There are many great and unexpected advantages to a vegan diet, with the chance of increased health being one of them.
Vegan diets have been praised for a multitude of benefits, which include a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes and premature death. But it’s important to realise that vegan diets aren’t all the same: thanks to the prevalence of vegan junk food, some may be full of starchy, salty snacks and sweet treats!
Despite this, it is true that vegan diets tend to be higher in fibre, which decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Vegans also tend to eat seven or more pieces of fruit and vegetables per day, meaning we have a 33% reduced risk of premature death compared with people who eat less than one portion.
Given the wide array of tasty and simple vegan meals that are bursting with fruit and veg, it’s not surprising that we reap this health benefit. We also may feel the benefit of lower-calorie meals, which when compared to other dietary groups, means that vegans are leaner, have lower BMIs and have lower percentages of body fat. All this means that we’re less likely to get weight-related diseases such as diabetes, have a reduced risk of heart disease and have lower cholesterol, blood pressure and mortality rates. Vegans even have a reduced risk of prostate cancer!
And that's not all. A recent study conducted by experts at the prestigious Oxford University's Oxford Martin School - who specialise in cross-cutting research on global challenges - have found that by 2050, widespread adoption of plant-based diets would avert 8.1 million premature human deaths every year. This was found to be the case due to factors including the reduction of red and processed meat, which the World Health Organisation has classified as carcinogenic due to the risk of colorectal cancer.
With all that scary stuff out the way, you may also be interested to know there are many benefits to veganism that you could feel right away. Some vegans experience increased energy, clearer skin, reduced allergy symptoms, stronger hair and nails, and relief from the pain of migraines and PMS. That’s not to mention the feeling of wellbeing that comes from knowing your lifestyle is alleviating animal suffering and limiting environmental damage. So don't feel bad when you reach for that vegan cupcake now and again: you're already doing a great job.
Remember, your chance of living a longer, healthier life is increased by making sure you eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, wholegrains and other nutritious foods each day, including B12 fortified products. For more information, check out our nutrition and health section. If you’re sporty and interested to know more about vegan diets for athletes and protein requirements, check out this article.