by Shelly Stinson
It’s kind of funny that choosing to not eat anything of animal origin means you’re “going vegan.” If you choose to avoid fat, are you “going lean”? And if you decide to follow a diet that doesn’t contain any processed foods, are you “going natural”?
I suppose these are questions for another day, but obviously there’s something to living this type of lifestyle. One study found that more than seven million people in the U.S. are currently vegan, with another 22.8 million whose diets are “vegetarian-inclined.” Why are so many people electing to forego animal-based foods and ingredients? As it turns out, there are many health benefits when you do.
Reduced Risk of Disease
According to research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, being vegetarian has been associated with “lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.” It’s also been linked with lower rates of other chronic diseases, osteoporosis, and more.
Given the fact that a number of these life-threatening conditions are on the rise for the population as a whole, this benefit is a game-changer. It basically means that choosing to eat plants and plant-based foods can potentially give you a higher quality of life—and give you life period!
Relief From Certain Medical Conditions
In addition to lowering your risk of various major diseases, eating vegan can sometimes help provide relief if you’ve already developed a medical condition. For some people, it’s even helped reverse problematic health issues.
For example, in a post on Intent Blog, one woman shared how she developed a skin condition called melasma. However, after eliminating meat and dairy from her diet, and using juicing and integrative nutrition methods, she was able to reverse this condition within just a few months’ time.
Better Body Function
Because plant-based foods are typically high in vitamin and mineral content, being vegan means that you’re getting a lot of nutrients in your diet. And if you compare this type of intake to the nutrients of someone who struggles to get the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, and grains on a daily basis, you’re likely going to see a big difference.
This is important because your body needs a bunch of different vitamins and minerals in order to function efficiently. For instance, vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones, whereas vitamin A helps protect your eyesight. By eating a diet high in these nutrients, you’re giving your body what it needs to flourish.
Improved Weight Loss Effects
If your goal is to lose a little (or a lot of) weight, eating vegan can help get you there. Many studies have supported this fact, finding that individuals who follow a vegan diet tend to have lower body mass indexes than those who don’t. In fact, one particular piece of research published in Nutrition found that weight loss was “significant” for people following a vegan diet, even when compared to semi-vegetarians and pesco-vegetarians (vegetarians who eat fish).
This can be a huge benefit if your weight is affecting your health. And even if it isn’t, many people experience a lot of other positive effects with weight loss, such as increased confidence, having an easier time performing physical activities, and sometimes being able to go off medications.
There are many benefits of “going vegan” and these are just a few. So if you’ve not already joined the millions of Americans enjoying the advantages of choosing an animal-free diet, what are you waiting for? A healthier life awaits you when you do.
Shelly Stinson is freelance writer based out of Denver, CO. Her interests include healthy living, being active outdoors and trying new restaurants. Find her on Twitter.