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BSc (Hons) Applied Nutrition students, Emily Dixon and Teresa Moore wrote an article about a recent Solent Nutrition webinar, which was delivered as part of Solent's Virtual Insight Series.

27th November 2020
Health sciences

As part of Solent University's Virtual Insight Series, Solent Nutrition recently delivered a webinar on debunking plant-based diets, discussing the link between nutrition and health, and looking specifically at plant-based diets and the definitions and types you may have come across. During the webinar, the team also discussed the benefits of following a plant-based diet from health and environment perspectives, providing some top tips along the way.

To support the webinar, two BSc (Hons) Applied Human Nutrition students have written the following article.

Article by Emily Dixon and Teresa Moore (BSc (Hons) Applied Human Nutrition students)
Supported by Solent Nutrition staff Kara Roberts RD and Dr Sarah Hillier Rnutr

Benefits of plant-based eating

There has been a considerable increase in attention to plant-based eating over the past few years, both for its purported health benefits, as well as the positive impact a shift to plant-based eating can have on the sustainability and environmental impact of our food chain.

Increasing evidence indicates that it is possible to develop diets that are as environmentally sustainable, healthy, and cost effective for consumers as those following a plant-based diet consume higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as beans, lentils and nuts. One particular health benefit from following a plant-based diet can be a higher intake of fibre which is not only linked to reducing the risk of colorectal cancer but can also increase feeling of fullness, ultimately helping us consume fewer calories overall. Indeed, research indicates that vegetarians and vegans have lower body mass index (BMI) than meat eaters, suggesting again that by following a largely plant-based diet may be an approach for weight management. Furthermore, strong evidence shows that by increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables, we can moderate the risk of non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, Type II diabetes and certain cancers.

However, an assumption exists that by predominantly following a plant-based diet there may be a risk of becoming deficient in particular nutrients, which is not necessarily the case. Plant-based eaters were found to consume more iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, folate, and B1 and eat less total fat than meat eaters, with research concluding that eating a varied diet rich in plant-based foods is more than adequate for the human body to thrive.

Going veggie!

It is important to remember when talking about plant-based diets that they can exist on a spectrum and that moving to a more plant-based diet does not necessarily mean giving up all meat and dairy overnight or for good. Choosing a level that fits into your lifestyle is key to ensure you can stick with it in the long term.

Start gradually by reducing your overall consumption of meat by just reducing meat portions rather than cut out altogether, then have meat free days, starting with one day per week and build on that. Try different foods to see what you like and experiment with plant-based foods as replacement for meat meals. You can still enjoy your favourite meat to celebrate and have cream on your dessert, but it’s about small changes and an overall reduction. Keep in mind the benefits - transitioning to a more plant-based diet will not only improve health and well-being but will help build a more sustainable diet for our planet and future generations.

Follow Solent Nutrition on social for some plant-based recipes and top tips for how to introduce more plant-based foods in your diet.

Instagram: @solentappliednutrition
Twitter: @SolentNutrition
Facebook: Solent Applied Human Nutrition

Watch the webinar again here.