As our concern for the planet and environment grows, we are becoming more conscious of what we eat and the impact of food production and food miles. More and more people are turning to veganism, although many are taking the step to vegetarianism first. Eating less meat and consuming fewer animal products on a global scale has a significant impact on the environment, but there are also advantages for the individual. If you are wondering if going vegan is the right choice for you, here are just three health benefits of a plant-based diet.
1. It improves your digestion.
What you eat has a direct impact on the health of your gut. Eating a balanced diet can help in keeping the balance of gut bacteria, but one of the things that many people do not eat enough of is fiber. Despite all the health advice which says we should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily (with some schools of thought recommending it should be seven), many people fall short of this.
Plants are full of fiber and are a crucial element to proper digestion. Fiber regulates digestion and helps to smooth the elimination process. Plants also contain many of the nutrients that support your immune system and keeps your body processes functioning at the right level. Plants are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that keep your body in balance.
2. It reduces your risk of chronic disease.
The modern omnivore diet that is full of meat, dairy, sugar, salt, and processed foods puts us at risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, intestinal disorders, and diabetes. Because of these high-sugar, high-fat, carb-laden diets, obesity is also a global concern. And with obesity, there is an even greater risk of the aforementioned chronic diseases. The omnivore diet also negatively impacts dental health.
It is the opposite for people who follow a plant-based diet. Sayings like “too much red meat clogs your arteries” are not relevant when you don’t eat meat or animal products. Various studies have demonstrated that vegans and vegetarians are significantly less at risk of chronic disease.
Studies also show that when comparing groups of varying diet types, vegans are usually in a healthy weight range. However, generally, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pescatarian and non-vegetarian are more likely to be overweight.
3. It helps weight management.
No matter what diet and weight loss tips you read, you will find you are advised to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. This is because foods in these groups have a much lower calorie to volume ratio – i.e. you can eat a lot more and are more nutrient-dense than processed foods. You can fill up more quickly on plant-based foods.
By cutting out animal products you are eliminating many fats and carbohydrates, which along with sugars, are responsible for most of an omnivore’s calorie intake. It is essential to ensure that when following a plant-based diet you get the full spectrum of nutrients that you need to maintain a healthy body.
Eating a plant-based diet will only realize the above benefits if it is balanced and healthy. You still need to avoid the major diet pitfalls of too much sugar and fat. Healthy cooking methods will help you get the most of a plant-based diet.