Is a Plant-Based Diet What’s Best for Me AND the Planet?

Is a plantbased diet sustainable for me?

As someone who has been 100% plantbased for over 6 years, I say, “Yes!”  My whole household is 100% including the farmer who works hard building, hand digging, carrying 50 pound bags down the rows, fixing fences, etc and the cross-country teenager. I was a huge meat-eater.  I still say, “Yes,” in my mind when I smell BBQ or see fried shrimp, but, there’s nothing healthy about either of those, so it’s easy to pass for me.  And…when I see raw meat or smell it cooking, it’s disgusting.  I used to make fun of my husband for thinking raw meat was gross, but once you quit eating it, it is really gross.

When I meet someone who is chronically ill, like someone with autoimmune disease, cancer, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, we talk about diet early on.  What are they currently eating.  Then, we talk about inflammatory foods and compare a list of inflammatory foods to their current diet to find ways we can remove those.  When someone has a serious condition, we can’t take baby steps to transition into a healthier diet, we have to make serious change and be aggressive.

When you eat a plantbased diet, it is mostly, if not all, anti-inflammatory unless you have allergies or food sensitivities.  I have a client right now, who after 4 days of eating a 100% glutenfree, plantbased diet could not believe the difference in her pain level.  She was considering surgery and steroids for the pain and 4 days later needed neither!

 If you switch your meats for a variety of plantbased foods AND eat enough calories, it will be sustainable for you. The key is eating enough. Most people don’t realize how many calories are in their animal foods.  Most people lose weight the first few months. 

When you swap a food with no fiber, like animal foods, for plant foods with fiber, you get full on less food. If you need more calories, you will need to eat foods like smoothies, nut or seed butters, or blended foods like hummus and guacamole to make up for the drop in calories.  This is where most people fail.  They say they felt weak and feel so much better eating meat.  It’s not the meat, it’s getting in enough nutrients.

What if you don’t have a chronic condition?  Is a plantbased diet right for you?

Plantbased diets are low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol, low in added sugars, and high in fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. Regardless of health status, plantbased diets have been linked to longevity, lowered inflammation, and they are bone-protective and cancer preventative.

Not only do plantbased diets based on a variety of foods meet all protein needs, they also are higher in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber which are also essential.

Adopting a plant-based diet improves health outcomes and reduces environmental degradation. 

How does eating a plantbased diet protect the planet?

A plant-based diet can positively affect human health while also mitigating the harmful environmental impacts associated with conventional animal-based diets.

Plantbased diets reduce risks of chronic diseases such as certain types of cancer , cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and also lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body mass index. Animal-based diets increase greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water consumption, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and pollution associated with animal agriculture.

The production of meat, dairy, and eggs is associated with deforestation as vast areas of land are cleared for grazing and feed production, leading to habitat loss and biodiversity depletion. It is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, releasing methane from livestock digestion and manure management, as well as carbon dioxide from deforestation and fossil fuel use in the industry. Animal agriculture also exerts pressure on water resources through intensive water consumption for animal hydration and feed irrigation, leading to water scarcity and pollution. Moreover, the excessive use of antibiotics and pesticides in animal farming contributes to soil degradation and contamination, threatening ecosystems and human health.

By eliminating or reducing the consumption of animal products, individuals can greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as the production of meat and dairy is a major contributor to climate change. 

A shift towards plant-based diets can contribute to environmental sustainability. Studies exploring this topic emphasize the reduced resource requirements and ecological footprint associated with plant-based diets. 

What if you need to follow AIP?

Many health practitioners preach that you must have meat if you have an autoimmune condition, AND many specifically recommend organ meats. I’ve only seen case studies and self-reported accounts for the use of organ meats. For me, I went from a BIG meat-eater to 0% meat and reversed my condition along with going dairyfree and glutenfree.  This is ONLY MY OWN experience, but I have been very happy and successful on 100% plants.

Other plantbased doctors also recommend meat-free or low meat consumption. Two doctors reversed their autoimmune conditions, Dr Brooke Goldner who uses a 100% plantbased diet that is high in green drinks and smoothies, and Dr Terry Wahls who went from recommending a high meat diet including organ meats to 9 cups of greens and vegetables and low meat (6-12 ounces a day which is low for most Americans). 

MANY practitioners still do not believe that you can get all of your amino acids from plants, AND there is NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

To absorb amino acids, you must have

            -adequate stomach acid

            -gut integrity

            -good stress management techniques

     -enough amino acids aka a diet that doesn’t restrict your intake of sufficient amino acids

-good quality sleep      

-enzymes, many which are in raw fruits and vegetables

Do some of the amino acids have to come from animals?

No, all plant foods contain protein, AND all essential amino acids. You do need to consume a variety of plants to ensure you are getting enough of all of the essential amino acids.  Eat a diet that contains vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, and whole grains or psuedograins like quinoa and buckwheat, to get enough of all of them AND meet your vitamin and fiber needs, as well.

Do you need to supplement with powders, supplements, and protein bars?

Maybe. If you don’t have all of the items needed to absorb amino acids, or you cannot consume an adequate diet, you may need to supplement.  Just came out of surgery and have trouble eating? Are you a body builder cutting before a competition? Are you someone with a severe intestinal disease? You probably need to supplement.

My thoughts on organ meats.

First, I have my own biases. I only tried liver once.  I didn’t care for it, and when someone told me what it was, I was totally grossed out.  Putting that aside, organ meats like kidney and liver are filtering organs.

The liver and the kidneys clean our blood by filtering out the waste, the toxins, and debris.  When you use a filter at home, what is left in the filter?  Is it what you want or what you’re trying to remove?

While the liver creates and stores amino acids, vitamins, glycogen, and minerals.  It also filters out toxins and waste products and wraps excess toxins and chemicals that it doesn’t recognize in mucus and stuffs it in fat cells. I don’t think that is what we should or want to consume.

BUT, do your own due diligence.  Here are some articles you can read and determine for yourself if organ meats are right for you.

The Liver

Meat consumption and the risk of general and central obesity: the Shahedieh

Role of Heme Iron in the Association Between Red Meat Consumption and Colorectal Cancer

Here are links to MDs who have reversed their own autoimmune conditions:

Do you need help transitioning to a plantbased diet?  Going Glutenfree?  Or just meal planning and prepping?  I can help!  My passion is helping people like you transition to healthier meals. Schedule a time for us to chat!

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