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Get the Scoop on Plant-Based Nutrition

These staple foods will help optimize health and muscle gains.

The Scoop on Plant-Based Nutrition

Plant-based diets aren’t just for hippies anymore. Whether your goal is to manage weight, focus on your athletic performance or just increase the amount of fruit and veggies in your diet, you may be curious about how adding more plants could help you achieve your goals.

What is a plant-based diet?

At first glance, the term “plant-based diet” might seem self-explanatory—to eat a diet based on plant foods (in contrast to the standard North American diet that’s largely focused on animal-based foods). As a term, “plant-based diet” is often used interchangeably with “vegan” (a diet and lifestyle that avoids all animal products in food, cosmetics, and apparel). But while those who identify as vegan eat an exclusively plant-based diet by definition, eating a plant-based diet can fall along a spectrum with as many variations as there are people to make choices about food. Whether you’re adding one new plant-based food or 20, there are benefits to be found from making plant-based foods a bigger part of your life:

SEE ALSO: 10 Bodybuilding Tips for Vegetarians

Reasons for choosing a plant-based diet

While there are many reasons why you may decide to add more plant power to your diet, health and sustainability are two of the largest benefits.

Go plant-based for your health

Compared to the average North American diet, plant-based diets have everything you’ve been told to eat more of: fiber from fruits and vegetables, and good fats from nuts and seeds—while also low in the saturated fat and cholesterol that’s found in meat and dairy. Plant foods have many beneficial compounds that can help support health. Worried about your waistline? Those who stick to vegan diets tend to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs).1

SEE ALSO: 6 Top Fat-Burning Plant Foods

Go plant-based for the planet’s health

While you’re feeling good about treating your body well, go ahead and give yourself another pat on the back for helping out planet Earth as well. While using reusable bags, recycling and walking more are now almost (wonderfully) cliché, not everyone realizes the impact diet has on the planet. Worldwide, livestock is one of the largest contributors to environmental problems, due to deforestation, desertification, overuse of freshwater, inefficient use of energy, diverting food for use as feed and emission of greenhouse gases.2

Plant-based proteins in general require less arable land, water and fossil fuels than their animal based counterparts. Conservative estimates indicate that animal proteins can require up to 6 times as much land, 26 times as much water, and 2.5 times the fossil fuels as plant-based proteins.3 Eating locally and seasonally is important for the earth’s health, and incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet has the potential for an even greater environmental impact.4 Simply put, swapping out some animal protein staples for plant-based beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains can have huge impact on your carbon footprint.

Up Next: Get Your Plant-Based Protein Fix

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