5 Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Veganuary is now well underway, and this year it's estimated that around two million people in the UK will be taking part.
Whilst this is the highest number of predicted participants since the campaign started in 2014, as we start to learn more about the ethics of animal agriculture and the environmental and health benefits that come with a plant-based diet, it's no surprise that the vegan movement just keeps on growing.
For those of you who need a little more convincing to give Veganuary a go, or just more reasons to keep going, here are five health benefits you might grain from a vegan diet:
1. More Nutrients!
Last year a poll revealed that around 17% of people in the UK could not remember the last meal they ate that wasn't meat-based. For a lot of people, meat tends to be the centre of every meal which leaves little room for creativity.
By relying less on meat as a staple ingredient, chances are you'll add a lot more variety to your diet by replacing animal products with things like beans, lentils and veggies, and you're likely to be a little more innovative with your dishes. This way, you'll give your body a wider variety of nutrients.
For more info on how to maximise your nutrient intake whilst sticking to a plant-based diet, click here!
2. Fuel for your heart
Studies show that reducing the amount of meat in your diet can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol. This is because a varied plant-based diet, that contains lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, can fuel your body with things like antioxidants and extra potassium which can be harder to find in processed animal products. But remember, the only way to feel these benefits is by eating lots of healthy plant-based foods.
3. Better Moods
A vegan diet has been linked to reduced anxiety, stress and depression. It might seem a bit far-fetched to say that eating plants can have such a big impact on your well-being, but it's true. Again, a lot of this is down to the nutrients. Things like magnesium, unsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates, found in a lot of plant-based foods, help your brain release serotonin which in turn boosts your mood. So a plant-based diet is not just good for your body, but your mind too!
4. Improved Complexion
If you're already a few days into your plant-based diet, you might start to notice that cutting out dairy products like milk, cheese and butter has helped to improve your complexion. This is because dairy products are believed to cause increased production of sebum and can raise our insulin levels, which can sometimes irritate our skin. Cutting out dairy has been shown to help improve things like eczema, skin tone and texture. That's not to say that dairy products can cause these issues, but it is something to bear in mind when considering a dairy-free lifestyle!
5. Higher Energy Levels
Digesting animal products can be quite difficult for our bodies which can take up a lot of energy after a meal, whereas nutritious plant-based foods actually help to speed up digestion. This is why you're likely to feel a lot more energised after a plant-based meal like a salad, as opposed to a steak. By opting for a healthy vegan diet, you might notice that you have a lot more energy to keep you going.
Remember, everything in moderation!
If you're looking to go vegan this month, or in the future, it's important to remember that the food we eat can affect everyone differently. So, don't underestimate the effect that a change in diet can have on your body especially if you know there are certain things your body needs.
Whilst a vegan diet can offer you lots of health benefits, there are some things to consider beforehand. Going vegan might mean you need to up the amount of food your eating, because of the naturally lower calorie count of some plant-based foods, or it might mean that you need to watch your intake of different vitamins.
The key is to make sure you're eating a nutritious vegan diet. Not all vegan foods have the same nutritional value, and there can be some that don't have these benefits.
For some people, it might not be possible to go fully vegan, and that's okay! What's important is that you listen to your body, and do what works for you.
You can find out more information on how to go vegan, healthily, on the NHS Eat Well webpage.
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