The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats – which are found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods. Decades of sound science have proven it can raise your 'bad' cholesterol and put you at higher risk for heart disease:
Fiber is essential for digestive health - and we can only find fiber in plant foods. According to the American Diabetes Association: "For optimal health, adults need to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Most Americans do not consume nearly enough fiber in their diet, so while it is wise to aim for this goal, any increase in fiber in your diet can be helpful. Most of us only get about half of what is recommended."
Obesity is on the rise in the U.S. At least 20% of the population is considered obese in all 50 states - and there are 9 states in which over 35% of the population is obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers."
Agriculture is estimated to be the direct driver for around 80% of deforestation worldwide. Beef production is considered the main driver of forest loss across countries with the highest deforestation rates.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, "The livestock sector is one of the top three contributors to the most serious environmental problems, including water-quality degradation, at every scale from local to global."
Commercial fishing is negatively affecting the biodiversity in our oceans so much that "unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the ocean species together as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood." All species of wild seafood could be in collapse in the next 30 years!
Feeding crops to livestock ends up being very inefficient when we consider how much food energy is lost along the way. This system creates a shrinking food supply while almost a billion - or 1 out of 9 - people on our planet are hungry or starving. Children are the most effected by food insecurity.
There's lots of protein in plants and it's virtually impossible to be protein-deficient while eating a balanced plant-based diet. The USDA recommended daily intake is 46g of protein for women and 56g for men - which is easy to achieve on plants alone. If you ate cereal with soy milk for breakfast, a black bean burrito with guac for lunch and spaghetti with marinara sauce for dinner, you've met your protein requirement for the day.
You'll often hear people say that we have to eat meat or we'll be iron-deficient. But, it turns out that many animals, cows for example, get their iron from plants and you can, too! Plant-based foods that are rich in iron include: beans, nuts, seeds, dark green leafy vegetables and unpeeled potatoes.
Diets high in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat and trans fat, is linked to our #1 killer, heart disease. Animal products are high in saturated fat and cholesterol and most Americans consume more than the recommended limit. Plants do not produce cholesterol and are naturally low in or void of harmful saturated and trans fats, so eating a plant-based diet is an excellent way to maintain cardiovascular health.
Processed meats - like hot dogs, bacon and lunch meats - have been linked to cancer just like cigarettes, according to a 2015 World Health Organization study. Cooking meat at high temperatures has also been
found to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
Both, meat-eaters and plant-based eaters, can have B12 deficiencies, so it's important to supplement your diet with B12 supplements no matter what you're eating. B12 is actually produced by bacteria that live in the soil - but nowadays we wash our food so thoroughly that we remove that "good" bacteria from our food sources.
Also called "the sunshine vitamin", the best source for Vitamin D is - you guessed it - the sun. But most plant- and meat-eaters alike don't spend enough time outside. So a Vitamin D supplement is a great option for getting enough Vitamin D, as well as consuming fortified foods such as plant-based milks and orange juice.
You may think that the only way to have strong bones is to drink milk, but plants have plenty of calcium. Some plants have more calcium than milk, such as kale, collard greens, broccoli and soy. Fortified non-dairy milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc.) and orange juice, blueberries and oranges also contain calcium.
Fish are often cited as the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids, an important "brain food". But fish get their Omega-3s from algae and seaweed - just like cows get their calcium from grass. You can take an algae supplement or snack on seaweed snacks to get all your Omega-3 needs met. Flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are also great sources of Omega-3s.