But what do the terms ‘plant-based’, ‘vegan’ and ‘flexitarian’ mean?
A vegan is someone who omits all animal products from their diet, and sometimes even their lifestyle, for example, not buying leather goods, or using cosmetic products that have been tested on animals.
A plant-based diet, to no surprise, is one that is predominantly based around eating plants. ‘Plant-based’ is not synonymous with vegan or vegetarian - you can include meat and animal products in a plant-based diet but the focus is on including plants. For example, using cheese to garnish a meal, rather than basing a meal around cheese.
A flexitarian is as the name says, a flexible approach to the diet, with no strict rules but a focus on an increase in plant based meals.
What are the benefits of a vegan diet?
There are many benefits of adopting a vegan diet, including to your health and the environment.
Vegan diets are considerably lower in saturated fats. Saturated fats are associated with raised levels of non-HDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which leads to an increased risk of heart disease.
Vegan diets (at least the more plant-based ones, not ‘vegan junk’), tend to be higher in fibre than typical meat-based diets. This is because there is a greater intake of fruits, vegetables and pulses in the diet, which are some of the most prominent sources of fibre. Fibre is vital in your diet, it is incredibly important for gut health and feeding our good gut bacteria, linked to various health outcomes,metabolism and even mental health. Fibre also helps normalise bowel movement and maintain bowel health, which help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, and can help lower cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels, which respectively reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Vegan diets are said to have the lowest carbon footprint, closely followed by vegetarian diets.