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International Meatless Day: Plant based meal ideal for holistic wellness

Deepti Khatuja, head clinical nutritionist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute says, “Scientific research has shown there is the benefit of going meatless and vegan. The common thing is people saying they are not able to meet protein diet with a vegetarian diet. But this is not correct. Low fat milk products and legume nuts soya products (soya milk and tofu) can replace curd and paneer and help us take care of protein content as well.”

Sharbani Banerjee | New Delhi |

As the world observes International Meatless Day with a large number of people turning vegan across the world, doctors and health experts too believe turning meatless is suitable for every age and stage of life. Some research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

At the age when the young population is at a higher risk of suffering various health issues due to changing lifestyle and increased meat consumption, a plant-based diet and going vegan has become vital.

Talking about the same, Deepti Khatuja, head clinical nutritionist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute says, “Scientific research has shown there is the benefit of going meatless and vegan. The common thing is people saying they are not able to meet a protein diet with a vegetarian diet. But this is not correct. Low-fat milk products and legume nuts soya products (soya milk and tofu) can replace curd and paneer and help us take care of protein content as well.”

She further said, “Fibre plant food is a good source of fiber and they actually help in controlling weight. A vegan diet is equally enriched with anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which are lacking in meat as they are typically loaded with fats. The concept of immunity has come in and can be taken care of with the vegan diet.”

Another nutritionist  Disha Doshi says, “There are around 500 million vegetarians in India, and studies show that eating more meat-free meals will help you avoid chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Even a plant-based diet can fulfill all your nutritional requirements. Affirmative, today fortified foods contain vital minerals such as B12, calcium, iron, vitamin D, and folate.”

“Vegetarian and vegan diets can also supply enough protein to your body through sources such as nuts, seeds, grains such as quinoa, pulses, legumes, beans, and even vegetables such as broccoli,” she added.

As per a Singapore Chinese Health Study (SCHS) that recruited over 63,000 adults aged 45 to 74 from 1993 to 1998 and followed their health improvement for 11 years, in addition to researching the relationship between different types of meats and the volume of heme iron in each. Participants who consumed the most Red-meat and poultry had a 23% and a 15% increase in diabetes risk, respectively.

Furthermore, according to the American Heart Association, eating less meat can lower your risk of stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, some malignancies; type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.

While doctors and health experts on one hand have been supporting much about the health benefits of going meatless, a surge has also been seen in the food industry where a plant-based diet has paved its way to aware the masses.

According to Rajat Bahl, Director at The Forest Superfood, with proper choices of food, plant-based diet not only provides all required nutrition but also eliminates all the odds of meat-based diet such as type II diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and site-specific cancers such as GI tract, breast, ovaries, and uterus.

Rajat Bahl, Director at The Forest Superfood said “As we all have been seeing, the number of people suffering various ailments is only increasing. This is because of unhealthy diet practices that people are following. A meat-based diet although provides nutritional support, it comes with a package of ill effects that the body must endure. It is high time we switch to a plant-based diet which not only provides all the nutrition the body requires but also eliminates all possible ill effects of meat-based diets.”

“We must consume foods that promote healthy psychological and hormonal response, a happy gut and support immune function and minimize inflammation. Those foods that come directly from nature to our plates meet all four criteria. Plant-based foods such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds are a few to mention,” added Bahl.

Nutritionist Ruchi Sharma, Founder Eat Fit Repeat says, “After numerous researches, it’s getting popular that cutting back on meat can have positive effects on health and overall wellbeing. Limiting meat consumption brings a variety of benefits that range from better gut health to sustainable and healthy weight loss.”

“Less or no consumption of meat has been linked with overall improved health and reduced risk of developing various chronic diseases. Recent researches proved that vegetarian meal plans are twice as effective as a meat-driven diet when it comes to sustainable and effective weight loss. Limiting meat intake is directly related to increasing plant-based diet which increases the intake of a lot of beneficial compounds such as antioxidants, dietary fiber and a number of micronutrients,” added Sharma.

Dietitian Mac Singh, co-founder FITELO, says,” A plant-based diet consists of exclusively plant foods, including fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes. These foods are abundant in fiber, plentiful in vitamins and minerals, cholesterol-free, and low in calories and saturated fat. Consuming a variety of plant foods provides the body with all the protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients it needs.”

He further said, “A plant-based diet helps the body stay well hydrated since 30% of the water needed by the body should come from the food we consume. Including a plant-based diet ensures the body gets multiple enzymes that help the body digest and break down the food we eat. Enzymes are proteins that support metabolism and the chemical responses in our bodies.”