Deciding to adopt a Vegan lifestyle can feel amazing - and it helps that plant-based diets have so many health benefits! By choosing a Vegan diet, you’ll not only protect animals from exploitation and reduce your ecological footprint, but you’ll also do your mind and body a favour. It’s a win-win situation.
Of course, not every Vegan diet is automatically healthy. Although many of the Vegan-friendly meat alternatives on the market make great pub lunches and hangover cures, they still contain high levels of fat, salt and sugar, and therefore don’t add much in the way of health benefits to the standard Vegan diet. Processed food is still processed, whether it’s Vegan or not.
However, eating a balanced plant-based diet (one that swaps animal products for fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains) may just be one of the best decisions you could make for your health. Here’s why.
Vegan Diets are High in Essential Minerals and Vitamins
Balanced Vegan diets rely on a medley of natural ingredients, with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses and grains all providing flavour and variety to a plant-based palette. They also offer lots of essential minerals and vitamins that our bodies rely on for optimum health.
For example, vegetable-heavy Vegan diets tend to be richer in magnesium, potassium and folate, which each help to regulate vital bodily functions within cells, muscles and the nervous system. Plant-based diets are also high in immunity-boosting vitamins, including vitamin A, C and E.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables means that Vegans also benefit from high fibre intake, which has been linked to a healthy gut and digestive system, not to mention better psychological wellbeing!
Vegan Diets Improve Heart Health
Recently, greater attention has been brought to the relationship between eating meat and developing heart disease, including coronary heart disease and heart failure. In a 2020 study, it was found that eating just two servings of processed or unprocessed meat per week was linked to a 3-7% increase of cardiovascular disease.
On the contrary, research suggests that people following a vegetarian or Vegan diet have a significantly lower risk of heart disease. It helps that Vegans avoid animal products that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol, such as meat, dairy and eggs, while eating plant sources that lower cholesterol levels and reduce hypertension!
Vegan Diets Help to Prevent Diseases
In addition to reducing the risk of developing heart disease, a varied Vegan diet could help to prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and breast, prostate, colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers. Again, most of the research looks specifically at nutritious, plant-based diets that are high in minerals, vitamins and fibre, rather than meat alternatives.
This is because plant sources and whole grains naturally contain less fat and salt than animal products, especially processed meat. Low-fat and low-salt diets may help to prevent chronic diseases, including some types of cancer, by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation and helping people to maintain a healthy weight.
As Vegans typically have a lower body mass index than people who eat meat, the diet can also lower the risk of developing obesity-related diseases, such as chronic kidney disease.
Vegan Diets are Linked to Better Skin
You’ll also be pleased to know that Vegan nutrition could keep your skin looking great! We all want clear, unblemished skin, and eating a diet high in antioxidants is much cheaper and easier than developing an extensive skincare routine!
Because Vegan diets are naturally high in vitamin A, C and E (from sources such as citrus fruits, leafy greens, carrots and peppers), you can benefit from the skin-protecting effects of these useful antioxidants. These act by neutralising free radicals, which are responsible for breaking down the collagen in our skin.
Eating dairy has also been linked to skin problems such as acne, so it’s best to avoid milk, cheese and chocolate to protect sensitive skin.
To learn more about keeping your skin healthy on a meat-free diet, check out Vegan Beauty: What Do You Need to Know?
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