Your Voice: Can eating green make us go green?
A plant-based diet has been shown to help people maintain a healthy weight, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The plant-based diet has gained popularity in the last few years. Many people have shifted their diet to plant-based and some have adapted a vegan lifestyle by excluding all forms of animal utilization.
For example, they avoid wearing clothes made of animal leather and wearing cosmetic products tested on animals.
Consequently, the demand for plant-based meat is expected to grow over the coming years. But what are the reasons for the increasing popularity of a plant-based diet?
Two of the most common reasons for converting to a plant-based diet are environmental sustainability and health benefits.
In terms of understanding the basis for environmental concerns, it helps to reflect on history. Global meat consumption has increased more than threefold over the past 50 years. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that we consume more than 335 million tons of meat every year.
To satisfy this demand for meat, the industry has expanded to raise more ruminant animals. As a result, an excessive amount of methane is produced by this increase, which contributes significantly to global warming.
Following a plant-based diet will help in reducing meat production. Therefore, the atmosphere will be less polluted by methane. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that following a plant-based diet can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% in comparison to a diet that is high in meat.
Those following a plant-based diet can still enjoy the sensation of meat without sacrificing taste. Companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods offer compelling products that have established comparable texture, flavor, and overall meat-like consumption experience.
The plant-based products have been bolstered by a number of billionaire and celebrity investors, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jay-Z, and Katy Perry. As a testament to the growing market rationale for these products, Beyond Meat became the world's first meat alternative company to become publicly traded in 2019, with its share stock price soaring 163% on its first day of trading.
In terms of the health benefits of following a plant-based diet, this form of diet has indeed been shown to help people in maintaining a healthy weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Although, there are considerations to bear in mind. For example, vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products.
Therefore, following a plant-based diet requires taking a B12 supplement. Beyond this, it is worth noting that plant-based junk foods are readily available and widely consumed, such as French fries and highly processed products.
So, being healthy truly depends on the person. In general, you can follow a regular diet and still be healthy by eating in moderation and being mindful about what you put in your body as it affects your health in the long term, and your mood and energy in the short term.