5 Reasons Why Veganism Is Awesome
As an Intuitive Eating Coach, I’m all for advocating eating what you want, how much you want and when you want, in alignment with your physical and mental needs. However, as a Nutritionist, I’m also all about educating people so that they can make the best decisions for themselves. A vegan lifestyle (which can also include eating just as you want) can be pretty incredible when it comes to health. This blog post will show you why!
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
What is veganism?
Veganism seeks to exclude the unnecessary suffering of animals. Therefore vegans do not eat animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs. A vegan diet is based on plants - including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.
Apart from the ethical side of veganism, the health supportive aspect of veganism is also one of the reasons why it's becoming more and more popular. The number of people going vegan is growing like wildfire and supermarkets are stocking up on vegan products to meet the growing demands.
For example, according to this report, there’s been a 600% increase in people identifying as vegans in the US alone. We’re also seeing a global trend towards veganism and it looks like this lifestyle is here to stay. Considering that a vegan diet can be beneficial for our health, this is a good thing!
NOTE: Before reading the health benefits of veganism, bear in mind that this article is not intended to guilt you, encourage you to go vegan overnight or use veganism as a method for weight loss. As mentioned, the purpose of this article is to provide you with reliable and trustworthy information. I want to empower you with knowledge so that you can make your own informed choices which can result in improving the well-being and quality of your life.
Here are 5 reasons why veganism is frickin’ awesome
1. PLANTS ARE HIGH IN NUTRIENTS
Plants are naturally high in health-protective vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals which help your body to function optimally. There’s a reason we have colour vision (and not night or heat vision). It’s to spot all the wonderful and colourful fruit and vegetables! Colour is a sign of nutrients and antioxidants. For example, there’s plenty of vitamin C in yellow and orange fruits (lemon and orange), vitamin A in orange vegetables (carrots and sweet potato), folate in green vegetables (broccoli and spinach), and anthocyanin (an antioxidant) in blue and purple foods (blueberries and red cabbage).
2. PLANTS ARE HIGH IN FIBRE
It’s recommended to eat at least 30g of fibre per day, but it’s common for people to only reach half this amount. What is the best source of fibre? Plants! Fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grain products are all good sources of fibre. Why eat fibre? A high fibre diet helps to prevent constipation and helps to achieve excellent bowel movement. Toxins can build up in our stools, therefore the quicker we can get rid of them, the better. Fibre also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, make you feel full and fibre has shown to contribute towards decreased risks of developing certain diseases, which leads to point number 3.
3. PLANTS PROTECT AGAINST DISEASES
A diet high in whole plant foods have shown to help protect against type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's and even certain cancers (1, 2, 3, 4), just to mention a few. It makes sense that according to this paper (5), “Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity.”
4. A VEGAN DIET OFFERS ALL KINDS OF FOODS
Many people think that a plant-based or vegan diet is limited and does not offer a large enough variety of foods. This could not be further from the truth! There’s a vegan equivalent of any food you can think of: pizza, cake, chocolate, ice cream, lasagne, burritos, curries, even vegan meat, dairy and eggs! Does this mean eating vegan ice cream and brownies all day is health promoting? No. But, this point busts the myth that a vegan diet is bland for your taste buds.
There has never been as many vegan cookbooks, websites, social media accounts as there is today. If you feel like a vegan diet is lacking, check out vegan Instagrammers, YouTubers and google vegan versions of your favourite meals. I’m certain you will find plenty of inspiration. For example, have a look at Edgar's and Maria's Instagrams, their recipes and photos are absolutely amazing!
A part of good health is also having your favourite foods. Indeed, restrictive eating is associated with poor mental health (6). However, veganism does not have to be restrictive or boring and you’ll be amazed by all the delicious cuisines you can find!
You can also download my vegan recipe eBook, which has a plethora of healthy, delicious and vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes.
5. VEGANISM IS SUITABLE FOR ALL
You may also find it useful to know that the American Dietetics Association state that "appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
The British Dietetic Association also confirms that a well planned vegan diet can support healthy living for all ages.
Note: They emphasise that the diet should be “well planned”, and this is very true. Vegans can develop certain nutrient deficiencies unless their diet is varied and that they supplement appropriately, with for example vitamin B12. You can read all about which nutrients you NEED on a vegan diet in my blog post here. It's very important to make sure you're nutritionally covered!
BONUS POINT: THE ANIMALS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Many people think “I won’t make a difference if I go vegan, I’m just one person”
Hear this out: In just ONE day, a person who eats a vegan diet spares about 5000 litres of water, 20 kg of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 10kg CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. You can imagine what impact that will have over weeks, months and years!
You DO make a difference, every single day.
If you’re curious about embarking on a vegan diet, you can be reassured that it unlikely that your health will suffer from a move towards veganism. In fact, it may improve! However, do make sure you’re getting tailored advice from a Healthcare Professional so that you get all the nutrients you need. You can also contact me for a consultation as I also specialise in vegan diets. Feel free to get in touch!
Comment below with your thoughts or any questions you might have. Also, share this article with anyone who might find it useful!
Eat and be merry,
Campbell, T. C., Parpia, B., & Chen, J. (1998). Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China study. American Journal of Cardiology, 82(10), 18-21..
World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research (1997). Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. American Institute for Cancer Research: Washington, DC.
Dwyer J (1999). Convergence of plant-rich and plant-only diets. Am J Clin Nutr 703, S620–S622.
Montonen J, Knekt P, Järvinen R, Aromaa A, Reunanen A (2003). Whole-grain and fiber intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr 77, 622–629.
Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente Journal, 17(2), 61.
Neumark-Sztainer, D., Wall, M., Guo, J., Story, M., Haines, J., & Eisenberg, M. (2006). Obesity, disordered eating, and eating disorders in a longitudinal study of adolescents: how do dieters fare 5 years later?. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106(4), 559-568.