The first thing that might come to mind when considering a vegan diet is the presumed lack of nutrients and protein. When in reality, living a vegan lifestyle can be one of the healthiest ways out there!
There are many benefits to veganism that often go overlooked. In fact, a whole-food, plant-based diet can be incredibly healthy. For example, it might even help lose weight and reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as diabetes type 2 and certain types of cancer.
In this blog post, we’ll go over 10 benefits of a plant-based diet and some effects of it on our health and our environment.
Let’s get started!
What is a Vegan Diet?
Whether you go vegan for the animals, the environment, or the health benefits, an essential part is abstaining from consuming and using animal products and by-products. Not wanting to be part of the tremendous suffering caused by animal agriculture is the reason behind many of our changes in diet/lifestyle, including myself.
The primary sources of nutrients are plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits, and seeds.
A healthy plant-based diet can also help reduce the intake of saturated fat significantly. Studies have shown it is the most efficient diet to dramatically lower cholesterol levels.
In addition, vegans get all of their fiber from plant sources, which benefits the digestive system. I have never met a constipated vegan!
People who eat a healthy plant-based diet also tend to eat fewer calories than meat-eaters, which can help with weight loss. And because plant-based foods are packed with nutrients.
10 Benefits of a Vegan Diet
1. Weight Loss
One of the most common reasons people choose to go vegan is for weight loss. And it’s no surprise that a well-planned plant diet can help with weight loss! However, plant foods are often lower in fats and calories. Plus, a plant-based diet can help boost your metabolism and reduce inflammation, which can lead to weight loss.
2. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. But a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of certain heart diseases!
Vegan foods are typically low in saturated fat and cholesterol. In addition, plant diets are high in fiber and antioxidants, which can help to lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar levels.
In addition, a study has found that monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds, are associated with a lower risk of dying from heart disease and other causes. According to the research, animal-based monounsaturated fats like those in meat, dairy, and eggs are associated with a higher risk.
3. Reduced Risk of Cancer
But a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of certain cancers! Lower levels of cholesterol in combination with a nutrient-packed healthy plant diet can help to protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
A plant-based diet can also help to boost the immune system, which can help the body fight off cancer cells.
4. Improved Digestive Health
A plant-based diet can also improve digestive health! Plants are high in fiber, vital for a healthy digestive system. In addition, it can help to reduce inflammation and increase the good bacteria in the gut.
5. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a severe condition that can lead to other health complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. In addition, certain factors can increase your chances of developing the condition, such as being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes, and eating an unhealthy diet.
There is a lot of evidence that a plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For example, in a large study, people who ate a plant-based diet were 32% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate a standard American diet.
6. Reduced Risk of Stroke
A healthy vegan diet can help reduce the risk of stroke as it helps lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke, so by keeping your blood pressure down, you can also keep your stroke risk low.
7. Improved Brain Health
A study has found that daily consumption of approximately 1 serving of green leafy vegetables and foods rich in phylloquinone, lutein, nitrate, folate, α-tocopherol, and kaempferol may help to slow cognitive decline with aging.
8. Improved Bone Health
A plant-based diet can also improve bone health! Plants are full of nutrients needed to maintain healthy bones without the harmful risks of milk and dairy.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. For example, 15 minutes of sunlight on the skin should give our bodies enough of it. Fortified grains, cereals, plant milk, and vegan supplements are also available and equally efficient.
Vitamin C is essential; the body uses it to bind connective tissue in bones and produce collagen. Citrus fruits, peppers, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin K helps promote strong bones. Therefore, it is essential to take vitamin K if vitamin D is supplemented, as both vitamins work as a team in the body.
Potassium increases the rate of bone building and decreases the loss of calcium. Sources of potassium are bananas, potatoes, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables, including beans.
9. Reduces Overall Inflammation and promotes Healthy skin
There is enough evidence linking acne and breakouts to meat and dairy consumption. Multiple studies suggest ditching both to promote healthy skin and reduce overall inflammation.
According to a medically-reviewed article on Healthline, “sometimes the hormones in milk can also interact with our own hormones, confusing our body’s endocrine system and signaling breakouts.”
The purpose of cow’s milk is to help a calf gain weight and grow fast. Therefore, the adverse effects on human bodies should be apparent.
10. Reduces carbon footprint
Recognizing animal agriculture as an act of social injustice is critical to resolving sustainability and morality issues. Veganism is the best way to combat climate change and justice issues caused by animal agriculture.
Raising animals for food increases greenhouse emissions more than all forms of transportation combined! But, as if this was not enough, it also devastates our natural resources. Animal agriculture has taken 80% of the Amazon. For instance, producing one pound of beef takes 2500 gallons of water.
Feminism: animal agriculture systematically exploits female animals and their reproductive systems. They are being held in a vicious circle of forced impregnation and having their babies stripped away right after birth to ensure continuous milk production for the industry. The female babies will endure the same fate as their mothers. The male babies are being killed to end on someone’s plate.
After the cows are too weak to carry more pregnancies, they are sent to the slaughterhouse so humans can have a burger or a steak.
There are a lot of other issues with animal agriculture. If you are interested in learning more, I strongly recommend the documentaries Dominion, Cowspiracy, Seaspiracy, What the Health, and Forks over Knives. Also, there are many leading figures on social media to follow and learn from. Such as Dr. Neil Barnard, Earthling Ed, Joey Carbstrong, and many more.
Examples of Nutrients and Protein-Rich Foods
Beans are a fantastic source of protein and fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Lentils are high in protein. One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein! Lentils are also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Chickpeas are also high in protein. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein. Chickpeas are also high in fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Tofu is a popular plant-based protein source made from soybeans and a good source of iron and calcium.
Seeds such as chia seeds and hemp seeds are high in protein and are also good sources of fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Nuts are a great source of plant-based protein. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are all high in protein. Nuts are also a good source of fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
There are, of course, many more benefits of a healthy plant-based diet that I didn’t mention in this post. So whether you’re considering a vegan for your health, the environment, or the animals, know that there are plenty of benefits to reap.
I used to suffer from insomnia, and nothing I tried seemed to help. After going vegan, one of the first things I noticed was that I slept better. I also suffered from several allergies and had severe reactions that had to be treated with prescription medication. I have not needed medication in years!
Going vegan is not only something that can improve your overall health if done correctly. It will also drastically reduce your carbon footprint and justice issues caused by animal agriculture. Try it this Veganuary!
Is going vegan something you would try? Please share your thoughts with us!