As we stand on the brink of a new year, resolutions to lead healthier lifestyles often take center stage. Among the myriad of choices, adopting a vegan lifestyle is gaining traction for compelling reasons beyond personal wellness. In this article, we delve into seven compelling reasons why making the switch to a plant-based diet could be the transformative resolution you've been seeking. From heart health to environmental impact, each rationale paints a vivid picture of the potential benefits that extend far beyond the individual plate.
A vegetarian diet is very low in saturated fats and cholesterol and therefore significantly reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, which are major causes of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Dr. Dean Ornish, a cardiologist in the United States, has even demonstrated that adopting a low-fat vegetarian diet for one year could reverse atherosclerosis (the presence of plaque in the blood vessels). While cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, a plant-based diet would offer better heart health and a longer life.
Fiber is contained exclusively in plants. Their chemical composition means that they cannot be digested, and their health benefits are numerous. Firstly, various studies show that they protect against colon cancer, secondly, they promote the regularity of the digestive system and thirdly, because of their satiating power, they help to control appetite and weight. A vegetable diet allows you to consume on average 50% more fiber than an omnivorous diet.
Worldwide, 1 in 10 adults is affected by obesity. Numerous studies show that the body mass index is lower in vegetarian or vegan individuals, especially if they have adopted this diet for 5 years or more. The explanation for a lower BMI could be a difference in macronutrient intake (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and also a higher consumption of plants and therefore fiber.
Metabolic syndrome (a combination of several metabolic disorders: visceral obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, high triglyceride levels and low HDL cholesterol levels) affects 1 in 5 Canadians without them necessarily knowing it. Clinical studies have shown that a patient with metabolic syndrome is two and a half times more likely to develop diabetes, for example.
A plant-based diet is very high in fiber, which is an excellent protection against colorectal cancer. In addition, some types of processed meat such as deli meats are classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organization. Eating 50 grams of processed meat per day would increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 17.
Several studies have also shown that consumption of meat products and vegetable fats leads to an increased risk of developing bone loss in women after menopause.
A recent study by the American Society of Nephrology (study of kidney disease) explains the link between red meat consumption and increased risk of kidney failure. The recommendations are then the restriction of animal protein consumption for the management of chronic renal failure as well as the slowing of the disease.
Changing your habits also allows you to discover a multitude of new foods and tastes. We are often confined to our culinary culture and traditions without even thinking about going off the beaten track. Introducing a plant-based diet means discovering a multitude of unknown products and trying out new recipes.
Vegetarian and vegan products are developing more and more and this is a good thing, because it allows access to a multitude of products.
Vegetarian and vegan restaurants are becoming popular for our pleasure.
However, be careful not to fall into the trap of ultra-processed vegan products that have no nutritional value.
According to the WHO, 50% of antibiotic production is for farm animals and in Canada this figure is 80%6. This use makes bacteria multi-resistant in animals, and these can contaminate humans. Antibiotic treatment will then be ineffective. Moreover, by consuming animal flesh that has been treated with antibiotics, we also consume a residual dose that causes our organism to develop resistant bacteria as well. It then becomes much more difficult to eliminate them.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's Global Burden of Disease Project, the most important dietary risk factor that can be modified to gain years of healthy life is eating more plant-based.
Indeed, there is increasing evidence in the literature that a plant-based diet is beneficial at every stage of life! It is now recognized that plants contain all the nutrients necessary for good health. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, a simple change in eating habits could prevent 30 to 40% of cancers worldwide, which is as much or more than stopping smoking.