What are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet vs the Western Diet
Updated: Sep 22
As you may have noticed, without being too blunt, people nowadays are much 'fatter' and much 'unhealthier' than they were years back. That isn’t an insult, it is a generalisation and sadly, if it’s a reflection on the way things are heading, it’s easy to understand why health officials are so concerned.
Obesity levels are higher than ever, there are more people reliant on prescription drugs and medications to treat weight and lifestyle-related health conditions than ever before, and life expectancy is now declining for the first time ever. There are no miraculous reasons for why this is happening either.
The primary reasons are:
A lack of exercise
An unhealthy diet
A lack of healthy produce
Unhealthy lifestyle choices.
The good news is, all of these things are in your control and if you’re willing to commit to change and make some changes, you can lose weight, look better, feel better, and be healthier than ever.
The western diet is often blamed for the state of our health, which is why more and more people are switching to a plant-based diet instead. Here’s a look at a plant-based diet vs the western diet.
What is the Western Diet?
In truth, the Western Diet isn’t an actual diet per SE. Instead, it's a general term used to describe the typical types of foods and drinks that people living in the western world tend to eat and drink.
For decades upon decades now, the food industry has slowly been changing and evolving. As modern technology has advanced, so too has the way society lives its life. As time went by, food companies and manufacturers began to place much more of an emphasis on convenience and profit, as opposed to general health and wellbeing. Instead of creating healthy, low fat nutrient rich foods and drinks, we instead found ourselves faced with processed, fatty, artificial, genetically modified, chemically enhanced produce that was either ready to consume, or could be reheated in a microwave or oven in minutes.
Foods loaded with hydrogenated fats, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, refined flours, salt, sugar, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings became the norm, and that is still the case now, decades later. As opposed to fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, and healthy fats, society started consuming unhealthy processed foods offering virtually no nutrients. They were full of unhealthy ingredients, high in unhealthy artery-clogging fats and calories. It should therefore, come as no surprise to learn, that since these foods have become mass-produced, obesity levels have steadily increased and more and more people have began suffering with chronic illnesses relating to weight and diet. In America and the UK there has been a significant increase in the number of people that have lost their lives through issues such as: heart attacks, strokes, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure which are all diet related diseases. Many of these foods have negative effects on gut health, immunity, cognitive function, mental health, weight, and health in general but we still consume them and hope for a quick fix solution to reverse the effects.
What is a plant-based diet?
Lately, there has been a surge in the amount of people following vegan diets. Vegan refers to the avoidance of animals as food and animal products as food or other products such as shoes, bags etc. On a vegan diet you can live off Oreo's and chips and still be unhealthy but on a plant-based diet you live off plants.
A plant-based diet is a diet which focuses primarily on consuming food which is derived from plants. So, fruits and vegetables are obviously very popular, as well as nuts, seeds, whole grains, pulses, legumes, natural oils, and beans. It does not simply mean that you only consume foods such as raw salad leaves and green vegetables and fruits.
Contrary to popular belief, you can follow a plant-based diet without being a vegan or vegetarian. Whilst it's true that vegans are predominantly plant-based, as are many vegetarians, those that eat animal-derived produce can also follow a plant-based diet. It simply means can they consume meat, poultry and fish in much smaller quantities and bulk up their meals with plants. They can get their nutrients and energy from plant-based ingredients rather than animal products which will enhance the health benefits of the plants and reduce the effects of animal proteins on the body.
If you can't bear the idea of giving up meat you could have the plant based ingredients as your primary ingredients and eat a smaller portion of the animal product. That way you wouldn't feel as though you are missing out.
But to be honest some of the substitute meat products out there are so real that i just can't eat them. You now have fake steaks that bleed, fake sausages with gristle in them and fake fish that is too fishy, just like the real deal.
Why is plant-based healthier?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which way of eating is healthier out of the two. On the one hand you have a diet that is rich in trans fats, simple sugars, heavily processed produce, chemicals, artificial ingredients and preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, salt, and other unhealthy ingredients whilst lacking in nutrients.
Then, on the other hand you have a way of eating that is natural, rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and other nutrients the body thrives upon, whilst generally being lower in calories and unhealthy fats. On a plant-based diet, you primarily consume food and drink that is natural, good for you, and is just as nature intended it to be. Those on a plant-based diet are likely to be a healthy weight, have a healthy heart, live longer, have a stronger immune system, look healthier, feel healthier, have better mental health, and simply be healthier on the whole.
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