Opinion: Plant-based diets are good for you and the planet


Vegan lifestyles actually not only better your body, but the planet as well.

Lena Barakat, Magazine Editor

Plant-based diets have grown significantly in popularity since the 1960s, when the idea of vegetarianism first moved into mainstream American life because of the wide array of benefits. 

The vegetarian/vegan-based diets focus both on health and ethics and have gained momentum rather quickly within the last five years due to an increase in consumer awareness of health consequences as well as environmental impacts. 

Adopting a plant-based diet has proven to be especially beneficial for those who are susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure. Such a diet is also beneficial for anyone looking to prevent disease in the future and potentially increase their lifespan. 

Various forms of cancer are commonly related to eating animal products. For instance, some studies show that consuming dairy products can increase the risk of prostate cancer. Vegans and vegetarians also tend to eat fewer processed foods and higher amounts of legumes, fruits and vegetables, which are known for lowering the risk of developing or dying from cancer. 

Surprisingly, veganism can also help with the United States’ growing obesity epidemic. People who adopt a plant-based lifestyle often report shedding excess weight. Those who follow a vegan/vegetarian diet are much more likely to lose weight than those who follow a calorie-restricted diet. 

A common argument many people use against vegetarianism/veganism are the costs of sustaining such a lifestyle. People often think you need to shop at Whole Foods Market and buy $20 salads everyday, but this is far from the truth. 

Plant-based can actually be much cheaper than eating animal products in many instances. Swapping out chicken and meat for tofu and beans is actually significantly cheaper in the long run. It may be difficult to find plant-based alternatives to meat products at first, but the majority of vegan/vegetarian options are affordable. 

Another tremendous benefit of going plant-based is the positive impact it has on animal welfare issues and the environment. 

Going vegan directly decreases the number of animals that are abused and slaughtered. If the demand for animal products goes down, slaughterhouses would be forced to breed fewer animals for consumption. 

Cutting out animal products is beneficial for our environment and growing global warming issues. All of the livestock in the world causes more air pollution than cars, buses and planes combined. Vegetarian diets also use 2.9 times less water than meat-inclusive diets. 

Plant-based diets offer many direct and indirect benefits for both personal health and the health of our planet as a whole. There are few downsides to going plant-based, and it is important more people begin to recognize the vast benefits it offers.