What is a plant based diet, that everyone is taking about recently so much? Why is it so popular and what makes people go vegan overnight these days?
These are the common questions nowadays, and bellow I will try to answer all of them.
First of all, a plant based diet is a vegan diet. Industry players sometimes like to substitute one term with another, depending on their main target customers. For example, if they do not want to scare the omnivores, they prefer to use ‘plant based’ description. Sociologically, it does not provoke as much criticism with people as ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ terms.
To explain even more fully, a plant-based diet is simply a diet that includes solely plant-based sources of nutrients, such as soy products that include complete proteins and vegetables, that include necessary vitamins, mostly healthy fats and carbs.
Scientific evidence shows that a plant based diet is associated with better health outcomes (1). So much so, that the new revision of the Canadian Food Guide, that is due in 2019 is expected to emphasize on the plant based sources of nutrients, instead of familiar animal ones (2). That is a huge shift in the official recommendation towards eating habits for the nation and an undoubted evidence of the popularity and healthiness of the plant based diet overall.
The obvious health benefits of the vegan diet are:
- Absence of saturated fats (saturated fats come solely from animal sources). Saturated fats cause high blood pressure, and consequent problems with the heart and many other organs where blood flows, supplies them with oxygen and necessary nutrients.
- Vegan diet is usually richer in certain nutrients, such as fibre (necessary for healthy digestive system), potassium (necessary for the regulation of blood sugar level), magnesium (necessary for bone health), folate (necessary for the production of DNA) and vitamins A (necessary for good vision, formation and maintenance of teeth and bones), C (necessary for strong immune system) and E (necessary for healthy skin) (3).
- It can protect you against certain cancers. World Health Organization claims that 30-50% of all cancers are preventable and one of the major prevention tools – a healthy diet. “Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have an independent protective effect against many cancers” (4).
Besides the above, many people also chose to follow a plant based diet due to other non-health related issues. Some are concerned with the environmental benefits. It’s a known fact, that a current animal farming industry is a main cause of global warming. Other people are concerned with the ethical and moral factors, they do not wish to harm the animals.
I, myself, am a huge believer in the future of a plant based diet. It is a growing niche in food industry and I believe that it will be one of the major ones very-very soon. Most of my recipes are vegan or at least vegetarian, and I constantly strive to learn more adaptations of dishes to plant-based ones. As an example, please see my latest recipe of a ‘Vegan vegetable Dauphinoise” here. So far the most challenging part comes, when trying to provide an equivalent in taste substitution to an ordinary animal based dairy cheese. However, the technology is developing, more and more people turn vegan and share their recipes, thus, creating an open-source vegan cheese recipe development process. I truly believe that soon enough, the world will know a plant-based cheese that tastes exactly the same as our beloved dairy one!
I encourage everyone to try plant-based dishes from time to time. Have an ‘Animal-free Tuesday’! It is not as hard or challenging as it seems at all. Vegan diet is far from just salads! It is a very tasty and nutritional combination of foods, and not as boring as haters describe it!
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(1) Scotti.M. (2017, December 18 ). “New Food Guide’s ‘foundational statements’ may emphasize veggies, plant-based food over meat”. Retrieved from: https://globalnews.ca/news/3922379/canada-food-guide-new-emphasis-vegetables-healthy-fats/
(2) Howard C. and Culbert I. (2018, February 11). “Food Guide revamp encouraging plant-based, low-meat diet is good for people and the planet”. Retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/opinion-canada-food-guide-1.4530058
(3) Petre A. (2016, September 23). “6 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eating Vegan”. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-benefits
(4) “Cancer Prevention” (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/ on 2018, June 14