There are so many reasons to choose a plant-based diet. Whether you want to eat more sustainably or go cruelty-free, going vegan is a great way to make a positive impact. But, what does saying no to meat, fish, dairy, and eggs mean for your body? Is a plant-based diet actually good for you?
Don’t worry - we’re here to help! Asking questions about the impact of your diet on your health is important, which is why we are here to make sure you get the right answers.
The good news is it turns out going vegan actually has some amazing benefits for your health. From lowering your cholesterol to increasing your metabolism, there are a whole host of reasons why going vegan may be exactly what your body needs. Here’s everything you need to know about the health impacts of the vegan diet and one more reason why being vegan is great!
America’s SAD diet
What is the SAD diet? The Standard American Diet (SAD) is the standard diet consumed by Americans. Its known for being high in red meats and high-fat dairy, and low in veg, healthy protein and grains. In fact, a 2010 study showed that 96% of Americans did not eat the recommended amount of greens each week. Yikes!
The bad news is that this diet is having a terrible impact on our health. Half of Americans are overweight or obese and are put at higher risk of many medical disorders including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
If only there were some kind of alternative diet that avoided all of these issues…
Veganism to the recue!
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Here’s the good news, containing no meat, no dairy, and generally relying on lots of vegetables, the vegan diet may just be the answer to our prayers!
The specific foods eaten in a vegan diet will vary from person to person, however, through giving up meat, fish, and dairy, and opting for a more veg-centered diet there are some key health impacts. Here are all the benefits of opting for plant-based…
1. Good for your Heart
Animal products are key sources of saturated fats. What does this mean? It means they are more likely to raise your cholesterol levels which is likely to mean a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. Rejecting animal products and opting for a plant-based diet has been proven to decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower blood pressure - and therefore decrease the risk of heart problems!
2. Increases Metabolism and Weight Loss
Another great benefit of the vegan diet is that because of all the amazing nutrients, minerals, and vitamins it contains, it has been proven that it can boost metabolism rates.
What is metabolism? Metabolism is the chemical process completed by your body to turn food into energy. A higher metabolism means your body is completing these processes at a faster rate. This has 2 amazing impacts on your body. 1) It can mean your body has more energy (which is always a good thing) and 2) more food burnt into energy means less fat on your body - aka weight loss! Basically, a vegan diet means you can lose weight without actually eating less food or doing extra exercise - pretty neat, right?
3. Regulates Sugar Levels and Kidney Function
Some studies have shown that vegan diets are low glycemic. The glycemic level is the rate that your blood sugar rises after eating. A low glycemic level means that your blood sugar level rises slower after eating, and hence glucose is regulated. A vegan diet also allows insulin to more easily clear sugar from the bloodstream. All of this helps lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes and, therefore, can improve their symptoms. So, a vegan diet can be an amazing choice that makes the lives of people with diabetes a lot easier.
4. May Help Prevent Cancer
Certain types of cancer have also been shown to occur less often in those who avoid animal products and high-fat foods and who eat plant-based foods. This is because a vegan diet is generally high in fiber, and contains vitamins and phytochemicals. These are all components which may help to protect against cancer.
5. Can Reduce Pain and Inflammation
There have also been some studies which suggest that a plant-based diet can also help to reduce inflammation and joint pain. This is because a vegan diet will generally include lots of fresh vegetables and whole grains. These foods contain amazing nutrients which work to relieve inflammation - and can even relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis!
Does a plant-based diet have any negative impacts on your health?
So, it's clear the vegan diet boasts some amazing health benefits. But, is this all too good to be true?
Like any diet, the vegan diet has its downfalls. Cutting out the negative impacts of animal products also means cutting out some of their advantages. For example, Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin that exists in animal products and is essential for maintaining a healthy body. So, when you go vegan, you can develop a deficiency in this vitamin.
However - all is not lost! The great news is that, although some nutrients may be missing from a vegan diet, these nutrients can easily be picked up when you know how! For example, nutritional yeast and plant-based milk are almost always fortified with this vitamin.
Iron, vitamin D, calcium, omega-3, and zinc are other nutrients that vegans can be deficient in. However, they are easily picked up through other means - for example, by taking supplements!
So, now we know all of the fantastic health benefits of the plant-based diet - there may be one more reason to go vegan…
Although plant-based foods may not contain everything you need, you can easily develop a vegan diet that reaps the health benefits of vegan foods, without sacrificing the essential food and nutrients you need. By picking a balanced diet that is fortified with all of the key nutrients, we are pretty certain you will be on to a winner! Give it a go and see for yourself.