Posted on Apr 16, 2020, 4 p.m.
Eating healthier carries a variety of health benefits ranging from weight loss to boosting natural immunity among other benefits; for those that are looking to eat more health conscious but are not fans of becoming strict vegans or vegetarian, flexitarian or mostly plant based may be right for you.
Flexitarian is not as strict as being vegan or vegetarian but is still primarily plant based while not excluding dairy or meat. This dietary choice has more options if you are trying to eat healthier and are trying to incorporate more plant based foods but are not keen on being animal product free every time you fill your plate.
Now we also have the new fad of being vegan-ish, which falls somewhere in between being vegan and vegetarian, but really it’s just being mostly plant based without having all the restrictions. Plant based also avoids much of the stigma that has been associated with being vegan. The concept of trying to go meatless dates back to the mid 1990s when vegetarians started the do it out of compassion movement which has had some less than spotless exposure from fanatics.
Trend reports are showing that people are not going full on vegan, but more so plant based. As plant based continues to grow in popularity the demand for such alternative choices is expected to double from being $21 billion to being a $37.5 billion market by the year 2024. The meat alternative market is projected to grow from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion by 2030 according to UBS Investments.
Science is beginning to connect the dots between human health and sustainable food systems. As such the Planetary Diet was "designed to be flexible to accommodate local and individual situations, traditions, and dietary preferences” which has been developed by the EAT-Lancet Commission as the first scientific target for healthy and sustainable food systems. This is characterized as consisting of eating "a variety of high-quality plant-based foods and low amounts of animal-based foods, refined grains, added sugars, and unhealthy fats" according to the Harvard School of Public Health's publication, The Nutrition Source. In other words this diet is primarily plant based.
Many people are choosing to eat healthier and are going primarily plant based to reduce the chemical load in their diet and boost their natural immunity. Some are even doing this to lower their carbon footprint and impact of the food they eat on greenhouse gases.
“Red meat is a real outlier in terms of greenhouse-gas production,”Dr. Walter Willet, Chairman of Harvard's School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition. For the sake of “major implications for health and the environment,” the Planetary Health plan recommends one serving of dairy a day, a modest amount of poultry and eggs, and, at most, one serving of red meat a week, with legumes, nuts, and whole grains making up the rest. “There’s some flexibility around this,” Willet added. “Different cultures will want different mixes.”
The Mediterranean diet may be good but following a whole food plant based diet is suggested to be even better by experts like Dr. Joel Kahn who is one of the world’s top holistic cardiologists, as well as many studies such as one published in the Journal of the American Heart Association which showed that eating more plant based whole foods was better for heart health and led to a lower risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases. Those who consumed the most plant based foods experienced a 16% lower risk of having a cardiovascular disease, 32% lower risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease, and a 25% lower risk of dying from any cause.
Whatever your reason may be for wanting to eat healthier, going flexitarian or implementing a primarily plant based diet may be best for you (they are virtually the same). Try to incorporate organic whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains while limiting animal products as much as possible to reap the most benefits.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.