Here’s a stat for you. 3% of people in the United States of America are vegan! Now, while that might not sound like a very big number, that actually amounts to about 9.6 million people! But what is it about the vegan diet that’s got so many people ditching their steaks and choosing to eat plants instead? Well, there are many reasons why going vegan is good for you, and we’ll discuss all those reasons in this article, but first, let’s talk a bit about veganism and what it is.
The Vegan Diet – What Is It?
Most people make the mistake of thinking that the vegan diet is one where people abstain from the consumption of meat. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The vegan diet consists only of plant and plant-based foods. This includes fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables.
What most people think of when they picture the vegan diet is actually a vegetarian diet. While it’s true that vegetarians stay away from meats like chicken and beef, they do consume the by-products of these animals. These include milk, eggs, and so on. People who follow a vegetarian diet also tend to eat fish. However, the vegan diet is a philosophy that frowns upon cruelty to animals, and as such, even the by-products of animals are not allowed for consumption.
Okay, so you’re doing your part to make the world a better place for animals, but what’s in it for you? Well, a lot! Following the vegan diet brings with it a whole host of benefits. Let’s look at some of them in detail:
Benefits of the Vegan Diet
1. It Aids in Weight management
If you’re looking to cut down on those calories in order to achieve those body goals, the vegan diet is a great way to get there. Since meat-based meals are high in calories and fats, opting to go vegan instead can help you cut down on those unnecessary calories while still ensuring that you get the recommended amount of protein and other vital vitamins and minerals. A study that looked at the weight management success ratio of 4 different vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diets found that plant-based diets were far more effective for weight management as compared to their meat-based counterparts.
2. It Improves Heart Health
According to the American Heart Association, foods that are high in saturated fats are incredibly unhealthy for your heart. This is because these saturated fats increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your body, which leads to blocked arteries, and eventually, heart attacks and other heart-related issues. Switching to a vegan diet means that you cut down on the amount of saturated fats that you put into your body, thus drastically improving your heart health.
3. Reduced Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
It’s long been known that a person’s weight greatly affects whether or not they develop type-2 diabetes at some stage in their lives. This is because more fatty tissue means that our cells become more resistant to insulin, which causes our blood sugar levels to go up, along with a whole host of other problems such as high blood pressure and weight gain.
As discussed in the previous point, a plant-based diet contains very little saturated fats, which means that not only does it improve your heart health but it also reduces the amount of fatty tissue that causes out cells to become insulin resistant. It has been seen that people who switch to a completely plant-based were able to stave off type-2 diabetes, or if they already had it, they were able to manage it a lot better.
4. Reduced Risk of Cancer and Other Major Diseases
According to a recent statistic, almost ten million people the world over die from cancer each year. That is an alarming statistic and should be even more of a reason to switch to the vegan lifestyle. This is simply because plant-based foods are loaded with phytochemicals. This includes powerful antioxidants that are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. These phytochemicals have a huge role to play in reducing a person’s risk of developing cancer (provided they don’t do other cancer-causing activities like smoking).
Along with this, plant-based foods are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant carotenoids, and as discuss before, have lower levels of saturated fats, which only serves to keep the body healthy, ensuring that it stays as healthy as possible for a long time.
5. Improved Brain Function
So far, we’ve only discussed the physical benefits of following the vegan diet. However, this diet doesn’t just benefit our body – it also benefits our mind. Plant-based foods (fruits, vegetable, whole grains) are rich in polyphenols, which, as some studies have shown, may play a big part in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Along with this, these micronutrients may also work to slow down or completely reverse the cognitive decline that’s part and parcel of the aging process.
Food for Thought
While the above-mentioned benefits should be reason enough for you to switch to the vegan diet, they’re not the only thing you should take into consideration. Keep in mind that the meat, egg, fishing, and dairy industries are an absolute nightmare for animals. They’re kept in small, cramped spaces, and are usually just bred for their by-products, after which they’re disposed of.
Animals are living, breathing, sentient creatures, too, and deserve the same amount of respect and rights as we humans do. When you follow the vegan diet, you’re standing up for the rights of these animals by refusing to take part in the very reason that they’re kept in these quite frankly inhumane conditions.
While it may not be easy to completely make the switch to the vegan diet, you can start slow and ease yourself into it. There are plenty of options available to you to make this switch easier, so there’s really no reason not to give it a try. Your body (and the environment) will thank you.