The physical and environmental impact of a plant-based diet

Some vegetables that would be featured in a plant-based diet.

By Mia Costales | Writer

November 15, 2019

It seems like just a decade ago, plant-based diets were exclusively practiced by extreme environmentalists or your average “hippie,” for lack of a better term. However, diets such as veganism and vegetarianism have become far more mainstream in recent years. Most tend to group the reasons for switching to a plant-based diet into three distinct categories: physical health, environmental sustainability, and resistance against animal cruelty. Thanks to the extensive research dedicated to the physical and sustainable aspects of a plant-based diet, more and more people are deciding to make the switch.

Meat has been accredited with being the most complete source of protein in human diets for millions of years, but as of recent, this theory has been widely debunked by many nutritionists and scientists. In fact, plant proteins (legumes, tofu, quinoa, etc.) have been proven to be just as effective in providing sufficient protein for the human body. Cutting meat out of one’s diet, or even just lowering the intake of meat, can drastically lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, as well as enhance physical performance. Research by the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017 revealed that a plant-based diet could lower the risk of heart failure by as much as 42 percent.

Environmental factors also play a huge role in most people’s decision to switch their diets.

Graph showing greenhouse emissions per type of diet.

“Research shows that the process to produce twenty servings of vegetables requires less greenhouse gasses than one serving of beef,” junior Amy Sebrasky said. “Since global warming is occurring at a rate faster than ever, reducing meat consumption could be a necessary change.”

For many, the thought of a rapidly dying Earth is enough to be more conscious about the amount of meat they are consuming. Due to the cattle industry, pollution is in full swing, not to mention the immense deforestation caused by mass meat production.

Although plant-based diets are slowly becoming more mainstream, some can simply not bear to part with their old eating habits.

“Although you get the veggies you need,” junior Maya Basilio said, “you also have a higher chance of eating more carbohydrates than you need.”

Whether or not plant-based diets ever become the cultural norm, there is no denying the significant benefits of consuming less meat.

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