Plant-based Diets: Practical Or Food For Thought?
There is no one-size fits all solution to healthy eating. The importance of eating food that makes you happy should not be understated. That being said, more and more evidence is starting to suggest that a Plant-based diet has many merits. Read on to understand this revitalized practice and how you can incorporate it into your own life.
According to a 2018 Food & Beverage Trend report by Baum + Whiteman, an international food and restaurant consultant company, Plant-based foods are predicted to be a significant dining trend this year, as more consumers are choosing to reduce their meat intake and eating more fresh vegetables. Singapore also made the number two spot on PETA’s list of the Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Cities in Asia for its burgeoning vegan scene. So, what is the hype around plant-based diet?
There exists a broad spectrum of Plant-based diets. The steadfast principle is that the majority of calories come from plant sources, therefore limiting or avoiding animal sources. This category includes veganism, vegetarianism and its various forms (lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, etc.), as well as simply eating smaller portions of meat or lowering the frequency of eating animal products. Why should you consider a Plant-based Diet?
1. Helps with Weight Loss
A 2013 controlled trial in South Carolina revealed that vegan diets can result in greater weight loss than other common dietary regimens. One study randomly assigned overweight adults to vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian and omnivorous diets. While all participants lost weight, vegan participants lost more fat and weight than all the other groups.
As obesity rates in Singapore are rising, along with all the health implications of being overweight, a plant-based diet might help you in keeping your weight under control.
2. Lowers Risks for Chronic diseases
A number of studies have found that vegetarians have lower rates of coronary heart disease, lower likelihoods of hypertension and diabetes, and lower prevalence of obesity. Some studies also suggest the cancer rates of vegetarians appear to be moderately lower than others living in the same communities, and life expectancy appears to be greater. The reasons behind these trends are still under scientific scrutiny, but a plant-based diet appears to increase the chances of being healthier in the long term.
Another study by Duke-NUS medical school reveals that a meat-based diet is associated with increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes due to the dietary iron content in meat.
3. It’s Generally Cheaper Than A Normal Diet
In light of the recent GST hike plans, and the seemingly constant rising costs of living in Singapore, it seems prudent to stretch our every dollar. In general, vegetables are significantly cheaper than meat.
300g of Boneless Chicken Breasts costs $3.25 on Redmart, while 300g of Tofu costs $0.95. The price of the chicken breast is nearly 3.5 times that of tofu.
The lower risk of developing chronic diseases associated with plant-based diets also means an increased likelihood of smaller future medical costs and insurance premiums, both of which can impose a considerable burden as you approach old age and are no longer working.
4. It’s More Accessible Than You Think
Gone are the days where the only vegetarian food you can find in an area is a wimpy salad and mushroom soup at a restaurant.
Apps like HappyCow, are helping to connect people on plant-based diets with places that offer vegetarian meals. Groups like Vegetarian Society (Singapore) regularly post events and share their favourite vegetarian recipes and review vegetarian hawker stalls.
More vegetarian restaurants and stores are popping up in the dynamic Singapore foodscape, giving people greater access to plant-based food: making it easier than ever before to follow a more plant-based diet.
5. It’s Good For the Planet
The meat industry is one of the most significant contributors to global warming and climate change, due to the huge amounts of land, water, and food required to raise livestock. Cattle is infamous for emitting large quantities of methane into the atmosphere, and clearing the land needed raising cattle is a major contributor to deforestation.
By reducing the amount of meat that you eat, you reduce the demand for meat. Market forces will step in and lower profits for the meat industry, who will have to re-evaluate their business models. 6. More Meat Alternatives are Available.
For those of you who love your steak and juicy burgers, you do not have to give up the taste of meat when following a plant-based diet. Many meat alternatives taste exactly like meat or even better. Companies like ImpossibleFoods and Beyond Meat have conducted extensive research to create a plant-based “meat” that tastes exactly like meat, sizzles like meat and transitions from red to brown like meat.
However, do be careful about the sodium content in these meat alternatives, as meat alternatives are still highly processed.
7. Plants are yummy
Many vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Singapore have been receiving rave reviews over their meatless food, such as NomvNom, VeganBurg, Greendot, Ling Zhi Vegetarian, and many others. There are also many plant-based Instagrammers and bloggers that post recipes for their beautiful meals that sometimes look too good to eat, such as morethanveggies and Jaslyn Goh.
You do not have to go cold turkey immediately (pun intended). Just incorporating more plants into your diet can go a long way towards improving your health, as your doctor often tells you. Start by ordering more vegetables in your cai peng, or commit to eating one vegetarian meal a month, per week, or per day. You can also start by slowly reducing the portion sizes of your meat. Again, your wallet will thank you. Do seek your doctor’s advice when embarking on a more plant-based diet should you have any prior health concerns. Careful planning is still required to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients and protein on a plant-based diet. Do opt for less-processed food as well; a plant-based diet can still be high in fats and sodium (French Fries are vegan!).
If you are someone that has had issues with nutrition and diet, you should consult a doctor or nutritionist to come up with a personalized action plan. Eating a healthy diet doesn't have to be hard. Here are some tips on how to find a doctoror wellness expert in Singapore. You can also speak to a doctor or wellness expert online on RingMD from wherever you are (just click the button below).
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