By Siobhan Dolan, Viva! PR Manager
Recent years have seen record numbers of people switching to a plant-based diet and already in 2020 over 380,000 people have pledged to go vegan by signing up to Veganuary.
The main reasons for switching to veganism are opposition to animal suffering, the detrimental environmental impact of animal agriculture and the significant health benefits. Each of these reasons are issues in their own right, however this article will summarise the overwhelming health benefits that veganism can have.
A healthy, varied vegan diet is based on fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses (lentils, beans, soya, chickpeas), nuts and seeds (with the obligate addition of a vitamin B12 supplement). There are endless combinations, exciting ingredients and new flavours to explore when animal products aren’t the main focus of a meal.
National and international health institutions such as British and American Dietetic Associations and World Health Organisation agree that a vegan diet is not only healthy but can help prevent and treat a number of diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Vegans often fare better than meat-eaters in terms of nutrient intake. In one of the most recent studies, vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pescaterian and omnivore (meat-eating) diets were compared. Vegans received the highest score on the healthy eating scale and had the healthiest weight among all groups. In general, vegans have a lower fat intake (especially unhealthy saturated fat), and a higher intake of fibre and many essential vitamins and minerals, which helps to maintain a healthy weight!
Mental health and cognition are affected by countless factors but diet choices can often help achieve a difference or lower the risk of problems. A plant-based diet that’s naturally high in antioxidants, fibre and low in saturated fats may help lower the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
In a nutshell (no pun intended), veganism offers a world of feel good food which is accessible for everyone from all walks of life and backgrounds. A vegan diet offers a kinder, more compassionate lifestyle and vegans often report a boost in general wellbeing after ditching animal products.
As the research shows, the human body is adapted to function best and thrive on plant foods. As the vegan movement grows, so does the range of vegan food available and the recognition of the lifestyle by many experts. If you haven’t already, check out the ground-breaking Netflix documentary Game Changers and read Viva!Health’s The Incredible Vegan Health Report which details all the information from this article and more: www.vivahealth.org.uk/veganhealth/report. There’s never been a better time to try veganism – go on, you know you want to.