Following a plant based diet is not necessarily healthy for you and many important nutrients come from animal products. However, cutting back on animal products might actually be a good idea because they are not as healthy as you might think. Here are all the reasons why you should start replacing some animal products with plant based products.
A Western Diet Causes Lifestyle Diseases
The United States has a problem with what are known as lifestyle diseases, which are preventable diseases that are caused by poor lifestyle choices. Lifestyle diseases include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, lung cancer, colon cancer, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and more. These diseases are all extremely common and many of them can kill you. In fact, many of the most common causes of death in the United States are diet related diseases, including heart, disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease. Even the risk factor for cancer, which is the second to most common cause of death in the United States, increases with diet related diseases like obesity and diabetes.
A western diet consists of a lot of meat, dairy, and refined carbohydrates. As a result of this type of diet, people are consuming way more calories than necessary, leading to completely preventable diseases. Animal products are definitely not the only culprit in this type of health problems, but they are partially responsible for many lifestyle diseases. For years, it was believed that animal products were actually healthy, but it is becoming clear that overconsumption of animal products can increase your risk of many diseases, especially heart disease. While some animal products are healthy, most Americans are eating way more than they need instead of eating more plant based foods.
Livestock Is Responsible For Global Warming
Nothing except factories release more greenhouse gasses into the air than the meat industry. In fact, livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gases than transportation. The most common greenhouse gas produced by the meat industry is methane, which is actually more powerful than carbon dioxide and the only reason it does not receive as much attention as carbon dioxide is that methane does not stay in the atmosphere for quite as long. However, the meat industry releases carbon dioxide as well. These greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping the earth, which has been proven to cause global temperatures to rise. It might be difficult to understand the full scope of how rising temperatures and changing climates can affect your health. However, changing climates do increase your risk of infectious diseases the spread in extreme heat, dehydration, and other diseases.
Additionally, respiratory diseases are the third most common cause of death in the United States and a big factor in causing respiratory diseases in air pollution. Smokers are obviously at a higher risk, but anyone who lives in highly polluted area are at risk for lower respiratory diseases. Air and water pollution can also cause multiple different types of cancers. Livestock plays a big role in air pollution and it is not just the poisonous methane gas that they produce. The meat industry pollutes the air and water in a number of ways and the resulting damage to the environment has many effects on your health.
Even Organic Meat Is Not Necessarily Natural or Healthy
Organic choices are usually healthier and more environmentally friendly, but they do not necessarily provide the answer that you need. The term “organic” is very loosely defined. Organically farmed animals do not need to stick to a diet that is either good for them or good for you. Additionally, they do not need to be farmed in a particularly clean environment, which can put you or your family at risk for certain infectious diseases. Some organic food is farmed extremely far away, which means you end up polluting the environment just to ship it you. Therefore, while organic animal products does allow you to be more mindful of your health and of the environment, it will not always be good for you. Until the term “organic” is more strictly defined, it might just be better to cut back a little bit on your meat intake.
Plants Promote Health
The evidence is clear that fruits and vegetables are extremely healthy for you. Studies show that plants prevent heart diseases, weight gain, macular degeneration cataracts, arthritis, osteoporosis, skin problems, migraines, high cholesterol, prostate cancer, diseases related to antibiotic resistance, and much more. Meanwhile, most animal products seem to increase your chances of getting most of these diseases. Simple carbohydrates found in processed and refined sugars also increase your risk. Additionally, you can get more nutrients than you might have thought from plants. You may have known that plants have all the fiber, carbohydrates, and antioxidants that you need in your daily diet. However, plants also contain ingredients that most people choose to get from meat. For example, plenty of plants have high levels of protein, including spinach, broccoli, soy beans, seeds, and quinoa. Therefore, you do not need animal products for protein.
Plants including beans also contain iron, so you do not need red meat to prevent anemia. Almonds, broccoli, cabbages, and oranges all have calcium, meaning you do not need as much milk as you might have thought. There is nothing wrong with animal products in order to get these nutrients. Additionally, nutrients like vitamin B12 are much easier to come by if you eat some animal products. However, you can get most of your nutrients from plants and, when given the choice between plants and animals, it is usually better to choose plants unless you are deficient in nutrients primarily found in meat.
You do not have start following a strict vegan diet just because adding plants are usually healthier for you than animals. However, there are many compelling reasons to consider adding more plants to your diet. Eating more plants and less meat both directly and indirectly positively impacts your health and prevent lifestyle diseases.