Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Essential Nutrients and Best Sources for a Plant-Based Diet (Free Downloadable PDF Guide)
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
You may decide to consume a plant-based diet, vegetarian or vegan diet for various reasons including concern for animal welfare, environmental concerns, taste preferences or for health reasons. Individuals that follow a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet are indeed at a lower risk of several health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, heart disease and type two diabetes.
To be plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean that you are vegan, plant-based simply means you try and eat more whole foods, to base your diet around fruits and vegetables but you may also eat small amounts of meat or fish. Variations of plant-based diets include pescatarians, that eat a plant-based diet that includes fish, and flexitarians that predominantly eat a vegetarian diet but may occasionally eat meat or poultry.
What are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet?
It’s Good for Your Heart
Those who consume a vegetarian or vegan diet often have lower cholesterol levels and lower levels of heart disease. The reason for this is often because vegetarian diets are lower in saturated fat. Some studies even showed that reducing 3% of energy from animal protein and replacing that with plant protein resulted in a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.
It’s Good for Your Blood Pressure
Overall, individuals that eat a vegetarian or vegan diet tend to have a lower blood pressure than non-vegetarians. Diets high in animal products are often higher in saturated fat and sodium and therefore including more fruits and vegetables in your diet may help to reduce blood pressure.
It Can Help Your Manage Diabetes or Reduce the Risk Factor
It is well known that a low-fat diet, high in complex carbohydrates and fibre (which are found in abundance in well planned plant-based diets) makes a very good nutritional choice for those with diabetes. Diets based on vegetables, fruit and whole grains that are also low in fat and sugar can help to stabilise blood sugar levels for longer periods. Since those with diabetes are often at a higher risk for developing heart disease a vegetarian diet is also beneficial to reduce this risk factor.
It’s Good for the Environment
Dietary choices can have a significant impact on the environment as well as on our health. Animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change, as well as water pollution, ocean destruction, land degeneration and deforestation. The average UK ‘meat eater’ uses over 4 times as much land and water as an individual who is plant-based as well as releasing 3 times the CO2. Low carbohydrate diets are particularly high in animal products and therefore have the worst environmental impact. They require roughly five times the amount of land, double the amount of water and produce four times as much CO2. (Calculations based 2100 kcals , not including food waste. Using impact data from Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers J. Poore , T. Nemecek Science, June 2018)
Make Sure Your Get all the Nutrients - Recommendations from a PAM Life Weight Loss Coach
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or follow any other diet, it’s important to get the basics of your diet right. When following a plant-based diet certain nutrients require extra attention. You can find everything from quantities to best sources by downloading your free plant based diet guide from our expert weight coach.