Game Changers (on Netflix) was exactly that, a game changer. Part of a widespread movement, plant-based diets are becoming more popular, and there are plenty of good reasons for this. While we’re definitely not claiming it’s the only way to go for everyone (follow your gut!), plant power is what we’ve chosen for our retreat home.
Plant-based diets evoke health, lifestyle and environment benefits that we do believe in – and if this tickles your curiosity, read on!
A plant-based lifestyle means choosing primarily plant foods, while still including dairy and eggs. This means a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Technically, the term plant-based diet can even cover those who consume limited amounts of dairy, fish and even other meats.
A vegetarian diet is the same, minus all fish and meat. Both differ from a vegan diet (which means no animal-product foods at all), but naturally, the term can cover all of the above.
Also worth a mention is the Mediterranean diet, which has a foundation of plant-based foods. This diet includes a few weekly servings of fish, poultry, cheese, eggs, and/or yogurt – with sweets and meat on occasion. Studies of this lifestyle have revealed reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, as well as better mental and physical function.
Plant-powered benefits: the planet
First stop, the environment.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Incredibly, a report from the United Nations Environment Programme hypothesised that a global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce greenhouse gases caused by food production by 70%, by 2050. The report noted that ‘animal products, both meat and dairy, in general require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives.’ Global food production is responsible for 30% of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. and meat has been identified as the food source that produces the most greenhouse gas.
Land use and pollution
Sadly, food production is responsible for a whopping 80% of deforestation and is the greatest contributor to biodiversity loss; and as meat and dairy production consumes the majority of agricultural land, it’s one of the biggest threats. Transitioning to plant-based eating (or simply less meat consumption) would mean less land being used for meat and dairy production, and more land used for growing crops.
It’s also estimated that that food production currently causes 35% of plant-warming pollutants. The meat industry is over two times more responsible for pollution than fruit, veggie and grain production put together. Research ahs suggested a global shift towards plant-based lifestyles could decrease pollution by as much as 49%.
Plant-based choices also play a significant role in water conservation. After all, it’s estimated that 24% of global freshwater is used for livestock! It takes approximately 23% less water to produce 1 kg of grain, as compared with 1 kg of beef. Notably, plant-based diets could likely improve water quality, by reducing the eutrophication caused by runoff from animal feeds and manure.
Plant-based benefits: your health
Next stop, health. Plant-powered diets have been linked with balancing cholesterol levels, extending life spans, delaying alzheimers and minimising the risk of strokes. There really are too many areas to explore in one article, so we’ve focused on some key ones.
Multiple studies have shown that adopting a plant-based diet can reduce blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of conditions like heart disease. One study found that vegetarians had a 34 percent lower risk of developing hypertension than non-vegetarians.
Because meats contain saturated fat, they can contribute to heart issues when eaten excessively. So by cutting back on meat and loading up on plant-based foods, you’re doing your ticker a favour. One study concluded that maintaining a plant-based diet could reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, by 16%.
Type 2 diabetes
The relationship between diet and type 2 diabetes is well documented, and studies are now beginning to suggest that a plant-based diet is the best way to avoid it all together (plants are lower in saturated fats than meats). One study found that eating a plant-based, reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 34%.
the likelihood of obesity (which accompanies a myriad of health issues) tends to decrease as we swap out meat-heavy diets for plant-based options. A study conducted by Diabetes Care study found fairly significant body mass index (BMI) differences between non-meat eaters and meat eaters.
Ultimately, your food, your choice… and you’ll know what’s right for you. If you would like to try out a few days of some delicious homemade, hearty and nourishing plant-based food, we’re always here. Ask our chefs for recipes of your favourites, or check out the faves we’ve already shared.
Nisha is a freelance writer and Vedic astrologer, based in the magical Byron Hinterlands. As well as running her candle business, her life and loves involve: yoga, gardening and all things esoteric. You’ll find her out in nature, or curled up at home with a good book. Happy Buddha is one of her most treasured places on earth (and indeed where she met her fiancé!).