Plant based diets are becoming more trendy these days, but there is still stigma and misinformation regarding the nutritional value it can bring. Some people have the misconception that plant-based diets are unable to give you optimum nutrients as compared to a meat-inclusive one. This is, however, completely untrue – continue reading to find out more.
Fully plant-based diets mean that your plate consists of only plants and food made from plants, which also excludes dairy and eggs. This also gives a positive effect to the planet. How is this so?
Firstly, plant based diets can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because farming and breeding animals produce tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Also, breeding animals increases energy consumptions - for example, the usage of electricity and water is higher in animal breeding compared to planting. Farming, processing animal meat and the meat industry causes more pollution overall which affect our planet.
To make matters worse, farming also causes more deforestation which leads to wild animals losing their habitats. Farming causes the soil to lose its nutrients and become infertile to be used for crop plantation. Lastly, choosing plant based diet can help us combat world hunger because it could feed more compared to farming where the animals need to be fed as well.
Thus, looking at the good outcome it gives us and our planet, lets dive further into getting the best from our plant based food choices. There is a term called the “wealthy malnutrition,” where plant based diets are blamed to keep you feeling full with fibre but miss out on the important nutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin D3, calcium, iodine, protein and omega. So how do we obtain these specific nutrients from plants?
Beginning with protein, which is one fundamental nutrient that gives us the basic building blocks for muscles. It is an important nutrient that gives energy and helps you move through the day. A diet lacking in protein causes tiredness and poor bodily functions. The common myth is that protein is only found in meats, which is not true. Protein from plants are abundant as in the image below:
Besides protein, omega-3 is also considered a powerful nutrient. It helps in our cardiovascular, vision and brain health. It is an essential fatty acid that helps to lower the rate of plaque deposition in our arteries, lowering the risks for heart prone diseases. A popular myth connected to omega -3 is that it can only be derived from fish oil. Popular plant-derived omega 3 looks like these:
Vitamin D and calcium is also important to help grow and strengthen our bones, muscle and teeth. Vitamin D in plant based diets come in the forms below. Fortified food means specific nutrients have been added to them during process. Another tip is vitamin D is also obtained from sunlight, so those living in tropical countries are never deprived of this!
Following these is vitamin B12 which is crucial for nerves and red blood cells. Deficiency will lead to anaemia, fatigue, mood swings and more complications. Vitamin B12 is also very difficult to obtain from plants but mostly derived from fortified cereals and nut milk. Thus it could be beneficial to take vitamin B12 supplements for those in need.
Next in line is iodine and iron. Both are important for red blood cell productions and hormonal balance. Iodine is mandatory when it comes to thyroid because this hormone plays an important role in every cell and organ of our body. Iron is crucial for haemoglobin production that assists red blood cells to carry oxygen. Below are the sources you can get from plant based foods.
Based on the above recommendations, it is untrue that we will be deprived of nutrients or energy when taking up more vegetarian options. Moreover, with the benefits of the planet involved we could choose to put more vegetables on our plate to keep ourselves healthy and protect our planet too.