Veganism has been touted by environmentalists and animal advocates alike for its sustainable and moral benefits. But there are also many health benefits of switching to a vegan diet. Meat products, though delicious, are not necessarily healthy for you, especially not on a regular basis.
Here are six reasons why you should consider going vegan…
Have you tried losing weight on the Paleo Diet and had little success? Many vegans experience a healthy amount of weight loss because of no longer eating heavy meat diets. With healthy proteins like tempeh, seitan, teff and quinoa out there, you have plenty of options to replace meat with. Tempeh will never taste the same as a Big Mac, but there are ways to experiment with these healthy substitutes. There are even vegan weightlifters out there like Kendrick Farris so you don’t have to worry about losing muscle mass. Just eat plenty of protein and healthy veggies and stay away from too many carbs.
Protect Against Cancer
A study out of Loma Linda University, CA funded by the National Cancer Institute found that vegans have significantly lower rates of cancer than both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Vegan women, for example, had 34% lower rates of female-specific cancers like breast, cervical and ovarian cancers compared to a group of healthy omnivores.
How is this possible? Well, according to blood samples from meat-eating, vegetarian and vegan women, women on plant-based diets were found to suppress the development of a growth hormone called IGF-1. Animal protein has been found to increase the presence of IGF-1 in our bodies and this hormone has been linked to cancer. Within weeks of starting a plant-based diet, levels of IGF-1 in the bloodstream dramatically decrease.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
In addition to the positive benefits vegan diets offer against cancer, they also help protect against heart disease. In a 2014 study from the Journal of Family Practice, 198 people with documented cardiovascular disease were asked to stick to a strictly plant-based, oil-free diet. 177 people stuck to the diet for four years and of those people, only one person had a stroke that was deemed a recurrence of the disease. In contrast, 13 of the 21 people who didn’t stick to the diet experienced a cardiovascular event. This shows that maintaining a plant-based diet can have a huge impact in decreasing your chance of getting heart disease.
Get More Nutrients
If you follow a vegan diet, it’s likely you will end up eating a variety of different foods. For example, by following a whole-foods vegan diet, you will eat replacements like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. This will give you a higher daily intake of fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, C and E.
However, not all vegan diets are created equal. It’s important to avoid replacing meat with bread and vegan sugary foods. Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Soda and French fries are vegan after all! Poorly planned vegan diets can result in insufficient amounts of vitamins. Instead, focus on eating a variety of healthy foods and you will be much better for it.
Animal products are very hard to digest which is why you may feel lethargic after eating a big meat-based meal. Plant-based foods contain energizing properties and are much easier to digest. This gives you more energy during the day. Make sure to control your portion sizes though because if you are too full this can tire you out as well.
A Reduction in Migraines
Studies show that eating a vegan diet can significantly relieve pain related to migraines. The Physicians Committee for General Medicine conducted a study with 42 migraineurs who either received a placebo or followed a vegan diet. Those who followed the vegan diet experienced less pain and lost weight. One explanation for this is the fact that a vegan diet excludes migraine triggers. For instance, meat products contain inflammatory properties, so eliminating meat may have an anti-inflammatory affect. If you suffer from migraines, consider switching to a vegan diet to help alleviate symptoms.
As you can see, vegan diets have great benefits. Switching to a vegan diet, or just incorporating more vegetables and less meat in your diet, can help you live a much healthier lifestyle.