Dr Alexander, MB ChB, BSc (Hons) - Senior Writer
Veggie diets lower COVID severity? How to eat more plant-based foods
Did you know that plant-based diets may help lessen the severity of developing a moderate to severe COVID-19 infection? According to a study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, this is the case. Researchers surveyed health care workers with high exposure to COVID-19 patients across six countries on their dietary habits and COVID-19 outcomes. Participants who followed plant-based diets had a 73% lower chance of moderate to severe COVID-19 illness. So what is a plant-based diet? It’s basically what it says on the tin: one that consists mainly of foods from plants. It might sound quite limited but it actually includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, oils, beans, seeds and whole grains.
There are several major benefits to moving to a plant-based diet which can include:
Easy weight management: People who eat a plant-based diet tend to be leaner than those who don’t, and the diet makes it easy to lose weight and keep it off—without counting calories.
Disease prevention: Whole-food, plant-based eating can prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A lighter environmental footprint: A plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment.
It can actually be quite daunting to change to a plant-based diet so how can you do it? The first thing is to remember that the greatest journeys start with the smallest steps! Some people manage it overnight whereas for others it can be a gradual process. The important thing to remember is to take your time and work out what is best for you, after all, it’s a lifestyle change! Below are some tips to help get you started.
Making incremental changes to daily meals is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of plant-based foods that you consume. Some people find that removing dairy and meats for one or two days a week initially is a good way of inducing change. Remember - veganism is a learning curve!
Make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients! Some nutrients can only be found naturally in foods from animal supplements, notably vitamin B12, which is important in blood cell formation, central nervous system function and DNA production. Our delicious gummies can help you meet your daily requirements.
Try to swap out refined grains such as white pasta and white bread, for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa. This helps to adds iron and B vitamins to your plant-based diet. Additionally, the extra fibre from whole grains can help keep you full for longer!
Enjoy the process and don’t give up! There are lots of supportive online groups you can join! Take it one day at a time.
The number of vegans in the UK quadrupled in the space of just 5 years between 2014 and 2019. (1)
The UK buys a third of all the plant-based alternatives sold in Europe. (2)
Research by Holland and Barrett shows Edinburgh and Bristol as the top vegan capitals followed by Manchester and London. Interest in vegan food peaks during December and January and is growing year on year as more people consider switching. (3)
Almost half (42%) of UK vegans made the change in 2018, which shows veganism has been growing exponentially. (4)
1. Ipsos Mori surveys, commissioned by The Vegan Society, and The Food & You survey