5 Unexpected Benefits of a Plant Based Diet

Acai bowl

After four years on a plant based diet these are 5 unexpected benefits I’ve experienced.

Thinking of making the switch to a plant-based eater? Here’s what I’ve learned to love about the diet. 

Becoming a vegetarian, or at least trying the plant based diet, has become one of the most popular eating plans over recent years. 

A plant – based diet consists mostly of food derived from plants with no food with any sources of animals or artificial ingredients. 

Vegan diets eliminate all animal products, while plant-based diets do not necessarily eliminate animal products, but focus on eating mostly plants, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Consuming a plant – based diet can be extremely healthy, and, with the right planning, I’ve noticed the benefits outweigh any ‘missed flavours and experiences’  we’ve all been told after ditching meat and most animal sourced products. 

I decided to do this as my personal concerns were growing regarding the environment, and the water wastage involved in meat production. According to CSIRO Australia, it’s estimated that it takes 50,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef, but only 1,010 litres to produce 1kg of wheat, 2,200 for soybeans and 2,385 for rice. Wanting to also feel lighter and more in tune with my body’s gut health and digestion, I knew a switch to a vegetarian diet would complement this. 

I don’t miss meat at all. Over the four years, I haven’t had any cravings or temptations to revert back. If I’m feeling like a heartier, more traditional meal, I know the vegan and alternative meat market is booming – there is such a diverse range of faux meats that I know I can consume completely guilt free… that’s if they’re not full of sodium of course. 

1. It broadens the flavours, ingredients and cuisines you eat.

Despite many people reminding me of how much I would miss meat, it has been the complete opposite. 

The foods consumed on the plant based diet are far more flavoursome and nutritional, utilising more grains, seeds and legumes as protein replacements. 

Meals like falafel salads and lentil soups are equally as satiating as meat, and they’re full of distinct flavours. 

2. You will feel lighter and more energetic

Ever felt heavy and lethargic after a hearty meat – based meal? Not fun. Meat is one of the most difficult foods to digest, as it is such a large protein. 

Meat is also high in fats, which aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but may cause bloating. 

Vegetarian meals, such as pumpkin soup, roast veggie salad, or an eggplant bake, leave you feeling satisfied and sustained, without the discomfort and even regret. 

3. A plant – based diet can help maintain weight

Meats are highly processed foods, and with that comes the uncertainty of not knowing what hidden things are in it.

A plant – based diet forces myself to think of alternate ingredients that offer the same or more nutritional value, to constitute a meal. 

These alternatives are largely rich in protein and are equally as satisfying as meat. 

For instance, jackfruit can mimic shredded chicken, whilst tofu scramble is the new plant based favourite on toast in the mornings. 

4. It settles and fuels your gut

Prior to becoming a vegetarian, gut issues and discomfort were commonplace for me.

There are so many different processed meats, the body can struggle to get familiar with what is being consumed. This, in turn, can cause an upset stomach and potentially promote digestive issues. 

Becoming plant – based almost always increase your fibre intake; with the reliance on whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. These expand the diversity of the gut microbiota, commonly resulting in a more settled gut and digestion that isn’t delayed. 

Plant based foods have increased fibre and are generally less processed than meat, which does wonders for health

5. You deepen your knowledge of nutrition, ingredients and substitutes. 

Eating plant – based means considering, searching and understanding a variety of foods that can replace meat and animal products. 

I have learnt about so many more ingredients I hadn’t previously heard of since turning to the plant based diet. Who knew chia seeds and water would substitute an egg when baking? And that lentils, chickpeas and beans are delicious, healthy meat replacements that are much more flavoursome. 

Ruby Derrick

Ruby is currently studying communications and journalism and loves writing about fitness, fashion, food, health, travel, culture and politics. Her usual weeks consist of HIIT workouts, walking, testing new recipes, healthy baking and listening to music. On the weekends, she's either continuing her search for Sydney's best almond croissant, or trying Messina's latest flavour. Ruby is also an advocate for women's health and a devoted vegetarian.

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