There’s no denying it — going vegan has hit the mainstream and it’s not just for animal rights activists anymore. If you hate to be one of those people who blindly follows the latest fad, it’s safe to come out and investigate this diet on its own merits and decide whether it’s right for you. To give you a hand, here are some of the most compelling reasons why.
1. You want to lower your cholesterol.
As you probably know already, vegans consume no animal protein whatsoever, not even eggs or dairy. According to a 2014 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they have lower cholesterol levels than any other dietary group, including vegetarians.1
2. You have high blood pressure.
Because of the complete absence of animal fat in this diet, eating vegan has blood pressure lowering benefits as well. A study of Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California found that blood pressure were lower among vegans and that fewer of those surveyed were taking medication to control their blood pressure.2
3. You want to reduce your risk of certain cancers.
Following a vegetarian diet has long been associated with lower colon cancer rates, most likely because it contains more fiber and no red meat. A report released from the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2010 summarizes a number of clinical studies showing that eating vegan may reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer as well.3 Because dietary choices are the cause of 30 to 35 percent of all known cancers, avoiding known carcinogens, such as cured meat, is a smart way to lower your cancer risk across the board. You will probably also be much better off by avoiding processed foods.
4. You’d like to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
A growing body of evidence links the development of Alzheimer’s disease to cardiovascular and other diseases that cause poor circulation in the blood vessels.4 One theory is that the poor circulation caused by arterial plaque impairs memory function and can lead to Alzheimer’s. Thus, eating a vegan diet, which lowers cholesterol and improves cardiovascular health, may also reduce your chance of Alzheimer’s.
5. You care about the environment.
Raising enough meat to fill the demand in the United States for cheap animal protein has led to a number of environmental problems, including deforestation in the Amazon basin, contamination of the ground water near factory farms, and the release of methane, a contributing greenhouse gas. But that’s not all. Livestock raised for their meat use more than 25 percent of the water available for human consumption worldwide, a growing concern as global warming reduces the amount of fresh drinking water worldwide.5
6. You hate cruelty toward animals.
Vegetarians who still consume eggs and dairy products, beware — you are not necessarily sparing animals. A dairy cow produces milk for an average of five years before she is slaughtered for her meat, and the majority of chickens in the U.S. live confined to a space roughly the size of a sheet of paper.6,7 The only way to eat animal protein and avoid cruelty is to know the source of everything you eat. For many people, that’s simply not realistic. Being vegan cuts down on the uncertainty.
7. You don’t want to support factory farms.
Forget about cruelty to animals and the negative environmental impact. You just don’t like the idea of giving your money to industries that treat their human workers so badly. With average pay just $23,000 a year and the risk of repetitive stress injury 30 times higher than the national average, the meat industry is one of the worst places to work in the country.8
8. You might just lose some weight.
Vegans tend to eat far more fiber, fruits, and vegetables than the average American, which means that they fill up on fewer calories. While weight loss isn’t certain, a recent review out of Taiwan shows that vegans shed more pounds than meat-eaters and vegetarians when they attempted to lose weight.9
9. You’re on a budget.
Because going vegan is popular among celebrities like Jared Leto and Ellen DeGeneres, you might think that eating vegan is bound to be expensive. But since beans, whole grains, and lentils — the mainstay of a healthy vegan diet — are so much cheaper than meat and dairy products, you can definitely cut your grocery bill on a vegan diet, especially if you shop for seasonal fruits and vegetables.
9. You’d like to live to be 100.
Okay, here’s the truth — by itself, diet plays small (but significant) role in longevity.10 Yet because going vegan often represents a conscious choice in changing the way you live and eat, people who eat plant-based diets do have the jump on everyone else. And that’s definitely food for thought.
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Vegans & Blood Pressure
- Vegetarians & Cancer, National Institute on Health
- Cardiovascular Disease and Alzheimers
- Water, Meat & Dairy
- Factory Farming
- ASPCA and Bird Factories
- Factory Farm Worker Exploitation
- Weight Loss, Alphagalileo
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Low Meat Diets & Long Life