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As more and more people look at switching to a sustainable diet, it’s important that vegan-curious people do their own research on how to get all of the nutrition you need to live a happy and healthy life.
Chances are, If you’re here, you’re probably looking to understand what are the health benefits of switching to a vegan diet.
Let us know if you have any questions!
What is a vegan, plant-based diet?
A plant-based or vegan diet excludes all products derived from animals. This means no meat, eggs, or dairy.
There are now an increasing number of Singaporeans who identify as vegans or vegetarians and a majority of them choose to drop meat from their diet for health reasons!
Two in five Singaporeans identify as flexitarians – meaning they eat plant-based food for the most part, but also consume meat occasionally. If you’ve ever thought about trying out a plant-based diet, the first question that probably popped up in your head was – where am I going to get all my nutrition from?
What are the health benefits of being on a vegan or plant based diet?
The American Dietetic Association and the British Dietetic Association, the largest bodies of diet and nutrition professionals in America and the UK, have both stated that a vegan or plant-based diet is nutritionally adequate, healthy, and safe for everyone at any age.
How are vegan, plant-based diets healthy and nutritious?
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1. Vegan diets can support heart health
Several studies have shown that a diet including a higher number of plant-based foods results in a reduced risk of heart disease in adults.
Some of the main causes of heart disease are high cholesterol and obesity.
Meat, cheese, and butter are rich in saturated fats. Consuming foods that contain these fats result in higher cholesterol levels which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. As a vegan diet does not contain these foods, it means average cholesterol levels are lower, and with less pressure on heart health.
Vegetables such as broccoli and carrots, fruits such as pears and raspberries, and lentils are full of fibre. A diet rich in fibre has been linked with better heart health.
A plant-based diet also has fewer calories than a standard Western diet that contains meat.
This results in a higher risk of obesity, which is another major cause of heart disease.
2. A balanced vegan, plant based diet can support weight loss
Vegans tend to have a lower body mass index than meat-eaters.
This is because some animal foods are high in fat and calories and can lead to weight gain. Cutting these out of your diet and replacing them with vegetables, legumes, and fruit reduces the calorie intake and can help shed excess weight.
Nevertheless, it is always recommended to follow a well-researched and balanced diet that contains the key nutrition required to lose weight in a healthy way.
3. Vegan diets can reduce the risk of diabetes
A recent study concluded that consuming healthy plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. People who follow a vegan diet tend to have lower blood sugar levels than non-vegans and this may reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 78%
4. Vegan diets can reduce pain from arthritis
A study compared the effects of a vegan and non-vegan diet on patients suffering from arthritis. The people following a vegan diet reported higher energy levels and better general functioning. Vegan diets can also help ease some symptoms such as joint swelling, inflammation, and pain. The high levels of fibre and probiotics in plant-based food could be responsible for these benefits. Probiotic plant-based foods such as fermented vegetables and non-dairy yogurts help to boost nutrient absorption and reduce inflammation.
Bonus benefit – Vegan diets are better for Earth’s health!
The UN identifies plant-based diets “as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change”. Veganism also reduces the emission of greenhouse gases, as animal husbandry is one of the biggest contributors to these emissions. To meet the global demand for meat, a third of the Earth’s landmass is dedicated to raising animals for consumption. Unfortunately, this means a lot of forested lands are cleared to make room for cattle to graze and to grow animal feed crops.
But wait, everyone says that vegans don’t get enough vitamin B-12.
It’s true that animal products are rich in vitamin B-12. So, eliminating meat or dairy from your diet can result in reduced B-12 levels in your body. However, there are plant-based sources of this vitamin that you can eat to ensure that you maintain healthy levels of B-12 in your system. Fortified cereals, plant milk, nutritional yeast, and yeast spreads are all great and tasty sources of vitamin B-12 for a vegan.
Here is a short list of where you can get your daily dose of plant-based nutrients from when following a vegan diet:
- Iron for blood health – Leafy greens are the best sources of iron.
- Calcium for strong bones – Tofu, sesame seeds, tahini, and pulses are your best friends if you’re looking to increase your calcium levels.
- Vitamin D for stronger teeth and protection against cancer – Getting some sunshine early in the day is your best bet for improving the levels of Vitamin D in your body. Fortified soy milk and mushrooms are also great options.
- Omega-3 fatty acids for better heart, eye, and brain function – Since vegans don’t eat fish, they can get their daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds, brussels sprouts, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
- Zinc for a healthier immune system – Eat lots of beans, nutritional yeast, nuts, and oats.
- Protein – Chickpeas, tofu, lentils, and spinach are wonderful and tasty sources.
We hope you enjoyed this article, and if you're thinking about trying a vegan diet, then check out the link below!