Why Vegan?

What are the benefits and risks?

The Vegan Lifestyle:

Every year more and more people are making the decision to go vegan and for good reason!

There are so many amazing ways that veganism can improve our lives – fantastic health benefits, less stress on our environment, more efficient ways to use our resources, almost zero cholesterol, weight control and many more!

There are so many unique reasons someone might choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

When thinking about transitioning to veganism it’s important to ponder your morals and the reasons why this lifestyle speaks to you.

vegans-in-cape-town

 

A big lifestyle change like going vegan is easier to sustain if you wholeheartedly believe in the reasons behind your decision.

If you are only doing it because it is the “in thing” to do nowadays, you will almost definitely not last. You should truly believe in your reasoning for it to last.

Some people choose to start following the vegan lifestyle because it is better for the environment, others might say that it is because of the moral issues with eating animals or fish and animal products. Some people go vegan for health reasons — possibly to lose weight, lower cholesterol levels, or improve digestion.

Along with social welfare, a well-planned vegan regime offers a wholesome, nutritionally adequate, and versatile package of health benefits to humans.

9 Health Benefits Of A Vegan Diet

1) Controls Obesity

A vegan diet helps combat obesity in all age groups. A comparative study done on various diet groups has proven that vegans have the lowest body mass index and are less prone to obesity when compared to vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The reason behind this significantly lowered weight gain in vegans can be attributed to higher fiber and lower animal protein intake.

Reducing your caloric intake or starving yourself to lose weight is not a healthy option, since it may lead to conditions like anorexia and bulimia. 

A vegan lifestyle entails consuming grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other plant-based products. All these options have very low amounts of fats, except for the nuts, which are a source of good fat but can cause weight gain if eaten in excess.

2) Alleviates Bronchial Asthma

Studies conducted to investigate the efficacy of a vegan diet in providing relief from bronchial asthma have shown promising results. 

According to the research, the studies’ subjects confirmed a reduction in asthma symptoms and were even able to eradicate or reduce the need for asthma medications.

3) Improves Cardiovascular Health

Vegans have reasonably lower levels of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, along with healthy levels of blood lipids and a good body mass index (BMI). 

All of these factors lead to significantly better cardiovascular health.

The wealth of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber present in fruits and vegetables, which cover the significant part of a vegan diet, aid in reduced incidences of stroke and ischemic heart disorder. 

In addition to this, the inclusion of nuts, whole grains, and soy products also adds to the protective effect exerted by a vegan diet against cardiovascular diseases.

4) Anticancer Potential

A research study suggests that a low-fat vegan diet may help protect against cancer that may be linked to insulin resistance such as prostate, colon, and breast cancer

Vegan proteins have a high concentration of non-essential amino acids along with an increased intake of phytochemicals, favors insulin and glucagon activity, thereby aiding in lowering elevated lipid levels, which could help inhibit the development of cancer. 

The potential chemopreventive and anti-proliferative effect of the vegan diet is due to the presence of flavonoids, beta-carotene, carotenoids, vitamin C, a low amount of fat, and a good amount of fiber.

However, further studies are required to ascertain the relationship between a vegan or plant-based diet and cancer risk.

5) Helps Lower Hypertension

Studies have shown that adopting a vegan diet has shown beneficial effects on cholesterol and blood pressure levels as compared to a non-vegan diet.

People who shift to a vegan diet are even able to reduce or eliminate the need for regular medication for such ailments.

According to various research studies, among fish eaters, vegetarians, non-vegetarians, and vegans, vegans have the optimal blood pressure, while meat-eaters have been reported to possess the highest incidence of hypertension.

6) Helps Control Diabetes

A vegan diet consists of plant-derived foods that are naturally high in complex carbohydrates and low in fats. These two factors reasonably contribute to controlling diabetes.

The inclusion of plant-based diets can even assist in reducing the need for insulin, which is required for those patients who are insulin-dependent.

According to studies conducted in this regard, a vegan diet has been proven even better for people with diabetes than the diabetic diet prescribed by the American Diabetes Association. 

In addition to healthy blood sugar levels, the studies’ patients following veganism have reported improvement in other health parameters like hemoglobin levels and weight loss.

7) Protects Against Parkinson’s Disease

Research studies evaluating the effectiveness of a vegan diet on neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s have shown promising results. 

According to the studies, fat and cholesterol-packed meat-based diets enhance the risk of Parkinson’s disease as compared to plant-based fats, which do not pose any such threat.

A vegan diet has been believed to provide a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease and is also helpful in supporting vascular health.

8) Maintains Healthy Bones

Essential nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and vitamin K contribute significantly to bone health. All of these nutrients, along with soy benefits, can be found in a vegan diet.

A vegan diet aids in maintaining the acid-base ratio, which is also a significant factor for bone health.

An acidic diet encourages the loss of calcium during urination.

The higher concentration of potassium and magnesium in fruits and vegetables provides alkalinity to the diet, which reduces bone resorption.

Studies have shown that an adequate intake of vitamin K, which is present in ample amounts in green leafy vegetables, reduces the risk of hip fractures. 

According to various research studies, soy products like tofu, which is rich in isoflavones, may have positive effects on bone health in postmenopausal women with respect to improved bone mineral density, improved bone formation, and reduced bone resorption.

Less calcium loss means reducing the risk of osteoporosis for people on a vegan diet, even if their intake of calcium is low.

Read this post I did where I list the top sources of calcium for people following the vegan lifestyle.

9) Improves Overall Health

The inclusion of vegan foods, such as tofu, enhances the ability of the body to manage stress. All these benefits improve general health and reduce the need for medication for such disorders.

Consumption of less sugar and fats and more fruits and vegetables keeps the person more naturally energized and makes you look and feel good.

Potential health risks from following the vegan lifestyle

1) Calcium, Iron and Zinc

Calcium, iron, and zinc are three minerals that are found in meat, poultry, fish, and milk.

Calcium is well-known as being essential for strong teeth and bones but it is also important for healthy gums, nerve impulses, normal heart rhythm, and the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin and the oxygenation of red blood cells.

Zinc is essential for the well-being of the reproductive system, for immune health and healing and for collagen synthesis.

Not getting enough of these minerals opens up the body to at first minor problems such as lowered immune defenses and reduced energy levels.

Over time- a lack of calcium, iron, and zinc can cause the development of some chronic diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease.

To discover the best sources of these 3 essential minerals, check out my posts:

> Vegan foods that are high in Zinc.

> Calcium-rich vegan foods.

> A vegan’s guide to Iron.

2) Vitamin B12

A vegetarian or vegan diet tends to be very high in many vitamins, including vitamins C and E, folic acid, and the carotenoids.

The one vitamin that it may be lacking in is vitamin B12. This nutrient is very important for the well-being of the nervous system.

It also helps to lower homocysteine levels, an amino acid that has been implicated in the development of heart disease.

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products, fish, and seafood.

To make sure you are avoiding the pitfalls of a potential deficiency try adding brewer’s yeast to your diet (Purchase brewer’s yeast online here).

Sea greens, such as kelp, dulse, nori, and kombu are also good sources.

Regularly consuming tofu, soybeans, and soymilk can also help as soy products do contain vitamin B12.

Vegan products that are high in Vit B12:

3) Omega-3 and Saturated Fatty Acids and Protein

A vegan diet is likely to be very high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in saturated fatty acids.

To some extent this is beneficial as a diet high in saturated fat can contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Some saturated fatty acids, however, are important for brain health and cell membrane integrity.

Even more important for heart health is omega-3 fatty acids, which are found mostly in various species of fatty fish.

A vegan diet may also be full of carbohydrates, but depending on the foods consumed it may be low in protein.

A protein deficiency is rare, even with a vegan diet, but being conscious of balancing proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are important for overall well-being.

Snack on nuts and seeds on a daily basis for a variety of fatty acids and protein. Use a variety of vegetable oils, including hemp seed, flaxseed, and avocado oil.

Try using grains, which is also a good source of fatty acids and amino acids- such as amaranth, quinoa, and brown rice. Eat beans regularly and start incorporating lentils, lima beans, and kidney beans into your meals.

Add chickpeas to salads.

Tofu is another excellent source of protein as well as many much-needed vitamins and minerals for vegans.

Find Tofu in Cape Town here.

Posts From OnlyVegan:

ONLY VEGAN SOCIAL PAGES
Join our newsletter

Join our newsletter

For the best nutritional tips for people that follow the vegan lifestyle, yummy vegan recipes, restaurant reviews, shopping tips and more! No SPAM...we promise!

Thanks for subscribing! Enjoy your first recipe!