The main philosophy of a vegan lifestyle is the rejection of animal exploitation and cruelty that is present in our day to day lives- be it in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, or the products we use.
A vegan (or plant-based) diet is an extension of the same tenet and is devoid of
all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy.
People adopt a vegan diet for three main reasons- ethics, environmental concerns and to improve health.
Benefits Of A Plant-based Diet For Human Health
This diet has become increasingly popular, and when rightly followed, may provide a bounty of health benefits.
1. Rich in Most Nutrients
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds primarily substitute meat and dairy in a plant based diet. These are richer in fibre, antioxidants, and nourishing plant compounds.
They also have a higher content of potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C, and E which are building blocks of great health.
However, plant-based foods do not naturally contain vitamin B12, so one needs to make sure they get enough each day and also consider taking supplements to avoid a deficiency, after consulting with a doctor.
Since the sole source of nutrition is derived from plants, it is important to always be mindful of keeping your diet balanced. Not all vegan foods are healthy and if you deny your body wholesome fruits and vegetables, it would lead to poor health.
2. Regulating blood sugar levels and aiding kidney function
Vegan diets reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50- 78%. They are also particularly effective at reducing blood sugar levels and may help prevent the onset of further medical conditions. They benefit those who suffer from declining kidney functions and lower the kidney tissue damage in comparison to those who consume animal proteins.
3. Reduced risk of Cancer
According to the World Health Organization, about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within one’s control, and the best way is through diet.
Plant-based diets have shown to significantly protect people against breast, prostate, colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers, and other chronic disease states.
One explanation for this could be that plants produce many phytochemicals that are known to protect cells from damage and also provide many anti-inflammatory benefits.
4.Lower Risk of Heart Disease
If your vegan diet is well planned and includes sizable portions of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fiber, it will help to lower the risk of heart disease.
Observational studies report that vegans may benefit from up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure and may also have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease.
5. Reduced Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Studies have reported that plant-based diets promote a healthy gut environment due to their high fiber content. They increase the good bacteria in the gut, which in turn helps people with rheumatoid arthritis, as they tend to lack bacterial diversity.
Vegan diets are sustainable if done right. But, each person’s body is different. People suffering from nut allergies and other food-related health concerns need to be extra mindful of their diet. It is always prudent to consult a nutritionist and undergo relevant blood tests before drastically altering your diet, to understand your body’s needs better.