THE vegan diet is defined as a type of vegetarianism that strictly prohibits the consumption of dairy products, eggs, or any other food from animals. It's a diet that is practised by many, and in recent times, with the rise in the number of people suffering from lifestyle diseases, it has become increasingly popular.
Adopting the vegan diet can change your life in many ways, nutritionists say, and weight loss isn't the only benefit. Note though, that vegans need to ensure that they obtain certain nutrients, including iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12 that usually come from an omnivorous diet, and these will come from supplementation.
Here are some of the pros for switching, even short-term, to veganism.
You get all your vitamins and minerals naturally
The vegan diet will contain plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, which means that you will be consuming higher quantities of vitamins, minerals, and fibre than the person on a non-vegan diet.
You reduce your risk for lifestyle diseases
Certain lifestyle illnesses and cancers are directly related to the food we consume, and as such a vegan diet will eliminate your susceptibility to these illnesses. A plant-based diet will reduce the probability of you getting type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, obesity and some cancers including prostate and colon cancer. Meat, cheese, butter and other animal products are the main sources of saturated fats, and eating foods that contain these fats raises cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association says diets higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the general population.
It's good for your heart
Studies have shown that diets like the Mediterranean diet that are high in fruits and vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils and whole grains are often associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease. The vegan diet, with its plant-based focus, will include fibre and antioxidants that have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
It will make you thin
The fact that vegans tend to be thinner is perhaps due to the higher intake of fibre, which can make a person feel fuller. Eliminating trans fats and fast foods, too, and substituting with foods from plants, will naturally lead to weight loss. Published studies have found that individuals following a vegan diet have low body mass index and that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss than other diets.