Are All Plant-Based Diets Healthy?
Veganism and vegetarianism are becoming more and more popular in the world today. The reasons are vast and endless due to sustainability, environmental reasons, health reasons or due to animal cruelty… the list could go on. But the real controversy lies in people having the opinion that once you cut all animal-based products out of your diet, you are immediately going to be the picture of health! However, this is sadly not the case, with many animal products in their own right being beneficial to your health.
The types of plant based foods and their sources are very important. For example, white bread is a plant-based food, so naturally, you would think it’s good to eat. However, it is highly processed, is depleted of many heart-healthy nutrients and has a high glycemic index, which means it can make blood sugar levels spike and increase hunger, leading to overeating. So are all plant-based diets healthy?
Just like any diet, there are two options, a healthy and an unhealthier version, the same going for both plant-based and animal-based diets.
1. A Unhealthful Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based which includes a tonne of processed veggie burgers/sausages, lots of vegan pizzas, crisps and vegan ice cream is an unhealthier diet. After all, vegan junk food is a real thing. Further, it can also be high in saturated fat and salt with little nutritional benefits. Most importantly, it may in fact cause weight gain, increase the risk of T2 diabetes, heart disease and elevate blood pressure if continued for a prolonged period of time.
Removing dairy and meat from your diet (some of which are higher in saturated fat, but which have many nutritional benefits alone) can be beneficial but replacing them with foods that are just as high or higher in fat, salt and sugar is not only a waste of time but can have detrimental effects on the body.
2. A Healthful Plant-Based Diet
On the other hand, a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and nuts along with healthy oils and fats can be highly beneficial on the body. This kind of plant-based diet is rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals that help lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight, all of which can lower your risk of heart disease.
Plant-based diets can offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health and are often higher in fibre and phytonutrients. However, some vegans may need to add a supplement (specifically vitamin B12) to ensure they receive all the nutrients required.
The Bottom Line… Are All Plant-Based Diets Healthy?
So no, not all plant-based diets are healthy. In order to eat more plant-based foods, you don’t necessarily need to completely switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet. For many of us, just making a conscious effort to eat less processed foods and more plant-based foods on a daily basis will do wonders for your health and risk of heart disease.
If you would like to try to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, just be mindful that it can take more planning to get all of the essential nutrients you need. You especially need to consider protein, iron, zinc, calcium (if you are excluding dairy) and vitamin B12 (if you are excluding all animal products).
At Gourmetfuel, we have a range of highly nutritious vegan/vegetarian meals packed with nutrient dense plant based ingredients. Some of the options include:
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Annie is our Business Development Manager here at GourmetFuel. Annie completed her Bachelor’s degree in Food Innovation at the Technology University of Dublin. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked for a successful start-up company based in New York City where she gained valuable experience in product development, food safety, and allergen management and control. Her areas of interest are food business sustainability, health promotion, and nutrition research.
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