Veganism has gained immense popularity worldwide over the years. From celebrities and athletes to youngsters and fitness freaks – everyone is turning vegan these days. However, for those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a vegan diet excludes the consumption of any food that comes from animals – dairy, eggs, honey, gelatine, etc. Many of you must be wondering whether one should embrace the vegan lifestyle because clearly, the diet will not allow you to consume animal proteins, and you might think that you would miss out on the essential vitamins and minerals. However, recent studies state otherwise.
Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet, which is low in saturated fat and salt, can benefit you in more ways than you could possibly imagine. The positive effects of being a vegan are numerous –
• Vegetarian food is rich in fibres
• They are a good source of antioxidant food
• Vegetarian food are easy for digestion, absorption & assimilation activities
• Helps lose excess weight
• Regulates blood sugar levels
• Improves your kidney functioning
• Keeps cancer at bay
• Reduces the risk of heart ailments
• Promotes ‘good’ gut hormone
Researchers conducted a study on 60 participants to compare the effects of a plant-based meal with those of a meal rich in animal products. Out of the 60 participants, 20 people were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, while the remaining 20 showed no signs of any health issues. The participants were split randomly into two groups. Some of them were given a vegan meal, which included tofu, and others were given cheese and processed meat to eat. Both the meals were matched for the quantum of macronutrients and calories.
Regardless of whether the participants had obesity, diabetes, or no health complications whatsoever, those who consumed a vegan meal showed an increased level of beneficial gut hormones than those who devoured meat and cheese. Beneficial gut hormones are the ones that help regulate blood sugar, energy levels, and insulin production. They also make you feel satiated, thus contributing to weight management. This is because plant-based meals are rich in fibre but do not add up to the extra calories.
What are the health risks of being a vegan?
Despite all the benefits stated above, a vegan diet does put you at certain health risks. You may be at risk of deficiency of iron, calcium, zinc, vitamins D and B12, omega 3 fatty acids etc. However, that does not mean a vegan diet is unhealthy and that your carnivorous counterparts are leading a healthier lifestyle. It only means that you should look out for vegan food sources that will substitute the animal proteins and vitamins. Incorporate vegan proteins like tofu, chickpeas, green peas, lentils, seitan and tempeh in your diet. Eat lots of veggies and fruits, seeds and nuts, pulses and whole grains. You may also include vitamin supplements suited for your diet. Therefore, if you are looking to embrace veganism, you must ensure that you receive enough of these vital nutrients through plant-based food sources. Turning vegan is a big step for many, especially if you have been a hard-core non-vegetarian for years. It may sound bland and boring; nevertheless, remind yourself of the umpteen benefits and you will feel motivated to make the switch!