The choice to eat less meat and/or dairy products or remove them altogether is a very personal one. People are motivated by ethics, the environment, health reasons, or a combination of the three. And according to the US Department of Agriculture “Plant-based diets can meet all the recommendations for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs.”
The US Department of Agriculture stresses that getting adequate nutrients becomes important when you eliminate an entire food group from your diet (particularly those abundant in meat and dairy). But with a little effort, it’s possible to do. These are the main key nutrients that plant-based dieters need to focus on:
- Iron: Primarily a carrier of oxygen to the blood
- Zinc: Necessary for many biochemical reactions and helps the immune system function
- Protein: Essential for body growth, maintenance, and repair
- Calcium: Supports strong bones and teeth
- Vitamin B12: Helps make DNA and red blood cells
So where do you get them?
Health benefits of a plant-based diet
A well planned plant-based diet can offer you the fulfillment of following your beliefs and may give you the enjoyment of a healthier life. There are many health benefits associated with a plant-based diet including:
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower intake of saturated fats
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease
- Lower risk of obesity
- Increased nutrient intake from plant sources
Another benefit of is that plant-based dieting is affordable on a limited budget. Whole grains, potatoes, and beans are some of the most affordable bulk foods at the grocery store and creating meals around these staple items can help you spend less money than you would on a meat-heavy diet. Shop the perimeter and the bulk section of your local grocery store for whole-food items; you’d be surprised how much money you can save!
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