Undoubtedly, our planet will always host an array of dietary preferences and practices. While many of us, especially in the United States, are sticking to our carnivorous habits (and hopefully supporting conscientious producers like our friends at Niman Ranch!), many more are choosing to eat less or no meat.
Of course, there will always be benefits and drawbacks to each lifestyle, but today’s blog highlights the benefits of a diet which avoids animal products altogether. Following is an up-to-date 7,000 word guide on 20 health benefits of going vegan according to science, originally posted by Jen Reviews. Let us know what you think!
20 Health Benefits of Going Vegan, According to Science
by Jen Miller
A plant-based diet is increasingly becoming recognized as a healthier alternative to a diet laden with meat. In recent years veganism has become one of the most popular diets, endorsed by many celebrities and members of the medical community. Going vegan has many benefits for us and our environment.
Here are 20 of the most important health benefits of going vegan:
1. Vegans Live Longer
Scientists have been talking for years about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on our atmosphere and planet. Now, more than ever, the need to find solutions for these problems has become urgent.
One of the ways in which we can help is by switching to a plant based diet. A study conducted by Oxford Martin School concluded that by switching to diets that rely on on vegetables rather than meat, up to 8 million lives could be saved by 2050, and greenhouse gas emission could be reduced by two thirds.(1)
To assess the health and environmental impacts of imbalanced diets, researchers modeled four different dietary scenarios for the year 2050. These included a scenario based on the way we eat today; another scenario based on global dietary guidelines which include minimum amounts of fruit and vegetables and limits the amount of red meat, sugar and calories; and a vegan and vegetarian scenario conforming to dietary guidelines.
They found that adopting a vegan diet could reduce the number of annual deaths by 8.1 million per year by 2050. This was greater than a vegetarian diet, which reduced the number of deaths by 7.3 million, and the global dietary guidelines which reduced deaths by 5.1 million annually.(2)
A vegan diet doesn’t only benefit individuals, it also benefits the planet. The study projects that by 2050, following vegan diet guidelines could reduce food related greenhouse gas emissions by 70%.(3)
Bottom Line: A vegan diet helps you live longer and benefits the planet too.
2. Improved Physical Fitness Levels
Many athletes, from tennis players to body builders are now following a vegan diet to improve their performance. Amongst them is Barnabas du Plessis, world-renowned body builder and former Mr Universe, who insists that his vegan diet has given him more energy, fewer aches and better health.(4)
In her book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition”, Julieanna Hever notes that athletes following a plant based diet recover faster and are able to maximise their training to improve their performance.(5)
These results are borne out by research conducted in amongst Sri Lankan athletes. The study concluded that male and female vegetarian young adults appeared to have higher levels of physical fitness than that of non-vegetarians when assessing endurance and musculoskeletal flexibility.(6)
Bottom Line: A vegan diet contributed to improved fitness levels, energy and endurance.
3. A Vegan Diet Can Protect Against Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become fragile and brittle, affects a significant percentage of the population over age 50. Worldwide, osteoporosis is estimated to affect 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan, causing more than 8.9 million fractures annually.(7)
Many people believe that increasing their intake of dairy products will boost calcium and increase bone strength, but that is not correct. In fact, osteoporosis appears to be more prevalent in developed countries where dairy products are easily available.(8)
Animal protein causes calcium to be leached from bones. This is because animal proteins contain amino acids which are high in sulfur. The body converts these amino acids into sulfate, which acidifies the blood, and in the process of neutralising this acid, bone gets dissolved into the bloodstream.
Since meat and eggs contain two to five times more of these amino acids than plant based foods, their effect on bone density can be quite significant.(9) Instead of increasing one strength, animal proteins can actually cause an increase in fracture rates.
According to a 1994 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when animal proteins were eliminated from the diet, calcium losses were cut in half.(10)
One of the arguments people make is that vegans can’t get enough calcium in their diets if they don’t eat dairy products, but this is not true. The calcium absorption from milk is about 32 percent. For vegetables such as kale, brussels sprouts, mustard greens and turnip greens, that figure is between 40-64 percent.(11)
Replacing animal products with plant foods reduces the amount of calcium lost, which may explain why people who live in countries with more plant based diets have lower rates of osteoporosis, even when their calcium intake is lower than dairy-consuming countries.(12)
A vegan diet therefore provides an easy way to maintain bone health, because it allows for easy absorption of calcium in low fat foods that are good for the body. Complementing a vegan diet with weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises such as trampoline workouts will produce the best results.
Bottom Line: Vegan diets improve bone strength and lead to a reduction in the risk of osteoporosis.
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