6 benefits of a vegan diet: Weight loss, lower cholesterol and more
A recent report revealed there are just under one million vegans in Canada.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Many people look for new ways to improve their health at the start of the year, and turning to veganism is a popular option.
A recent report revealed there are just under one million vegans in Canada. Even if some people don't fully commit to a vegan lifestyle, the increased sales of meat-substitutes hints that eating vegan has never been easier or trendier.
But is switching to vegan the right choice for you? Research indicates that veganism offers plenty of benefits for you to consider.
Read on for a list of environmental, health and moral benefits of veganism.
1. Vegan diets are associated with lowered cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is a lipid our body naturally produces but is also found in many foods we eat.
When we consume additional cholesterol, it can be detrimental to our health and lead to heart disease.
Foods high in cholesterol include dairy, eggs and meat — none of which are included in a vegan diet. Furthermore, because plants have high levels of soluble fibre, a vegan diet can counteract high cholesterol levels in your body.
2. Eating vegan lowers your carbon footprint
On a global scale, meat production accounts for nearly 30 times as much greenhouse gas emissions as those associated with growing plants.
Eating an exclusively plant-based diet is associated with a significantly lower carbon footprint. A recent study indicated that if everyone in the world switched to a plant-based diet, up to 70 per cent fewer greenhouse gases could be emitted by 2050.
3. Plant-based diets are associated with a reduced risk of cancer
Processed meats like bologna and salami have been identified as carcinogens. Vegan diets, which do not include these items, have been found to prevent some cancers and even slow the progression of certain cancers.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, some of the best dietary practices to reduce the risk of cancer includes ensuring half your plate is fruits and vegetables.
4. Eating vegan improves your skin
Studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet can improve your skin. This is primarily because fruits, vegetables, legumes and other vegan foods are high in essential dietary components, including:
Not only do these nutritional components help reduce inflammation, but they also fight free radicals, which may cause blemishes.
5. Going meatless is kind to animals
The meat industry kills a high number of animals every year. In Canada, millions of animals are slaughtered every month for human consumption.
Moreover, devoting land to animal agriculture is the single largest global contributor to deforestation, extinction and habitat destruction.
6. Veganism is associated with weight loss
Many individuals who are already a healthy weight will not experience weight loss when transitioning to a vegan diet. However, a long-term vegan diet that meets your nutritional requirements may reduce weight compared to diets that include meat.
This is because nutrient-dense foods made from plants are digested slower, keeping you fuller longer. In addition, your body burns more calories after you eat a vegan meal versus one that contains meat or dairy.
Benefits of a vegan diet
Veganism is a compassionate choice for people who want a more sustainable diet.
With appropriate education and effort, a vegan diet can deliver all the necessary nutritional components. Moreover, there are incredible vegan replacements and swaps for all your favourite animal-based foods.
If you're ready to switch to a meatless diet, consider talking to your doctor or nutritionist about how you can meet all your nutritional requirements.
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