In April I was diagnosed with prediabetes.
My grandmother, aunts, and uncles struggled with diabetes. My mom has also been diagnosed with prediabetes. It lurks in my genes.
This diagnosis was my wakeup call. I want to be around for my kids and grandkids. I adopted a plant-based, whole food, low-oil way of eating; began exercising 200+ minutes per week; and reversed my diagnosis!
Today is World Diabetes Day. Did you know?
Approximately 96 million Americans, more than one in three, have prediabetes.
Eight out of ten people do not know they have it.
Prediabetes puts you at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
It’s reversible! In one study, nearly 6 in 10 people with prediabetes avoided Type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes.
I’ve dabbled in veganism and haven’t eaten much red meat for years. My sister told me about the health benefits of veganism a few years ago. She is an internist certified in lifestyle medicine.
But I avoided taking the leap until my health was at risk. I read an excellent science-based book called Mastering Diabetes, and I was on my way!
Meat affects the health of our planet
I’ve long been aware of the damages to the planet from meat and dairy farming. As our climate risks escalate, we cannot look away from these environmental impacts. Animal farming is the most significant factor in habitat and soil loss and water and nutrient pollution.
Eight ways eating less meat protects the planet and your health
1. Eating less meat and dairy is the best thing you can do to help our environment. (Feeding livestock takes a huge amount of planetary resources.) Eating more plant-based meals reduces greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and soil degradation. It also saves an enormous amount of land and water use and increases biodiversity.
70% of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest is a result of animal agriculture.
2. Even just cutting back on your meat consumption will help the planet. If you eat vegan for one day, you’ll save:
1,110 gallons of water
44 pounds of crops
30 square feet of forested land
22 pounds of carbon dioxide
The life of one animal
Imagine the impact if you ate plant based for several days a week!
3. Giving up meat is better for the environment than driving a hybrid car. Livestock is responsible for 18 percent of our global warming emissions. One study found that each meat eater is responsible for 1.5 more tons of annual greenhouse gases than a vegan. By contrast, switching from a Toyota Camry to a hybrid Prius saves one ton of greenhouse gases annually.
4. If you can’t give it up entirely, eating grass-fed and organic beef is better than conventionally fed beef. Grass-fed cattle eat very little grain and are more likely to graze outside. Grass-fed beef use less fuel, fertilizer, and pesticides, and the meat is healthier and and leaner. Unfortunately, they do produce more climate-warming methane than conventionally raised beef.
5. Eating less meat, eggs, and dairy makes you much healthier and live longer. Eating plant based significantly lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and many cancers. A new study out of Norway found you could even add 10 years to your life! Some studies also suggest egg consumption reduces your longevity.
6. You don’t need meat, dairy, and eggs to get protein. Most Americans get far more protein than we actually need. I get my protein from tofu, quinoa, mushrooms, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, many types of vegetables, and beans and legumes. Every plant we eat has some protein in it.
7. It’s so much easier to avoid meat, dairy, and eggs than it used to be. Dairy-free milk and cheese and plant-based meat alternatives abound. If you give up or reduce animal products for health reasons, make sure not to replace them with highly processed meat substitutes, or vegan junk food. A recent study showed that eating mostly high-quality plant foods gives you a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than eating highly processed and less healthy plant foods.
8. A more plant-based diet provides countless other benefits, like less inflammation, more energy, better gut health, improved sleep, and significant cost savings! Your body has to work harder to digest meat than it does to digest plant-based foods. I didn’t realize how significant this was until I cheated a few times…once on heavy Indian food with chicken and cream, and another time with chocolate cake. The first time, my stomach was very upset, and the second time I felt completely depleted. My body is telling me something.
Here's the good news!
You don’t have to give up meat and dairy entirely to see the benefits. And even if you’ve eaten a poor diet for half your life, adding more healthy plant foods as an adult can help reduce your health risks…and of course, help the planet.
Scores of famous people have adopted plant-based living, including Lizzo! In fact, vegans are much more likely to be Black than white. Increasing numbers of African-Americans are making the healthy choice.
Think about doing a Meatless Monday or vegan until 6 (like Mark Bittman promotes). Consider how many days you can eat plant based. What small changes can you make?
Six months later, I feel healthier. I drastically reduced my cholesterol and have a stronger heart. I lost much of the weight I had gained since childbearing and menopause.
And I feel especially good that I’m walking my talk about sustainability. Imagine the environmental impact if we all cut our meat and dairy consumption in half!
Let me know if you could use help with marketing, communications, or leadership...or if you'd like more info on eating plant based.
I help professional services firms avoid BORING and boost employee engagement, productivity, and readership. I translate technical, complex, and lackluster language into accessible, dynamic, story-driven text. Get known in your industry through outstanding thought leadership content. Walk your talk through outstanding, effective communications with your employees and clients.
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