Plant Based Eating and Your HealthFit Kitchen
Sustainable eating has become top of mind for many people since climate change has become a reality. Most of us have become aware of the toll the agriculture industry takes on the environment. Learning about this can all be pretty overwhelming and it can be difficult to know what advice to follow. Plant-based eating has emerged as one of the most popular ways to eat sustainably and protect the planet. But how does a plant based diet affect our health?
In this blog post I want to dive into what it means to eat a “plant based” diet. How does this type of eating impact our body composition, disease risk, and longevity? Some of the answers may be surprising. Keep reading to learn more and to see if eating more plants could be a good choice for you!
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
Eating a plant-based diet can mean something different to each person. Below are a few definitions which explain the most common types of plant based eating.
Vegetarian: Someone that does not eat any meat, poultry or fish. They may still eat eggs or dairy.
Pescatarian: Someone that does not eat any meat or poultry, but does consume fish and seafood.
Flexitarian: Someone that is trying to cut down on their animal protein intake, but may still eat it on occasion.
Vegan: Someone that does not eat any animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. They may also avoid honey, and other products made from animals, like leather.
Mediterranean Diet: This diet is based on the foods which are commonly eaten and available around Greece and Southern Italy. The diet is high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood, and unsaturated fats like olive oil. Eggs and dairy are often part of the diet too. Although this is not a completely plant based diet, it is higher in plants than the typical North American diet.
Plant Based Diets and Cancer Risk
A systematic review study from 2022 looked at the impact of different eating patterns on the risk of developing breast cancer. They found that an overall healthy diet, a Mediterranean diet, and a plant-based diet generally reduced breast cancer risk (1). The Mediterranean diet has also been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer (2). Other studies have found the Mediterranean diet to be effective at preventing cancer due to its high levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains (1). The high amount of fibre and lower amount of saturated fat may play a beneficial role too. This effect can be applied to a plant based diet which is also high in these food groups.
Weight Loss and Plant Based Eating
It has been found that people who eat plant based diets including vegetarian and vegans diets tend to lose more weight and keep the weight off more effectively compared to those that eat animal products (3). Studies on over 60,000 people have also found that vegetarians and vegans had a lower average Body Mass Index (BMI) and lower weight compared to meat-eaters (3). This data makes since plant based diets are usually lower in fats and higher in fibre compared to an omnivore diet. Fibre is low in calories compared to fats and fibre helps you to feel full for longer which makes weight loss easier.
Does Eating Plants Help You Live Longer?
A study from 2022 looked at the impact our diet patterns have on our life expectancy (4). They compared a “Western Diet” to an “Optimized Diet” and discovered that an “Optimized Diet” high in legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts could extend someone’s life by 3 to 13 years depending on at what age this diet was adopted. They also found that lowering consumption of red meat, processed meat and eggs led to an increased life expectancy. Although this study didn’t look at plant based diets specifically, it is clear from their analysis that eating more plants and especially legumes and whole grains has a beneficial effect on our lifespans and long-term health.
Fit Kitchen Loves Plants
Fit Kitchen offers a variety of plant based, vegetarian and vegan meals and snacks. If you don’t see something that peaks your interest, you can always build your own meal with our Build Your Body option. You can choose grilled tofu or a red lentil patty. And did you know that all of our salads can be made with a plant protein too! Below are some of our plant based options to choose from.
- Mighty Muesli Overnight Oats
- Egg Bites – Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese
- Ain’t No Yolk Omelette
- Healthy Sanchez
- Coconut Chickpea Curry (Vegan)
- Killer Veggie Enchiladas
- Vegetarian Club Med (Vegan)
- Vegetarian Tasty Thai Stir fry (Vegan)
- All Salads
- Buddha Bowl (Vegan)
- Dark Chocolate Energy Balls (Vegan)
- Midday Squares (Vegan)
- Red Lentil Patties (Vegan)
- ViaBars (Vegan)
- Iwon Organics BBQ Protein Stix (Vegan)
- Iwon Organics Protein Popcorn (Vegan)
- Better Bears Gummies (Vegan)
Overall, it seems that eating more plants, whether it be fruits, vegetables, legumes or whole grains, has a positive impact on our health and longevity. The main benefits come from the high fibre and low fat content of these food groups, along with the other micronutrients and antioxidants they contain. This doesn’t mean we have to completely remove meat from our diets but replacing some of it with more plant foods would likely benefit our health, as well as the health of our planet.