Pros and Cons of Plant Based Diets

A plant based diet simply refers to an eating pattern, which primarily includes fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, legumes and beans. This eating pattern does not imply that someone is vegan or vegetarian but has generally decided to proportionally eat more plants than animal based foods.

We know that Aussies love eating meat and the average Joe exceeds the weekly recommendation for red and processed meat (450g or 6 serves of red meat). Also, only 51% of Australian’s meet our healthy eating recommendation for fruit and 7.5% meet the recommendation for vegetables.

Pros of a plant based diet

A benefit of focusing on eating plant foods and decreasing red meat intake can help manage

  • High blood pressure

  • Weight concerns

  • High cholesterol levels

Fruits, vegetables, wholemeal cereals and wholegrains increases the below nutrients which improves the risk factors listed above

  • Fibre

  • Antioxidants

  • Vitamins and minerals

Cons of a plant based diet

On the other hand, foods marketed as “plant based” or even “vegan” may be high in nutrients like

  • Saturated fat which increases “LDL” or “bad fat” levels which overtime contributes to cardiovascular disease

  • Sodium which can contribute to high blood pressure

  • Energy especially foods high in coconut and oils which may lead to unintentional weight gain

Eating less red meat and replacing with more wholefoods like fruit and vegies is always going to be a great improvement to ones diet. However, some “plant based foods” are not necessarily healthier than “animal products”, which are not necessarily unhealthier than plant based foods. Small, simple and realistic dietary strategies are key for a sustainable eating pattern.

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