Vegan and Vegetarian diets are nothing new, but now that people are becoming aware of the harm caused to our health by eating animal products, the environment and the cruelty towards the animals, more and more people are switching to a plant-based lifestyle or are at least considering it.
Many are ditching the dairy, eggs, and meat to help prevent chronic lifestyle diseases with the added bonus of also ethically reducing their carbon footprint.
In a report https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/ released in 2019, The United Nations Panel on Climate Change recommends we reduce meat consumption and animal agriculture to adapt to climate change.
It is increasingly obvious that the way we have been consuming animal products is no longer sustainable for the planet nor is it doing our health any favours. What is also clear is that the health benefits of reducing or eliminating animal products are undeniable.
How exactly will transitioning to a plant-based diet affect your health?
We’ve put together a short list of what to expect when you decide to go plant-based.
1.You will more than likely be eating more nutrients.
Contrary to mainstream beliefs, vegans and vegetarians are not malnourished weaklings who are fading away from lack of animal flesh. With over 82,000 edible plants on this planet, you will be opened to a far more balanced diet than most omnivores who tend to eat the same four types of meat with only a handful of vegetables and fruits.
A well-rounded vegan diet is highly nutritious and will be a welcome respite to your physiology. As is the case with any diet, including meat-based, it is important to maintain regular visits with a GP to monitor blood tests. An important nutrient to monitor is vitamin B12, which is added to animal products and is essential to good health. It’s OK, there are a variety of vegan sources of B12, this linked article goes into detail on this: https://lovethytemple.com.au/vitamin-b12-whats-the-deal.
2.Bowel movements will become more regular.
Eating more vegetables, grains and legumes will seriously increase your fibre intake which helps prevent constipation and promotes overall colon health. Due to the increased fibre from certain vegetables such as cruciferous vegetables, you will find yourself becoming more regular in your bowel movements and you may produce a little more gas than you are used to. Be sure to eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables along with keeping well hydrated to help to minimize gas production. A bit of gas is a small price to pay for good colon health.
3.You will NOT become protein deficient.
One of the biggest propaganda campaigns around nutrition of the modern era is that to obtain an adequate level of protein in our diets to maintain good health, we need to consume meat, eggs, and dairy and that without a diet heavy in animal products we will somehow become protein deficient. This is a complete myth. Every single plant contains some level of protein, some higher than others and some higher than meat, eggs, and dairy.
The average Australian consumes around three times the daily requirement of protein, which can lead to weight gain, fat stores and subsequent disease. Realistically, the only way you will become protein deficient is to become calorie deficient — stop eating altogether.
There’s a reason hospitals don’t have protein deficiency wards.
4.Your cholesterol levels will probably decrease.
Studies have shown that a plant-based diet lowers cholesterol levels more effectively than other dietary choices. According to PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), “In 2017, researchers reviewed 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets to test their effects on cholesterol. Plant-based diets lowered total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL levels when compared to omnivorous diets. Low-fat, plant-based regimens typically reduce LDL levels by about 15 to 30 percent”.
A lot of marketing dollars have been spent in efforts to convince the public that eating certain animal products, like eggs, can reduce the risk of bad cholesterol levels and be beneficial for our health. These marketing campaigns are used to create confusion, and we cover this further in this article: https://lovethytemple.com.au/cholesterol/.
5.Going plant-based can have a positive effect on our mental health.
When we go vegan, not only can we become healthier physically, but we can also become healthier mentally. Our bodies and minds are connected, and the way we look after them will have an overall effect on our wellbeing. Living a vegan lifestyle can benefit our mental health both psychologically and physiologically. When we are conscious of eating healthier, we are making conscientious decisions to do what is best for ourselves.
This can alleviate stress and depressive feelings that can arise from causing harm to ourselves or just neglecting to take better care of our health. Many vegans have also reported feeling an almost spiritual awakening whilst having a deeper connection to nature through the knowledge that their lifestyle choices are having a more positive impact than before. There is a gentleness to life knowing that your choices do not inflict suffering.
Complementing this, is that eating a plant-based diet can be beneficial in lowering the risk of dementia. In an article published by livekindly.co, research presented to the Alzheimer’s Association International conference in London highlighted the powerful benefits of plant-based diets. “…diet largely composed of vegan and vegetarian food can lower their risk of dementia by a third…”. https://www.livekindly.co/can-you-prevent-alzheimers-with-vegan-diet/
Going plant-based can have a downside though. Many who transition have reported receiving some negativity from friends or family. It is like some people suddenly attained a doctorate in nutrition and are terribly concerned that you are going to wither away from malnutrition. Others can feel threatened by the prospect that you have decided to cast judgement on all that do not follow your journey. You may want to prepare yourself for this emotionally, as you can feel unsupported, by understanding that we have all been conditioned by decades of propaganda from industries that stand to lose an enormous amount of money if everyone decided to suddenly go plant-based.
There are some amazing support networks available on Facebook such as, Love Thy Temple Tribe and Positive Vegan Vibes which are both private groups of like-minded people where you will be welcomed with open arms.
I am now in my sixth year being vegan and at almost 50 I feel amazing for my age. My latest blood tests came back perfect with cholesterol levels at less than a third of the average Australian, and guess what, no deficiencies of any kind. I sometimes miss some of the foods I used to enjoy, but I have discovered so many new food options and have created some delicious recipes that satisfy me completely and, overall, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
For some great vegan recipe inspiration head over to our recipe page where you will find some delicious, healthy options.
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Ultimately, going plant-based is not going to solve all of the world’s problems, but it is definitely a step in right direction.
This has been provided as information only and in no way substitutes professional medical or nutritional advice.