by Florence Murray

In the last decade, there has been a trend of trying alternative diets that do not include any animal byproducts. This form of eating is most commonly referred to as a plant-based diet. Part of the gain in popularity can be accredited to Netflix with its availability of the videos like Engine 2, Forks Over Knives and The Magic Pill. The availability of free cookbook apps, such as Forks Over Knives, cooking websites and videos, is another reason for the increase in awareness.

The benefits of a plant-based diet are many and varied. The easiest benefit to argue is the benefit to the planet if humans stop consuming and relying on animals for food. The easiest argument to understand, however, is that giving up processed food only improves one’s health.

To increase the success of patients, medical professionals can help through a conversion to a plant-based diet, they work on both education and gradual elimination of the offending foods. For instance, it may be easier to eliminate soda and other processed drinks a different week from eliminating the use of dairy and egg. As humans have demonstrated time again, too much change too fast does not work well. Rather, try eliminating easier items first and use the last week to eliminate whatever is the hardest category to give up.

These plant-based diets have now been around long enough to test whether the claimed health benefits are actually true. At hospitals, nutritionists and rheumatologists around the country have put in place free programs to help individuals and families adopt a plant-based lifestyle.

What has been discovered uniformly is that people who develop these lifestyles lose both pounds and inches and maintain a lower weight. Another common benefit that people experience is an increase in energy. There are also reports of a general decrease in inflammation, including that due to arthritis, increase in heart health, decrease in cholesterol and increase in memory and recall.

As with all things that offer great promise, it is important to do research before jumping into a drastic lifestyle change. The chances of success increase with the amount of knowledge one has about what lies ahead.

Finally, depending upon the number of fruits, vegetables and freshly prepared food that is already a part of one’s lifestyle choices, this diet will take longer for some to begin to see changes. If a person has many foods to eliminate and new foods to try, that person will see the effects sooner and feel them greater than those with less to give up.