So many of us here that share the passion for farm-fresh foods, supporting our farmers and leading a healthy lifestyle already incorporate plants into our diets. However, some of us might experiment with or explore the possibilities of eating a plant-based diet entirely. A plant-based diet includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and there are many reasons why this could be the ticket to having a long, healthy, and vibrant life. By eating more plants, you are less likely to be carry extra weight.
Plant based options are so readily available today, and you can’t even stroll down a grocery aisle without seeing new foods ‘remade’ using only plants. I personally have plant-based 'meat' burgers, veggie burgers, and more stocked up in my freezer. I also have a pantry of cauliflower ‘chips,’ or butternut squash ‘chips,’ and low-sodium veggie soups, so I always have something pretty healthy to turn to. And while most of them are delicious, I still prefer the farm-fresh veggies to those any day. While I personally confess that I still eat chicken (pasture raised and as natural as possible), fish (like salmon) and on rare occasions red meat, I most always find myself opting for plant-based meals at least four or five days a week.
You may wonder, "What are the benefits of eating a plant-based diet?" According to my nutrition school in which I’m currently enrolled (Institute of Integrative Nutrition), plant-based diets can be incredibly beneficial for many reasons.
HEALTHY WEIGHT:Most folks who follow a plant-based diet tend to eat less calories and consume less saturated fats. In a country that is in an obesity epidemic with 50% of people expected to be obese in the coming years, this is an important consideration. Not necessarily just to be thin, but to be healthy. Speaking of ...
BEING HEALTHY OVERALL:So many of us are either diabetic or facing the possibilities of becoming diabetic due to all of the sugary foods that we consume. Compare this to those who follow plant-based diets, because these are the people who are are more likely to have improved insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol levels. Eating the excess sugary foods – and don’t forget excess simple carbs, white flour, pasta, and even sugary drinks and alcohol convert to sugars as well and can create havoc on your blood sugar and insulin regulation. All of this can lead to not only diabetes but other diseases from putting a strain on your blood sugars, cholesterol, lead to cardiovascular disease, strain your organs, and more. However, all of this can be prevented by following a plant-based diet. In fact, eating more plants actually can reduce the risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
TOXIC OVERLOAD:In today’s foods, we often have excess toxins that some of our ancestors just didn’t have to contend with. Our farm-raised fish can be contaminated with mercury, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which may disrupt our hormones. Meat and dairy can carry excess hormones, steroids, and other toxic residue from their feed and processing. If you’re not ready to cut out meat or fish ( like me ) just make sure you’re also consuming produce that’s been farmed either organically or rinsed and cleaned before being consumed, and start to reduce your frequency of animal foods. This will help you minimize your toxic exposure.
SAVE YOUR MONEY:According to studies, individuals who follow a plant-based diet may save about $750 per year on grocery costs.Remember to buy in-season produce, along with bulk whole grains, beans – all of which are quite economical!
ENVIRONMENT:Nearly 30% of our land across the world is used for livestock. Farm animals do contribute to the greenhouse gases, and whether you believe it or not, many scientists have linked this to contributing to the global warming scenarios. The demand for animal products is a major cause of deforestation as trees and entire ecosystems are cleared to make room for livestock. In fact, nearly 30% of the earth’s land area is used to raise livestock. Farm animals are also a major contributor of greenhouse gases, which are linked to global warming. Plant-based foods require less energy, space, and water than animal foods and are less taxing on our resources. Producing one kilogram of animal protein uses 100 times more water than the same amount of protein from grains.
Many of the world’s populations who have lived the longest focused on diets that are mostly plant-based (Mediterranean and Asia). This can be attributed to the fact that plant foods are high in antioxidant compounds like vitamin C, selenium, and vitamin E which decreases disease risk, oxidative stress and supports healthful aging. Packed with healthy vitamins and minerals, you are basically feeding your body with the ammo it needs to be at its most healthy for the long-haul.
If even a few of these benefits of a plant-based lifestyle speak to you, then going on a plant-based diet, or at minimum dramatically increasing your plant intake, might be just the ticket to get you pursuing a healthier path for a vibrant, active and healthy future. And don’t you deserve that?
THREE FARM-FRESH FOODS TO INCREASE:
KALE:Whether you feel it is out of fashion, it is always on point for providing you with ample health benefits. Researches have found it has over 45 flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. Plus it has more calcium when compared to a glass of milk.