Did you know that a vegan or plant-based diet is becoming the fastest growing movement in the world? What was only a few years ago a fringe movement has now become mainstream. And it looks set to stay. In Australia alone, the availability of vegan food products increased by 92% between 2014 and 2016, and plant-based cafes and restaurants are popping up everywhere.
Its uptake is unsurprising – with a wealth of benefits ranging from improved health, reduced environmental damage, and respect towards animals, it’s easy to see why so many people are making the decision to ditch animal products.
But while these are the commonly cited reasons why people choose to go plant-based, there are many other advantages that don’t quite get the same spotlight or mention. Here are 6 perks of a plant-based lifestyle you may not have thought of.
1) Reduced exposure to antibiotics.
One of the World Health Organization’s top global public health risks? Antibiotic resistance. By 2050, it is estimated that this issue will lead to the untimely death of 10 million people each year. A growing number of infections are becoming increasingly hard to treat as the antibiotics that used to do the trick are simply not as effective anymore. Scientists have linked antibiotic resistance both to over-prescription of antibiotics to humans and, more scarily, to our global mass consumption of antibiotic-ridden animal foods.
Because of the overcrowded and unhygienic spaces animals are placed in, to prevent the spread of infections animals are fed antibiotics pretty much from the moment they are born. This practice is continued throughout the life of the animal, as antibiotics also act as growth promoters. By ingesting these animals, consumers are also unknowingly ingesting small doses of antibiotics. Over a lifetime these can definitely add up, and perhaps one day lead to antibiotic resistance.
To put this risk into context, it is estimated that 70-80% of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to livestock animals. In Australia it is assumed that given the living conditions the animals are provided statistics would be similar, however farmers are able to cite ”‘commercial confidence” in order to withhold the data.
2) Improved digestion, reduced constipation and hunger.
With its abundant fibre content, a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruit has been shown time and time again to be gut-friendly. Fibre acts as an ‘intestinal cleanser’ by moving waste quickly through our colon and helping our body increase the size and frequency of our bowel movements, thus favouring healthy gut and bowel health. In addition, fibre helps increase satiety which can help prevent overeating. Therefore, switching to a plant-based diet means an effortless improvement in digestion, reduced cravings and regular bowel movements. So long, bloating!
3) Longevity means more time to spend with family, grandkids and more time basking in the sun!
What if you could do something today that future you would thank you for? A Plant-based diet is often touted for its health benefits, yet many don’t know that there is convincing scientific evidence that a plant-based diet can reduce our risk of early mortality. While that may sound negligible to us now (I want to enjoy life now!), we often forget what longevity actually means. It means that we can enjoy time after retirement, travel the world, finally enjoy those hard-earned savings and create new memories with grandkids. Sounds pretty good to me!
4) Reduced risk of food poisoning – especially handy when travelling abroad!
If you’ve ever experience food poisoning, you know just how dreadful it can be. From diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms, there’s no doubt that nobody wants to experience anything like this – particularly on holiday! Did you know that the main culprits behind Salmonella, E-Coli and the lesser-known Campylobacter and Listeria are actually animal products such as beef, eggs, milk and chicken? By eliminating these foods from your plates, your chances of developing a food-borne illness drop significantly (although in the plant world, watch out for sprouts!).
5) Living a life more in line with your true belief system.
When we start to question the way that we eat we inadvertently embark on a journey of self discovery. Through this process you will find yourself questioning other beliefs that society may of instilled within you at an early age. After all, we are often a product of our environment, particularly when we are young and impressionable. For years I was the guy that would walk straight past someone handing out a pamphlet about sustainability or factory farming. I wasn’t ready for such information. When I finally accepted that perhaps I didn’t know everything and that some of what I knew may not of necessarily been my own beliefs, I became open to the idea that it was ok to “unlearn and relearn” in order to live a life more in line with my true belief system. I cannot even begin to describe the sense of satisfaction that comes with this alignment.
6) A return to your innate childhood compassion.
Finally, eliminating animal foods from our diets is so much more than just plain restriction in the way a low-carb or no-sugar diet can be. In so doing, we can experience a true shift in mindset. No longer are we governed by the anthropocentric view of life that humans are at the centre of the universe and the natural world and its beings are there for the taking. So naturally through this process of becoming more conscious about where our food comes from we begin once again, like we did as children, to see animals as beings rather than resources.
In short, there are even more benefits than helping to save the planet from climate catastrophe, nurturing our bodies with food that will prevent diseases and respecting animals! At the end of the day, food choices are extremely personal, so finding a lifestyle that suits you and just becoming a more conscious person, whether 100% plant-based diet or even just cutting down on animal foods a few days a week, is something I have incredible respect for – and your body will too.
This podcast has inspired, impacted and reached millions of people. During this series he speaks to like-minded people about common fears among men and women transitioning from animal foods.
Simon shares his personal experience with living plant-based and his wealth of knowledge on staying healthy as well as delicious recipes!