The number of people around the world adopting a vegan diet has quadrupled between 2006 and 2018, according to research by The Vegan Society. It might be easy to assume that everybody adopting this lifestyle change is doing it out of moral reasons, to shun the questionable practices of animal products.
Yet the reality is not quite so simple. A good portion of people are simply turning to the vegan lifestyle, and many more vegan dieting options, to better help their health. With such a trend taking root in the world’s eating habits, it begs the question, what are the benefits of consuming a vegan diet?
We sat down and had a look at many of the core health benefits you can expect from adopting a vegan diet, explore some of the science backing it up, and see why this trend is taking such a hold on western dieting choices.
Vegan Eating Helps with Weight Loss
An increasing amount of people around the world are turning to vegan, or plant centric diets to shed weight. That is likely for good reason, has there is a strong correlation between people who eat a vegan diet and their bodies tending to be more lean, and carry lower body mass.
This correlation has been studied in depth, and it shows a clear connection between people shedding consistent weight over a 12 to 18 week period, and a vegan diet. So, it is no surprise more and more people are turning to this option for weight loss alone.
Interestingly, people on a vegan diet tend to lose more weight compared to people simply eating a calorie restricted diet. Studies that looked into this saw that the results were not only more significant, but also longer lasting as a result.
Vegan Diets are More Nutrient Rich
Switching from a typical western centric diet to a vegan diet, you will obviously be consuming no more meat or animal products. This will lead you to rely heavily on certain plant-based foods more heavily to get the same nutrients your body requires.
What is often not considered, however, is just how more nutrient rich these plant-based alternatives are. For example, many studies have shown that vegan diets are richer in antioxidants, amino acids, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, and folate.
However, this must come with a level of planning. You cannot expect to pick up a vegan diet and immediately begin to have more nutrient rich eating habits. It is possible to eat a vegan diet that is low on essential vitamins, iron, calcium, zinc, and fatty acids.
It is for this reason that it is important to stay away from easy-to-prepare fast food vegan options, and instead spend some time to research the kind of vegan diet you want to eat. Just like a traditional western diet, you will not have a perfectly balanced diet from the get-go. However, it is possible to achieve a diet that supplies your body with everything you need, and more!
You May be More Protected against Certain Cancers
This is a sticky one, because when you talk about cancer, you are talking about a very wide range of conditions. However, the World Health Organization has stated that one-third of all cancers are preventable by factors within your control.
This is where vegan diets come in, as your diet is one of the best ways to manage your health. Research hassuggested that eating at least seven portions of vegetables and fresh fruit per day may lower your chance of dying by cancer by up to 15%
Obviously a vegan diet will be more centered around these food groups, as well as soy products, which research has shown offer you protection against breast cancer.
There is also the glaring fact of the removal of meat from your diet, which research has been quite clear about for some time. Eating diets consisting of red and smoked meat contribute significantly to certain kinds of cancers, as well as dairy products contributing to slightly higher risk of prostate cancer.
It is vital to note that all these studies are observational, and there is a strong correlation bias when it comes to observing these factors. That does not mean these studies are false, but that many other factors play into how cancer forms in the body.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Eating higher amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, fiber, and legumes has been linked to a significantly lower risk of heart disease. As all these groups are eaten in much higher amounts with a vegan diet, it is easy to see where the health connection comes in.
Furthermore, studies have shown that due to the common food groups found in a vegan diet, vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure. This is coupled with a consensus among many nutritional experts to state that vegans are 42% less likely to die as a result of heart disease.
As well as all of this, vegans are much more likely to eat more whole grains and nuts compared to the general population, which is beneficial to heart health.
Lower Blood Sugar
For people suffering from type 2 diabetes, vegan diets are often recommended by many doctors. If the patient is willing to change their diet in this direction. This is also true for people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The reason for this is that vegan diets help to reduce insulin sensitivity by up to 78% and can lead to a much lower risk of developing diabetes as a result. A large study into the insulin resistance, and blood sugar levels of vegans, found that vegans who have been on the diet for more than 3 years show much lower blood sugar levels as a result.
Unlike the observational studies that surround heart health and cancer rates being linked to a vegan lifestyle, this connection is widely considered to be fact. As plant-based proteins are one of the most effective ways to curb blood sugar levels across the board.