Why Plant Based
The reasons for reducing meat consumption are 3-fold: The concern for living creatures, the environment and ones own health. Adopting a more plant-based diet has a plethora of positive downstream effects that extend far beyond ones own improved quality of life. These include but are not limited to: Better sleep, digestion, energy, endurance, physical appearance (skin etc.), mental and immune function (less colds, disease protection etc.) The list goes on! The main point to keep in mind is that every single disease is modifiable via ones diet as food is the body's fuel that will determine (to a certain extent) how it functions. Whole foods that are real, natural and less processed will provide the body with quality fuel to do quality work. Thus one should aim to eat a wide variety of whole foods in moderation. However, this shift cannot be imposed- everyone will find their balance in their own time- I am simply sharing my experience.
I find that people (myself included) tend to make excuses and exceptions for why we need animal products in our lives because we love the way they taste. Yes cheese is delicious! But we must be able to distinguish necessity from excess. I think there was a time when it was safer and more humane to eat meat more regularly, but the horrifying effects of overpopulation in today's world have created a different reality. If we continue to demand meat at the same rate as we do now from manufacturers, the planet and health of all those living on it will quickly deteriorate from disease and pollutants. The effects of animal farming contamination is already a global issue. It results in the growth of dangerous strains of bacteria which may end up in nearby vegetable farms from water runoff, as well as contribute to antibiotic resistance- as farm animals are given hormones and antibiotics regularly.
Most people seem to think that one must either adopt a strict vegetarian diet or eat it regularly (all or nothing) when this is not at all the case. A healthy lifestyle is the result of moderation in almost everything- hence food is no different.
Although this is an extreme transition for many of us accustomed to a carnivorous diet, big changes happen in small steps. For me, it happened just so- one small step at a time. It takes some adjusting for the body to come off addictive diets that are high in sugar & salt. There can even be withdrawal-like symptoms- much like other addictions. But the interesting thing is that once the initial challenging period of cleansing is surpassed, the body will no longer crave these things, and there is no go going back.
Introduce your body to truly good, whole foods and it will not be satisfied with crap anymore. Then you will begin to become more sensitive to the signs of your body- what it needs and when. Rather than living in a numb state where nothing you eat or drink affects you much because your system is so loaded with garbage. When I say garbage I mean fast food, packaged instant meals, deli meats, candy & all other artificial concoctions. This is not food, it is not nutrition. Unfortunately these are the cheapest, most widespread things. Thus is it up to us- the consumers, to make our own informed choices. We must take matters of health into our own hands. Otherwise the cycle of suffering continues far beyond the slaughterhouses. In the end, the effects we have on the planet will come back to affect us anyways. A reduction in our consumption of meat, is a starting point towards ending this cycle.
With that being said, veganism/vegetarianism/plant-based or whatever you call this transition does NOT automatically mean healthy. This is not a trend, this is not a diet fad- it is a lifestyle towards greater health and well being of oneself, the planet and all living things that inhabit it. In my eyes, it should not be adopted as a religiously held set of restrictions that leave one feeling malnourished & deprived. No, there is a way to consume all the amino acids, vitamins, minerals and more that you need without eating meat everyday. And this does not include eating vegan packaged treats or frozen dinners (these are just as bad as meat-based alternatives…if not worse). If there is one thing you do when you go out to buy food, read the ingredients. Those new to veganism or ones who adopt such a diet for the wrong reasons may easily fall prey to unhealthy "tasty" foods that imitate the animal products they miss. Be wary of this- a vegan brownie is still a damn brownie so don't kid yourself.
Healthier diets begin with more cooking and less lazy, cheap, rushed consumption. Yes it can be expensive and time consuming to eat healthy- but not more expensive and time consuming than recovering the planet & your health after a lifetime of poor food choices. There are no shortcuts. Never forget that you alone decide what you have time for.
I have compiled a small list of food combination ideas for those who may be interested in reducing their consumption of animal products but don't know where to start. By combining the right foods you can incorporate complete proteins (proteins that contain all the essential amino acids that the human body cannot make and thus, must get from food) plus all the fiber & vitamins you may be missing in a meat heavy diet. This way you won't feel deprived. Remember that all protein comes from plants! The best method is to eat a wide variety of different fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts & seeds- as each individual food has a unique nutritional profile and thus, something good to offer the body. When you reduce animal product consumption you may find you need to eat more than you did before, because plant-based foods are much lighter on digestion. It is how the human body was designed to eat and you will feel this difference.
beans & rice: or another grain mixed with beans such as hummus & pita or bread & peanut butter
soy (be careful with this one: most are GMO & high consumption may have negative hormonal effects)
Some interesting documentaries
What the Health