Persuasive new research from medical journals, universities, and influential experts has shown there are concrete health benefits to a plant-based diet. In the new year, it may be worth considering adding some options at your restaurant or eatery for customers who follow a plant-based diet to reap the many health benefits — like reduced risk of heart disease and maintaining weight loss.
A plant-based diet largely consists of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes. Plant-based diets are not strictly vegan or vegetarian diets; however, many who choose to pursue a plant-based lifestyle tend to avoid meat, fish, and foods made from animal byproducts, such as butter, cheese, and eggs.
Thankfully, the food industry continues to evolve and create delicious vegan and plant-based cheeses, yogurt substitutes, and more to keep consumers happy and healthy. Here are a few of the benefits of a plant-based diet that might be convincing your customers to go vegetarian or vegan.
Benefit 1: Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease Key drivers of cardiovascular disease and diabetes — saturated fat and cholesterol — can be found in many animal meats and byproducts. Regularly consuming substantial quantities of these foods can lead to health issues like weight gain, heart disease, and/or diabetes. However, a 2019 EPIC-Oxford study found that vegetarians had a 22% lower rate of heart disease than omnivores.
Another study by the American Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that individuals who consistently consumed a plant-based or vegetarian diet had lower LDL cholesterol levels than their omnivore counterparts.
Benefit 2: Reduced risk of cancer Being mindful about what you eat and eating a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can reduce your risk for several types of cancers, including the following:
- Breast cancer. A healthy lifestyle remains one of the best ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer. A physically active lifestyle combined with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can reduce breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, according to Cancer Research U.K.
- Prostate cancer. A Loma Linda University study found that men who consume higher quantities of dairy consumption (430 grams per day) may increase their risk for prostate cancer by 25%. Swapping out traditional dairy products for plant-based cheese, yogurt, and milk can reduce your risk and still taste great.
- Colorectal cancer. Daily consumption of red and processed meat can increase your risk of colorectal cancer, but shifting to a high-fiber diet can reduce your risk for this cancer and improve gut health.
Benefit 3: Improved cognitive functions Did you know a physician-recommended diet exists that focuses on brain health? The Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet’s purpose is to delay dementia and the cognitive decline that often occurs as people age. The MIND diet is primarily a plant-based diet with an emphasis on eating green leafy vegetables, beans, berries, nuts, and whole grains.
Not only is the MIND diet a great approach to preserving brain health, but an American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine report found that those who adhere to the diet have a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefit 4: Improved gut health and weight loss maintenance Plant-based diets, in addition to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, promote a healthy mix of beneficial bacteria. Based on the variety of foods in these diets, it’s also easier to get the recommended 30 grams of dietary fiber a day, which supports optimal gut health.
Your gut’s health is key to many bodily processes; one of which is appetite control. In addition, following a plant-based diet has been shown to help lose fat and maintain weight loss.
Research continues to show the health benefits of plant-based diets — and we’re excited to help more restaurants and chefs prepare plant-based meals for their customers. If your restaurant is committed to providing more vegetarian and vegan options for customers, we invite you to explore our catalog of plant-based cheeses, yogurt alternatives, oat milk, and baking products.