The Top 8 Reasons for Eating Plant Based Food

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

It's probably a good time to think about making the move to mostly or exclusively plant-based eating. There is so much buzz around plant-based foods right it right for you?

Companies like Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger and Oatly Milk have been in the news constantly, and their plant based meat products are making inroads to just about every store and shop (hello McDonald’s, Starbucks & your local grocery store!). These products are catering to those who now want to follow a flexitarian diet, people looking for a few easy ways to add more nutrient dense plants to their diet and eat less animal products.

Why the Change is Accelerating

There is so much overwhelming evidence and contemporary nutritional research clearly showing that a whole food plant based diet is the single, most important force for regaining and sustaining our optimum health - and our waistlines!

Many who grew up and came of age in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are now learning that the fast food, animal protein and processed foods they relied on have caused more harm than good over time. They now just want to figure out how to “eat more plants”.

How Nutritious Are The New Plant-Based Meat Products?

These new alternative plant-based products have their place as a ‘stair-step’ to a fully whole-food plant-based way of eating. They are part of the new diet for those just starting to switch to plant-based eating. They are for those who are saying ‘enough with all the saturated fats and processed foods’. Those of us (yes, we were guilty!) who knew we should have been eating healthier all along. Basically these stair-step foods are healthier than the meat and dairy they are replacing, but not quite as healthy as that bean burger you’d make at home from whole foods. But - you gotta’ start somewhere!

There is also the realistic balance we want to create in our lives between the healthiest choice of the moment and convenience. So these new and easy options help those looking for ways to begin reducing their intake of animal products and start experiencing the benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as those pretty far along the path of plant-based eating, but who might run into time-stressed moments!

Ideally, “whole’ plant foods are the best choice. There are so many delicious plants to eat and saver, but yet some would also like to begin with the similar taste of animal products, and for that we have new options coming out almost daily.

There are actually over 20,000 species of plants that are edible but yet we currently only eat about 200 of them, with only just around 20 providing about 90% of the food that the world eats. So if we think that plants are boring and limited, as a species we just haven’t yet made a good effort to try nature’s full abundance!

What Else Is Driving the Change?

We're hearing more about the connection between the way we obtain and eat our food and how that is directly tied to our three biggest challenges - the obesity epidemic, species extinction and the climate crisis.

The plant-based diet or eating movement grew out of a study done by Thomas Colin Campbell, a Cornell University biochemist who coined the term ‘plant-based’. In a nutshell, his 2016 book “The China Study” showed that a plant-based diet helps reduce the risk of certain cancers and diseases.

The study, and now many, many others, have shown that having a diet that is predominantly whole-food plant-based - and we are talking 90% on up here, with 100% being “golden” - is the healthiest diet for longevity and reducing risk of the top diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. That type of eating pattern also just happens to be the easiest and best way to reach and maintain one’s ideal weight. Most people are far below that 90% ideal. By getting a clear understanding of the reasons to go plant-based and the benefits it brings, you can gain perspective and confidence to move forward and build new habits.

Do you wish you had a beginner's guide to help you transition to a plant-based diet? Read-on and start with a brief understanding of the top reasons for eating a plant-based diet.

The Top 8 Reasons to Eat a Plant-Based Diet

  1. Reach and Sustain Your Ideal Body Weight

  2. Enjoy Smoother and Healthier Skin

  3. Maintain a Robust Immune System

  4. Significantly Lower Risk of Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease

  5. Reduce Chronic Inflammation Throughout Your Body

  6. Live a Longer Life with Lower Incidence of Age-Related Dementia

  7. Past Pandemics are Linked to Eating Animals

  8. Contribute to Fighting The Climate Crisis

Let’s have a look at each of these reasons in a little more depth below.

1) Reach and Easily Maintain Your Ideal Body Weight

Those who eat whole-foods plant-based typically eat about 1,000 calories per day less than those eating an animal-based diet. They also on average weigh 30 lbs less.

Those who make the pivot to plant-based eating typically feel and see the benefits quickly. They have a lot more energy and they feel more alert as they loose weight. The renewed energy they feel gets the dopamine in their brain going, so they don’t turn to overly fatty and sugary foods for that same feeling. Focusing on nutrient-dense foods helps keep them at their optimal weight naturally.

So how did I start eating plant-based in Hong Kong? Dalip and I embarked on our plant-based journey over time. We were pretty much pesco-vegetarians in the past. Though I ate a raw food diet for about a year and a half back in 2008, I never really was a huge meat eater before that. You could say that I used to like a little cheeseburger on the side with my ketchup! I have always been the condiment queen. That part hasn’t changed!

A couple of years ago, when I began to seriously study nutrition, we really started to pay attention to how much fish and cheese we were eating, as well as foods that were processed. We’ve cut all that out for the most part except once in a blue moon when we may be out for dinner somewhere, which is what I’ve read from sources like Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Michael Greger fit into what currently is thought of as optimum nutrition. We probably eat out once a month or even every other month this past year! I pretty much always cook at home now, especially with covid-19 and trying to maintain social distance.

We each dropped about 20-25 lbs when we went 90% plant-based, and feel more energetic than we ever have.

2) Have Smoother and Healthier Skin

Other outward results of plant-based eating include smoother and healthier skin. Studies show that if we eat a lot of green and yellow vegetables, we could end up with fewer wrinkles than if we don’t. I really love that bit of knowledge!

It’s also been shown that vitamin C, found in oranges, tomatoes and bell peppers, helps our bodies create collagen, part of what our skin is made of.

And then there is sun damage. Broccoli and the cruciferous family of vegetables are foods you should eat regularly for many, many different benefits. One compound called sulforaphane has been shown to protect against UV damage from the sun.

3) Maintain a Robust Immune System

Getting all the fiber, vitamins (like A, B, C, D & E), minerals (like calcium, iron, potassium and zinc), antioxidants and plant chemicals that build a strong immune system is easy with plants. Not so much with animal-centric eating.

Meat, diary and eggs do not contain fiber or many of the vitamins that we associate with a healthy immune system.

It’s been shown that 70% of our immune system is in our gut and the scientific evidence in the last 10-15 years shows a deep connection between fiber and our immune system…and there is no fiber in ANY animal products.

4) Reduce Your Risk of Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease

Here’s more good news about all that plant-fiber! There are many things you can do to reduce your body’s risk of getting cancer. Not getting sunburned, not smoking cigarettes. But did you know that it’s been shown that the estrogen in cheese causes cancer and that the casin in milk causes cancer? In fact, in 2018 Canada took dairy off it’s list of recommended foods. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is also working to get warning labels on cheese now. The saturated fat and estrogenic hormones in dairy have been specifically shown to increase breast cancer risk.

And you’ll be cutting out so much saturated fat when you eat mainly plants that your risk of diabetes and heart disease are both significantly lower.

The fiber in plants is a key reason your dail