If you’re on a vegan diet you can get all the nutrients your body needs and you may eliminate possible health risks that are sometimes associated with animal fats. Not to mention, the fact a vegan diet opens a whole new world of tasty vegan recipe ideas you might never have considered.
As a vegan diet is plant based, it does have considerable health benefits. We'v eoutlined just some of these benefits for you below.
A higher consumption of plant-based foods and reduced intake of animal products is linked with a lower risk of heart disease1. Meat and cheese, although they taste delicious, are two of the main sources of saturated fats and when you eat foods that contain saturated fats it can raise cholesterol levels which could increase your risk of heart disease and stroke2. Yikes.
So maybe replacing that crispy bacon sandwich isn’t that hard to do after all!
As an added bonus, people on a vegan diet consume fewer calories than on a standard Western diet. A lower calorie intake can lead to a decreased body mass index (BMI) and reduce the risk of obesity3.
Lower cancer risk
If you change to a vegan diet, you may reduce the risk of cancer by up to 15%4
Plant foods are high in fibre, vitamins, and phytochemicals (for us non-scientists this simply means the active compounds you find in plants.) It is these phytochemicals that help protect against some cancers.
The effects diet has on the risk of specific cancers has produced mixed results. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer report that red meat is “probably carcinogenic,” (cancer causing) noting that research has linked to colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer.5
Type 2 diabetes
According to a large 2019 study, consuming a plant-based diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. The research linked this result with the intake of healthy plant-based foods that are high in fibre including fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and nuts.6
Nutrients to consider on a vegan diet
It is worth noting that, whilst well-planned plant-based diets can be nutrient rich it does remove some sources of nutrients from your diet, so it is recommended to plan meals carefully to avoid nutritional deficiencies. If you have any existing health conditions talk to a doctor or dietitian before you decide to switch to a vegan diet.
Key nutrients that may be low in a vegan diet include:
Vitamin B-12: is predominantly found in animal products. It protects the nerves and red blood cells. Plant-based sources of this vitamin include fortified cereals and plant milks.7
Iron: is important for blood health, if you are on a vegan diet beans and dark leafy greens are good sources.8
Calcium: You need sufficient calcium to keep your bones healthy. If you are not consuming dairy then green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra, can help keep calcium at a sufficient level.9
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is found in some animal-based foods such as salmon but is predominantly generated by spending time in the sun.10
Zinc: is important for the immune system and DNA repair. Zinc is important for making new cells and enzymes and healing wounds. Zinc is predominantly found in animal products but vegan sources of Zinc are beans, nutritional yeast, and bread.11
Iodine: is crucial for thyroid function. Marine foods, such as fish and shellfish are naturally high in iodine due to the high iodine concentration in seawater, and so plant based variations on this are will include seaweeds and fortified foods.12
If you struggle to get your recommended daily intake of certain vitamins and minerals, VÖOST offer a wide range of vegan-friendly effervescent vitamin and mineral tablets online or in-store at Boots, Superdrug, Tesco and Ocado in the UK.
*Please contact your GP or dietitian before swapping over to a vegan or plant-based diet to determine if a vegan diet is the right fit for you. Do not use supplements as meal replacement they are to be taken alongside a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle.