As we (thankfully) step into 2021, we are hearing from more and more new viewers of The Whole Food Plant Based Cooking Show that they are taking their first tentative steps towards making the life-changing decision to switch to a plant-based diet. This uptick in interest is yet another indicator to us that Veganuary (January) 2021 will kick off what will prove to be a profound year of global transformation as the world moves towards recovering from the devastation of COVID 19 and the chaos of the last few years.
When we hear of people making the switch to a whole food plant-based diet, we are always interested to hear their reasons why. What we hear back tends to run along some common threads so we thought it might be useful to outline the five main reasons people make the shift to a plant-based diet. Whatever your initial reason for making the switch may be, learning about all of the other good reasons to live a plant-based lifestyle can serve as motivation to make your switch permanent. You will find a great selection of recipes in our our new book Plant Based Cooking Made Easy.
1: Your Health
For many people, the first time they consider a plant-based diet is because their doctor has just returned with a diagnosis of a major chronic health issue (or issues) like high blood pressure, type II diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, or heart disease. The realization lands on a person like an anvil as they suddenly find themselves staring down the barrel of a rather grim reality—either make a definitive change in diet and lifestyle, or resign themselves to a permanent regimen of expensive and often dangerous daily medications. If they are lucky, their doctor knows that a plant-based diet can relieve and even reverse these common chronic diseases without the need for medications, surgeries, and other extreme interventions. Though doctors with this vital knowledge are still few and far between, we are hearing more and more that doctors are cluing in and turning to diet first before employing these heavy-handed tactics. All of the latest nutrition research is pointing to this same undeniable truth: human beings are built to thrive on a whole food plant-based diet and the plethora of chronic health conditions tormenting the modern world today are caused by the consumption of animal products and highly processed foods.
Switching to a whole food plant-based diet that removes all animal products like meat (beef, chicken, fish, eggs, buffalo, snake, squirrel) and dairy (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream) as well as refined oils and highly processed foods is the single best thing we can do for our health and quality of life. Though it can initially feel overwhelming, we are here to assure you (and show you) that it can be easy and even fun to make the switch. We have found the single best way to start is to find plant-based recipes for some of your favorite dishes and learn to make them—and not just make them once, but master them. This will build up your repertoire of recipes, as well as your cooking confidence. This way, the foods that would normally pull you into backsliding can become the foundation of your health and wellbeing. We successfully made our switch with some of our favorite foods at the time like pizza, lasagna, chili, ice cream, cookies, and curries. Once we were eating plant-based versions of all of these things regularly, we lost all desire for the animal-based versions and we learned that feeling better, reversing chronic ailments, and losing weight as a side effect of eating delicious food was all the motivation we needed!
2: Your Family
We have seen time and again that one person in a family successfully making the switch to a plant-based diet, even when initially met with skepticism and outright resistance, can have a huge impact on the family’s health long term. There is one thing in our modern culture that no one can seem to ignore: the sight of someone else losing weight, feeling better, and looking younger. The effects of living a plant-based lifestyle are so pronounced, and tend to happen so quickly, that even the most ardent red meat grilling skeptic cannot ignore the changes in a close family member. Likewise, successfully making the switch for yourself can model behavior for your children that can become the catalyst for their own change, setting them up for a healthy lifestyle that can serve to protect them from the leading chronic illnesses of our time, illnesses that are seriously affecting children at younger and younger ages every year. First and foremost, make the switch for yourself, but know for certain that your transformation will not go unnoticed by the people in your life.
3: Your Wallet
We have heard many people posit (falsely) that eating plant-based is too expensive and is therefore really just for the affluent. Yet when a full comparison of costs is made—a comparison that includes the very real externalized costs of eating a poor diet like the cost of medications and medical procedures as well as weekly grocery store receipts—it becomes clear that the true cost of the Standard American Diet (SAD) far out strips the typical weekly grocery haul of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other whole food ingredients needed for a plant-based diet. Take a moment right now and tally up the total cost of your monthly prescriptions for preventable chronic illnesses like hypertension, type II diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases, as well as related copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for doctor visits and procedures. Now add that total to your weekly grocery bill. It is a safe bet that any negligible difference in grocery costs from buying fresh food and ditching the cheap pre-processed food will be easily offset in medical costs savings long term.
4: Your Environment
Climate scientists the world over have come to the undeniable consensus view that the single largest contributor to climate change in modern society is the animal agricultural industry. The raising of animals for milk and slaughter on a global scale accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. These systems are also the leading cause of the overconsumption and ultimate pollution of our increasingly scarce fresh water supplies and arable land.
Animal agriculture is also the singular source of every major zoonotic pandemic to attack modern society in the last 100 years, including COVID19. That’s to say nothing of the added irony that those who eat a diet based on animal products end up being riddled with the very same chronic illnesses at the top of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) list of diseases that put those who contract COVID19 at the highest risk for severe symptoms and even death from the virus. Nature is trying desperately to tell us it is well past time to end these practices and learn to enjoy a natural, health-promoting diet.
5: Your Heart & Soul
The simple act of changing our diet and removing all animal products lets us each individually choose to end our participation in the concerning ethics of raising animals exclusively for human consumption, a practice which oftentimes exposes animals to inhumane conditions. By choosing to go plant-based, you take a step towards a world filled with health and wellbeing, not only for ourselves but for all living creatures on Earth.
Every time we produce a new recipe on our show, we bake in all of the collective wisdom of these five reasons. We know that each person that watches our video and tries the recipe is another person, eating one more meal, that is filled with the conscious intention to live in harmony with the natural world and take our rightful place in the fabric of life. We invite you to make 2021 the year you permanently make the switch to a whole food plant-based diet and join the growing multitudes that experience all of the wondrous benefits this lifestyle has to offer. If you need some pointers to get started, we have a great free video on our blog: How to Go Plant Based: Our Top 12 Tips to Go Plant Based.
Jill Dalton & Jeffrey Dalton are the visionaries behind The Whole Food Plant Based Cooking Show, a YouTube channel and media platform. The couple knew, after making the switch to a whole food plant based diet and experiencing profound changes in their own health, they needed to share the power of a plant based diet with the world. Together over the past 5 years they have been creating the popular cooking show from their home kitchen in Cary, NC. The Dalton’s original recipes, cookbooks, and courses have been used by millions of viewers the world over as they too make the switch to a plant based lifestyle. Jill hosts the show and shares her mastery for creating tasty and easy to prepare recipes that incorporate all of the leading research on plant based nutrition. Jeffrey works behind the scenes writing, designing, filming, producing, and supporting the technical aspects of the show. Check out their new book Plant Based Cooking Made Easy.