Jump to content

Eat Plants! Plant-Based Diets Growing in Popularity - Here's Why

Published

Plant-based diets have many benefits to your overall health. Studies have shown that diets rich in plants have excellent nutritional value, and adding more produce to your diet can help with various ailments. Eating more fruits and veggies can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower your risk of chronic heart disease.

Specializes in nursing. Has 6 years experience.

What changes can you make to your diet to maximize nature's fantastic health benefits?

Eat Plants! Plant-Based Diets Growing in Popularity - Here's Why

Plant-based diets have many benefits to your overall health. Studies have shown that diets rich in plants have excellent nutritional value, and adding more produce to your diet can help with various ailments. Eating more fruits and veggies can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower your risk of chronic heart disease. What changes can you make to your diet to maximize nature's fantastic health benefits?

How do animal products affect your cardiovascular system?

Animal products (meat and dairy) contain protein, but they also contain cholesterol-raising saturated fats associated with cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular mortality. Not to mention that they also include hormones and possibly other contaminants from the way these products are produced. The CDC has stated that increased consumption of all meats is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Meat, in particular, is associated with colorectal and kidney cancer.

What about protein? 

It seems that the first question we need to ask ourselves is, how much protein do I need? It does not take much to reach the required daily intake of protein for most individuals. A balanced vegan or vegetarian diet can meet all your nutritional needs. Seitan, Tofu, and Tempeh are popular meat replacement options containing protein, iron, and calcium. If you are looking for dairy-free alternatives, there are many decent vegan options rich in vitamins and protein, without hormones and saturated fats.

What about fats?

Consuming fats is a necessary part of a well-balanced, healthy diet. Making sure that you get enough fats can be a concern when limiting or excluding animal products. Plants and some animal products such as fish contain healthy unsaturated fats. You can get these healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, sesame oil, and olive oil on a plant-based diet. Consuming healthy unsaturated fats can have many health benefits, including lowering LDL Cholesterol, reducing inflammation, and building stronger cells in the body.

How do fruits and veggies affect your cardiovascular system?

All fruits and veggies contain nutrients essential for overall health. Blueberries, apples, and pears, for example, can aid in lowering blood pressure. Leafy greens such as kale, bok choy, chard, and collards are packed full of vitamins and fiber. Citrus fruits also contain vitamins, and they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Legumes contain protein, no cholesterol, are low in fat, and are high in vitamins and minerals. Beans, peas, and lentils are a great protein substitute for meat for most meals.

In Conclusion

Going animal product-free isn’t an easy solution, and it can feel drastic when you have been eating meat and dairy forever. It can take time to carve out new habits and diets regardless of your motivation. Even something as simple as swapping out a meal or two a week and enjoying a vegetarian option will still do your cardiovascular system a world of good. There are plenty of meat and dairy alternatives to try out. And yes, some are certainly better than others. Stocking up on replacement items will help you navigate meat-free meals that feel a little more familiar. Set yourself up for success by making a weekly meal plan before heading to your local grocery store. You can get creative with your produce by trying out different preparations such as baking, grilling, or eating raw. A plant-based diet can be healthy and well-balanced, but please consider that just because something says “plant-based” does not automatically make it healthy. Always do your research and check the ingredient list for all your foods.

Whether you go all in plant-based and cut out all animal products or just start adding more fruits and veggies to your plate, your heart will thank you.


References/Resources

Vegetarian, Vegan and Meals Without Meat

The 17 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians

Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat

Consumption of different types of meat and the risk of renal cancer: meta-analysis of case-control studies.

Red meat, processed meat and cancer

Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health - A Narrative Review Article

The power of a plant-based diet for heart health

Vegetable of the month: Leafy greens

7 Reasons to Eat More Citrus Fruits

The role of dietary fats in plant-based diets

Is saturated or unsaturated fat better for health?

The right plant-based diet for you

Nurse writer who has experience in many specialties within the health care industry. With experience in outpatient care, inpatient care, wound care, infusion therapy, insurance authorization, and account management.

1 Article   3 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

18 Comment(s)

SmilingBluEyes

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

I feel much better and have lost some weight since going to plant-based only proteins. My cholesterol is improved too.

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 4 years experience.

Im trying to go plant based. I try to eat fish or chicken for meat. I can't do tofu. Tempeh I have had in the past and I think I could try that again. As for dairy Im just getting the zero fat dairy products. 

Hello,

I love this article ❤️ thank you so much OP.

I have been into nutrition as a teen. Experiencing a plant-based diet brought wonderful benefits (mainly skin , digestive health and even how I slept). I mainly used tofu (which sadly I had to give up) , meat alternatives and fish here and there. Berries , veggies and juices played a huge role in that as well and some grains such as millet. I think I actually ended this phase around the time 2019/2020. 

I revisited this , but there is something called Blue Zoning , which they go to places like Loma Linda , Costa Rica , Greece , Japan and Italy. While meat and sugar was present it was very scarce and mostly everything was plant based. If I'm not in school I try to stick to "blue zone guidelines" , technically having everything fresh , minimal processed food and if I do have dairy it's usually sheep or goat milks.

 

 

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

17 hours ago, LibraSunCNM said:

@Emergent this just made me think of you! 😂

It makes me think of my preachy cousin Mercia😆

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

While there is no denying the benefits iof adding significant plant variety in the diet the article leaves those of us who have been advised to avoid soy based product with no where to turn. I grew up on a working farm and ate meat (Pork, beef, chicken, turkey and as assortment of wild game) In general there has been very little heart disease/cancer in my family. Some of this may be due to genetics some just dumb luck.

These days as I enter into my 60s I  do make a conscious effort to make a least half my plate an assortment of veggies and fruits but when I try to go completely meatless I end up feeling unsatified. From a satiety stand point nothing compares to beautifully marbled rib eye. 

Still there are healthier meats to eat such as 100% grass fed meat whose saturated fat content is similar to white chicken and turkey. It is considerably more  more exspensive than it's grain fed counterpart. It is higher in Omege 3 fats and some studies have shown that it may actually have some cardio-vascular benefits.  For truely healthy red meats one should consider free range wild meat such as Bison, elk, venison. The people of the Mongolian steppe eat almost not vegetables at all (Eating mostly Yak, Horse and a variety of milk and cheese) and have long life spans and low rates of cancer and heart disease. 

When it comes to fish one should also consume only wild caught ocean fish as well as lake a river fish from unpolluted waters. Many people will purchase farm raised salmon not knowing that it is often very high in saturated fats and adulterated with antibiotics and contaminates. 

In truth no one plan suites every individuals nutritional needs. I am a diabetic in spite of a diet rich in vegetables but have been advised to avoid grains based carbohydrates due thier role in insulin resistance.

I have largely switched out plant based milk for whole dairy but there's a textural thing with plant based cheese and yogurt substitutes that I can't get passed.

I am going to be pulling a lot of vegetables from my garden this weekend. I'm curiouse to see how the potatoes did. I don't think I got a high yield but I am learning a lot in the process. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Hppy

 

 

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 28 years experience.

There is no doubt that the plant based movement is having a moment and it's more and more popular with all ages. 

For the last 30 years I've eaten a plant centric diet.  By that I mean I eat mostly vegan but have times like when I travel, eat out, or family gatherings that I eat animal products.  I do go long periods eating only vegan.  My last animal product was sometime last October I believe.  I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas totally vegan.

I will relate my experience only because vegans tend to be lumped into the "preachy" category.   I'm 62 and I've managed to avoid the chronic diseases plaguing my generation.  I'm a healthy BMI, take no medications and don't get sick often.  My last cholesterol was 123 without medications.  

The science and evidence is clear that a plant focused diet is healthy and that one can be healthy without animal products.  Obviously eating a lot of processed junk food vegan food is not healthy, but a diet focused on whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables can really reap benefits in not only preventing problems (me) or helping those with problems get better.

I've studied nutrition as a lay person extensively and am learning all the time.  There's a good new book of information out there called "The Proof is In the Plants".   https://www.amazon.com/Proof-Plants-science-plant-based-planet-ebook/dp/B085ZZ21RG

Lately too I've been reading about the role gut microbiome plays in health and a healthy gut microbiome seems to be fed on plant fiber, something the Western Diet does not provide well.  In fact something like 95% of us don't get enough fiber. 

https://www.amazon.com/Fiber-Fueled-Plant-Based-Optimizing-Microbiome-ebook/dp/B07ZY7J2XW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=fiber+fueled&qid=1625328487&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

The people of Mongolia that eat a meat centric diet have a much lower life span than say the Japanese that eat a lot of plants. 

There is research out there coming out that a low fat plant focused diet devoid of animal products helps with diabetes,  That while avoiding carbs keeps blood glucose levels low, the person stays diabetic and on medication because of the fat content.  

https://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Diabetes-Revolutionary-Permanently-Prediabetes/dp/059318999X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2F10DFVQNW2LD&dchild=1&keywords=mastering+diabetes&qid=1625328929&sprefix=mastering+diabete%2Caps%2C172&sr=8-1

I good go on and on how happy I am with the plant focused diet but am getting into the preachy category.   Certainly no one size fits all and one has to find what keeps them healthy.  

Edited by Tweety

1 hour ago, hppygr8ful said:

While there is no denying the benefits iof adding significant plant variety in the diet the article leaves those of us who have been advised to avoid soy based product with no where to turn. I grew up on a working farm and ate meat (Pork, beef, chicken, turkey and as assortment of wild game) In general there has been very little heart disease/cancer in my family. Some of this may be due to genetics some just dumb luck.

These days as I enter into my 60s I  do make a conscious effort to make a least half my plate an assortment of veggies and fruits but when I try to go completely meatless I end up feeling unsatified. From a satiety stand point nothing compares to beautifully marbled rib eye. 

Still there are healthier meats to eat such as 100% grass fed meat whose saturated fat content is similar to white chicken and turkey. It is considerably more  more exspensive than it's grain fed counterpart. It is higher in Omege 3 fats and some studies have shown that it may actually have some cardio-vascular benefits.  For truely healthy red meats one should consider free range wild meat such as Bison, elk, venison. The people of the Mongolian steppe eat almost not vegetables at all (Eating mostly Yak, Horse and a variety of milk and cheese) and have long life spans and low rates of cancer and heart disease. 

When it comes to fish one should also consume only wild caught ocean fish as well as lake a river fish from unpolluted waters. Many people will purchase farm raised salmon not knowing that it is often very high in saturated fats and adulterated with antibiotics and contaminates. 

In truth no one plan suites every individuals nutritional needs. I am a diabetic in spite of a diet rich in vegetables but have been advised to avoid grains based carbohydrates due thier role in insulin resistance.

I have largely switched out plant based milk for whole dairy but there's a textural thing with plant based cheese and yogurt substitutes that I can't get passed.

I am going to be pulling a lot of vegetables from my garden this weekend. I'm curiouse to see how the potatoes did. I don't think I got a high yield but I am learning a lot in the process. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

 Hppy

 

 

Hello.. With plant based milk I can agree , it has this "thin" and very off-putting flavor , it doesn't state natural. But I wanted to ask have you tasted elk/venison before if so what is it like?

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

1 hour ago, TheNursingdoll said:

Hello.. With plant based milk I can agree , it has this "thin" and very off-putting flavor , it doesn't state natural. But I wanted to ask have you tasted elk/venison before if so what is it like?

I have eaten Elk, Venison, Bison and moose once- The taste and fat content varies depending on the feeding patterns as well as the time of year and the age/gender of the animal. I don't much care for venison harvested in California. The diet is largely scrub oak and sage and has a gamey taste. Elk and moose are usually pretty tender but abscence of body fat means it has to be cooked low and slow this is also true with bison. In areas that have thick old growth oak as well as green understory plants and wild berries have the best taste. I particulary like wild boar from this type of area. I don't hunt as much as I used to but usually get something from my friends who do. 

Most deer and elk are hunted during the fall rut (mating season) and usually only males with three or more points are taken. This may be because they are easier to find due to their running around besotted with lust. Older animals with large racks of antler's are usually tough and I never was a trophey hunter.

I have seen people buying elk, boar and bison in stores like Whole Foods but it usually is ground and has domestic beef or pork mixed in. 

Game meat if most deffinately and acquired taste and I would not recommend buying large quantities until you know you like it. 

Hppy

 

Just now, hppygr8ful said:

I have eaten Elk, Venison, Bison and moose once- The taste and fat content varies depending on the feeding patterns as well as the time of year and the age/gender of the animal. I don't much care for venison harvested in California. The diet is largely scrub oak and sage and has a gamey taste. Elk and moose are usually pretty tender but abscence of body fat means it has to be cooked low and slow this is also true with bison. In areas that have thick old growth oak as well as green understory plants and wild berries have the best taste. I particulary like wild boar from this type of area. I don't hunt as much as I used to but usually get something from my friends who do. 

Most deer and elk are hunted during the fall rut (mating season) and usually only males with three or more points are taken. This may be because they are easier to find due to their running around besotted with lust. Older animals with large racks of antler's are usually tough and I never was a trophey hunter.

I have seen people buying elk, boar and bison in stores like Whole Foods but it usually is ground and has domestic beef or pork mixed in. 

Game meat if most deffinately and acquired taste and I would not recommend buying large quantities until you know you like it. 

Hppy

 

The only game I've eaten was rabbit , alligator , bison and maybe duck if I can find it.  I mainly like Bison as my source of red meat protein. Thank you so much for this ❤️ 

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

I raise sheep on my pastures and eat their children. I am in an incredibly good state of health. I eat very little sugar, homegrown veggies during the growing months, and a low carb, high-fat diet, with mainly animal proteins.

My problem with the plant based diet movement is that it has an almost religious triumphalism to it. It can be a very healthy lifestyle for many people, and many people can thrive on other types of diets as well.

I also think it can have a high carbon footprint because people in the prosperous countries into this diet often are eating foods that are imported from far away. They are often relying on tropical fruits and vegetables that are sent a long distance, using lots of fossil fuels, often from third world countries.  I'm of the belief that economies and food sources should mainly be local ones as much as possible. Globalism it's not the best for the planet Earth.

Unfortunately there is a lot of inhumane animal husbandry practices, especially in the chicken and hog business. Cattle, on the other hand, mainly live their lives in a natural state, grazing in open fields. This is often on land that is really unsuitable for other agricultural practices. It is good for the land to have grazing animals on it as long as it is not overgrazed. Ranchers practice wise land management for the most part. 

A really good practice out west is granting grazing rights for cattle and sheep in the national forest and BLM lands. This is a great way to reduce grasses and thus fire danger. Wildfires are becoming more and more of a problem out west for many reasons, one of which is land and forest management.

So, while I respect people's choices to eat this type of diet, I don't like being preached at by those who eat this way, especially since I'm thriving the way I'm living my life.

Sheri Hammond, DNP, APRN, NP, CNS

Specializes in adult gerontology, freelance writer. Has 37 years experience.

This was a very good, well-researched article!  Adding more plant-based foods is a great way to introduce more healthy micronutrients and is delish!!

I have been a "dirty" vegan for the past year and a half in an attempt to lower my cholesterol numbers.  I had been on a statin for the past 15 years (thank you family history) but was concerned about possible long-term adverse effects of this class of medication.  After a slow taper of the statin over nine months, I now have a perfect cholesterol panel. 

Following a primarily plant-based diet was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I do cheat often and eat seafood if nothing else is available, but the benefits of a plant-based diet are hard to deny for me. 

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Specializes in Peds ED. Has 10 years experience.

On 7/3/2021 at 11:53 AM, hppygr8ful said:

While there is no denying the benefits iof adding significant plant variety in the diet the article leaves those of us who have been advised to avoid soy based product with no where to turn. I grew up on a working farm and ate meat (Pork, beef, chicken, turkey and as assortment of wild game) In general there has been very little heart disease/cancer in my family. Some of this may be due to genetics some just dumb luck.

These days as I enter into my 60s I  do make a conscious effort to make a least half my plate an assortment of veggies and fruits but when I try to go completely meatless I end up feeling unsatified. From a satiety stand point nothing compares to beautifully marbled rib eye. 

Still there are healthier meats to eat such as 100% grass fed meat whose saturated fat content is similar to white chicken and turkey. It is considerably more  more exspensive than it's grain fed counterpart. It is higher in Omege 3 fats and some studies have shown that it may actually have some cardio-vascular benefits.  For truely healthy red meats one should consider free range wild meat such as Bison, elk, venison. The people of the Mongolian steppe eat almost not vegetables at all (Eating mostly Yak, Horse and a variety of milk and cheese) and have long life spans and low rates of cancer and heart disease. 

When it comes to fish one should also consume only wild caught ocean fish as well as lake a river fish from unpolluted waters. Many people will purchase farm raised salmon not knowing that it is often very high in saturated fats and adulterated with antibiotics and contaminates. 

In truth no one plan suites every individuals nutritional needs. I am a diabetic in spite of a diet rich in vegetables but have been advised to avoid grains based carbohydrates due thier role in insulin resistance.

I have largely switched out plant based milk for whole dairy but there's a textural thing with plant based cheese and yogurt substitutes that I can't get passed.

I am going to be pulling a lot of vegetables from my garden this weekend. I'm curiouse to see how the potatoes did. I don't think I got a high yield but I am learning a lot in the process. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Hppy

 

 

The article highlights soy protein sources but it’s not hard to avoid soy in a plant based diet. Legumes and grains combine to make complete protein and you can easily find almond, rice, oat, and coconut non-dairy milks. Processed meat replacements (fake bacon, not dogs, nuggets) are usually soy based but there are soy-free alternatives or you can focus on more whole foods. 

HiddencatBSN, BSN

Specializes in Peds ED. Has 10 years experience.

On 7/3/2021 at 4:14 PM, Emergent said:

I raise sheep on my pastures and eat their children. I am in an incredibly good state of health. I eat very little sugar, homegrown veggies during the growing months, and a low carb, high-fat diet, with mainly animal proteins.

My problem with the plant based diet movement is that it has an almost religious triumphalism to it. It can be a very healthy lifestyle for many people, and many people can thrive on other types of diets as well.

I also think it can have a high carbon footprint because people in the prosperous countries into this diet often are eating foods that are imported from far away. They are often relying on tropical fruits and vegetables that are sent a long distance, using lots of fossil fuels, often from third world countries.  I'm of the belief that economies and food sources should mainly be local ones as much as possible. Globalism it's not the best for the planet Earth.

Unfortunately there is a lot of inhumane animal husbandry practices, especially in the chicken and hog business. Cattle, on the other hand, mainly live their lives in a natural state, grazing in open fields. This is often on land that is really unsuitable for other agricultural practices. It is good for the land to have grazing animals on it as long as it is not overgrazed. Ranchers practice wise land management for the most part. 

A really good practice out west is granting grazing rights for cattle and sheep in the national forest and BLM lands. This is a great way to reduce grasses and thus fire danger. Wildfires are becoming more and more of a problem out west for many reasons, one of which is land and forest management.

So, while I respect people's choices to eat this type of diet, I don't like being preached at by those who eat this way, especially since I'm thriving the way I'm living my life.

I’m not a vegetarian (and ngl love me a big mac now and then) but cattle have a massive impact on the environment. Aside from the greenhouse gases produced, that “not being used for other agriculture” land isn’t otherwise useless land: the cattle industry is a huge driver of the deforestation in the amazon. 

Smug vegans are super annoying to be sure, but I've seen plenty of “religious triumphalism” among meat eaters and keto folks in particular. 

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 19 years experience.

On 7/7/2021 at 3:22 AM, HiddencatBSN said:

The article highlights soy protein sources but it’s not hard to avoid soy in a plant based diet. Legumes and grains combine to make complete protein and you can easily find almond, rice, oat, and coconut non-dairy milks. Processed meat replacements (fake bacon, not dogs, nuggets) are usually soy based but there are soy-free alternatives or you can focus on more whole foods. 

First of all I don't eat cured processed meat unless I cure and smoke smoke it myselfmyself. What I take exception to is how you ignore the issue of being advised to avoid soy, and bulky diets that may cause gas. Also you say my diabetes could have been prevented if I had avoided meat and fat when the mechanism for type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance. I have a nutitional specialist that I work with and most legumes are out because of their high lectin content which contributes both to DMII and leaky gut. I also believe I stressed that I still try to make half  of my plate vegetables.  For instance I made stirfry today and instead of noodles or rice I put my meat over lightly sauteed vegetables. (See picture below). I don't try to change a vegan or vegetarians diet I believe that each person has to do what's best for them. Best to you.

Hppy

 

IMG_0812.JPG

IMG_0812.JPG

4 minutes ago, hppygr8ful said:

First of all I don't eat cured processed meat unless I cure and smoke smoke it myselfmyself. What I take exception to is how you ignore the issue of being advised to avoid soy, and bulky diets that may cause gas. Also you say my diabetes could have been prevented if I had avoided meat and fat when the mechanism for type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance. I have a nutitional specialist that I work with and most legumes are out because of their high lectin content which contributes both to DMII and leaky gut. I also believe I stressed that I still try to make half  of my plate vegetables.  For instance I made stirfry today and instead of noodles or rice I put my meat over lightly sauteed vegetables. (See picture below). I don't try to change a vegan or vegetarians diet I believe that each person has to do what's best for them. Best to you.

Hppy

 

IMG_0812.JPG

That looks so good