Whether you’re thinking of following a vegan or vegetarian diet or if you simply want to eat more plant-based meals, eating less meat and animal produce can be hugely beneficial.
Diet guru Terri-Ann Nunns and expert dietician Ro Huntriss are the creators of the Terri Ann V Plan, a new vegan and vegetarian lifestyle and diet plan that aims to educate and inform people about the benefits of eating more plant-based meals.
Here, they explain the top 10 reasons why you should include more plant-based options in your diet – from saving the planet to improving your health.
You’ll reduce your carbon footprint
Climate change is a major environmental problem and farmed animals are one of the biggest producers of the gases that contribute to this. It is estimated that one dairy cow produces roughly the same amount of carbon emissions as a family car does. This means that becoming vegan can reduce your carbon footprint even more than choosing not to drive your car.
You’re likely to live longer
Several studies suggest that a vegetarian diet promotes a longer life due to higher intakes of fruit, vegetables, nuts, fibre and plant-based fats.
Higher levels of mortality have also been linked with a higher intake of red and processed meat, which are two things that are reduced when following a more plant-based diet.
You can save more water
Livestock production is particularly water-intensive, since water is required to produce animal feed, as a source of drink, and to clean them and any equipment. It requires twenty times as much water to produce one calorie of beef than one calorie of cereal.
Worldwide, animal agriculture accounts for over 8% of all human-related water consumption, meaning you can help to reduce strain on the world’s water supply by choosing more plant-based options in your diet.
You could save 100-200 animals lives per year
Over 56 billion farmed animals are killed every year - eight times the amount of humans that live on earth.
The vast majority of these animals are reared to be killed for us to eat. It is estimated that for every one person choosing to live a vegan life, it can save 100-200 animal lives per year, with those who live a vegetarian or more plant-based lifestyle also making a significant impact.
You could have a reduced risk of getting cancer
Cancer Research estimates that keeping a healthy weight could prevent nearly 22,800 cases of cancer every year in the UK and eating more plant-based meals can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) suggest that people make fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes a major part of their daily diet - and this is very much a plant-based approach.
You could reduce the risk of heart disease:
The types of fat we consume can play a big part in reducing the risk of heart disease. Animal products such as meat or dairy contain mainly saturated fats, whereas unsaturated fats are found in plant-based produce such as nuts, olive oil and avocados.
It’s recommended that saturated fats are reduced and replaced with unsaturated fats, as they are known to have more of a protective effect on heart health.
You can lower your blood pressure
Blood Pressure Research suggests that vegetarians tend to have lower levels of blood pressure as fruit and vegetable intake is known to be protective against high blood pressure.
Most people know that a diet high in salt can raise blood pressure but what many don’t know is that potassium can help to lower it.
Potassium is found in high levels in fruit and vegetables, which could make a plant based diet very beneficial.
It can help protect you against Type 2 Diabetes
In the UK, over 4 million people have diabetes, predominantly type 2. Studies show that diets containing whole grains, fruit and vegetables, cheese, yoghurt, coffee and tea can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas red and processed meat is associated with an increased risk.
You can help save natural land
30% of the earth’s land surface is used for animal agriculture. It takes 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef, which means it takes 2.5 times as much land to feed a meat eater as it would to feed a vegetarian, and a staggering 5 times as much land to feed a meat eater as it would to feed a vegan.
A lot of natural habitat is destroyed to make space for animal agriculture, meaning a more plant based diet could help to reduce your impact on the world’s natural land.
You can help combat world pollution
We don’t always see pollution from animal agriculture as it is hidden in the countryside or pumped into waterways. But, the production of livestock still causes lots of water, soil and air contamination as animal waste can contain lots of bacteria and viruses.
Every meal that you choose to eat with less or no meat makes a difference. Even cutting out meat on one day of the week will play a part in the protection of our planet.
For more information about the Terri Ann V Plan, go to: https://www.theterriannvplan.co.uk/
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