People who choose not to eat or use animal products do so for many different reasons, from ethical and environmental to spiritual and health-related. Regardless of your feelings about veganism, there’s proof that a vegan diet has multiple health benefits.
As far back as 2003, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders that compared the body mass index (BMI) of four diet groups – meat eaters, fish eaters, vegetarians and vegans – found that the group on a vegan diet had the lowest BMI, while meat eaters had the highest. Another study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013, found that an 18-week low-fat, plant-based diet improved body weight for people who worked in a corporate environment. But it’s essential to be aware that not all vegan diets are equal and the adoption of a healthy plant-based eating plan takes discipline and education.
Decreased risk of heart disease
Earlier this year, media outlets reported that a vegetarian diet could lead to a higher risk of heart disease. The headlines were based on research from 200,000 US health workers to see if there was a correlation between diet and coronary disease. The study was carried out by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, AbbVie (a pharmaceutical company), and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, all in the US. Important to note, there was a differentiation between ‘unhealthy’ and ‘healthy’ plant-based diets, and those who adhered to a ‘healthy’ plant-based diet had a 25% reduced risk of heart disease. It was the workers who had an ‘unhealthy’ plant-based diet who had a 32% increased risk of heart disease.
Improved arthritic symptoms
A 2015 study, published in the scientific journal Arthritis found wholefood, plant-based diets improved the symptoms of patients with osteoarthritis. Two older studies, from 1997 and 1998 and published in the British Journal of Rheumatology, found that a very specific kind of vegan diet – raw and high in probiotics – brought a marked improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Better management of type 2 diabetes
Research in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that a low-fat vegan diet was beneficial for the management of the condition, while a study last year also showed that a vegan diet helped with glycaemic control. Both of the trials compared vegan diets with a conventional diabetic diet. While the conventional diet showed improved results, the numbers were even better for the vegan. And a high-quality plant-based diet substantially lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the first place, according to a 2016 Harvard study.
Try some of our favourite vegan recipes: