Pro Health

5 reasons to try plant-based

We all know how challenging it can be to change our habits, despite our best intentions. And it can be especially difficult if it doesn’t feel like there are any benefits on a personal level. Which is why we’ve put together this list of five compelling reasons for you to explore plant-based eating. As well as being much better for the planet and the climate, eating a more plant-rich diet can have a positive impact on your well-being while also expanding your eating patterns with new vistas of flavor and culinary possibilities. Once you get into the world of plant-based eating, you might not want to go back!

Pro Taste

For many people, this is one of the best reasons for shifting to a more plant-based diet! Embracing a plant-based lifestyle opens the door to a world that is rich with culinary options! Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and the huge array of plant-based ingredients offer a varied and diverse palette of flavors and textures that you might not yet have discovered! This journey into new tastes and possibilities can make mealtimes far more exciting, and eating an endlessly enjoyable adventure.

Pro Health

A plant-based diet also has numerous health benefits. It has substantial advantages in terms of maintaining a healthy weight and can help to reduce the risks of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes1 2 3 and Parkinson’s disease.4 Moreover, given that 60% of all human infectious diseases were originally transmitted from animals,5 the intensive practices of animal agriculture are a major driver of pandemic risk. Cramming large numbers of genetically similar individuals into high-density settings leads to poor health and high stress levels, which strongly increases the chances of pathogenic spillovers from wild animals to farmed animals, and ultimately to humans.6 7

Pro Justice

People who are marginalized by social, economic, or political factors often lack access to adequate healthcare and bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Switching to a plant-based diet can help to improve food and nutrition security. The animal-agriculture supply chain uses land and soil resources highly inefficiently, with 77% of the world’s soya-bean crop used for animal feed.8 Additionally, animal-based foods account for about 80% of the world’s agricultural land while providing only 37% of protein consumed by humans and 18% of calories,9 further exacerbating food insecurity in the context of a growing global population. Shifting to plant-rich diets allows us to redirect resources and grow more food for human consumption in less intensive and less environmentally damaging ways. Additionally, slaughterhouse work is physically and emotionally demanding, and is usually performed by people on the economic margins of society.

Pro Animals

If factory farms and slaughterhouses are harmful for the people who work in them and for the planet as a whole, imagine the impact on the actual animals. With its overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, routine use of antibiotics, castration, transportation stress, and other harmful practices, factory farming negatively affects the lives of animals, both physically and emotionally. By choosing a more plant-based diet, you can reduce the demand for animal-based products and lessen the impact of the industrial farming system on the lives of animals.

Pro Environment

Animal-based foods contribute up to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions,10 while livestock production is responsible for around 32% of global anthropogenic methane emissions,11 a gas with more than 80 times the warming potential of CO2 during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. The goals set in the Paris Agreement in 2015 – aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5°C in order to avoid the worst impacts of global warming – will not be possible if current food-consumption behaviors are maintained, even if we completely stop using fossil fuels.12 By embracing more plant-based options, you can play a vital role in reducing your carbon footprint and mitigating environmental degradation. 

A call to action

Making the shift to plant-based eating is more than just an individual choice, and goes beyond the numerous personal benefits! By switching to a plant-based diet, you significantly reduce your carbon footprint and actively engage in fighting the climate crisis, while improving the health of the planet and all who live on it.

Zoé Constantini

References

  1. Kahleova, H., S. Levin & N. D. Barnard (2018): Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Cardiovascular Disease. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 61(1), 54–61. Doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2018.05.002
  2. Papier, K., G. K. Fensom, A. Knuppel, et al. (2021): Meat consumption and risk of 25 common conditions: outcome-wide analyzes in 475,000 men and women in the UK Biobank study. BMC Medicine 19(1), 53. Doi:10.1186/s12916-021-01922-9
  3. Barnard, N., S. Levin & C. Trapp (2014): Meat Consumption as a Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients 6(2), 897–910. Doi:10.3390/nu6020897
  4. Tresserra‐Rimbau, A., A. S. Thompson, N. Bondonno, et al. (2023): Plant‐Based Dietary Patterns and Parkinson’s Disease: A Prospective Analysis of the UK Biobank. Movement Disorders 38(11), 1994–2004. Doi:10.1002/mds.29580
  5. Klous, G., A. Huss, D. J. J. Heederik, et al. (2016): Human–livestock contacts and their relationship to transmission of zoonotic pathogens, a systematic review of literature. One Health 2 65–76. Doi:10.1016/j.onehlt.2016.03.001
  6. Mourkas, E., A. J. Taylor, G. Méric, et al. (2020): Agricultural intensification and the evolution of host specialism in the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117(20), 11018–11028. Doi:10.1073/pnas.1917168117
  7. National Research Council (US) Committee on Achieving Sustainable Global Capacity for Surveillance and Response to Emerging Diseases of Zoonotic Origin, G. T. Keusch, M. Pappaioanou, et al. (2009): Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009. 3, Drivers of Zoonotic Diseases. Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases. National Academies Press (US). Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215318/
  8. Fraanje, W. & T. Garnett. (2020). Soy: food, feed, and land use change. (Foodsource: Building Blocks). Food Climate Research Network, University of Oxford.
  9. Poore, J. & T. Nemecek (2018): Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science 360(6392), 987–992. doi:10.1126/science.aaq0216
  10. Xu, X., P. Sharma, S. Shu, et al. (2021): Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods. Nature Food 2(9), 724–732. Doi:10.1038/s43016-021-00358-x
  11. United Nations Environment Program & Climate and Clean Air Coalition (2021): Global Methane Assessment: Benefits and Costs of Mitigating Methane Emissions. United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi
  12. Clark, M. A., N. G. G. Domingo, K. Colgan, et al. (2020): Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change targets. Science 370(6517), 705–708. Doi:10.1126/science.aba7357

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