Let me present the pros and cons of a plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet is rich in fiber, antioxidants that help build immunity. and contain all the essential key building blocks of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
These diets are also ecologically less energy-consuming and therefore from the ecological standpoint more desirable for the planet.
On the other hand, they are poor in heme iron, vitamin B12, and omega 3 fatty acids. These nutritional components play an important role in human health and are not produced by the body. These are therefore required to be taken either in the form of food or consumed as nutrient supplements. Plant-based alternatives of omega 3 fatty acids are available but are poorly absorbed by the body.
Vitamin B12 can also be obtained from milk and eggs. Non-heme iron, which is an alternative to heme iron with the latter being available in meat is present in many leafy vegetables. This form of iron is poor in bioavailability due to the presence of phytic acid which prevents absorption of the iron molecules present in the plants.
Nutritionally speaking, a human being can lead a healthy life on plant-based foods with some form of supplementation.
Hu, F. B. (2003). Plant–based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78(3), 544S—551S.
Jenkins, D. J., Wong, J. M., Kendall, C. W., Esfahani, A., Ng, V. W., Leong, T. C., . & Singer, W. (2009). The effect of a plant–based low–carbohydrate (“Eco–Atkins”) diet on body weight and blood lipid concentrations in hyperlipidemic subjects. Archives of internal medicine, 169(11), 1046–1054.
Pimentel, D., & Pimentel, M. (2003). Sustainability of meat—based and plant—based diets and the environment. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 78(3), 660S–663S.
Nutrition Facts: A guide to good health Sudhir Ahluwalia