The rise and rise of Plant-based eating
2019 will be remembered as the year ‘PLANT BASED EATING’ landed. Ordinary Americans quickly progressed from ‘Meatless Mondays’ through ‘Flexitarianism’ to full-blown Veganism - buoyed by the promise of weightloss, increased energy, as well as lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Recent studies indicate that a vegan diet could also help type 2 diabetics manage blood sugar levels and significantly improve mental and physical wellbeing.
Celebrities and influencers regularly expound the virtues of vegan diets. But it is vegan sportsmen and women who are leading public opinion - by showcasing the power of plants to enhance their physical performance. Vegan athletes are competing at the highest level of sports and are continually out-pacing the rest of the field.
If this isn’t enough to persuade you to quit meat then the Netflix documentary, ‘Game Changers’ may be. This is pro-plant propaganda at its most compelling. Executive produced by five time Formula 1 champion, Lewis Hamilton, tennis superstar, Novak Djokovic, and NBA’s Chris Paul, the documentary commands attention through the simple and earnest testimonies of people who have turned vegan and seen amazing results.
There’s the grandfather in better shape than his kids; the weight-lifter, breaking world records, and Arnold Schwarzenegger - a committed carnivore throughout his body building career, who now eats mostly plants, has the lowest cholesterol of his life and feels fitter than ever. Added to the voices of numerous top athletes are sports nutritionists, Olympic physicians, medical researchers and doctors - all clearly stating the same thing: plant based eating lowers body fat, improves glycogen stores in muscle cells, increases blood flow to body tissues – and extends muscle endurance. But veganism is not just a diet for competitive athletes.
Compared to vegans, meat-eaters have a 75% higher risk of premature death and a 400% higher risk of death from all types of cancer.
Vegan diets are also shown to reverse signs of heart disease and diabetes. You ARE what you eat. We have an unprecedented number of food choices available to us but choice complicates things - as does the conflicting information surrounding the many new diet regimes. In the end, it comes down to two simple questions: what is good for our physiology and what is good for our planet? In other words, what are our bodies designed to eat and what should we do to protect the environment?
Although Lewis Hamilton won a record number of titles since turning vegan, in 2017, it was his ethics that informed of the dietary change. He told the BBC, "The pollution coming from the amount of cows that are being produced is incredible. The cruelty is horrible and I don't necessarily want to support that.” It’s also worth noting - despite those cave paintings depicting mammoth hunts - our ancestors rarely ate animal flesh. It is more likely they thrived on a diet of nuts, fruits and roots and that meat was an exceptional treat. It seems plant based diets are nothing new!
So, as the voice of veganism gets louder and prouder, not only does it seem that a plant based diet supports health and athleticism, it may also help us adopt a more meaningful, purposeful and loving relationship with our environment - not unlike our ancestors.