When I went vegan eight years ago, the food scene in south central Pennsylvania was vastly different than what I now encounter living in New York. 

At the time, there were only a handful of vegan meat and dairy imitation products, and only half of those looked or tasted appealing. Junk food was even more limited; essentially just Oreos, potato chips, and most pretzels.

But today, vegan food has experienced nothing short of a revolution. The fake meats and dairy products are now close enough in taste and texture to fool food critics, and various vegan treats and morsels are available at nearly every coffee shop and bodega.

The result is that it is increasingly possible to be vegan without touching a vegetable. While I applaud the innovation and love the choices we now have, it is having a profound negative impact on our groups health.

To me, choosing a vegan lifestyle is a logical decision, but here are three reasons to consider going a step further, and eating primarily plant based whole foods.

One: It’s heart healthy and beyond.

There is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what is and what is not good for our health. But at the end of the day, a plant based whole foods diet is the only diet that has been clinically proven to reverse coronary heart disease.

As if this wasn’t enough, the other health benefits are numerous as well. Eating the rainbow can help improve sleep, clear you skin, and may even reduce cavities. A study from the University of South Carolina, which gained a lot of media attention a few months ago, found that a healthy vegan diet was best for maximum weight loss.

Two: It’s Environmentally Sound

Even the UN has reported that the best way to curb global climate change is by changing what is on the end of our forks. The livestock industry comprises anywhere between 14% – 40% of total carbon emissions depending on what and how you calculate it. Even the conservative 14% is still higher than all modes of transportation combined.

On top of this, these animal industries are also responsible for the destruction of the world’s rainforests. According to the acclaimed documentary, Cowspiracy, an acre of rainforest is cleared every single second in order to graze animals and grow their feed crop.

Three: Be the best you!

While I’m not one to put much stock into what celebrities do, increasingly the top athletes in a broad range of sports have discovered the power of plants.

Endurance athletes like Scott Jurek and Rich Roll, runners like Carol Lewis, fighters such as Matt Danzig and Cam Awesome, and tennis’ Venus Williams and the Colt’s wide receiver Griff Whalen all agree that by dropping meat and dairy they’ve been able to recover more quickly an d get stronger in their discipline.