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By Lora O’Brien
From our mood to our immune system, living a plant based lifestyle not only benefits the animal world, but provides us with a vast array of health perks. For example, shunning meat can do all of the following:
Boost Your Mood
Research has revealed that vegetarians may be happier than their meat-eating counterparts. In fact it was discovered that vegetarians had lower scores on depression tests and mood profiles when compared to fish and meat-eaters. There is an element of freshness to most vegetarian dishes, especially when it comes to organic produce – so this is bound to purify our minds and keep our thoughts positive.
Plant based diets are naturally low in saturated fats and cholesterol. They have been shown to reduce heart disease risk and what’s more, data shows conclusively that vegetarians and vegans suffer less disease caused by a modern Western diet (e.g. coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity type 2 diabetes, diet-related cancers, diverticulitis, constipation, and gall stones, among several others). Why? This can be attributed to a higher intake of fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids.
Keep You Slim
A bonus to sticking to a plant based diet is the positive effect it has on our figure. Vegetarians and vegans typically weigh less as a result of a diet comprised of fewer calories in the form of grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. They are also generally more aware of healthy food and so eat better.
Detox Your Body
Further emphasising what I was saying about a plant based diet, especially organic, being purer, it is of course far less toxic. Foodborne illnesses, bacteria, parasites, and chemical toxins are more common in commercial meat, poultry, and seafood when compared with plant foods, (particularly organic fruits and vegetables). Vegetarians and vegans also tend to eat less processed food as a rule.
Save the Planet
A plant-based diet is far, far better for the planet as it requires less energy and farmland to feed a vegan – by a factor of thousands. And you know what they say: healthy planet, healthy humans! We can’t survive in a contaminated environment.
Keep You Pretty
As well as keeping the figure desirable, vegetarians and vegans tend to have better vision and less macular degeneration, and all that extra collagen leads to better skin – what more could you want?
Keep You Fit
While most active individuals focus on protein intake, they should instead follow a high-carbohydrate, good-fat, and vitamin and mineral-rich vegetarian diet for optimum sports performance. Conflicting studies exist, but the number of world-class vegetarian sportsmen continues to rise, Lewis Hamilton for example has recently spoken of his mission to go vegan.
Let You Live Longer and Better
Vegetarians and vegans have been found to enjoy longer and healthier lives when compared to meat-eaters.
But the truth is that a lot of vegans and vegetarians don’t get the nutrition they need because they chow down on far too many basic carbs – think pasta, rice and baked goods – without adding nutrient-dense foods.
We asked professional Holistic Health specialist, nutritionist, raw chef and life coach, Geeta Sidhu-Robb, to provide us with an eating plan that’s super-rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. Geeta, who’s also the founder and CEO of Nosh Detox, the UK’s first home delivery service of non-pasteurised juices and meal plans, says: “Vegetarian diets are packed full of essential nutrients, but in the absence of meat, it is vitally important that we make sure we are still consuming all of the correct amounts of proteins and nutrients in other forms.”
- Protein is made up of small parts called amino acids, which aid your metabolism and help to keep you muscles, skin and organs healthy. Eggs are a great source of proteins for vegetarians, and vegan options include nuts, peanut butter, seeds, grains and legumes.
- Iron is another key nutrient vegetarians and vegans need to pay attention to, as it plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells, which help to carry oxygen throughout your body. Good sources of iron include beans, broccoli, raisins, wheat and tofu.
- Vegan Omega-3 fatty acids improve your heart health and brain function. Flaxseed meal and oil are two good vegetarian sources of omega-3.
- Vitamin B12 is sometimes hard for vegans to get. The only reliable vegan sources are fortified foods, like some plant milks, soy products and some breakfast cereals) or B12 supplements.
- Finally, Zinc is vital to our immune system. A lot of cheeses contain zinc, but you can also find it in beans, nuts and soy products which contain fewer calories.
In order to ingest all of these nutrients, Geeta has put together this diet, below, which covers all the protein, zinc, iron and fatty acids needed on a plant based diet.
The Healthiest Vegan Weekly Meal Plan
- Breakfast – Banana nut porridge with quinoa (below – get the recipe here.)
- Lunch- Smashed chickpea and avocado salad (or use dark rye bread to make a sandwich)
- Dinner- Baked sweet potatoes with veggies
- Breakfast- Tropical spirulina smoothie
- Lunch- Pesto, avocado and hummus sandwich (below: get the recipe here)
- Dinner – Rice, bean and kale bowl with soy sauce tahini dressing
- Breakfast- Buckwheat pancakes with apple and cinnamon
- Lunch- Asian noodle bowl, with peanut and ginger dressing (below: get the recipe here).
- Dinner- Kidney bean, corn and rocket salad
- Breakfast- Tofu and turmeric scramble
- Lunch- Roasted Mediterranean veg & quinoa salad (below: get the recipe here).
- Dinner- Chickpea flour omelette with a green salad
- Breakfast- Polenta with grilled tomatoes (below: get the recipe here)
- Lunch – Butter Bean salad with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes
- Dinner – Coconut curry
- Breakfast- Gluten free protein pancakes (below: get the recipe here)
- Lunch – Creamy vegan broccoli soup
- Dinner – Vegan quinoa risotto with kale and peas
- Breakfast- Vegan English breakfast with beans and vegan sausage
- Lunch – Ramen bowl with tofu and noodles
- Dinner – Black bean burgers (below: get the recipe here)
Main image credit here.