It’s something that comes up with each new year: the obligatory new year’s resolution. You might want to drop a few pounds or look for a new job, or you might have another goal in mind. Why not do something for yourself that won’t just benefit you in the short term, but in the long run as well… like a plant-based diet!
Opting for a vegan lifestyle can improve your health in a lot of different ways. These are just a few reasons why you should consider changing to a plant-based diet.
What Does it Mean to Be Plant-Based?
Following a plant-based diet means that the food you eat comes from plants. Pretty straightforward, right? People who follow a plant-based diet are usually referred to as vegan.
Believe it or not, “vegan” is a term that dates back to the 1940s. The word combines the first and last letters of the word “vegetarian.” Vegans not to consume any sort of animal products whatsoever.
Unlike vegetarians, who may still drink milk or eat eggs, vegans abstain from anything that comes from an animal. In addition, most vegans stay away from anything made from an animal, including clothing.1
Six Major Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Not only is being a vegan a great way to show kindness toward animals, but it also helps deliver some profound health benefits. Here are some of the most important ones:
1. Blood Sugar Support
Evidence suggests that following a plant-based diet could go a long way toward helping maintain your healthy blood sugar levels. If you have too much, you’ll be at a heightened risk for developing severe health problems. According to one study, vegans have a lower risk of developing ailments associated with elevated blood sugar levels.2
2. Healthy, Mobile Joints
Now, studies show that a plant-based diet could help people suffering from stiff, uncomfortable joints. In a six-week study, 40 people with joint issues were split into two groups. In fact, one group continued eating their typical diet, while the other group switched to plant-based.
According to the results, the participants following the plant-based diet not only reported less pain, but they also reported higher energy levels than the other group.3
A separate study also showed that people with joint pain experienced less morning stiffness after changing to a plant-based diet.4
3. Help With Weight Loss
Now, one of the main reasons many people switch to a plant-based diet is to lose some weight. Research suggests this may be a successful approach. When compared to other diets, many studies show switching to plant-based is more effective.
In one study, for example, researchers found that participants following a plant-based diet for 18 weeks lost an average of about 9.5 pounds (4.3 kilograms) more than those who followed other diets.5
Participants in another study lost more weight than others following more traditional diets, even though they were allowed to eat as much as they could before they felt full.6
4. Supporting a Healthy Heart
A plant-based diet typically consists of different types of vegetables, legumes, and fruits. All of these foods have been shown to help reduce the risk of developing certain heart-related problems.7 Studies also show that vegans, as well as vegetarians, have a substantially lower risk of having high blood pressure. In addition, research suggests that vegans are less likely to develop cardiac-related issues.8
Now, a plant-based diet also contains more nuts and whole grains than a traditional diet. Both of these foods have been shown help boost heart health.9-10
5. Nutrients and Antioxidants
If you follow an average plant-based diet, you can expect it to be packed with beneficial nutrients. Studies show that the vegan diet is rich in the following nutrients:
Now if you want to begin following a plant-based diet, check with your doctor first, or consult with a nutritionist. This way, you can rest assured you’re getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need, including iron, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, and iodine.14
6. Helping the Planet
If you follow a plant-based diet, turns out, you might also be helping the environment. The farming of animals is a primary cause of greenhouse gas emissions, which have been linked to global warming.15 The production of 100 grams of tofu results in 3.5 kilograms of greenhouse emissions. Compare that to the 105 kilograms of emissions released by the production of 100g of beef.16
So, if you want to help animals and help the planet at the same time, going vegan is a great way to do both.
Wrapping it Up
Experts agree that a properly planned vegan diet can deliver health benefits no matter how old you are. Pregnant and lactating women can follow this diet, as can infants, children, adolescents, and adults.17
Again, however, you should never immediately jump into a plant-based diet. No matter how great your intentions may be, the last thing you want to do is jeopardize your health. Never make any kinds of substantial changes to your diet without first talking to a doctor. That way, you can make sure it will be completely safe for you to do so.