For those unaware, Veganuary is a movement that was started by a UK based non-profit organisation in 2014. In a nutshell, Veganuary encourages people around the world to pledge to eat vegan for three, five, or seven days a week during the entire month of January. This year in Malaysia, more than 1,500 people pledged to try a vegan diet according to MyVeganuari – a local version of the official Veganuary.
Although Veganuary is over, incorporating Meatless Mondays is still more relevant than ever, as a vegan diet has been proven to be beneficial for overall health.
After learning about these top five benefits of eating vegan, you may just decide to go meatless more than once a week
Vegans Have A Lower Risk of Heart Disease
A longitudinal study that lasted over 18 years and had more than 48,000 participants found that people practising vegan and vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease. The British study compared the health of meat-eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians, and vegans.
Another study in Japan concluded that consuming more fresh fruits, vegetables, and beans reduced cardiovascular linked mortality rates. In America, researchers associated a high consumption of vegetables (four times a week or more) with a 22% decreased risk of contracting coronary heart disease.
Vegans Have Lower Blood Sugar Levels
It has been revealed through several studies that a vegan diet can help with Type 2 Diabetes. How? A vegan diet lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics more than other diets, such as the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). More than 43% of participants in this study were able to cut back their dosage of blood-sugar-lowering medication, as compared to the 26% following the ADA recommended diet.
Studies show that vegans have a 50-78% lesser chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
A Vegan Diet is Richer in Nutrients Than Other Diets
Cutting animal by-product from your diet will entail the consumption of more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and all that jazz. Naturally, a higher intake of healthy foods will lead to a higher daily intake of nutrients.
Numerous studies have reported that vegan diets provide beneficial plant compounds like fibre and antioxidants. Other nutrients would be magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and more!
A Vegan Diet Can Help with Weight Loss
Many studies prove how a vegan diet can support weight loss more than a ‘regular’ diet. A study from Harvard University concluded that vegetarian diets appear to have significant benefits on weight reduction compared to non-vegetarian diets. Another study showed how participants on a vegan diet lost 4.2 k/g more than participants on a controlled diet over an 18-week period.
And the list goes on. When comparing a calorie-restricted diet with a vegan diet, those on a vegan diet still lost more weight. Other randomized controlled studies indicate the same verdict: that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss than other diet regimes.
Please note: While several studies from renowned sources show that vegan diets support weight loss, more long-term trials are needed to investigate the exact effects. Vegan diets can be effective, but everyone reacts to diets differently. Always listen to your body.
A Gut Makeover Is Inevitable on A Vegan Diet
Did you know that your gut produces around 90% of the body’s supply of serotonin? If you’re unfamiliar with serotonin, it’s a hormone that can stabilise moods and impact the entire body. Without a doubt, the health of your gut can affect the production of serotonin. Not only that, but the functioning of your brain is linked to gut health, too.
A healthy vegan diet rich in fibre can create a gut makeover quite rapidly since it often includes food that leads to a diverse microbiome of friendly bacteria in the gut.
Remain Mindful of What You Consume
Now that you know the ‘why’, where do you go from here? Switching to a vegan diet is easy, but unfortunately, just because a product is labelled vegan does not mean it’s healthy. Junk food is still junk food, so remember to always read ingredients and to avoid preservatives, additives, flavourings etc. – chemicals that can cause allergies and gastrointestinal problems.
In order to reap the benefits of a vegan diet and to avoid any health problems, include sufficient amounts of protein, iron, essential fatty acids, and Vitamin B12 into each meal.
Here are some delicious alternatives to get you started:
- Protein: Edamame, Tofu, Tempe, Lentils, Chickpeas
- Iron: Fresh fruits, dried fruits, black-eyed peas, quinoa, whole grains
- Essential Fatty Acids: Leafy green vegetables (like spinach and kale), nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts etc.), chia seeds, flax seeds, vegetable oils
- Vitamin B12: Mushrooms, Algae/ Seaweed, Fortified Plant Milk, Nutritional Yeast, Supplements
Would you like more tips on how to make your vegetarian diet healthier?