The TRUTH about Plant-Based Diets

Don’t Believe the Hype!

If you follow any health nuts, celebrities, or lost souls on social media, you have probably seen a few references to veganism and/or plant based diets. This article will push past the hype and get to the matters of fact.

50 Shades of Diet Restrictions:

According to the Permanente Health Group and their Peer Reviewed Journal:

Vegan (or total vegetarian): Excludes all animal products, especially meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Does not require consumption of whole foods or restrict fat or refined sugar.

Raw food, vegan: Same exclusions as veganism as well as the exclusion of all foods cooked at temperatures greater than 118°F.

Lacto-vegetarian: Excludes eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry and includes milk products.

Ovo-vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy products and includes eggs.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian: Excludes meat, seafood, and poultry and includes eggs and dairy products.

Mediterranean: Similar to whole-foods, plant-based diet but allows small amounts of chicken, dairy products, eggs, and red meat once or twice per month. Fish and olive oil are encouraged. Fat is not restricted.

Whole-foods, plant-based, low-fat: Encourages plant foods in their whole form, especially vegetables, fruits, legumes, and seeds and nuts (in smaller amounts). For maximal health benefits this diet limits animal products. Total fat is generally restricted.

Aren't veganism and plant-based the same thing?

No ma’am and no sir. Vegans abstain from consuming animal products of any kind. Veganism stems from a philosophy that condemns animal cruelty and animal suffering. They seek to boycott all industries that profit from it, including clothing and accessory companies who sell fur products  It’s a point of view. It's a set of beliefs and values that affects dietary decisions. It isn't necessarily about being healthy.

Plant-based diets place emphasis on plant sources of protein and the consumption of produce in general. Contrarily, vegan meals may not have any plants in them. There are plenty of vegan products that are just as unhealthy as animal products.

Vegans can follow a plant-based diet and those on a plant based diet may be vegan however; they are not one in the same.

Clarity on the : “Protein Issue”

If you still want to argue for the consumption of meat, that is fine. But please don’t premise your argument on the “fact” that plant based diets are protein deficient. This is false.

However, there are very few sources of complex protein in most plant-based sources. Animal sources of protein tend to deliver all the amino acids we need; on the contrary. Other protein sources, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, lack one or more essential amino acids. (Harvard Nutrition Source) Though whole plant based diets are devoid of saturated fats and processed foods, it is still important to consume a variety of plants and vegetables to ensure you are getting sufficient nutrients.

If you are an outspoken omnivore, you should consider incorporating plant based proteins in your diet as well. Plant sources of protein tend to be a cleaner “protein package”, containing little to no sodium or saturated fats.  Americans tend to overestimate their actual need for protein and in turn consume over double the recommended amount. Those who eat majority animal protein are also more likely to be over consuming fats and sodium.  Though individuals following such a diet have sometimes had short-term success in losing weight, they are often unaware of the health risks associated with a high-protein diet. Excess protein has been linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers (Permanente Health Journal).

In summation, moderate consumption of animal protein and products will not kill you when it is a part of a healthy diet comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy grains. Plant-based diets without variety could lead to nutrient deficiencies of iron, zinc, iodine, and vitamin B-12.




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