A Beginner's Guide to Vegan/Plant-Based Diets

You've likely heard a lot about plant-based diets or going vegan, but why are they so popular? 


Part of the rise of plant-based diets has to be attributed to the increased awareness of how the foods we eat impact the environment. Not only is meat resource-intensive, but livestock emissions contribute about 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a lot!


But one of the biggest reasons why people are interested in starting a plant-based diet is because of the many health benefits that come with it. 


There is no greater diet that addresses all the underlying factors that cause chronic disease than the whole foods, plant-based diet. Whether you’re hoping to lose weight, address a chronic health condition, reduce inflammation, or protect your body in the long term, you can benefit from a plant-based diet.


We want to help you transform your health, so we’ve put together a guide to plant-based diets. 


What Is a Plant-Based Diet?


The term "plant-based" can have different meanings. You might see it used synonymously with "vegan." Some people might use it when they start introducing more vegetables to their diets. It could be used to describe a diet that mostly consists of plant-based foods.


While all of those uses of "plant-based" are technically correct, the main idea of the concept is to make plant-based foods the central aspect of each meal. This diet is rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.


Consequently, this means the diet also limits foods like meats and dairy. Some people may choose to completely eliminate foods from animals, but an easier way to start is simply by limiting your intake. Eliminating meat and animal products can be difficult for some, so you can start by replacing ingredients one by one, like swapping butter for olive oil, ground beef for lentils, dairy milk for nut milk. 


An even better way to get going is to start by having one plant-based meal per day. You’ll be surprised at the amazingly delicious options you can find and the vast amount of resources dedicated to making vegan foods tasty.


The focus on plants and whole foods also means excluding processed foods and refined foods like added sugars wherever possible. To ensure your plant-based diet is successful, pay attention to the quality of foods you’re putting in your body. If possible, try to focus on organic, locally-sourced foods to create your meals. Your body will thank you in the long run.


What Are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet?


A plant-based diet has a variety of health benefits. The first - weight loss - is why most people switch to this diet, but you may be surprised by some of the others

1. Lose Weight and Keep it Off

Weight is something almost everyone struggles with. In fact, almost 70% of adults in the U.S. are overweight. 


Making lifestyle and dietary changes can stimulate weight loss and benefit health, but we all know that the real struggle is keeping the weight off. 


Let's start with losing weight: Plenty of studies have shown that plant-based diets are great for weight loss. This diet promotes a significant increase in fiber intake and a large decrease in processed foods, which work together to stimulate weight loss.


When compared with other diets, the plant-based diet still shines. Plant-based diets help people lose significantly more weight than other diets.


Now onto the hard part: keeping the weight off. In addition to losing more weight on average when compared to other diets, people who try plant-based diets are also more likely to keep the weight off.


A study found that those trying plant-based diets were able to maintain their weight loss for a one year follow-up period.


If you want to get back on track with your health for good, a plant-based diet is one of the best ways to make that happen.

2. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Though your waistline may be your primary concern for adopting a plant-based diet, it could also help lower your risk of heart disease.


Though the quality and types of foods you consume matter, a plant-based diet is known for being heart-healthy. Studies show that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, and nuts will greatly reduce your risk of developing heart disease.


However, plant-based diets that include fried foods, refined grains, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks won't produce the same results. In fact, that could actually increase your risk of heart disease. If you're serious about your diet and your health, you must make sure to consume the right foods.

3. Prevent Cancer

“Food is the chemotherapy we eat, three times a day.” - Dr. William Li, MD 

This might be surprising to learn, but your diet has an extraordinary impact on your risk of certain types of cancer. Diet can cause up to 35% of environmentally-caused cancers. There is a huge amount of research to show the link between plant-based diets and lower levels of cancer overall. 


There are a tremendous amount of food synergies from brightly colored fruits, vegetables and superfoods that arise from a healthy diet. Plant-based diets rich in fiber and phytonutrients have been proven to help prevent and reverse cancer. Focus on getting plenty of green vegetables, turmeric, citrus fruits, berries, herbs and spices in your diet.


Health is not something to take lightly. What we put into our bodies really does matter. While there are no guarantees, lowering your health risks with a plant-based diet certainly seems worthwhile.

4. Stave Off Diabetes

With weight being a concern for the majority of adults, diabetes can be a legitimate concern. The good news is that a plant-based diet can effectively manage or even reduce your risk of developing this disease.


A healthy plant-based diet is so beneficial that it can lower your risk of diabetes by 34% compared to unhealthy diets or diets that aren't plant-based. 


If you currently struggle with diabetes, you can still benefit from a plant-based diet. Those with diabetes can actually improve their blood sugar control by switching to a plant-based diet.

5. Reduction in Cognitive Decline

Plant-based diets can also prevent or slow cognitive decline and Alzheimer's as you grow older. The diet increases the number of antioxidants and plant compounds introduced to the body, both of which inhibit the progression of Alzheimer's and may even reverse cognitive decline.


The older we get, the more important it is to take care of our bodies. It's easy to notice the visible benefits plant-based diets can have on our bodies, but the intangible benefits must not be forgotten. 


Get Started on the Right Foot


Even if you’re ready to get your health back on track, switching to a plant-based diet might not be a walk in the park. You’ll have to clear your fridge of animal products, processed items and other foods that don’t fit the diet, and you’ll have to modify your grocery list.


The most difficult part for some new dieters is figuring out how to stay plant-based while on the run. If you’re frequently pressed for time, it can be easy to revert to unhealthy food options simply because they’re readily available. 


That’s where Smart Pressed Juice comes in. Our line of award-winning organic juices is perfect for anyone embarking on a plant-based journey. 


The number one thing people ask when they first start going plant-based is how they can get enough protein. The good news is that many plants are actually packed with natural proteins that are nourishing and good for you. Our Vegan Vanilla Proteini is packed with protein from 10 different complete plant sources, which is a great way to ensure you are getting enough nutrition on the run.


The second thing people don’t get enough of is vegetables, even on a vegan diet. Believe it or not, french fries and oreos are vegan, but they aren’t necessarily good for you. So what's better than getting your daily dose of vegetables in a single tasty and healthy smoothie? Our Organic Pressed Greens might as well be an organic farmer's market. Packed with over 20 superfoods and ingredients for optimal health, these greens are exactly what you need if you're constantly on the go.


There's a science behind what we do. Not only are our Organic Pressed Greens nutritionist-formulated, but they're also packed with delicious hints of pineapple, apple, carrots, and citrus to ensure you enjoy what you're drinking.


For more SMART lifestyle tips like this, visit http://www.smartpressedjuice.com and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or like us on Facebook. You can also visit our Amazon store to stock up on our delicious juices.