The Health Benefits of Veganism


The health benefits of veganism


The word ‘vegan’ is a bit of a buzzword recently. Food chains, supermarkets and even celebrity chefs have been adding more vegan options than ever before. But what is all the fuss about? What does veganism mean and why do people choose to go vegan?


Why go vegan?

There are three different reasons that people usually state for going vegan. Some people go vegan for environmental reasons. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. For many, the threat of climate change is a compelling reason to give up or cut down on animal products.


Other people decide to go vegan for ethical reasons. Factory and industrial scale farming leads to cruel treatment of animals. Vegans believe that people don’t have a right to take the life of another being, since it is not necessary for balanced diet and healthy life.


For the purposes of this post, we’re going to talk about the health benefits of veganism. This is another reason why people choose to go vegan.


What is the difference between veganism and plant-based eating?

Veganism is a belief system, whereas plant-based eating is a diet. There is no such thing as a ‘part-time’ vegan. This is why the word ‘plant-based’ is useful. Many people have chosen to cut down on their consumption of animal products, rather than giving them up altogether. People can still enjoy many health benefits from eating this way. It is also a good way of reducing your carbon footprint.


Health benefits of veganism

So, what are the health benefits of veganism? Research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Plant-based diets are also linked with lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. The World Health Organisation has classified processed meat as a cause of cancer. Meat and dairy are high in saturated fat. A well-planned vegan diet contains more fibre, magnesium, potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E.


Many athletes and sportspeople have transitioned to a vegan diet and continued to thrive. Well-known vegans include tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, boxer David Haye and footballer Chris Smalling.

 

What nutrients do you need?

It is true that a vegan diet involves more planning an organisation. But there are more and more options for vegans on the high street recently. Even grabbing food on the go is easier now.

 

It is important to make sure that you have a good source of vitamin B12 in your diet. This particular nutrient is not produced by plants, so many vegan foods are fortified with it. These include plant milks, spreads and cereals. We need B12 for a healthy nervous system.

Vegans also need to ensure they get enough Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. We need these for a healthy immune system, brain, nerves and eyes. Good sources include rapeseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and ground linseed.

 

It is often thought that we need dairy products to get enough calcium. However, there are many vegetables naturally high in calcium, for healthy bones and teeth. Green leafy veggies such as kale, pak choi and spring greens are excellent sources. Many cereals and plant milks, as well as tofu, are fortified with calcium too. Other good sources include chia seeds and almonds.

 

If you are eating a diet that is full of a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, wholegrains and fortified plant milks or soy products, you will find it easy to get all the nutrients that your body needs.


What about protein?

Even those looking to make serious gains in the gym will be able to get all the protein they need from a vegan diet. Just make sure that most of your meals contain a good source of protein. These include beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, tofu and soy products. You can also buy good quality vegan-friendly protein powders and shakes if you do feel like you need an extra protein boost.

The Vegan Society has lots of useful resources and information on their website for anyone interested in the health benefits of veganism. Our personal trainers are qualified in nutrition too, so drop us a line if you want to have a consultation. 

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