You may have heard some talk lately about plant-based diets, but with so many different diets out there, it can be hard to keep track of all of them. You may think the name suggests it is just another way to say vegetarian or vegan, and while that’s not far off, it’s not exactly right. In this blog, we’ll explain what a plant-based diet is, and why it is growing in popularity.
Unlike vegans and vegetarians, people who eat a plant-based diet do in fact eat meat, which is the key differentiation. However, that doesn’t mean we all eat plant-based diets, because the philosophy behind the diet is that we should make efforts to move away from our dependence on meat.
Most proponents of a plant-based diet suggest making the change very gradually. This makes it easier to ween ourselves off meat in the same way that we might kick a habit. They advise removing meat one meal or day at a time, with hashtags such as “Meatless Mondays” allowing people to share their recipes and journeys with others making the same change.
The gradual change allows people to explore new ingredients, foods, and dishes with the knowledge that they still get to enjoy the dishes they usually do. As time goes on, more and more meals will become meat free until the person has either decided on a meat limit for themselves, or dropped meat entirely.
Cattle farming is the number one cause of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, where each cow has an average of over 1 square kilometer to itself. The unfortunate reality is that the world can’t survive this level of deforestation. In fact, the cattle industry contributes more to global warming than the transport sector of the entire world. To rephrase, cattle farming pollutes more than all the boats, planes, and cars in the world combined. For this reason, many people who eat a plant-based diet opt to cut out only the worst offenders.
Others adopt a plant-based diet for health reasons. There is an endless list of benefits that come with adopting such a vegetable-heavy diet, and the reduction of red meat in particular will drastically improve your cardiovascular health, as well as lower your risk of cancer. There have also been numerous studies that show a link between meat consumption and obesity, with red meat again being the primary culprit.
Just this past month, a Harvard study found that a plant-based diet will significantly lower your risk of developing type-2 diabetes. A diet that only slightly reduces the amount of meat eaten reduces your risk by about 16%, while cutting out almost all of your meat could lower the risk by as much as 34%.
While there is of course no way to predict what humans will eat in the future, many leading sociologists and climate scientists agree that (unless we switch to lab-grown meat) the world is moving towards a plant-based diet. The rate at which the global population is growing, combined with the effects of climate change and enormous land requirements for rearing cattle will mean that we will start to eat less and less meat. So while many may think the plant-based diet is just another fad, the experts say it’s here to stay.