Don’t worry, we’re not here to tell you to go vegan but there’s no doubt there are benefits to a plant-based diet. Here are five reasons to give it a go:
1. Nutritional value
Taking meat and dairy products out of your diet may seem like you’re limiting the nutritional value, but that needn’t be the case. A vegan diet can offer all the goodness you need for a healthy life, especially with the addition of nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Vegan diets can provide more fibre and antioxidants, plus a higher potassium intake. Plants contain nearly no cholesterol, so they can lower your risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and decrease blood pressure. A plant-based diet can even work out easier on the wallet! Support your local greengrocers and get your seven-a-day for a fraction of the price offered at a supermarket.
2. Cancer prevention
Eating too much animal protein has been linked to heightened risk of cancer. Research shows that eating seven types of fruit or vegetables every day could reduce the risk of cancer by 15 percent. Seven a day may seem like a lot, but there are many ways you can slip some extra veggies into your diet. How about a casserole packed full of vegetables? Don’t forget both fruits and vegetables can be slipped into a salad – carrots, mangos, seeds, garlic, spring onions and more. Get creative and try out different recipes. Green juices and smoothies can also be a tasty way of filling up between meals.
3. Possible weight loss
Eating a healthy, plant-based diet can help you find your natural weight. With the modern-day emphasis on fad diets and fast weight loss, it’s important to find a diet that’s easy to maintain on a long-term basis. Diets are often designed to fail, if they didn’t, the diet industry wouldn’t make any profit from us. A vegan diet for most people is primarily chosen due to their ethical values towards animals, but it can be a healthy option for all, with the emphasis being on giving your body what it needs to be healthy instead of focusing on losing weight.
4. Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Eating more fibre can help reduce your blood sugar. Type-2 diabetes comes from the body’s ineffective use of insulin and is caused by being overweight, poor health and lack of physical activity.
According to the World Health Organisation, the number of people (globally) with diabetes in 1980 was 108 million (worldwide) but it increased to a whopping 422 million by 2014. Type-2 diabetes can be avoided by eating a healthy diet rich in fibre, low in cholesterol, and keeping physically fit and active.
5. Better mood
Plant-based foods, especially those grown in organic soil, are the best sources of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Calcium is great for the nerves, while also keeping your bones healthy, and vegans aren’t missing out by not eating dairy so long as they have a good intake of soy, almonds, broccoli, chia and leafy greens. Omega 3s can help boost your mood and are in foods like walnuts, pumpkin seeds and spirulina.
The digestive system is known as our ‘second brain’ and can be the cause of many mood difficulties. Ever had a nervous tummy? Our stomach knows so much! Root vegetables, soaked grains, raw nuts and seeds are a great way to help your digestive system. Avoiding any kind of processed, sugary foods and alcohol will help too. Our stomachs have a lot of work to do, and anything we can do to reduce any difficulties in processing food, the better it will work.
A plant-based vegan diet may take some getting used to and will need some creativity when it comes to meals, but it can be fun! Why not invite some friends over for a plant-based ‘potluck dinner’? Get everyone to bring a dish and see what a wonderful, diverse buffet you end up with! For some great vegan recipes to start you off, check out The Vegan Society.
Wonderland Healing Center offers yoga and detox retreats on the beautiful island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. Our restaurant is completely vegan. Find out more here.
Written by Mel Ciavucco