The results of the 2019 Vomad survey were quite powerful reading. A couple of things are clear from the results. People become vegan for lots of reasons. Concerns about animal welfare come up often, with 68% of respondents in the survey confirming their support for our non-human friends. Second to that, at 17.4%, were those who put health as one of the main reasons for going vegan.
Health is a highly complex subject. After all, it’s something the lucky among us take for granted. Only when it’s taken away are most of us given cause to think about it.
Most of us consider our health from various perspectives. How do I feel, day-to-day? Should I try to be fitter, stronger or more active? How can I keep my good health as I get older? How can I best improve my digestive health?
Depending on your own personal health objectives, a vegan diet can be tailored to help. A diet, at its core, is about more than just the biomolecules of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins. How does your diet make you feel, both physically and psychologically? What about your energy levels throughout the day? Does it support your other daily activities like work, family, and exercise?
There are common myths surrounding veganism. Our diets being unhealthy (oh, the irony!), making people weak, supplement requirements, lack of calcium and not being suitable for children are all examples of some of the stranger things spread about being a vegan.
The good news for vegans is that cutting out animal products simply means a few adjustments to ensure both great general health and a diet that supports your lifestyle choices. A well structured vegan diet can leave you strong, healthy, and in control of your moral choices.
How does a switch to a vegan diet support your general health goals?
We’ve already covered the main things that vegans cut out from their diet in our article on vegan lifestyle. In this article we’ll look at things from the viewpoint of what a vegan diet can contribute to your health.
The fundamental change when following a vegan diet is your source of protein since that’s mainly what animal products contain, along with sources of fats and minerals.
Vegans can easily find their required dietary intake of protein and minerals from grains, legumes, leafy greens, beans, tofu, seaweeds, nuts, and seeds. This typically also provides other elements of a healthy diet like ALA omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
In short, it’s really easy for vegans to have a naturally complete and extremely healthy diet from a biological perspective. While the scientific community is still conducting studies on this subject, it’s safe to say a vegan lifestyle seems likely to lead to a longer, healthier, life.
So, if one of your health goals in general health (and let’s face it, who doesn’t want good general health?), a vegan diet is a great way to go.
Those with sporting goals.
Of key concern to those who lead a very active life, those who want to build muscle or professional athletes, is a supportive diet. The following elements need to be considered for vegans with sporting health goals:
High-performance athletes need to consider supporting their immune systems, as intense workouts can lead to slight suppression. Additional consideration needs to be given to the oxidative stress which creates free radicles, potentially causing additional health concerns.
The strong immune system powering effects of a vegan diet can positively help with keeping you fit and healthy. Thankfully, a plant-based diet, with high amounts of fruits and vegetables, also produces a high number of antioxidants.
Building new muscle, and repairing existing muscle, requires protein. Dietary protein can be either complete (meaning it has the 9 essential amino acids that your body can’t produce) or non-complete (meaning it has less than the 9).
Building muscle requires plenty of protein.
Soy, hemp, and quinoa are examples of a plant-based complete protein. Everyone, vegan or not, should look to vary and mix their protein sources to help achieve a balanced diet. This is why we use hemp and pea in our range of products.
As a fairly new subject for scientific study, the role of plant protein in sports is still being evaluated, but results seem encouraging that there are benefits over a animal protein-based diet.
Protein is easy to obtain for vegans. Start your day the right way by trying one of our ethically sourced protein powders.
- Iodine, calcium and vitamins
Generally, a vegan diet provides an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Exceptions exist, like B12, but are fairly easy to overcome (especially as the amount of B12 we need is small, and many vegan products contain it).
Vegans do need to consider the bioavailability of calcium (how easy it is for the body to unlock the calcium and use it). For many sources, including milk, this bioavailability figure is about 30%-40%. This needs to be factored in to ensure you get enough.
Your biome and digestive health
Your personal biomeme is simply a description of your own mix of bacterial and other micro-organisms. While this field of research is again fairly new, it’s fast becoming a leading topic of study.
Diets high in processed foods, red meats and sugar seem to adversely affect both your biome and digestive health.
While it’s not only vegan foods that can help keep your digestive system in top condition, many of the most popular vegan foods make it on to the list. Do be aware that vegans also have a few pitfalls to avoid when looking for good digestive health.
So, whatever your goals for personal health, a vegan diet isn’t just possible, it’s advisable. By removing animal products from your diet, you also remove many of the sources of saturated fats and lower cancer risks. The World Health Organisation has put red meat at the same level (Level 1) as smoking and asbestos for cancer risks. While the risks are different, the strength of the scientific evidence is the same.
Being a vegan also offers other benefits, quite apart of health. It lowers your impact on the world, reducing the damage we do. It’s part of why Vitally Vegan are so passionate about our vegan lifestyle. If you’d like to chat with us about what being a vegan can bring you, contact us for a chat.