by Lauren Follett, BA, RHN, Registered Nutritionist
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” – Michael Pollan
I’ve been trying out so many different vegetarian recipes lately in an effort to eat more of a plant-based diet. We enjoy eating chicken and fish, and we eat free-from (hormones & antibiotics) pork, lamb and beef from time to time, but there are many health benefits of eating a plant-based diet:
1 – Health benefits aside, cooking with pulses (ie. legumes, beans) is cheaper than buying meat. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Guelph Food Institute, “the average Canadian household will spend $8,631 on food in 2016, an increase of about $345 (1).” The solution? Eat more pulses and buy local. Experimenting with vegetarian versions of your favourite recipes and participating in a farm share or Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.), which “allows people to partner with a local farmer by pre-ordering a basket of vegetables to be delivered weekly through the harvest season (2)” is a great way to improve your health and save some money!
2 – Research has shown that a plant-based diet can prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
3 – Plant-based foods are low in saturated fat, which can lower blood pressure.
4 – Studies show that people who consume 7-11 servings of fruits & vegetables everyday are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
5 – Weight loss: a plant-based diet is generally lower in calories and unhealthy fats than a meat-filled diet. Maintaining a healthy weight is so important for overall good health.
6 – A plant-based diet means more fibre, which lowers bad LDL cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar; preventing diabetes and weight gain.
7 – We all know that the vitamin A found in orange fruits & veggies like carrots is important healthy eyes, but certain pigments in spinach, kiwi, grapes, kale, squash and corn may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
8 – Certain nutrients like the lycopene from tomatoes & watermelon and vitamin C in bell peppers can protect your skin from environmental damage and premature aging (3).
Step out of your comfort zone this week, and try a meatless meal! Still not convinced? Stay tuned for my Lentil Bolognese recipe!