Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Firstly, a plant-based diet inherently comes with a variety of health benefits. As it is reliant on fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a range of grains, beans, nuts and seeds, vegan diets are packed full of nutrients, protein and fibre. However, as with any diet, to get the full benefit of a plant-based diet, it should be balanced and contain a variety of food types. The British Dietetic Association advocates well-planned plant-based diets as a healthy way of living for all ages, which makes veganism accessible for everyone.
Reduced risk of disease and health conditions
Several studies have shown that vegan diets can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers. A recent study by Oxford University found that eating even small amounts of processed meat, such as three bacon rashers a day, can increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20%. Plant-based diets eliminate meat entirely, while still providing the same amount of protein through a mixture of grains and legumes.
Vegan diets also contain less saturated fats, as it is primarily animal products like meat and cheese that are high in these. In turn, this lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease as a result. Following a plant-based diet can be particularly beneficial for those with diabetes, both as a means of managing type 1 diabetes and reducing the risk of type 2. Eating a nutritious vegan diet has been linked to lower blood sugar levels, as well as helping to control and lose weight which has a direct impact on diabetes.
Environmental Benefits of Veganism
One of the biggest benefits of being vegan is the positive impact it has on our environment. The global production of meat has more than quadrupled since 1961 to 341 million tonnes in 2018, which puts immense strain on the environment. Livestock farming is one of the largest generators of carbon emissions, with one study estimating food-related emissions could account for half of the world’s total by 2050. Animal agriculture also accounts for deforestation, as animals consume a vast amount of the world’s crops and large portions of land are used for farming. Emissions can also be attributed to the mass of transport that is required to ship meat from farm to fork.
Going vegan supports a more sustainable use of our natural resources and reduces the need for such vast quantities of meat production and farmland, where crops could be used to feed humans instead. Research has also shown that plant-based diets use up to five times less water than meat-based diets, which also helps to reduce the impact on the environment. As the world’s population continues to rise, changes to our consumption habits are vital for sustainability.
"Going vegan supports a more sustainable use of our natural resources"
Ethical Benefits of a Vegan Lifestyle
Switching to a vegan lifestyle is a powerful way to support animal rights and is often cited as a fundamental reason why people make the change – and stick to it. Many vegans oppose the conditions that animals are kept in on farms, while others believe they should not be used as commodities as we no longer need to rely on animals for food and clothing. Being vegan takes a stand against animal exploitation and supports the rights of all sentient beings to live freely.
Despite a ban on animal-tested cosmetics in Europe in 2013, animal testing is still common in the beauty industry across the world. Committing to a vegan lifestyle ensures you actively choose to buy cruelty-free products that do not condone testing on animals. A growing number of vegan beauty brands also have the added benefit of using natural ingredients in their products, which can help your skin and nourish your hair.
Whether you’re an animal lover, want to be more health-conscious or do your bit for the environment, the benefits of being vegan far outweigh the cons. Don’t know where to begin? Discover our top 10 tips on going vegan and start your journey.