Health Benefits of Being Vegan: An Overview

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Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

A diet high in animal fats and protein has been linked to cardiovascular disease. Many people have seen a reduction in their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other markers of potential cardiovascular disease by switching to a plant-based, whole-foods diet. Dr. Dean Ornish, an early and vocal proponent of using diet to combat heart disease, has seen many patients reverse their cardiovascular symptoms, even if they had significant blockages, when they eat a low-fat, plant-based, whole-foods diet.

Weight Control

Eating a plant-based, whole-foods diet has helped many people lose unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight. But beware the common traps. Simply going vegan is not enough, as there are plenty of nutrient-poor, calorie-rich foods, like potato chips and cookies, which can claim to be vegan but are still detrimental to your health.

Better Control of Diabetes

A study at Georgetown University found that diabetics who ate a high-fiber, low-fat (10%) vegan diet (as compared to the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association, which includes chicken and fish, and 30% fat) saw a greater improvement in their blood sugar levels, and better control overall over their glucose levels. They also lost more weight. (16 pounds on average, compared to the ADA group’s 8.) This is encouraging, preliminary news for diabetics, although the researchers are pursuing a larger study to confirm the results and explore their hypothesis that a low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet can actually reverse diabetes.

Reduction In Severity of Arthritis Symptoms

In one study, patients with rheumatoid arthritis found significant symptom improvement when they switched to a low-fat, vegan diet. Specifically, many who suffer from this chronic autoimmune disease felt better after eliminating dairy products, eggs, and red meat from their daily diets.

Lower Risk of Developing Certain Cancers

Doctor and medical researcher T. Colin Campbell, in his groundbreaking publication, The China Studies, has found, in populations throughout the world, those who eat a vegan diet, specifically one that features whole foods and only plant products, saw a lower incidence of a variety of cancers. These include breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancers. In particular, Campbell’s concern is the typical Western diet’s dependence upon high-protein dairy products. Eating a diet rich in meat, fat, and dairy products, he says, crowds out other nutrients containing fiber and antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce cancer risk.

Also, major medical studies in Europe suggested that as compared to meat eaters, vegetarians’ risk of developing cancer was 40% less.

It can take some work, and a bit of an attitude adjustment to give up animal products, but considering the many health benefits of being vegan, it can definitely be worth the effort.

References

Vegan Action, “About Veganism” https://www.vegan.org/about_veganism/health.html

PCRM.org, “Diabetes: Can a Vegan Diet Reverse Diabetes” https://www.pcrm.org/health/clinres/diabetes.html

PCRM.org, “Foods And Arthritis” https://www.pcrm.org/health/prevmed/arthritis.html

The Cancer Project, “Cancer Facts: Meat Consumption and Cancer Risk” https://www.cancerproject.org/survival/cancer_facts/meat.php