Many factors need to be taken into account if you’re considering switching to a plant-based diet. It’s important to understand that a plant-based diet does not mean eliminating meat altogether—some options include fish or occasional meat and poultry dishes. With such a wide variety of plant-based diets, having a thorough understanding of the differences will ensure that you choose the correct and healthiest one for you.
The vegetarian diet is quite popular and has been shown to provide medical benefits. This diet eliminates meat, but often includes dairy products such as milk and eggs. Vegetarianism is known to lower the risk of dangerous health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Vegetarianism is also believed to increase a person’s longevity, as their body becomes healthier overall. This diet does require additional supplements to ensure that all of the proper nutrients are still received. With the rising popularity of the vegetarian diet, it’s easy to find meat substitutes at grocery stores and restaurants that accommodate this lifestyle.
The vegan diet is also rising in popularity, although it’s more difficult to maintain. This diet eliminates all animal products. It’s important to add supplements in order to guarantee that all the proper nutrients are received. While veganism requires these additional supplements, it also has substantial medical benefits when it’s followed properly.
he vegan diet has been shown to reduce risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer, while also promoting the management of diabetes and weight loss. Like vegetarianism, the newfound popularity of veganism makes it easier to find meat substitutes at most grocery stores and restaurants.
Not all plant-based diets completely eliminate meat. Pescatarians typically follow the same diet as vegetarians; however, this diet includes seafood. The pescatarian diet is a strong choice for most, as it provides all of the benefits of being a vegetarian while providing an extra source of protein and a healthy source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that having a couple of servings of fish per week could be beneficial for the heart. However, it is important to limit certain fish, such as tuna and swordfish, as they tend to have higher levels of mercury, and focus on lower-mercury fish, such as sardines and salmon.
Cutting out meat and poultry completely is not exactly for everyone. However, it’s still possible to follow a plant-based diet while not entirely eliminating meat. The semi-vegetarian (or flexitarian) diet essentially follows the regular vegetarian diet, while still occasionally incorporating meat, poultry, and seafood. This plant-based diet provides the benefits of a traditional vegetarian diet without the strictness and limitations—making it easier to maintain this diet for the long term. The semi-vegetarianism has been deemed one of the best diets for diabetes while also helping with weight loss and decreasing the risk of heart disease.
While plant-based diets clearly have several health benefits, it is also worth considering the environmental benefits that these diets provide—especially if you consider yourself to be environmentally friendly. By eliminating meat, you are cutting your carbon footprint, saving animals, and conserving water. For some people, these benefits are the reason for switching to a plant-based diet—animal cruelty in the mass meat markets is often enough of a reason for people to make the lifestyle change.
It’s important to consider all of these factors when making the decision to try a plant-based diet. What works for you may not work for the next person, so don’t feel pressured to fit into any of the above-mentioned categories. If you like the idea of being vegan but can’t cut out the cream in your morning coffee, alter the diet for your needs. These are just basic guidelines, but ultimately, it is important to consider your health and how these diets may improve or affect your lifestyle.