Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet: Top Health Reasons To Go Vegan
Learn what makes the vegan diet truly extraordinary! We break down the best health benefits of a vegan diet that can positively impact your life and health today.
Here at The Source in Willow Glen, we are all about creating a culture that celebrates and supports the vegan lifestyle. We understand that with the wide array of health benefits of a vegan diet, one can create a life for themselves which is full of health and vitality. Not only does the vegan lifestyle create health for oneself, but it also allows the environment to thrive as well. With the current wildfire tragedies occurring right now in the Amazon Rainforest due to deforestation, veganism could not be more relevant. Understanding the vegan diet benefits and disadvantages are key to making this transition to a new and thriving plant-based you.
In 2017, over 6 percent of Americans identified as vegan, in comparison to only 1 percent in 2014, according to GlobalData. Vegans do not consume any animal products- meat, dairy, eggs, animal by products, honey, gelatin, or leather. With this massive jump in numbers on a national level, lets dig into some of the reasons that support this huge shift.
A common question asked by customers is, “Are there benefits to a vegan diet?”. We believe that with the right preparation and supplementation, the vegan diet can help shape your best life. Health benefits of consuming a vegan diet include:
Higher Nutritional Density
The switch from a typical American diet to a vegan lifestyle, will first and foremost increase one’s consumption of nutrient-rich whole plant foods. In order to receive the full benefit of a vegan diet, one must avoid too many processed foods and consume whole foods like vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and seaweed. When one’s diet is rich in these healthy foods, ones intakes on vitamins, essential minerals, fiber, and phytochemical increases. On the vegan diet one will observe a drop in their cholesterol and intake of saturated fats and in turn receive an abundance of vitamins B1, C, and E,, magnesium, and folic acid.
Decreased risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, and other conditions
According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer were the two main leading causes of death in the US in 2017. Based off various web searches, ‘a healthy diet and exercise’, are considered the most powerful ways to prevent heart disease and cancer. When one transitions to receiving the health benefits of a vegan diet, the poor effects of animal fat consumption decrease. According to the respected Nutrition resource Nutritionfacts.org, “Diets rich in whole, plant foods and low in animal-fat consumption appear to provide protection against many serious health conditions.” Health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, and heart disease are all examples of illnesses one will be at a decreased risk of with a vegan diet.
In a 2015 study, 50 overweight adults were randomized and recruited onto 1 of 5 different low-fat, low-glycemic diets for 6 months. From vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and omnivorous, participants were supported and supplemented (with B-12) through the trials. Out of the 5 groups tested, the vegan group lost an average of 7.5% of their body weight, in comparison to omnivores who lost only 3.1%. Now this is just one study, but various others prove the same effect. Those following a vegan diet will be much more likely to be more lean and have a lower BMI (body mass index) than non-vegans.
Vegan Diet Environmental Benefits
Not only does one’s personal health benefit from a vegan diet but the environment does as well. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health nutrition expert Walter Willet veganism is good for the environment. According to Willett, by going vegan one eliminates adding enormous amounts of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from cattle grazing. Both methane and carbon dioxide are two of the most potent greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change.
With the current wildfire state of emergency occurring in the Amazon, vegan diet environmental benefits are incredibly relevant. Shocking facts reveal that cattle ranching is the primary cause of deforestation across the whole of the Amazon. In Brazil, approximately 200 million cattle are being ranched. Making Brazil the largest exporter of beef in the world, supplying about 25% of the global market.
Whether one is drawn to the health benefits of consuming a vegan diet or the environmental benefits, the vegan diet creates a web of health for all.
Vegan Diet Disadvantages
When one embarks on the journey of creating a vegan lifestyle, one must be aware that there are vegan diet benefits and risks . It is important to know that vegans must pay close attention to their diets to avoid certain nutritional deficiencies. When one is following a well-planned vegan diet, there is little risk of deficiency. Check out the Vegan Nutrition Guide, by Virginia Messina MPH, RD and work alongside your healthcare physician to make the move to veganism risk-free. Highlighted below are nutrients that may be in short supply in a vegan diet. Other nutrients which are not highlighted but should also be monitored are calcium, vitamin D, and iodine.
This is an essential vitamin needed to protect the bodies nervous system and red blood cell production. Here at The Source in Willow Glen, we sell Mykind Organics B-12 supplements by Garden of Life. Other ways to supplement would be consuming seaweed, nutritional yeast, and nut milks/cereals fortified with B-12.
Zinc is a mineral in the body that when deficient can lead to hair loss, poor regeneration of wounds, immunological complications, and dermatitis. Consumption of nuts, legumes, whole grains, seeds, potatoes, dark leafy greens, and dark chocolate will ensure proper nutrition.
Iron has a very important function in the body to make for proper absorption of oxygen into the blood and cells. Cooking in a cast-iron skillet will help the body to absorb more iron into food. Ensure proper nutrition by consuming many lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, chia seeds, dark leafy greens, beans, kale, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, and fortified breakfast cereal.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These healthy fats composed of DHA, ALA, and EPA are vital for a healthy heart, eyes, and brain. Since the vegan diet does not supplement EPA one should always include supplements made with microalgae. Other sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include seaweed, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, kidney beans, and chia seeds.
The Source in Willow Glen is a hub for all things organic, vegan, and delicious! Next week on the blog, we will cover the immediate benefits of a vegan diet as well as the long term effects. We will also explore different varieties, such as the raw vegan diet benefits. We hope you are inspired to incorporate some elements of the vegan diet into your lifestyle or make the full life-enhancing switch!