October is Vegetarian Awareness Month so if you’ve been contemplating making the switch to a plant-based diet, or at least incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, now is an excellent time to do just that.
Plant-based eating is going mainstream with more people than ever making the switch. Why is that, we hear you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons why people may decide to cut out or at least cut down on meat and other animal products. For some it’s the inherent cruelty associated with raising animals for food, while others want to help reduce the negative impacts of eating meat on our natural environment, but it seems that the health benefits of a vegetarian diet are a major motivator for many people these days.
As a long-term vegetarian and dietitian, I have always wholeheartedly believed in the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, and while the science on this topic has been somewhat sketchy in the past, there now seems to be a general consensus amongst many of the leading health organisations that a diet based on plant foods (and containing either no or very small amounts of animal products) greatly increases your chances of living a long and healthy life. This is because a plant-based diet reduces the the risk of the major causes of sickness and death amongst Western populations, including heart disease, many cancers and Type 2 diabetes.
If you’re not willing to take our word for it and want to delve deeper into the science yourself, we highly recommend you check out the website NutritionFacts.org where Dr Greger summarises the latest research on plant-based eating. He does this free of charge and doesn’t sell anything except his books, all proceeds of which go back into his organisation with the aim of promoting a plant-based lifestyle. Best of all he presents the science in simple terms so that those of us without PhDs in statistics and biochemistry can actually understand it.
One really important thing to remember though is that you won’t necessarily see the health benefits just by cutting out animal products. You also need to make sure you base your diet on minimally processed, plant-based wholefoods. Balance is the key and it’s important to get it right to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for optimal health. We’ve done a blog previously entitled How to cut down or cut out meat successfully, which we hope will help. Following are some other great resources for getting you started on your plant-based diet journey.
So, we wish you a very happy and successful Vegetarian Awareness Month and as always, please remember to consume with care!