Being plant based… this is a very important topic for me hence this article. This is not about me trying to convince you of veganism by any means but just my honest opinion on the issue ( one of the many being climate chance) that we are going to face in the future and some of my own experiences with the plant-based lifestyle. As I feel really passionate about this topic there is a lot that I want to touch on, but at first I want to talk about the health benefits for everyone on a plant-based diet and how to include some more plant foods in your life. In order to make this a little bit easier I included a 5 step plan to achieve that. So please just have a read and conclude for yourself if this is important for you or not. If you do want to improve your nutrition please have a look at some of my ideas to make life easier for you, that I included at the end.
By the way, by plant-based I mean a vegetarian or vegan diet as many studies concern these rather than only a vegan diet. The following shows that even if you are not prepared to go fully vegan, there are already many benefits by going vegetarian or by just adding more vegetables and whole foods to your diet.
For the past year I have more or less adopted a plant-based nutrition approach. At first more accidentally because I started to cook a lot for myself and that way started to become more interested in cooking in general. A lot of cookbooks that we had had for years and that I had previously never looked at suddenly sprang to my attention. Cookbooks like “Deliciously Ella” which worked with a lot of ingredients previously unknown to me like quinoa, chia seeds or hummus. Combined with me new goals for nutrition at the time I started to investigate a lot of plant based recipes primarily because they were deemed healthy from social media and other sources, not knowing that over time I started to prefer these over a lot of other food. At first all those recipes seemed really complicated, containing ingredients that I could not remember to ever heard of and was far from using before.
But time by time I got my staples together, Avocado, tempeh/tofu and generally more vegetables and fruit. Avocado on toast and smoothies became my go-to meals and without me noticing I found myself only eating meat or fish on special occasions, going out or when my mum cooked for us and at was just more convenient for me to eat what she had prepared. Diary milk had long gone from my pantry as I found that I always felt sick after having it and was replaced by plant milk wich made my skin a lot better. Over time I watched some documentaries and listend to tome podcasts that made me aware of the actual benefits for my health, my environment as well as my recovery. In the following I want to share these with you, alongside some of my experience in my daily life as well as with the stigma around “being vegan”. I have no intentions on converting you to veganism but on the contrary just want to educate and tell my personal experiences.
How does it benefit me personally ?
Suboptimal nutrition is a leading contributor to chronic disease and premature death in the United States and worldwide
Don´t we all want to life a long, happy life, without having a chronic illness or dying of cancer at the age of 50. At least I, want to see my grandchildren grow up and be able to play with them, instead of telling them that I am too old and can´t move that much anymore because I am in risk of a stroke or have too high blood pressure. I don´t want to be taking pills at a certain age every day to counteract all those symptoms that I could have avoided even getting by just optimising my nutrition. This might take me a few weeks to get used to, but what are a few weeks compared to my whole life?
Even if you don´t see it that way, I beliefe that if you were on of those people having diabetes or cardiovascular disease you would probably do anything to get rid of those and continue with your normal lives. I am no doctor and I am not giving out any advice if you are ill but I just want to outline some of the recent studies about the power of a plant-based lifestyle on disease prevention and even treatment. In my opinion our healthcare system should focus a lot more on disease preventions rather than prescribing pills to everyone who has a problem. There is a lot one could say about the links between the pharmacy Industrie and health care but this isn´t the intention of this post. So if you are interested in proves where a plant-based diet has done much good for ill people and which is not commonly known, because doctors usually don´t look at diet, go on and have a read.
Almost one half of cardio-metabolic deaths in the U.S. might be prevented through proper nutrition.
According to a recent analysis, certain dietary factors, including high intakes of sodium and processed meat products and low intakes of fruits and vegetables, were associated with 45.5% of cardio-metabolic deaths, were as a “plant-based diet” (vegan or vegetarian) is associated as effective strategy for improving nutrient intake. Plant-based diets are also associated with decreased all-cause mortality and decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease. This is mainly due to the risk factors for those, being diets high in animal fat and reﬁned foods alongside obesity (being over-weight). (2)
For example all the time a lot of people die from suvere illnesses like cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause for deaths in the United States and every 37 seconds one person dies. It is caused by a damage to your heart or blood vessels through Plaque building in your arteries and venes (atherosclerosis). These blocked blood vessels can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke and are mainly caused though too high cholesterol levels. (3) Which are in turn caused by a diet to too high in saturated fat and trans-fats found in animal and highly processed products (diary,eggs,meat) , obesity and Diabetes because high blood sugar contributes to higher levels of Cholesterol. (4)
Diabetes: An estimated 382 million adults worldwide had diabetes in 2013; this number is expected to rise to 592 million by 2035. Numerous studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians are at a much lower risk of diabetes and additionally those diets have shown to be helpful not only in prevention but also in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in several clinical trials. Compared with more conventional diets in treatment of type 2 diabetes, vegetarian diets are almost twice as effective and showed a significantly better control over blood sugar levels. The glycemic control also seems to be linked to diet as the release of an important hormone (gastrointestinal hormone) is for example diminished after eating processed meat. (2)
High Blood pressure is another common issue that many people take daily medication for. 143 million life-years of disability were attributable to hypertension (high blood pressure) and is associates with other leading causes of death as even only 10 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure doubles the risk of a stroke. On the contrary the reduction of 5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure leads to a 7 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality, a 9 percent reduced risk of heart disease. That shows the immense impact of good blood sugar levels of out whole health status. A meta-analysis of multiple studies and trials proved that subjects on a vegetarian diet had much better blood pressure levels compared to a omnivorous control group and that furthermore a vegetarian diet decreased both systolic and diastolic blood pressure independent of other factors such as salt intake or exercise levels. Again it is important to notice that only the reduction in systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg is estimated to result in a 7% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 9% reduction in mortality due to coronary heart disease, and a 14% reduction in mortality due to stroke, which shows how important even a slight decrease in blood pressure levels can be and that these can be accomplished without medication on a plant-based diet. (2)
Almost 10 Millon people die from cancer every year. Already in 2007 a study published by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research showed that the consumption of processed as well as red meat has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer because some chemicals in meat and especially meat cooked at high temperature, induces DNA damage which is the source for tumours that then spread around the body and create what er know as cancer (9)When we ingest animal protein, it results in our bodies producing higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)which stimulates cell division and growth in both healthy and cancer cells and, for this reason, having higher circulating levels of IGF-1 has been consistently associated with increased cancer risk, proliferation, and malignancy(12) .
The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that more than 1.3 billion adults worldwide are overweight. As mentioned before a plant-based diet is also the optimal diet for weight loss as it generally provides a higher volume, due to a lot more focus on vegetables and leafy greens and a higher Fiber intake that is not only good for our gut microbiome but also keeps us full for longer. Additionally the BMI(Body Mass Index) tends to increase with the frequency of consumed animal products. So if you want to loose weight easily you might want to consider this. Furthermore even if a plant-based diet does not directly mean a healthy diet, as nowadays nearly every desirable product has its replacement, it is easier to loose weight, without changing a lot, if you stop eating those highly processed foods that are high in saturated and trans-fats and mainly found in animal products. Start to replace them with whole plant foods that provide your body with the minerals and antioxidants that it needs to thrive. Many cases have also shown that issues with acne disappears if you cut diary out of your diet.
In addition I want to outline that against many believes fruit sugar is really different to for example the sugar in sweets, as fruits contain fibre which makes us digest the sugars in fruit totally different and don´t give us that sugar rush that we can experience otherwise due to the spike in blood sugar and that imbalances our glucose levels in our blood. Fruits have proven to help with weight loss as they reduce hunger and increase meal satisfaction especially if consumed briefly to a meal.
But even more important is the fiber intake through fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that individuals consuming a amount of >20 g fiber/day which is equal to around 200g of fruit, had significantly lower risk of premature death by about 40% and also showed to be really beneficial for successful ageing. Furthermore a diet high in fiber has proved to have a good effect on mental well-being, reduces the risk of depression and provides the body with anti-inflammatory markers that help it to recover. (10)
The lowest target that everyone should try to achieve is 5-a-day which means five hands of vegetables and fruits every day because there are so many benefits of having those, as shown below. But research in the UK has shown that young adults get the fewest portions of fruit and veg and only 21% of 16-24 year olds achieve the 5-a-day target mostly because they don´t know how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diet.
Now you see that a little thing, like just eating more plants, has a huge impact on your overall health. It is easy to make small steps towards a healthy life by including some more fruits in vegetables into your diet that will make you feel better and life longer. So if you are ready to start but don´t really know how to do then scroll down because I have worked out 5 tips to make your life a lot easier ; )
5 steps to a more plant-based diet
- build your plate right – a wholesome, healthy meal should contain: nuts, seeds , legumes, whole grains and vegetables/fruits so tray to include these in all of your meal
- reinvent your pantry – to make it easier for you to stick to new foods that you want to introduce -> if you don´t have meat or milk in the house you will need to find something else to eat
- take small steps, nobody is perfect – try one new thing at a time such as swapping white pasta with whole wheat pasta for more fibre
Approach it like this: Think about the foods that you would like to incorporate more into your diet, rather than thinking of the foods you believe you shouldn´t eat.
! generally eating more fruits and vegetables is really important as they contain the vitamins, antioxidants and fibre that we need on a daily basis, so try to get at least your 5-a-day in (5 hands full)
- eat enough – many people struggle to built muscle on a plant-based diet or feel tired all the time but not because the diet is insufficient, but because plant foods are generally lower in calories than animal products, which means that many need to eat a lot more than before
- supplement – Vitamin B12 (because no one can make it, even the animals are given supplements that you consume if you eat meat on a regular basis), Vitamin D (except if you life somewhere much warmer than in Europe), (Plant-based Protein)
The conscious decision to go vegan
I believe that everyone needs to come to his/her own conclusion on this topic and as I said earlier I don´t want to convert anyone to veganism as I think that this is such a big decision that it will only be sustainable if you decide for yourself. But I do want to mention that some of the main reasons for me to go vegan were environmental ones alongside the great benefits for performance in sport. But I think that this discussion would go to far at this point as I already bombarded you with so many facts and researches and I don´t want this post to be too long so that everyone eventually looses interest. So stay tuned for more and subscribe to my blog if you don´t want to miss that.
But if I convinced you that including at least some more plants in your diet wouldn´t hurt, on the contrary probably make your life a bit better, than I am more than happy and want to help you a little bit if you now know that you want to improve your diet but don´t know how exactly. Please don´t fall for the common believes that a plant-based or vegan diet is expensive and complicated for it is not, if you give yourselves the chance to get used to it and built a basis of staples and recipes that you enjoy.
Some of my favourite resources for inspiration and education
– Deliciously Ella
– The happy Pear
– Five Sek Health
– Simnett Nutrition (Calestenics, Nutrition)
– Maddie Limburger (at home workouts, Lifestyle)
– Jon Venus (body builder, fitness)
– Game Changers
– What the Health
– Vivo Life (supplements)
– Raw Sports(supplements)
If you are interested in more detailed information such as recipes or meal plants, please let me know ; )