Australia might be famous all over the world for its livestock production and love of BBQ, but millions of Australians are reducing their meat intake and increasing their interest in plant-based alternatives. In fact, 1 in 3 Australians are consciously limiting their meat consumption and an additional 10% are entirely meat-free.
The plant-based diet is having a moment. Food brands, restaurants, meal delivery kits, public schools, and nursing homes are all talking about plant-based foods. It’s not just a millennial thing, 43% of baby boomers identify themselves as “meat reducers”.
Meat-reducers are hungry for plant-based foods, nominating health, the environment, and animal welfare as the three most important reasons to reduce meat consumption. However, is reducing the amount of meat you eat (being a meat reducer) enough, or should you be aiming for a completely plant-based diet?
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet centers around whole, minimally-processed foods, limits or avoids foods that come from animals. A plant-based diet includes:
To some people, committing to a plant-based diet means becoming a strict vegan. Others choose to see a plant-based diet with the intent to minimize and limit animal products. They could be a meat reducer, a vegetarian, a pescatarian, an ovo-vegetarian (eats eggs but no dairy), or a Lacto-vegetarian (consumes dairy products but not eggs).
Everyone’s nutritional needs are different, so it’s important you make the right choice for yourself and talk to a health professional before making any dramatic shift.
5 reasons why baby boomers are eating less meat
Whether they are cutting it out completely or taking away just one meat-based meal a week, baby boomers are eating less meat than they were a few years ago. This is because of:
Better health is the number one reason why baby boomers eat less meat. Plant-based eating is associated with reduced body weight and a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. A plant-based diet positively influences gut microbiota and tends to be higher in fiber than an omnivorous diet, and it generally encourages greater diversity of food nutrients.
2. The environment
By choosing to eat more plant-based foods you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies, and help ensure vital crop resources for years to come. The animal-based agriculture industry accounts for an exorbitant amount of Earth’s woes, and simply reducing the amount of meat you eat can have significant and positive effects.
Reducing your animal consumption frees up arable land resources, uses fewer freshwater stores, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The less animal products consume, the higher the impact you have environment.
3. Animal welfare
Each year, more than 88 billion land animals are bred, reared, and slaughtered for food. Many are confined their whole lives to small spaces or cages and whole industries have been built on animal suffering. Organizations like Humane Society International are working to end some of the animal cruelty practices commonly seen in factory farming but by reducing the amount of food you eat you can take the fight into your own hands.
You’ll be amazed at how much an omnivore spends on meat products in a year. A combination of climatic conditions and consequences of the global pandemic has meant an increase in the cost of animal products, making it more expensive than ever. The price of beef has jumped significantly and a plant-based diet is proving to be cost-effective as well as healthy. Buying local fruit and vegetables is friendly in your pocket and supports local farmers too.
Browse the shelves of any supermarket and you’ll see an increasing amount of plant-based options. Food brands are adapting to plant-based consumer demand and never before have there been so many options to choose from. If you had concerns that eating plant-based would limit your food variety or be boring, that’s certainly not the case these days. In fact, switching to plant-based or choosing plant-based products over animal-based products can open you up to a whole new world of exciting tastes.
Eating plant-based in your senior years
When you enter your senior years it’s hugely important that you take active steps to maintain and protect your health. By replacing processed foods and sugars with more fruits and vegetables you can help prevent or reverse diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Start by focusing on eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes in place of unhealthy foods. Then, start to choose less processed foods by switching out foods like white rice for brown rice and white bread for wholemeal. Then, focus on nutrients, as prescribed by a nutritionist or doctor.
As a senior, it’s never too late to start making changes towards good health and a willingness to protect the environment.