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World Vegan Day 2021: Veganism and Its Health Benefits

On November 1, the world celebrates the Vegan Day, an annual event to highlight veganism’s benefits for humans, animals and the environment.

During recent years, a growing number of people have adopted and promoted vegan diets citing concerns about their health, animal welfare, and the planet’s conditions. In 2018, a Gallup poll showed that plant-based foods’ sale was on the rise not only in the United States but worldwide.

Vegan or plant-based diets exclude meat and other animal products, including dairy and eggs. However, despite restrictions on eating some foods, they are usually very nutritious and low in fat.

Additionally, experts say that vegan diets can provide all the nutrients humans need while eliminating many risks associated with consuming meat and harmful animal fats if followed correctly.

Understanding veganism.

People who follow vegan diets eat only foods containing plants, avoiding animal products and honey in some cases.

But some consider that being vegan is not a dietary but a lifestyle choice. Therefore, some vegans avoid clothing, soaps, and other products that may contain animal parts.

Meanwhile, other people choose to lead a vegan lifestyle for its environmental benefits as a sustainable diet since it has a low impact on the environment and the food supply.

Veganism is often compared to vegetarianism. However, vegan diets are more restrictive. The main difference between both is that vegetarians don’t consume meat, including fish, chicken, pork and beef, but they can eat dairy products and eggs.

On a vegan diet, people must exclude all animal products. Therefore, they need to carefully research where their food comes from and ensure it has the necessary nutrients to meet their daily dietary requirements.

Benefits of vegan diets.

Veganism has been linked to the following benefits:

–          Heart health:

A 2019 large-scale investigation concluded that a higher plant-based foods intake with a lower intake of animal products was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and death in adults.

Additionally, the American Heart Association says that cutting back on meat, cheese and butter consumption can lower cholesterol levels since such products are the primary sources of saturated fat.

–          Weight loss:

Those who follow a vegan diet also tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), reducing the risk of obesity and associated conditions.

Nutrition specialists said vegan diets were more effective for weight loss than other diets, such as omnivorous, fish-vegetarian and semi-vegetarian diets.

–          Lower cancer risk:

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, red meat is “probably carcinogenic,” as are processed meats. Therefore, eliminating them from the daily diet removes or reduces such potential risks.

Moreover, plant foods are rich in phytochemicals, which are biologically active plant compounds that can protect against cancer.

–          Lower type 2 diabetes risk:

Research also showed that following a plant-based diet and adding healthy foods to everyday diets, like fruits and whole grains, can lower type 2 diabetes risk.