By Amy Patterson, News Editor
I always thought of myself as a healthy individual. Don’t get me wrong—I spring for a chocolate bar every so often, but overall, I am healthy—or so I thought. Recently, I watched a documentary called “Food Matters,” which made me think again. The premise of this film is that everyone should live on a plant-based diet. Now, of course, I already know that people who eat more greenery are generally healthier—I have been taught that since preschool. So, what’s the big breakthrough that warrants a new film?
Unlike most diets that promise weight loss and eternal life, this is something that actually makes sense. This lifestyle type diet pushes eating mostly plant-based food items and using vitamins to supplement the gaps. Their main message is that you can heal the body strictly through diet choices.
There is a great deal of evidence that a plant-based lifestyle can be extremely beneficial in regard to many diseases and overall health, but while the evidence for sticking to mainly plants is overwhelmingly positive, the line between vegetarians and vegans is continually debated. While both diets are plant-based, some research says that dairy is necessary; others, however, promise that consuming dairy will shorten your lifespan and ruin your health. Some research even suggests that eating a mostly vegetarian diet but including a very small amount of meat is healthy.
Whichever extreme you choose, vegan, vegetarian or a semi-carnivore, the studies on plant-based lifestyles can’t be ignored.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, “Heart disease is a food borne illness, one that can be prevented, reversed and even abolished by eating a plant-based, oil-free diet, one that eliminates meat, milk, fish, eggs and dairy.”
Along with heart disease, many websites, including livestrong.com, attest to the fact that eating a plant-based diet can greatly lower an individual’s risk for diabetes and even help manage the disease for those already diagnosed.
While heart health seems to be agreed upon across the board, the “Food Matters” website claims that a plant-based lifestyle will help prevent cancer and depression, as well.
When you look at the research, it’s easy to see that they are onto something. According to foodconsumer.org, “A study led by colleagues on the National Center for Global Health and medicine in Tokyo, Japan, shows that a plant-based diet protects against depression.”
And as far as cancer goes, according to the National Cancer institute, about one-third of all cancer deaths are related to malnutrition. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests on their website that as a preventative measure to ward off cancer, individuals who base their diets on plant products, whole grains and beans have a decreased risk of cancer.
While all of the research seems to point to the widespread success of the plant-based lifestyle, the way to take this on will differ for every individual depending on what needs his or her body has and what they are willing to give up. And while after seeing this film I am now incorporating more plants in my daily life, I don’t see myself giving up cheese, chicken or ice cream anytime soon.