Veganism is an increasingly popular and controversial topic in both health and fitness debate and every day lifestyle debate. Firmly steering away from the politics side of the debate, instead we’ll be focusing on the much more enjoyable (and interesting) health and fitness aspects. In a few weeks and we'll be in ‘Veganuary’ and the similarly based New Years resolutions and with its increasing popularity you'll probably have already heard a fair amount about plant-based diets before now.
Despite the stereotype of vegan-myths (think: shaggy hair, a ‘bee kind’ baggy shirt and an intimidating level of political activism), veganism is steadily becoming one of the most popular diets around the world. Its popularity is only increased by the lengthy list of celebrity proponents: Russell Brand, Ellen Degeneres, Natalie Portman over in Hollywood. ‘’but the celebs are always doing weird diets’’ I hear you say. Well then there's also the ever-growing list of vegan athletes at the very top of their game, including Serena Williams, Mike Tyson, whole NFL teams and numerous UFC Stars including Nate Diaz. From this it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the “you won’t be getting enough protein’’ brigade to maybe consider a different view point which is why we are here! To explain a few more of the research based reasons that might lead you to trying veganism. Without the added political vitriol, essential oils or pea based products that someone may be trying to sell you along with their facts and figures on veganism.
1. It can help you lose weight.
Going vegan, or even partially vegan, can be a great way to make up for the on coming Christmas excess. After four weeks or more weeks of Christmas drinks parties, chocolate by the kilo and mince pies by the six-pack, your belt may be left feeling a little tighter than usual! A vegan diet may be just the ticket to help you shed the extra pounds. But don’t forget, you have to be moving a bit as well. A 2015 study showed that, with greatly reduced levels of fats, salt and cholesterol consumed, those following a vegan diet lost comparatively more weight than those following omnivorous and vegetarian ones. Good news for anyone anticipating a cheese-induced coma.
2. It's good for the environment.
Eating meat has a much more significant impact on the environment than eating plant-based foods
Agriculture is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (more than all transport). Rearing livestock for animal-based products requires far more land, water and energy than producing grain; 27kg of CO2 is generated per kilo beef in comparison to 0.9kg per kilo of lentils. According to a 2016 Oxford University study, the adoption of a vegan diet globally would cut food-related emissions by 70pc. That's got to be a good reason to lay off that steak or burger for a bit, even if you weren’t already thinking about your waist line.
3. It might make you live longer (if you do it for more than a month).
While veganism is not a one-way ticket to the fountain of youth (much to our disappointment), numerous scientific studies have been taken to measure the impact of a plant-based diet on reducing the risk of major diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. And they all found positive results. A vegan diet also eases the symptoms of arthritis sufferers and can help to prevent obesity, which affects 1 in 6 of us and is a leading cause of death. A 2016 study from Oxford University argues that the mass-adoption of a vegan diet could cut 8.1 million deaths a year. But remember these results are found in sustained vegan diets, becoming vegan for 31 days is not going to have the same effect, but it's worth bearing in mind.
4. Eating vegetables is good for you, Shock horror!
No one needs to tell you that eating fruit and vegetables is beneficial, but in case you've forgotten here’s our recap! Fruits and Veggies are full of essential vitamins and minerals (including calcium, potassium and Vitamin C) and dietary fibre. All of these should keep you feeling and looking your best. Even though you've had the 5 a day mantra drilled into you for years, the chances are you're still not eating enough fruit and veg. As an interesting side note, as humans we cannot make our own vitamin C so we have to ingest it through our fruits and vegetables. Where as by contrast carnivorous animals that are adapted to eat more meat make their own vitamin C with in their bodies. We are not actually naturally designed to eat as much meat as we do in todays world! So trying a diet based on more fruit and vegetables may give your body the little naturally reboot it needs.
5. It makes you smell better!
Go ahead and raise your eyebrows, but I’m sure post family meal, romantic restaurant dinner, or even Christmas dinner, your nearest and dearest have wrinkled their nose at your ‘’meat sweats’’! The omnivorous body, unlike the carnivorous body has a much longer digestive tract and it takes your body more effort to break down vast amounts of meat. This results in your body quite literally exerting itself to sweat with excess seeping out your pores. Yum, extra gravy anyone? A recent study also analysed sweat samples of those who ate a diet of mainly fruit and vegetables, and those who ate more meat. This study found that the sweat of the veggie was deemed to be more attractive to the women that smelt them (ew) and was described as "floral, fruity, sweet or having medicinal qualities. I mean, that’s still weird but it’s definitely one up from greasy food sweat radiating from you!
To conclude, that might not convince you to go completely vegan but maybe it would be worth considering cutting back on meat for a few meals a week and instead opt for vegan based meals more regularly to see if you experience any of the above!