Physician Outlook

Is Going Vegan Worth the Effort?

The benefits of eating a plant-based diet include improved health and a decrease in carbon footprint.

Would you be willing to cut out aspects of your diet if it could increase your athletic ability and improve your overall health while decreasing your carbon footprint? If any of these things sound appealing to you, maybe the vegan diet is something to consider. The vegan diet is something many know about, whether they take part or not. The premise of the diet is to cut out all animal products. While cutting out animal products might seem like a big undertaking, there are now many plant-based alternatives to everyday meals centered around animal products. There are a variety of websites and cookbooks with thousands of recipes and substitutes to make your favorite meals plant-based.  

Improved Overall Health

One of the main attractions of this diet is the many health benefits; not only are you generally cutting out more processed foods, you are also thinking more about the foods you are putting into your body and where they came from. This diet increases your intake of vitamins and other important nutrients that can help improve many health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol, and decreasing the risk of diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. Many studies have been done to show the overall health benefits of a vegan diet. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets.

Benefits For Athletic Ability

Not only have there been studies to show the overall health benefits, since the vegan diet has become more common over the past few years studies have been done to understand how this diet can improve professional athletes’ abilities. One of the studies shows that there is a connection between better endurance and recovery rate in athletes on a plant-based diet (Plant-Based Diets for Cardiovascular Safety and Performance in Endurance Sports). Whether you are a professional athlete or just playing for fun, a plant-based diet could be what you need to outshine the competition.

Improving the Environment

Not only do people see physical benefits when they change to a plant-based diet, they also lower their carbon footprint. By cutting out animal products from one’s diet it decreases the total carbon emissions emitted. The combination of the food and water necessary to raise animals for consumption, and the energy used by the factories and slaughterhouses to process the meat and animal products, produce significantly more carbon emissions than plant production.

It’s Getting Easier

While many people acknowledge the benefits of the diet, starting it is difficult. As someone who can’t eat dairy, I thought I try a vegan diet. I thought this would not be a difficult change, it was much harder than I originally imagined. It takes time to learn how to have a balanced vegan diet, especially knowing where to get protein and what are good substitutes for animal products. However, once you take the time to look into these questions and get a better understanding of how to have a balanced vegan diet, it becomes much easier. This diet also pushed me to really think about the nutritional value of the food I was eating.

With the vegan diet becoming more popular, there are now more options than ever. While people in the past struggled because there were very few convenient vegan products and restaurants rarely catered to plant-based diets, these options are more common today with the growing plant-based industry. It might seem like a daunting task to start a plant-based diet, but the benefits are worth the effort.

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