Over the last few decades, the world has witnessed significant increase in obesity, heart disease and diabetes among other ailments. Although these diseases have numerous risk factors, diet is usually cited as a major contributor and lifestyle choices may either increase or reduce the risk of contracting them. Many nutritionists and doctors continue to recommend plant-based diet and exclusion of animal products and processed food. While total vegan diets may help cut down the risk of contracting different diet-influenced diseases, they are not 100%. In fact, research studies show that excluding all animal products from diet may expose you to iron, protein and Vitamin B12 deficiencies among others. It is therefore important to carefully review all these diets and find out what they provide and lack.
Distinctions of Plant-Based Diet
There are different categories of plant-based diet and each has its own boundaries. Some of the popularly recognized categories include the following:
- Total vegetarian vegan – This diet excludes meats, seafood, eggs and poultry, dairy and all animal products.
- Raw food vegan – This is a rare example of veganism that requires exclusion of foods cooked at temperatures above 118° F.
- Ovo vegetarian – This is a form of vegan diet that allows inclusion of eggs
- Lacto vegetarian – A vegan diet that allows the inclusion of dairy products and milk
There are other forms such as Mediterranean and whole-food plant-based which encourage the consumption of plant foods and low fat. However, these two do not completely exclude chicken, dairy products and eggs once in a while.
Plant based diet has several straightforward advantages over those that include animal products. Some of the benefits exist in the following;
Plant diets can successfully deliver essential micronutrients, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes for strength training. In overall, plant-based diet provides for better nutrition than any other with exception of iron and zinc. Additionally, plant-based diets can provide adequate amounts of macro-nutrients in the right combination and caloric intake. A variety of legumes, vegetables and grains can provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require.
From research studies, those who consume more plant foods are less likely to contract various diseases including diabetes, blood pressure, obesity and heart disease. Mortality is also significantly reduced.
Plant diets definitely strengthen the immune and eliminate free radicals that contribute to premature cell death and aging.
There are many other minor advantages that can be listed but most of them will fall under these three broad benefits.
Although plant-based diets have several benefits especially with regards to health and wellness, there are a few concerns. They include the following:
Zinc, iron and Vitamin B12 deficiency
Plant diets that exclude all animal products may leave you deficient of zinc, iron and Vitamin B12. Although zinc and iron is available in plant foods, they are in a lower bio availability when compared to meats and eggs. Vitamin B12 is synthesized by bacteria and not available in plants.
Plants do not deliver enough protein like animal products such as egg, milk and meat. Protein is needed for muscle formation and endurance.
It is advisable to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet for a healthier life. However, going total vegan may lead you to dangerous deficiency. Fortunately, there are other plant-based diets you can choose to add more protein, zinc, iron and Vitamins and avoid deficiencies. Generally, plant-based diets will have a positive effect on your health, immune system and strength.