Health Benefits Of A Vegan Diet
Vegan is often defined as someone who does not eat or use any animal products or byproducts. People commonly become vegans for ethical reasons, as this lifestyle cuts out all forms of animal exploitation. However, many people also become vegans for environmental or health reasons.
Veganism is no longer a niche diet—it’s becoming an increasingly popular way of eating, with many people adopting it for environmental and ethical reasons and its health benefits. But what exactly are those health benefits? Here are some of the things that veganism can do for your body.
- Fewer chemicals in your body.
Vegan meals tend to be free of antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals that can end up in animal products (and, therefore, in your body). That’s because many of these chemicals are used specifically in animal farming—and according to the World Health Organization, they can be carcinogenic.
- More nutrients.
A vegan diet is high in vitamins A and C (both of which are important for disease prevention) and low in cholesterol. It is also easier to maintain a proper balance of calcium and phosphorus when consuming only plant-based foods. This means that people who eat a vegan diet tend to have fewer health problems than their meat-eating counterparts.
- Better digestion.
It is easier for our bodies to process plant-based proteins than animal proteins, which means less tummy trouble! Going vegan also usually means eating more fiber.
- A vegan diet improves cardiovascular health.
Eating vegan has been linked to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease. This is because animal products are high in fat and cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. A plant-based diet can help lower these risks by decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL) levels while increasing good cholesterol (HDL) levels. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, eating vegan may also help you lose weight because you’re consuming fewer calories from animal products like meat and dairy, which have higher fat contents than vegetables or fruits.
- A vegan diet makes you happier.
A study by the National Institutes of Health found that vegans have lower levels of depression and anxiety than non-vegans. In contrast, another study found that vegetarians have lower levels of depressive symptoms. A study from Loma Linda University also concluded that vegans are happier than their meat-eating counterparts, with more positive self-esteem, optimism about the future, and a general sense of happiness in life.
- It is better for the environment.
Raising livestock uses up huge amounts of water and food resources and contributes to global climate change by producing large amounts of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane.
- Aids weight loss
While some people argue that no single diet works for everyone, studies have shown that those who follow a vegan diet tend to weigh less than meat-eaters. One study conducted over 22 years found that vegans lost about 5 pounds more than non-vegetarians.
Because plant protein tends to be lower in calories than animal protein and veggies are packed with fiber, you’ll feel fuller longer with fewer calories. Plus, research has shown that eating more fruits and vegetables helps people naturally eat fewer calories overall—that’s why it’s so crucial to fill half your plate with produce at every meal!
- Improves skin health
Vegetables are packed with helpful antioxidants, but they’re also rich in carotenoids—which give them their vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and greens—and help fight signs of aging skin like wrinkles and dryness.
- A vegan diet appears to lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney function.
A vegan diet may also benefit type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function. Indeed, vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels and higher insulin sensitivity and may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Even if you don’t go fully vegan, increasing your intake of healthy plant-based foods and decreasing your meat- and dairy-based foods may reduce your type 2 diabetes risk. A 2006 study even reported that a vegan diet lowers blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
There are numerous health benefits of eating a plant-based vegan diet. Adopting a vegan diet can decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and some cancers. According to the United Department of Agriculture, “Diets rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.” Plant foods also contain many nutrients, such as phytochemicals that protect our bodies from free radicals and inflammation. They also provide ample amounts of vitamins C, E, and beta carotene that work together in producing antioxidants for optimal health.