Going Green: Pros and Cons of a Plant-Based Diet for Weight Loss, Nutrition, and More

 by Dr. Steve Hruby
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby

I am a chiropractor, father, husband, coach, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. Feeling good about yourself is a choice: My mission is to transform lives through optimized health and overall well-being.

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 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’ve been called a Data Ninja, The Fact Checker, and a Human Search Engine. I’m an indie content curator who does research daily, and quizzes myself on the important issues of the day.

Pros and Cons of a Plant-Based Diet

Today, we have unprecedented food availability – ample nutrition available at our fingertips. Yet, with easy access to such an abundance, the world is  facing an increase in obesity and several types of chronic health concerns.

As a society, it may be time for a change to reverse this trend of poor health. Perhaps embracing a plant-based diet is the solution. But could there be drawbacks to this lifestyle? Today we’ll consider the pros and cons of a plant-based diet. 

What Is a Plant-Based Diet?

“Plant-based diets” are patterns of eating which focus primarily on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and exclude meat and animal products to varying degrees. The four  main types are:

  • Vegan – no meat, no animal products
  •  Lacto-Vegetarian – no meat or eggs, but some dairy products
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian – no meat, but dairy products and eggs are okay
  • Pescatarian – no dairy or meat, but an exception for fish

Health Benefits of Plant-Based Eating

A plant-Based diet offers many health benefits.

  • Vegetarians and Vegans experience lower levels of obesity

 One of the biggest benefits of going plant-based is that it can help you lose weight. Plant-based diets tend to be lower in calories.  By eating fewer calories from meat and more from plants like fruits and vegetables, you’ll lose weight naturally and easily.  Additionally, following a plant based diet can:

  • Reduce cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health
  • Improve blood sugar and prevent diabetes
  • Improve mental health by reducing anxiety and lowering stress
  • Decrease cancer risk by reducing meat consumption

Tips For Getting Started on a Plant-Based Diet

Getting started on a plant-based diet can seem a little intimidating. If you’re thinking about making the switch, you may be wondering: What can I eat? How will I get enough protein? 

varieties of vegetables

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Get clear on what you want to do. What is your goal? Go fully Vegan? Or perhaps simply reduce your intake of animal products?  It is important that you know what your goal is before you get started. 
  • Think about what foods might be easiest for you to give up, and start there! For example, if you love oatmeal with milk for breakfast, could you keep up this ritual with a simple swap for a non-dairy milk? 
  • It’s important to be gentle with yourself when embarking on this journey, so don’t rush it! You’re creating a new habit.  Take things one step at a time and get used to each change before adding another.  
  • Stock up on foods that will make following your diet easier. 

Some ideas are: 

  • Meat-free protein: Tofu and tempeh are both good sources of protein that can be used in place of meat. Soybeans are another great option for vegans who are looking for something more substantial. Beans and many vegetables are also good sources of non-meat protein.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, and whole wheat products including flour and even whole wheat berries.
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Dairy-free milk: Rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk are examples of alternative milk products that are vegan compliant.  These types of milk do not contain any animal products.
  • Nuts & seeds: Nuts are great sources of healthy fats that help keep your brain functioning properly throughout the day. Seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety, boost energy levels and more.

 But Wait! What Are The Cons To a Plant-Based Diet? 

The main downsides to this diet are that it may be difficult to adapt your recipes and adjust your lifestyle, particularly when eating socially or at restaurants. 

It may also be challenging to get enough of some nutrients without a bit of planning. For example,  protein, calcium, iron and zinc are nutrients that are found more abundantly in animal products. 

Most Common Questions About A Vegan Diet 

Is a plant-based diet good for everyone?

It depends on your lifestyle and goals. While a vegan diet can offer health benefits to anyone, for some people this lifestyle change may be too dramatic to be sustainable. 

two bowl of plant-based-meal

Are there other benefits to a plant-based diet?

Plant-based diets are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, as they are more sustainable than meat-based diets. Plant-based diets can also be more affordable for many people, which makes them an attractive option for many Americans who are struggling financially.

Is a plant-based diet actually healthy?

The answer is yes. A plant-based diet can help you reach your health goals, but it’s not the only way to go about it. The most important thing is to eat foods that are good for you and make sure you’re getting the right nutrients each day

Is a Plant Based Diet Right For You?

The story is still unfolding, and the verdict is not out: what we do know, however, is that a plant-based diet can be a great lifestyle choice for many people. If you are looking for a weight loss solution or a way to improve your health, consider giving a plant-based diet a try.

Not sure that a plant-based diet is right for you? Consider trying a Japanese diet plan instead!

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