You have most likely heard of the plant-based diet before. Often referred to as a vegan diet, a plant-based diet omits all products that come from an animal source such as eggs, dairy, meat, honey, gelatin, and shellac. In place of these ingredients, the plant-based diet focuses on grains, beans & legumes, lentils, fruits, nuts & seeds, and vegetables.
Perhaps you are considering going plant-based, or perhaps you are wondering why anyone in their right mind would give up cheese or bacon. No matter why you are here, there is no doubt that the plant-based lifestyle is a growing global trend. This page aims to briefly explain the three main ways that a plant-based diet can benefit your overall wellness. This is only brushing the surface, however, and there is much more that you can read if you want to find out more!
Reason #1 – Physical Wellness
Of all the reasons to go plant based, your health is the one that benefits you most directly. Scientists have stated that a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for your physical health because it encourages the consumption of healthy foods such as whole grains and vegetables and discourages the consumption of unhealthy processed foods. This kind of diet has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as help with weight loss. On top of all that, eating plant-based also reduces your risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.
Reason #2 – Environmental Wellness
A common argument against the plant-based diet is that without animal livestock, we would need to convert more natural habitat to farmland in order to grow enough plants to feed everyone. This is simply not true because of two points:
- An estimated 22-26% of the planet’s unfrozen land is used for livestock grazing.
- Livestock animals produce less meat than the amount of food they consume.
If society were to reduce animal agriculture, we would actually need less land, as there would be less need for grazing pasture, and crops could be more efficiently allocated for direct human consumption. Furthermore, studies have shown that if the United States were to suddenly replace all animal agriculture with crop agriculture, we would increase our total food production by 23% and decrease our agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by 28%.
Reason #3 – Social Wellness
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “humane” as follows:
“marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 2.9 billion land animals were slaughtered for meat in 2016 worldwide. This does not include fish, which alone number in the trillions, or the millions of newly hatched male chicks that are killed in the egg industry for being unable to produce eggs. None of these animals wanted to die. We can continue to develop quicker and less painful methods of slaughter, but it will never truly be humane as long as lives are being taken unwillingly and unnecessarily.
But what does this have to do with social wellness for humans? It makes sense that in a society where people show compassion and sympathy toward animals, they will do the same for their fellow human beings. By spreading awareness of animal suffering and promoting a plant-based diet, we can also promote a society with more compassion toward all of its members.