The Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet – Rike Aprea

A vegan diet can help you to live longer, lose weight, and reduce the risks of chronic diseases

Photo by Bailey Heedick on Unsplash

Many people give up meat or other animal products to boycott industrial livestock farming or to reduce their carbon footprint.

While I support that 100%, they’re also health-related reasons to cut back on meat and other animal products:

According to research published in Jama Internal Medicine, replacing red or processed meat with plant protein is associated with lower total, cancer-related, and CVD-related mortality.

One reason for that might be that vegan or vegetarian diets promote higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which can prevent a wide range of chronic diseases.

Vegan diets often include foods high in fiber, which can aid weight loss.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, an 18-week low-fat, plant-based diet helped participants to lose an average of 4.2 kilograms compared to the control group. Apart from that, the individuals sticking to the vegan diet were able to improve plasma lipids and glycemic control.

Of course, replacing animal products with foods high in sugar or refined carbohydrates will derail this effect.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Medicine, avoiding meat can reduce your risk of ischaemic heart disease 13%. This might be partially due to the fact that meat often contains higher amounts of fat compared to plant-based protein sources.

Apart from that, sources of plant protein such as beans or seeds are often packed with fiber, which is also linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Fiber also supports blood sugar control and can thus prevent developing Type 2 diabetes.

The consumption of processed meat has been associated with a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers.

Apart from that, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that dairy products can be linked to increased risks of prostate cancer.

And according to Italien research, vegetarian diets can reduce total cancer by 8% and vegan diets by 15%.

While vegan diets are rich in antioxidants and most vitamins, they can be low in Vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc, or essential fatty acids. To avoid that you can add foods rich in these nutrients, such as

  • Chia seeds for essential fatty acids
  • Lentils for zinc
  • Seaweeds for Vitamin B12 and iodine
  • Pumpkin seeds for iron
  • Almonds for calcium

From my experience, getting enough Vitamin B12 is one of the biggest challenges when following a vegan diet, so it might make sense to discuss supplementation with your healthcare provider.

I gave up meat when I was 16 years old. Encouraged by friends, I tried eating chicken a handful of times since then, only to find myself feeling sick after.

However, I believe that healthy nutrition requires a highly individualized approach. Plant-based foods seem to agree with me and to support my active lifestyle. To decrease the risks of nutritional deficiencies, I take an organic, plant-based multi-vitamin every day.

If you’re interested in more information about vegan/vegetarian diets, you can check out the following websites:

Vegan Health — Evidence-Based Nutrition Recommendations

The Vegan Society

Vegetarian Nutrition — Evidence-Based Vegetarian Nutrition Information

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In good health,

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