If you are considering transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, you may be wondering about how the change could affect your health. Maybe you are being held back by rumors that a vegan diet can result in dangerous nutritional deficiencies. In fact, scientific studies have found that vegans enjoy superior health in numerous ways. I will outline the major health benefits of a vegan diet, as well as how you can maximize these benefits for yourself.
Stay lean with minimal effort.
A lower body weight is perhaps the most well-known and appealing benefit of a vegan diet. Studies have consistently found that the average BMI of vegans is significantly lower than that of meat-eaters and vegetarians (1). The low calorie and high fiber content of most plants makes it easy to eat a relatively large volume of food without exceeding daily calorie limits. A wholesome plant-based diet allows you to enjoy delicious and satisfying food while still reaching your weight goals. As a result, you can maintain a low, healthy weight and never feel deprived or have to follow a strict diet plan.
Avoid chronic disease.
A plant-based diet has been linked to a decreased risk of several dreaded chronic diseases. Vegans have been found to have lower blood pressure and lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in their blood. As a consequence, they also have a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke (1). In addition, a vegan diet has been correlated with a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes (1), and has reportedly even reversed diabetes in many people. This can be attributed to the lower glycemic index of a plant-based diet, which stabilizes blood sugar levels, as well as the lower BMI of vegans. A vegan diet also has protective effects against cancer because it is rich in antioxidants, folic acid, phytochemicals, and other nutrients which help prevent cancer (2).
Look forward to a long life.
Almost everyone wishes for a long life, but few realize how valuable a vegan diet can be in helping them reach this goal. Many studies have shown the protective effects of a vegetarian diet against mortality, and a recent literature review shows that a vegan diet lowers mortality even further (3). It is clear that the lowered risk of chronic disease plays a large role in lengthening the lifespan of vegans. But intriguingly, there may be more at play. Studies have shown that caloric and methionine restriction significantly increase the lifespan of mammals (4). As I mentioned before, a vegan diet is typically lower in calories. Also, plant proteins contain lower amounts of the amino acid methionine than do animal proteins. As a result, vegans consume less methionine and enjoy longer and healthier lives than their omnivorous and vegetarian counterparts.
Live a healthier, happier life.
If you have read this far, I hope you are intrigued by all the possible health benefits of a vegan diet. But maybe you are still dissuaded by fears of missing out on key nutrients. You might wonder, “Doesn’t a vegan diet require supplementation? And if so, how can it be healthy?”
Consider this. Millions of people in developed countries eat diets rich in animal products, yet are still deficient in numerous vitamins and minerals that are found in plants. Plus, many of these same people suffer from obesity and chronic illnesses which are largely caused by poor diet and which must be controlled by medication. Does this sound like a healthy and balanced lifestyle?
Since a plant-based diet is unfamiliar to most people, it will require some extra planning in the beginning. But the benefit of avoiding so much illness and suffering in the long run will undoubtedly make it worthwhile. The truth is, the amazing plants around us contain everything our bodies need to thrive and heal themselves.
And if you are too busy to plan out a diet that provides everything you need in whole plant form, dietary supplements could be just the extra boost you need to fill the gaps in your nutrition. By choosing products that are natural, plant-based, and free of harmful ingredients, you will be taking great strides in protecting your health.
Remember, any nutrients that are challenging to obtain from plants can easily be provided by the right supplement. But the illnesses caused by consuming animal products cannot be cured by pills, and the medications prescribed for these conditions can even cause more problems.
Harness the power of plants.
If you are interested in losing weight, improving your health, and avoiding disease, hopefully you are excited by what a plant-based diet could do for you. But to achieve all the health benefits of a vegan diet, there are some steps you will want to follow. If you follow the standard American diet, it is not enough to simply cut out meat, eggs and dairy. Eating a diet high in processed foods, even if they are vegan, will not provide you with many health benefits. Focus on incorporating foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts into your diet. These whole plant foods are high in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which can help you to reach your health goals.
Adding certain dietary supplements to your routine will further ensure that you never have to worry about nutritional deficiencies. Doctors recommend that vegans take certain supplements including iron and vitamin B12. Your particular needs will vary depending on your lifestyle, current health, and other factors.
Whatever your circumstances, you too can enjoy the amazing benefits of the vegan lifestyle. You can harness the power of plants to improve your health, become the best version of yourself, and achieve more in your life. You will feel even better about your decision knowing that you are avoiding harming your fellow creatures and the planet we share.
So, start your path to a healthier, vegan life now. Begin by adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet and replacing the animal products with whole grains, beans and nuts. Enjoy discovering new plants that you never thought of eating before. If you aren’t sure how to start, go here for a complete online, interactive guide to transitioning to a plant-based diet in a healthy way. With the right information and guidance, you can soon be well on your way to enjoying all the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
- Appleby, P. N., & Key, T. J. (2015). The long-term health of vegetarians and vegans. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 75(03), 287-293. doi:10.1017/s0029665115004334
- Winston J Craig; Health effects of vegan diets, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89, Issue 5, 1 May 2009, Pages 1627S–1633S. doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N
- Le, L. T., & Sabaté, J. (2014). Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts. Nutrients, 6(6), 2131–2147. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu6062131
- Mccarty, M. F., Barroso-Aranda, J., & Contreras, F. (2009). The low-methionine content of vegan diets may make methionine restriction feasible as a life extension strategy. Medical Hypotheses, 72(2), 125-128. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.07.044