Why Choose A Plant-Based Diet?
Ethics, Environmentalism, Sustainability, Health…
Choosing a plant-based diet doesn’t mean that you will no longer any eat animal-based foods, it just means that you choose to eat predominantly a plant-based diet to derive many of the benefits associated with doing so. Of course many will choose to take it all the way and go vegetarian or vegan.
Our products are designed to support overall health and are completely plant-based. As such they are appropriate for anyone seeking greater health and to increase their intake of plant-based nutrients.
Almost no one questions the validity of killing animals when one’s own survival depends on it. This pertains both to direct self-defense as well as eating to survive. However, since some of the earliest times when humans achieved a stable food supply via farming, there have been those concerned about the validity of killing animals for food. When survival is no longer the issue, many people begin to question whether it is right or appropriate to kill other sentient animals.
There were vegetarian movements going back to ancient Greece, Rome, India, and China. As civilization developed, and considerations of philosophy and ethics became apparent, many questioned the need to kill animals unnecessarily. Others believed that avoiding eating animals also provided various health benefits.
In addition to various ethical and health concerns, we now realize that there are significant environmental and sustainability issues associated with raising hundreds of millions of animals for slaughter and consumption. In fact, these may be the most important issues as far as our long term survival is concerned. The amount of resources required to raise animals as a primary food source is HUGE and appears to be unsustainable for our environment based upon many experts’ calculations.
Regardless of your reasons for choosing a plant-based diet (or a predominantly plant-based diet), let’s take a look at what the ramifications of doing so might be.
The Practical Impact of Consuming a Plant-Based Diet: When we consider that raising animals for food has led to many unforeseen problems in our world than solutions, it just makes sense. I.e., it’s the practical thing to do.
The Ethical Impact of Consuming a Plant-Based Diet: This is the simplest to evaluate. For anyone that is at all concerned about cruelty to animals and their mass slaughter, going on a plant-based diet will put them at ease with regard to their personal ethics and beliefs.
The Environmental Impact of Consuming a Plant-Based Diet: Based on all the calculations available, switching to a plant-based diet will cut one’s carbon footprint (and therefore the environmental damage) by 50-80% when compared to those who continue to eat meat and other animal products.
The Health Impact of Consuming a Plant-Based Diet: Although the jury is still out on this, much of that has to do with the strong interconnections between the giant food companies, the medical / pharmaceutical cartel, and the media. In other words, it’s difficult to get the facts since industry (including food, medical, pharmaceutical and media) has such vested interests in maintaining the status quo (i.e., heavy reliance on animal husbandry as a food source) objective research and reporting is very difficult to come by.
I’ll do my best to summarize some of the relevant information available here.
Processing: It is well established that although some processing is both important and helpful in preparing many foods for transportation, storage, etc., too much processing is generally a bad thing when it comes to ultimate nutritional quality of most foods.
Animal-based foods, due to their very nature, tend to require extensive processing to make sure they are safe to eat whereas most plant-based foods can be consumed with little or no processing.
As rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, neurological, heart & vascular diseases continue to increase, one has to wonder if this has to do with the increased consumption of animal-based foods over the past 50+ years. Of course there are multiple factors that have contributed to our declining health including increased consumption of highly refined sugars, the huge increase in highly processed animal-based foods by the Fast food conglomerates has to play a significant role. This is especially true for many of lower income or education as the fast food companies are able to offer extremely cheap food to the masses while backing it up with millions of dollars in slick advertising.
Their ties to government subsidizes on multiple levels allows them to offer their highly processed junk food for less than most people can make meals at home for. Under “real world” conditions (without the government subsidizes) a plant-based diet is actually much more economical than an animal-based diet (especially if you eat in-season and focus on local produce).
Here are some of the potential health benefits associated with consuming a plant-based diet:
- Lower Blood Pressure
Most people living on a plant-based diet tend to have lower blood pressure than their meat-eating counterparts. This is partly believed to be due to a higher intake of potassium-rich foods. Many plants contain high amounts of potassium and Vitamin B6 (which also helps lower blood pressure). Meat and most all animal foods contain little to no potassium and often contain significant amounts of sodium which can actually increase blood pressure.
There’s quite a bit of good research, including from Harvard, that suggest a plant-based diet is associated with lower blood pressure. Elevated pressure is estimated to plague 33% of the American population which places them at higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Lower Cholesterol
This is typically presented as a strong argument for following a plant-based diet BUT current research is bringing this into question. We’ve all seen the smear campaign against cholesterol for the past several decades but most didn’t realize that it was a fabrication. It has now come to light that dietary cholesterol is not the culprit in most cases… nor are animal fats the problem. Cholesterol was just a convenient scapegoat used by Ancel Keys who had sinister, ulterior motives for his wrongful actions.
The bottom line is that dietary cholesterol is not the smoking gun we’ve long been led to believe it to be. However, elevated blood cholesterol is a real problem for many. And while the association between eating animal products and elevated blood cholesterol is no longer as clear as we were led to believe, one thing is clear, consuming a largely plant-based diet is associated with lower serum cholesterol levels.
- Better Blood Sugar Regulation
Abnormal blood sugar levels, and the inability to properly regulate one’s blood sugar, are now known to be among the most important core metabolic problems leading to a whole host of disease processes. Eating more minimally-processed, plant-based foods is one of the keys to helping your body to maintain proper blood sugar regulation. Fiber in particular is one of the most important keys. Animal-based foods are devoid of fiber while many plant-based foods provide significant amounts.
On the other hand, many animal-based foods have been shown to raise blood sugar levels.
- Lower Rates of Cancer
The nutrients that occur in higher amounts in plant-based diets have been correlated with reduced cancer incidence (especially colon, prostate and breast cancers). Animal-based foods, on the other hand, have been linked to increased cancer risk.
- Weight Loss
One of the more significant and far reaching benefits of emphasizing a plant-based diet (when done right) has to do with losing excess body fat. Don’t get me wrong, there are clearly many overweight vegetarians out there but they are much fewer than for meat eaters.
Eating a healthy plant-based diet that includes avoidance of refined high-carbohydrate foods & sugars is one of the best ways for many people to lose excess body fat. The higher fiber content, along with higher amounts of various vitamins and minerals, are associated with healthy weight / fat loss.
Plant-based diets simply are less calorically dense which translates into fewer calories typically consumed. The increased fiber and food volume typically provides better satiety and appetite control.
- Better Digestive Health & Elimination
A properly executed plant-based diet will be high in fiber (as previously mentioned) which will do wonders for many vital body processes including digestion & elimination. Fiber serves as the primary fuel for the millions of beneficial microbes that inhabit our guts. When they burn or use that fiber they produce a waste product of SCFAs (short chain fatty acids) which in turn are the primary fuel for the cells lining our colons.
- Reduced Incidence of Diabetes
Diabetes has become an epidemic in modern society. It is clearly a disease caused by one’s lifestyle (at least Type II Diabetes is which accounts for 85-90% of all diabetes). An estimated nearly 400 million people are living with diabetes world-wide and that number is expected to hit 600 million by 2035.
Eating a predominantly plant-based diet has been associated with a drastic decline in the chances of developing diabetes.
- Reduced Incidence of Heart Disease
The good folks at Harvard did a study that tracked 110,000 people over 14 years and found a significant correlation re: Heart Disease. Those that consumed 8 or more servings of fruits and veggies a day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who consumed less than 1.5 servings a day.
- Increased Phytonutrients
There are literally hundreds of phytonutrients that have recently been discovered and more are being found all the time. This is the newest and largest category of vital nutrients yet identified… and guess what? They only occur in plants.
The list of benefits and important functions is staggering with virtually every organ and system of the body benefitting from various ones.
- Increased Lifespan
Several studies indicate that those following a predominantly plant-based or vegetarian diet have an average life expectancy of 3-6 years longer than those who don’t.
- Improved Skin, Hair, Nails, Breath and Body Odor
Studies indicate that consuming a largely plant-based diet contributes to the overall health of virtually all body tissues including the skin, hair and nails. Additionally, due to significant reductions in various toxins associated with animal products AND the improved digestive and eliminative health associated with a plant-based diet, one’s breath tends to be fresher and there is less offensive body odor than meat eaters.
- Reduced Incidence of Allergies, Migraines, and PMS
Although mostly anecdotal, there are many reports of people who report significant improvements in their allergies, headaches (including migraines), and PMS when switching to a predominantly plant-based diet.
- Reduced Exposure to Harmful Microbes: coli, Salmonella, Mad Cow Disease:
- E. coli is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of animals. It is the leading cause of bloody diarrhea. Young children and those with compromised immune systems such as the elderly, can become extremely ill or die from E. coli. Eating animal products is the most common cause of E. Coli infection in these groups. Eating vegan means almost completely avoiding the risk of E. coli infection (the exception is if animals defecate on plant products and they are consumed without being properly washed).
- Another gastrointestinal illness from animals is salmonella aka food poisoning. The most frequent way people contract salmonella food poisoning is through contact with raw eggs or raw chicken meat infected chickens Going vegan means eliminating this risk altogether.
- Mad Cow Disease is a fatal, non-treatable condition (aka Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) that can only be contracted by eating infected animals.
- Reduced Exposure to Potentially Harmful Hormones
High levels of hormones are often given to animals to make them grow faster /or produce more milk. Not only do these hormones end up in the bodies of those consuming those animals or their products (such as milk) but the animal’s natural hormones will also end up there. Understanding this helps us to make sense of the huge increases in the following as consumption of animal products has exploded: Higher birth weights, increased obesity of both adults and children, earlier development of secondary sexual characteristics in children. Clearly none of these things are healthy.
- Increased Exposure to Antibiotics & Increased Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics are routinely given to most animals being raised as food. The horribly crowded and stressful conditions that animals are forced to endure during their brief lives makes them very susceptible to infections. The antibiotics also have the side-effect of increasing the animals’ weight. Of course both of those things are benefits to the company raising the animals for slaughter as it means higher profits.
In addition, the rampant and excessive use of antibiotics has led to widespread antibiotic resistance and the creation of super bugs / microbes.
It is commonly believed that vegans and vegetarians are not able to build muscle and strength as well as those consuming animal products. While there is some truth to this in terms of potential limitations based on the availability of certain nutrients and one’s genetics (and metabolic type), there have clearly been many exceptions to this rule.
Additionally, this is the very reason that our Peak Performance Plant Protein was developed. It is designed to be more balanced and complete than meat. It accomplishes that by starting with the highest quality plant-based protein, Pumpkin Seed Protein (which has a complete and balanced amino acid profile). To that we add 11 vital nutrients that normally only occur in significant amounts (if at all) in meat.