What Are The Benefits Of Going Vegan?
More and more people are choosing veganism as a health-driven diet and overall lifestyle. So whether you are taking part in Veganuary, are interested in making the jump full time or are curious about exploring how you can make easy vegan swaps within your everyday diet, there are plenty of good reasons to do so.
One common reason for culling all forms of meat and dairy is the promised health benefits, but what exactly are these, and how can they be maximised for an ultimate sense of well-being? We wanted to explore the various positives of making this journey to a purely plant-based cuisine and the small changes we can all make in our consumption habits for the good of the environment.
Many vegan foods are rich in plant-based protein; vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are highly nutritious whilst offering a vast range of colourful dishes and flavours. These types of superfoods help keep a regular diet on track with the recommended daily intake of fat and carbohydrates, as well as being higher in dietary fibre, meaning a happier gut for a full-functioning digestive tract that effectively absorbs the nutrients our bodies need.
Numerous kinds of fruits and vegetables are incredibly high in vitamins A, C and E, in addition to potassium, folate, biotin and magnesium. These help with your immune system, eyes health, muscle function, energy production, while biotin supports hair growth, glowing skin and strong nails.
Various studies indicate that switching to a vegan diet can be preventative in terms of illness; it has been proven to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular conditions. Plant-based foods are packed with phytochemicals and powerful antioxidant carotenoids that work to neutralise free radicals and disable their ability to cause damage. Phytochemicals have a broad range of protective benefits, from reducing inflammation and speeding up healing processes to even fighting carcinogenic symptoms.
Extensive research has shown that those who adopt a vegan diet are more likely to have lower blood sugar levels which can reduce their risk of developing type two diabetes by up to seventy per cent. Consuming plenty of healthy plant-based food can also help mitigate the risks associated with developing diabetes, including obesity; many vegan alternatives tend to be lower in saturated fats than animal-derived products, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight without having to count calories.
Every piece of food we eat impacts the environment, but some have much more of an effect than others. Producing meat and dairy takes a significant toll on the planet; it requires large amounts of natural resources like fresh water and land, as well as generating copious amounts of waste and pollution, all major contributors to climate change. A vegan diet drastically lowers our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, including fossil fuels, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, by up to ninety per cent, considerably reducing our individual carbon footprints.
Veganism can help to preserve our oceans by decreasing the waste from animal agricultural practices that regularly makes its way into waterways generating dead zones inhabitable for any species. It also helps to protect precious rainforests that are often cleared to make way for farming land to meet high global demand. Plant-based substitutes don’t require nearly as much land or resources as it does to produce meat or dairy. Compared to animal grazing, it is far less taxing on the integrity of the soil, which is crucial for allowing the ground to get back into its natural rhythm and recover from degradation.
As well as being more sustainable for the earth, veganism can be more budget-friendly, which is a massive plus, with the current cost of living rising over the last couple of years. Oxford University research has shown that switching to a vegan diet can slash your weekly grocery bill by a third. Purchasing wholefoods and vegan-friendly pantry staples are generally cheaper than meat, fish and dairy and have a longer shelf life, so you are heading to the supermarket less.
Veganism is a personal choice and may not suit the lifestyle, dietary requirements or ethics of everyone and being understanding of individual decisions is important. Removing all animal-based products from your diet may seem daunting, so gradual changes are a great first step. Even swapping one meal per week can make a difference; chilli non-carne, spicy cauliflower ‘wings’, or a butter jackfruit curry are just a few tasty examples to begin exploring.