Going Vegan: Health benefits of eliminating meat and dairy from your diet.
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Transitioning to a vegan diet can seem like a daunting task for most. It definitely felt like a mountain of work to me, at least in the beginning. None-the-less, the more you understand and appreciate the value of being vegan, the more strongly you feel about it and the easier it becomes!
Becoming vegan does not only mean that you will not be contributing to the suffering of innocent beings, it’s also great news for your health and physical state. It’s no coincidence that the negative effects of eating meat is being noted time and time again in many scientific studies.
Whether it’s in the name of ethics or because of health concerns, more and more people are beginning to commit to a plant-based diet. According to the British Social Attitudes Survey, last year alone, about a third of Britons have reduced their consumption of meat.
Here is an overview of some of the benefits of giving up meats and dairy.
This should come as no surprise as meat and dairy products are generally high in calories and saturated fat.
Obesity has been called a modern epidemic as its prevalence has rapidly increased not only in adults but more worryingly in children and adolescents as well.
Dietary habits which include fast food comprised of cheap meat and dairy products have highly contributed to that increase alongside lack of or minimal physical activity. It’s important to understand that obesity is not a matter to take lightly as it’s consequences include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other negative effects on morbidity and mortality.
Vegetarians and vegans who follow a well-rounded and balanced diet are less likely to be obese as the food they consume has more fiber and less saturated fat.
A research conducted by a team at the George Washington University School of Medicine, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, argues that people who took part in the study lost around 10 lbs on average, solely by eliminating meat from their diets. Participants made no other changes to their lifestyle, including no variation to their exercise regime.
So, what are you waiting for? Bring on the veggies and watch those extra pounds drop!
Reduce risk of cancer
The World Health Organization classifieds processed and red meat as carcinogenic.
Red meat is classified as Group 2A which means it probably has cancer-causing properties. Evidence from epidemiological studies showed positive associations between eating red meat and developing colorectal cancer. There is also evidence of links with pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
In regards to processed meat, classified as Group 1, evidence is definite and conclusive. There is sufficient evidence to suggest a strong correlation between processed meat and carcinogenicity in humans.
In order to understand the severity of the issue, it’s crucial to note that Group 1 list also includes exposure to gamma radiation and tobacco smoking.
Consumption of chicken is no better as common industry practice involves feeding chickens arsenic. Arsenic is extremely harmful to humans and it has been proven to cause cancer, dementia and neurological problems..
Grilled chicken commonly contains PhIP (2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine), which may contribute to the development of certain types of cancers including breast and prostate.
Reduce risk of heart disease
Studies have repeatedly shown a strong link between the amount of red meat people eat and their risk of dying of heart disease. The high levels of cholesterol and fat are partly to blame.
Red meats are also rich in Carnitine, a protein building block which is converted into compounds that speed up hardening and thickening of artery walls by bacteria in the intestines.
Chicken, which most meat-eaters consider a healthier option does not appear to be so healthy after all. A serving of chicken contains just as much cholesterol as red meat. And eggs contain three times as much.
The results of several large studies demonstrate that death from ischemic heart disease was a significant 24% lower in vegetarians than in carnivores.
Emily Bailey, RD, director of nutrition coaching, sports nutrition, eating disorders, and weight management at NutriFormance in St. Louis, notes that plant-based diets have been proven to be anti-inflammatory.
Recent scientific studies have suggested that dairy products may been linked to increased risk for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and possibly ovarian and breast cancers. Dairy consumption increases levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) in the bloodstream. IGF-1 is a potent stimulus for cancer cell growth.
Bottom line, every little change you manage to make to your diet goes a long way towards bettering your overall health. If you want to transition to a plant-based diet but feel that you are too much of a ‘meat fan’ and are unable to give up meat altogether, try altering one thing at a time.
Think baby steps! Here are some tips that might help you:
- Assign one vegan day per week.
- Add more portions of nuts, fruit and vegetables to your daily diet.
- Replace some meat and dairy products with alternative plant-based products (e.g. opt for soy mince instead of beef mince)
- Experiment with different plant-based ingredients as well as herbs and spices. There is absolutely no reason to compromise on taste and flavor!
- Finally, think long and hard about what motivates you to change your dietary habits and keep those reasons in mind whenever you reach for that chicken wing!