Auckland Council

There are so many benefits to eating plant-based foods

Nicki - Piha, Auckland

May 2022

There are so many benefits to eating plant-based foods hero image
"It often surprises people how delicious plant-based foods are."

I started my plant-based journey 26 years ago. I had always been conscious about meat, from the animal perspective, but I played a lot of competitive sports at the time and had the perception that I needed to eat meat to be strong. When I was 18, I met a top athlete who was plant-based and performing very well. At that point, I decided to become vegetarian, and then stopped eating dairy at the age of 24, for health reasons. Since then, I’ve become more aware of the environmental impacts of meat, and environmental reasons have become a big part of why I choose to eat plant-based.  

If you are interested in trying a plant-based diet, my advice would just be to give it a go. The key thing is to keep it simple and replace the meat or dairy in your diet with other nutritional foods. Some easy switch-out ideas are to swap your steak for plant-based sausages or Tofu or replace the mince in spaghetti bolognaise with lentils. Making simple changes like these is quick and easy to do even if you don’t have much time available. 

If you’re going fully plant-based, you generally need to eat a little more in volume and be more conscious of how you’re making sure you meet your nutritional requirements – for example, some people may need a vitamin B12 supplement if they go fully plant-based. You may find it easier to just go plant-based a few days a week to start with. By doing that, you can still make a positive impact on the environment.   

Another thing you can do to support the plant- based movement is to ask for plant-based options, milk alternatives, and so on, when eating out. This helps to make restaurants more aware that the demand exists. If we all do this together, we can have a bigger impact. 

There are so many benefits to eating plant-based foods. There are health benefits – it’s good for your energy levels, blood pressure and heart, for example – there are benefits to animals, and if you're eating locally sourced, seasonal whole foods, it can work out cheaper as well.  

It often surprises people how delicious plant-based foods are and this has inspired me to share these yummy foods with others. I’ve seen family and friends notice the health benefits and discover how delicious plant-based foods are.  Generally, these family members have made permanent plant-based choices in the future, once they knew they felt better and the food tasted great.  

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