Updated: Jun 22
Whether you're thinking of becoming a vegan, a vegetarian, or a flexitarian, making the change from a meat based diet to a plant based one may seem daunting, but once you know about some of the health benefits, it might make that switch a little easier!
1) Healthy on your heart
It is well documented that switching from a meat based diet to a plant based vegan diet can dramatically reduce your cholesterol build up. This can, in turn, reduces the likelihood of developing heart disease and other cardiac problems. A 2019 paper, involving over 12,000 people, concluded that people who ate mainly plant based diets were 32% less probable to die of heart disease, for the above mentioned reasons.
2) Shed those unwanted pounds
Weight loss is another strong reason to try veganism, as people on vegan diets usually have a lower recorded Body Mass Index (BMI) than those on other types of diet. This notion is back by a 2015 study , suggesting that a vegan diet was best for those looking to actively reduce their weight, compared to omnivorous or vegetarian diets. This is because vegan diets usually contain less saturated fat than omnivorous diets.
Another study states a balanced plant based diet contained a lower overall energy intake, with the best fibre diet profile and an improved fat profile, compared to omnivorous and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets. There is increased satiation occurring from the higher fibre content in the diet, better connecting you to your hunger signals, and therefore reducing the likelihood of snaking.
3) Protection against cancers
Studies conducted by the World Health Organisation have shown that around 33% of all cancer types can be prevented by maintaining a healthy diet. An example of this would be with legume consumption, in which research has shown it could reduce your likelihood of developing colorectal cancer by up to 9-18% . As a vegans diet consists highly of legumes, the diet therefore plays a part in cancer prevention.
Another study concludes that as plant based diets are low inflammatory pro-oxidants, and high in antioxidant phytochemicals, such a diet would therefore reduce body inflammation and subsequently reduce your risk to developing cancer.
4) Diabetes Prevention
A study was conducted over a 20 year period, with a sample size of 2000 adults, to assess the effects of fruits, vegetables and nuts in the prevention of diabetes. It found that an increase in the consumptions of the above mentioned foods can reduce your susceptibility to developing diabetes, as your blood sugar levels are at a lower, more manageable level. It is therefore correct to assume that a vegan based diet would reduce your likelihood of developing diabetes, with a 60% reduction in your risk, as stated in the study.
There is even evidence to suggest that diets rich in red and processed meat mean the person is exposed to high levels of heme iron, another factor in developing type 2 diabetes.
5) Improved mood and stress reduction
One of the less thought of benefits from a switching to a vegan diet can often be one of the most beneficial. There have been studies conducted to assess the correlation between an increase in plant consumption to an increase in mental health wellness.
A study was conducted within an corporate environment, with the results revealing that a plant-based dietary intervention can help reduce anxiety and a persons mood, whilst also increasing work productivity. And finally, another study concluded that fatty acid and arachidonic acid consumption have been positively associated with increased tendencies to develop depression. And as plant-based diets have lower levels of this compared to non-vegan diets containing chicken and eggs, we can also conclude that becoming vegan could help alleviate these afflictions.
There are a myriad of health benefits associated with a plant based vegan diet, and it is therefore never too late to personally benefit from a dietary shift.
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