In the most fundamental sense, a plant-based diet refers to dietary patterns that are focused on consuming foods derived from plants – for example consuming fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. An entirely vegan diet involves abstaining from the consumption of any food derived from animals – including dairy, eggs, and meat. It's distinct from vegetarianism, which requires abstinence from eating meat but not from consuming eggs or dairy products.
Plant-based choices are not necessarily binary. Many people who follow a plant-based diet are entirely vegan, but it's also possible to just increase the proportion of plant-based foods in your diet if you do not feel that you can be 100% vegan all the time.
Merely reducing the amount of non-vegan foods you consume can have an incredibly positive impact on the environment. Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that cutting meat & dairy out of your diet can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73% and is the single most effective way to have a positive impact on the environment on an individual level.
Although increasingly popular nowadays, examples of humans following a predominantly plant-based diet can be traced back across centuries. Examples include ancient Indian cultures avoiding consuming meat altogether, believing that humans should not inflict pain upon animals. Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras, also advocated vegetarianism. Around 500BCE he advocated benevolence among all species.
The number of people practising a plant-based diet has increased significantly in recent years – there were 4x more vegans in the UK in 2018, compared to 2006. Naturally, this has prompted a considerable amount of research on the impact of plant-based diets on human health, and the environment.
So what are some of the reasons to consider when increasing the proportion of plants in your diet or becoming entirely vegan? More on this next week…
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