5 Fabulous Reasons (and Recipes) for Going Plant-Based in 2022!
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The new year is the perfect time to try a plant-based diet—and below, I’ve got five (out of the infinite) reasons why.
The Physicians Committee has abundant resources you can use to make your journey towards a plant-based diet easy, from our 21-Day Vegan Kickstart app, to in-person and online Food for Life nutrition education and cooking classes, to The Exam Room podcast.
A vegan diet can promote overall health, both of body and mind. But it’s still important to choose your foods wisely—something that can be tough, given the explosion in recent years of vegan junk foods (despite how delicious and tempting these can be!).
Following a whole-foods, plant-based diet will provide many benefits. By whole foods, I mean foods that are minimally processed—think brown instead of white rice, and whole fruits instead of packaged fruit snacks.
Selecting foods that are optimal for your health also tends to be healthiest for the planet and the least harmful for animals. It’s a win-win-win!
Learn about how easy and beneficial a plant-based diet can be.
1. Sensational Skin
Eating lots of spinach and oranges—as part of an overall plant-based diet—is one secret to maintaining youthful skin.
A scientific review published last year found that antioxidants from a plant-based diet can help maintain healthier, younger-looking skin—especially the following:
- Vitamin E, which is commonly found in nuts and seeds like almonds and peanuts, and dark leafy greens including spinach, collard greens, and beet greens.
- Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruit, and vegetables including green peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Another way to improve your skin health is to ditch dairy. Removing dairy from your diet, including milk and cheese products, can actually help fight acne.
Research shows that dairy products produce and stimulate hormones associated with acne. So if you’re prone to breakouts, this is one tip you will not want to skip out on.
But how to get all those good fruits and veggies in your diet? Follow these two smoothie recipe recommendations for starters: an Orange You Banana for Kale Smoothie and Pineapple-Citrus Green Smoothie.
2. Wow Workouts
Did you make a resolution to start working out in 2022? Then you will definitely want to read on to see how you can maximize your potential!
There’s a reason so many GOAT (greatest of all time!) athletes—from tennis players Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic to football player Tom Brady to basketball player Diana Taurasi—fuel their training with a plant-forward diet.
These diets are high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which can support and improve athletic performance.
A study I co-authored identified the six reasons athletes are running toward a vegan diet. Athletes can reduce inflammation, reduce their risk of heart disease, improve blood flow, and reduce body fat by following a whole-foods plant-based diet. That means that you can achieve all of these benefits as well!
3. Perfect Protein
If building muscle is part of your plan, there’s probably no need to add more protein to your diet.
You might be thinking that this doesn’t make a lot of sense—don’t people need to load up on protein to build muscle? Contrary to what you might believe, most Americans already get more than enough of the macronutrient.
Another common myth is that protein must come from meat. In reality, there are abundant sources of plants that can satisfy your protein needs. There are also many health benefits with plant-based protein compared with that from animal sources, so make sure your protein is coming from plants!
A recent study found that replacing red meat with high-quality plant proteins such as beans, nuts, or soy reduces heart disease risk. Research also shows that plant protein as part of a vegan diet is best for maintaining a healthy weight and fighting diabetes.
4. Mood Boost
You’ve got to be happy when you’re eating the rainbow, right?!
But seriously, one recent study found that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables reported substantially better mental well-being and life satisfaction. And the more vegetables and fruits they ate, the better they felt.
Previous research shows that a vegan diet may reduce stress and anxiety levels more than other diets.
5. Climate Control
Beans satisfy hunger more than meat and can help you maintain a healthy heart, among many other health benefits. But did you know that research shows swapping beef for beans could also help the United States reach targeted greenhouse gas emission reductions?
Animal agriculture, and raising cattle for beef in particular, generates enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses. Not only are compounds like methane released from cattle manure, but forests are felled to make room for pastureland and to grow crops that are fed to cattle. Reduced forest area means more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, and fewer trees remain to absorb it and convert it into oxygen.
But let’s go beyond just beef and beans. Swapping all animal products for a plant-based diet is even better. A report published in The Lancet concluded that projections for the future show that “vegan and vegetarian diets were associated with the greatest reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.” You can’t argue with that!
Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD, is director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is a co-author of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' position paper on vegan and vegetarian diets.