There are many reasons for choosing more of a plant based diet. My top 10 reasons are outlined below.
- Increase testosterone – A study by the British Journal of Cancer found that vegans had higher testosterone levels than vegetarians and meat-eaters. Higher testosterone is also linked to lower cancer cell growth.
- Better athletic performance and recovery – I have personally noticed a significant increase in energy and speed and a decrease in muscle aches and stiffness after exercise following a plant based diet. However, don’t take my word for it – check out the science to back it up: two elements that slow recovery time down are inflammation and oxidative stress. A whole plant foods diet is naturally anti-inflammatory and studies show plant foods can reduce oxidative stress. Paradoxically, animal products have been proven to cause inflammation and thus slow down recovery time.
- Animal cruelty – animals are sentient beings. Whether it’s a cat or a dog or a cow or a pig they all feel pain. More than 70% of animals raised in the UK each year are factory farmed. The animals are not allowed to live naturally and go outside but are crammed into squalid, often filthy spaces. In the last 15 years the number of intensive megafarms in the UK has exploded from 0 to 1500 to satisfy our demand for cheap meat. This has largely gone unnoticed, reinforcing the disconnect people have with where our food comes from and the horrors that the animals have to endure inside such a place.
- Environmental collapse – The COP21 negotiations in Paris call for governments to work together to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees. However, Chatham House research shows that without a shift in our current rate of meat consumption, which is projected to rise globally by 76% by 2050, global temperatures will certainly not remain below this 2 degree limit. At best, not sticking to this target would likely mean more severe instances of extreme weather such as the heatwaves and heavy rainfall we have experienced. A major Oxford University study estimated that food emissions will account for half of all emissions the world could afford by 2050 but this could be cut by 70% by adopting vegan diets. Moreover, this could save 8.1 million deaths in the UK alone. It is also estimated that livestock production occupies 70% of all agricultural land, which is the equivalent to 30% of the planet’s land surface. Globally, 29% of total freshwater footprint is attributed to the production of animal products.
- Child hunger – according to UNICEF over 50% of grains worldwide are being eaten by animals… while 82% of children living next to livestock are starving. The meat that’s produced in these areas is not given to the children but shipped to the west.
- More fun, variety and taste – 99% of all foods are plants, and only 1% are from animal products (and people say a plant based diet is restrictive!?). Yet animal products still take centre stage on many dinner tables. Eating more plant based foods has opened my eyes to the many amazing new dishes to cook and evolved my pallet from the typical meat and two veg.
- Reduce disease – Studies have linked meat to a number of serious health conditions, with one from Harvard calling ‘healthy meat consumption’ an oxymoron. It has been estimated that 45,000 early deaths and £1.2 billion could be saved annually if we switched to diets containing less meat. Conversely, a plant based diet has been found to lower heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
- No need for fad diets – vegans are the only group of people who average a normal and healthy BMI. Animal products are typically high fat and high calorie whilst plants are typically low calorie and nutrient dense. Therefore, you have no need to stress over calories and can eat more! As long as most of your diet is made up of whole plant foods you will have a healthy body both inside and outside.
- Animal products are dirty and unsafe – every time you dine on animal products you are ingesting bacteria, antibiotics, hormones and a host of other toxins that cause serious health issues in humans. The scary thing is that the very people who you would think have our best interests to heart actually know that many animal products are unsafe. Yet we are still encouraged to eat them. For example, the US department of agriculture stipulates that eggs can’t be labelled as safe for anyone.
- We don’t need animal products – one of the oldest, largest and foremost authorities on nutrition, The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, states that
“appropriately planned vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
One of the biggest misconceptions is that we need animal products to survive. All the science shows that this is not the case. The good news is there is a solution to the aforementioned problems by transitioning to more of a plant based diet and it has never been more easy to do so.