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8 Benefits of Being Vegan & Potential Drawbacks

benefits of being vegan
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / silviarita

More people are making the switch to a fully plant-based diet than ever before. Read on to learn about eight health benefits of being vegan.

1. Reduced Risk of Cancer

Plant-based foods are jam-packed with phytochemicals, compounds that fight against cancers. A recent study found that following a vegan diet could lower your risk of cancer by 15%.  

Red meat and processed meats have been shown over and over to increase cancer risk, so cutting them out of your diet can only be beneficial. 

Read more: Plant-Based Diets for Beginners: A Helpful Overview

2. Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

An investigation into a plant-based diet showed that healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes significantly. 

3. Better Heart Health

Increased levels of heart disease and stroke have been strongly linked to high levels of cholesterol. Animal products such as meat and dairy are high in saturated fats, which raise cholesterol levels. Avoiding these foods, and substituting them for fiber-rich foods (which are also naturally lower in calories) will improve your heart health, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

4. Boost Your Health Markers With a Vitamin-Rich Diet

Leafy greens like kale are packed with vitamins.
Leafy greens like kale are packed with vitamins.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / pompi)

Plant-based foods are high in nutritional value and contain healthier fats than meat or dairy products. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes all have impressive levels of antioxidants, iron, calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamins… the list goes on. Eating more nutrient-dense foods gives your body all the things it needs to thrive. 

5. Benefits of Being Vegan: Weight Loss

Animal products are higher in saturated fats and calories compared to plant-based foods. A study conducted in 2015 found that a vegan diet was the most effective diet for weight loss. 

Read on: Weight Loss Through a Vegan Diet: This is How It’s Done

6. Healthy Skin

Dairy products have been linked to skin issues such as acne in both men and women, so following a vegan diet is one way to help keep your skin clear and glowing. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins, all essential for a healthy complexion.

7. Mood Booster 

Eating more vegetables will make you healthier and happier.
Eating more vegetables will make you healthier and happier.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ellaolsson)

A healthier heart is not just good for the body, but for the mind and soul. Perhaps the most important benefit of being vegan is that it brings you into the positive feedback loop of healthiness and happiness. Eating more fruits and vegetables has been shown to improve feelings of well-being, and being happier, in turn, leads back to being healthier

8. Clearer Conscience 

The benefits of being vegan extend far beyond your own health. Following a vegan diet helps reduce animal cruelty, and helps protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gases that come from livestock. A single cow releases 220 pounds of methane into the atmosphere every year, so reducing your red meat intake by even a little bit will go a long way towards a more sustainable world for everyone.

Some Drawbacks of a Vegan Diet

Grains and legumes are good plant-based sources of protein.
Grains and legumes are good plant-based sources of protein.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / yilmazfatih)

Although there are many benefits of being a vegan, eating a diet of only plant-based foods can cause deficiencies in certain essential nutrients if you aren’t careful. Here are a few things to pay attention to when planning your meals, to make sure that you are getting balanced nutrition:

  • Vitamin B12: Plant-based diets are notoriously low in vitamin B12, which is mostly found in meat, dairy, and eggs. But getting enough vitamin B12 is still possible without eating animal products. Mushrooms, nutritional yeast, tempeh, and algae are all natural sources of this compound. Plus, plant-based milk and vegan breakfast cereals are often specifically fortified with vitamin B12. Read the labels to make sure it’s included!
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is another nutrient that can be scarce in a vegan diet. Vitamin D strengthens bones and teeth and may help protect against cancer. Soy milk, fortified cereals, and mushrooms are all high in vitamin D.  
  • Iron: Found in high amounts in red meat, iron is vital for blood health and so should not be left out of a vegan diet. Make conscious efforts to eat dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as hearty beans to get enough of your much-needed iron. 
  • Protein: Packing enough protein into your vegan diet is easier than ever. Besides the endless amount of tasty and nutritious vegan meat replacement products that are available, plant-based foods like edamame beans, tofu, nuts, and grains are all high in protein. If you like to cook, you can even try making your own chickpea tofu or homemade tempeh.

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