Plant-based diet: what are the advantages and disadvantages

Oluwatoni Olujinmi

The interest in plant-based diets is increasing day by day due to concerns for health, the environment and animal welfare. 

Plant-based diets are diets that consist primarily of foods derived from plants such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and seeds to minimize animal products such as eggs, meat and so on.

It is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of this plant based diet if considering changing your eating plan. This will help you know the right one to choose, how it will help and pitfalls to avoid.

This article will look into all you need to know about plant-based diets, their advantages and disadvantages.

What is a plant-based diet?

A plant-based diet, sometimes known as veganism, vegetarianism, or flexitarianism, is a way of eating that places greater emphasis on plant-based foods and less emphasis on animal-based foods.

Depending on the individual, it varies from complete abstinence (vegan) to partial abstinence (vegetarian) to reduction (flexitarian) from all animal products.

No matter the pattern of eating plant-based you follow, the basic idea behind the plant-based diet is the same.

Advantages of plant-based diets

There are several excellent advantages that can be attained by adopting a plant-based diet. They include:

1. Improved health 

One of the greatest benefits of switching to a plant-based diet is the positive effect it can have on your health as a whole. Heart disease risk reduction has been connected to it, according to studies.

The reason for this is that they are devoid of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which are prevalent in animal products. Plant-based diets are rich in antioxidants, which help defend the heart from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Plant-based diets have been linked to improved metabolic health, reduced risk of some cancers, improved digestive function, lower blood pressure, and less inflammation.

2. Environmental sustainability

A plant-based diet reduces pollution and other harmful effects on the environment. The majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock agriculture and animal-based diets. This also applies to other animal proteins including pig, chicken, and eggs. So, it is good for the planet if you decide to eat more beans and less meat. 

Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains have positive effects on the environment, but are also associated with more food waste. The only way to get the benefits of eating more plants for both your health and the planet is to actually consume them.

3. Weight management 

Weight loss is one of the many health benefits connected with a plant-based diet. Reducing animal fat intake and increasing intake of vegetables, fruits, and dietary fibre helps with weight management, digestion, and metabolism.

As a result, this can lessen the likelihood of developing obesity-related health issues. Better portion control and more mindful eating are other benefits of plant-based diets.

Disadvantages of plant-based diet

Some of the disadvantages of a plant-based diet may include:

1. Nutritional deficiencies

While it is true that a plant-based diet can be healthy, it may be lacking in some elements. This is due to the fact that plant foods have lower concentrations of some nutrients than do animal products.

Vitamin B12, for example, is largely absent from plant-based meals like soy milk and yeast but widely available in animal products. Minerals including calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and others are also scarce in plant-based diets.

One must pay special attention to iron intake when on a plant-based diet. Because plant-based iron is not as easily absorbed by the body as animal-based iron, this is the case.

In order to get all the nutrients they need on a plant-based diet, people need to plan their meals in advance.

2. Lack of protein sources

Getting enough protein while eating a plant-based diet can be difficult for some people, especially those who adhere to a vegan or vegetarian diet rather than a more flexible one.

Because of the insufficiency of some amino acids in plant-based protein sources, a varied and well-balanced diet is required to ensure enough protein intake.

Legumes, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains are all great sources of plant-based protein, but you will need to eat them throughout the day to meet your daily needs.

3. Expenses

In contrast to the low cost of plant-based staples like beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables, the higher cost of some plant-based specialist products is understandable. Meatless meat alternatives, dairy subs, and organic, non-GMO foods all fall under this category. 

Price-wise, these unique products typically outstrip their animal-based alternatives.  People with limited financial resources may view these items as unnecessary extras.

Another difficulty is the widely varying prices of fresh fruits and vegetables, which might affect your budget no matter where you reside or what season it is. The cost may also increase if you choose for organic produce, which is typically more expensive than conventionally cultivated food.

A balanced and healthy diet

Just as there are many benefits to eating a plant-based diet, such as improved health, reduced environmental impact, and easier weight maintenance, there are also disadvantages, such as inadequate nutrition and inadequate protein sources. 

When making the switch to a plant-based diet, it is important to keep these considerations in mind and, in many cases, talk to a doctor or nutritionist to be sure you are making the right choices for your body. 

In the end, one’s values and health goals should be considered while deciding to adopt a plant-based diet.

Read also: Laboratory-created chicken in the first restaurants and supermarkets in the U.S.

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