No matter why you’re interested in eating vegan, you’ve made a great choice. For the planet, animals, and your health, eating a plant-based diet just makes sense on all levels. Though some people aren’t driven to eat this way because of the health benefits of eating plants, and not animals, we can’t ignore that vegan is the smart choice on just about every front. Health guidelines continue to evolve, showing us that animal-based foods are hurting our health, and plant-based foods are helping to extend longevity. We also know that the production of meat and all animal-based foods are destructive to the environment, the leading cause of climate change, and are unnecessarily taking lives every single second. A vegan diet can also help you save money when you stick to whole food sources, since we all know animal-based foods aren’t getting any cheaper, either at the store or to produce in general.
But ethics and environmental aspects aside (which are definitely important), let’s take a look at five health perks you’ll see by eating vegan. These benefits are unlike quick-fix diets that come with potential side effects, or processed diet foods that could cause problems as well. If you haven’t made the decision to eat a more plant-based diet already, hopefully these will inspire you to do so!
1. A Healthy Weight
Let’s start with a concern most people have on any lifestyle – maintaining a healthy weight. A plant-based diet can give you enough protein, fiber and complex carbs, and healthy fats you need to stay at a healthy weight. One reason being that plant-based foods are free of cholesterol and have less saturated fats than animal-based foods. While you could easily gain weight on a plant-based diet that’s high in processed foods, a diet heavy in oils, or if you opted for dried fruit over fresh fruit for all your meals and snacks, a whole foods, plant-based diet based off greens, veggies, fruit, seeds, whole grains, beans, legumes, and moderate amounts of fattier foods like nuts, avocado and coconut, can all help you reach a healthy weight. These foods are fiber-rich, they satisfy your body, and there are limitless ways to eat them so you’ll never get bored. Many also lead to weight loss due to their nutritional structure and filling factors. Unlike weight loss diets containing animal-based foods that may hurt your body, these foods actually support your body and are easier for it to break down.
Waking up with aches and pains is no fun, not to mention slow recovery after workouts, which can all come from inflammation. An animal-based diet is highly inflammatory, while a plant-based diet is naturally alkaline-forming. Even more acidic plant-based foods like grains and beans are much more alkaline than any animal-based food. Greens, sprouts, green vegetables and fruits are especially for helping to promote an alkaline body. Preventing inflammation can keep you flexible, strong, and maintain healthy blood, which is incredibly important to your overall health.
3. Helps You Fight Disease
A plant-based diet is not a ticket to living your life without any risk for disease, however, it is the one diet linked to the most benefits when it comes to reducing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Not too bad, right? The best part is, you don’t even have to do much except focus on whole, plant-based foods to make up your diet. These contain antioxidants to support your heart and cardiovascular system, fiber and nutrients to support your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and have been shown to fight the growth of cancerous cells. Meat and dairy have actually been shown to cause cancer, which makes a plant-based diet look better than ever!
4. Healthy Digestion
Though the high fiber content of plant-based foods can be tricky for some to adjust to, overall, a plant-based diet is much healthier (and easier) on your digestion. Red meat, dairy and eggs can all stay in your digestive tract for days, while the maximum transit time for most plant-based foods is 6-8 hours. This can help support your fight against colon cancer, one of the leading types of cancer today. If you have trouble digesting beans, legumes, and grains, there are things you can do to help with this. See food swaps for healthy digestion, how to eat a plant-based diet without beans if needed, and how to build and maintain a healthy gut. Also, be sure to work a variety of plant-based foods in your diet to obtain the most benefits and to take your of your digestion as much as possible.
5. Better Sleep
Many people find it to be a surprise that when they choose to eat a vegan diet, their sleep naturally improves. While the reasons for this are not set in stone, its likely due to plants being so high in magnesium, vitamin B6, and calcium, which all help you drift off to sleep more naturally. They also help promote healthy serotonin levels needed to relax. Many of them, such as oats, cherries,pineapple, oranges, and walnuts, even help your body produce melatonin more easily. Another reason is likely because a plant-based diet is somewhat calming to the mind and body, which can help you relax more and sleep more soundly through the night. Sleep is one of the biggest aspects of a healthy lifestyle, making this reason an especially wonderful perk if you have a hard time nodding off.
There are many other health benefits of choosing a plant-based diet, though these are some of our favorites and ones we’re sure you’ll appreciate too. Ready to get started? Print off this shopping list, see all of our food tips here, and get any kind of recipe you want to give a try today!