a lettuce, it is a way to help the planet and leave green footprints for the next generation.


Eating a plant-based diet can be cheaper.


The cost of living is increasing. Food prices are rising. We are all looking for bargains, two-for-one offers, and 25% discounts, but there is one section of the grocery store that will always look after us financially – the fruit and vegetable section. Seasonal fruit and vegetables offer a cheaper way to live, especially when combined with store cupboard staples such as rice and beans. Simple, nourishing recipes don't need to cost a fortune. Feeding a family on a budget can be very hard but plant-based recipes offer the opportunity for tasty, healthy, cheap meals. We must also recognise that there is a hidden cost to cheap, fast food. It doesn't look after our health. Health is our most prized possession. It allows us to work, exercise, spend time with friends, have energy for the kids, to enjoy life. Without health, life can become very hard indeed. What we eat has a direct impact on our health and our longevity. Plant-based meals offer the opportunity for low-cost AND healthy options. Here are a couple of recommendations for simple plant-based recipes to inspire you:


You can still eat chocolate on a plant-based diet.


Dark chocolate is nearly always in the plant-based category. It makes sense as chocolate is made from the seeds of a fruit. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and minerals which means that it can legitimately be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Look for chocolate high in cocoa solids (65% and above), enjoy the different flavours of cocoa from around the world and watch out for the addition of dairy milk or butter oil.


Choosing a plant-based diet is not necessarily an easy choice. At first everywhere you turn you are faced with cheese and every label you read has milk on it. It quickly becomes clear that packet foods often contain things that perhaps they shouldn't. It becomes easy to look to whole foods as friends. They are pure, with no hidden ingredients. With planning and simple cooking, whole foods taste incredible and do incredible things for our health. Good luck giving plant-based eating a try. If you need further help, Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people to try going plant-based for one month. Last year more than 620,000 people signed up to try a month of plant-based eating. Their website is full of tips, tricks and support (https://veganuary.com).


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Clare England, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Clare England MSc is a Registered Associate Nutritionist specialising in plant based nutrition and living. She is a talented recipe developer with specialist knowledge in chocolate, vegan, and non-dairy innovations. Clare takes great pleasure in sharing the joy of chocolate and educating people in the art of plant based living. A lifetime learner, Clare is always seeking to improve her knowledge and skills through continued research and education. She has a passion for sharing this learning and does so with warmth and integrity.

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