Disclaimer: While I pride myself on taking control of my personal well being and spend a good amount of time doing research, I am not a qualified nutritionist or doctor and have no formal training whatsoever in the world of health and wellness. If you are reading this and would like to consider following my lead I recommend you do your own research as well and/or speak to your medical care provider before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Also, I would like to point out that while I predominantly consume a PBWF diet I do not completely abstain from animal products or refined and processed foods.
Before I list my personal reasons for following a predominantly PBWF I would like to first address a possible confusion.
Is a plant based Whole Foods diet the same thing as being a vegan? No.
Whats the difference?
A person who opts to abide by a vegan diet is motivated not only by health but also animal rights. They do not wear leather and do not use or consume products that come from insects such as beeswax, silk and honey. Since a vegans concern is regarding the cruelty of animals their main purpose is to avoid animal products. That means they will indulge in refined or processed foods so long as they do not come from animals. For example a vegan may eat refined non-animal based products such as Oreo cookies, vegan baked goods, bread etc.
Someone strictly following a PBWF diet however has the goal to avoid animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy for nutritional health purposes only. They tend to avoid processed or refined foods such as bread, baked goods and potato chips. They do not abstain from wearing leather or clothes made from silk and they consume products such as honey. You can read up more on this here.
Again, I do not strictly follow a PBWF diet. I predominantly eat a PBWF diet at home, as well as order these foods where possible when I am out. However, I put a small amount of cows milk in my coffee, I eat fish about once a week and I won’t refuse food that has been lovingly made and served to me by someone else or in someone else’s home. That said, here’s my reasons for eating about 80% PBWF based.
The best way to put it in a nutshell is “you get more bang for your buck” with plants versus animals. By eating plant based foods you are reaping the rewards of a multitude of micronutrients (potassium, magnesium, vitamin c and E, etc.), phytochemicals, fibre, water and more.
While animal products can provide you large amounts of the the macronutrient protein, they don’t offer the vast amount of inflammatory and cancer fighting antioxidants that plants do. Plus, if you eat the right combination of plants and in large healthy amounts, you can get more than enough protein for your daily needs.
Further, plant based foods have been shown to directly improve gut health which determines the efficiency and strength of our immune system. Gut health is EVERYTHING! I’ll write a blog on that one day too, watch this space.
Studies have shown that eliminating meat and dairy while increasing your intake of nuts and whole grains has been proven to improve cardiovascular health as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes type II.
Countries where women eat very little meat and animal products show a lower rate of breast cancer than countries where women consume a diet rich in animal products. Further, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to help prevent the onset of age-related muscular degeneration.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to drink milk to meet your daily calcium requirements for bone health. In fact, cutting out dairy completely has shown to reduce arthritis symptoms (among other ailments). One needs a diet of neither too much nor too little protein, appropriate calcium intake, low sodium and high potassium to achieve good bone health. A diet high in plant based whole foods achieves all of this and more.
It’s no secret that our planet is facing a massive environmental crisis. With far too many humans on the planet, our cumulative lifestyles and activities are hurting our future by depleting the worlds natural resources. Many of the scientists of our age agree that global warming is real and that the way we live is downright unsustainable and, in my opinion, unethical.
The agricultural industry as a whole consumes massive amounts of energy. Just consider all the water and grain the animals need to consume, the space they require, the production and distribution of the products as well as the energy required to store the products. Further, our worlds forests are being cut down in order to make space for agricultural farms which is a double whammy in terms of increasing green house gas emissions and exacerbating the energy crisis. This is because forests absorb greenhouse gases and animal waste produces them.
This subject is an important topic in and of itself and a more extensive blog for another day, however, just consider this, “the U.N. believes that a global shift toward plant-based food is vital if we are to combat the worst effects of climate change”. Further, “a report published by the Worldwatch Institute shows that a staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.” source
For me it is a simple no brainer. If I could do one small thing which will take no extra time or money and simultaneously help save the planet, make me feel better and prevent terminal diseases, would I do it? YES!