Can eating vegan actually make you healthier? Check out these ways that a vegan diet might just help you live longer.
Before you take a bite of that steak, think about the University of Cambridge study suggesting that you lose 30 minutes of your life every time you eat a hamburger. Is it worth it? Researchers from the World Preservation Foundation estimate that 75 percent of common chronic diseases can be eliminated if people switch to a vegan diet.
Put another way, the following are four ways that a vegan diet can save your life:
1. A Vegan Diet Can Help Prevent Heart Attacks
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, accounting for about 800,000 deaths every year. In fact, heart attacks and strokes are so common that we have come to accept them as a normal part of aging, but they aren’t.
It is not “normal” for your arteries to become clogged with gunk. Animals whose bodies are truly adapted to a carnivorous diet, such as lions and polar bears, don’t get clogged arteries. Who else doesn’t get clogged arteries? People eating a vegan diet.
According to Dr. David Jenkins, a renowned nutrition scientist at the University of Toronto:
The evidence is pretty strong that vegans, who eat no animal products, have the best cardiovascular health profile and the lowest cholesterol levels.
The human body manufactures all the cholesterol it needs—we don’t need to consume any in our diet. Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Each additional 100 milligrams of cholesterol that you consume in meat, eggs, or dairy products adds roughly five points to your cholesterol level. Every time you reduce your cholesterol level by 1 percent, you reduce your risk of a heart attack by 2 percent.
But wait – there’s more! If you eat red meat, your body will produce trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) bacteria, which new research indicates contributes to plaque buildup and ultimately to heart disease. Since people who don’t eat meat don’t produce TMAO bacteria, they’re less likely to develop heart disease. Dr. William Castelli, the director of the Framingham Heart Study, the longest-running clinical study in medical history, believes that the heart-disease epidemic would disappear if Americans adopted a plant-based diet.
2. A Vegan Diet Reduces Your Cancer Risk
Study after study has linked meat and other animal-based foods to cancer.
For example, research shows that people who eat just 3.5 ounces of processed meat—including ham, bacon, hot dogs, and deli slices—a day are 36 percent more likely to suffer from colorectal cancer. Three ounces of meat is about the size of a deck of cards—most meat-eaters ingest more than that in one sitting, let alone in one day!
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, star of the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives, says that “no chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein.” Fortunately, research shows that people who eat a vegan diet including plant-based foods high in phytochemicals, which knock out carcinogens and fight inflammation, are about 40 percent less likely to get cancer than meat-eaters. For example, the fiber in whole grains and other plant foods protects against colon cancer, and the lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon, and other brightly hued fruits and vegetables helps ward off prostate cancer.
3. A Vegan Diet Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in America. Research shows that people who avoid “bad fats”—the kind found in meat, eggs, and dairy products—cut their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by about two-thirds. But “bad fats” are only part of the problem.
Meat is often high in metals—iron, copper, and zinc. We need traces of these metals for health, and we can get them from plant foods. Meat tends to supply an overdose, which can “trigger” Alzheimer’s disease. Eating a healthy vegan diet rather than animal-based foods also helps boosts our intake of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other brain-beneficial substances that can lower our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Dr. Neal Barnard, a nutrition researcher at George Washington University and the author of Power Foods for the Brain, eating plant-based foods can reduce one’s risk for Alzheimer’s by as much as 70 percent.
4. A Vegan Diet Can Prevent – and Even Reverse – Diabetes
A Harvard School of Public Health study suggests that eating processed meats and red meat can increase a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 50 percent.
Diabetes usually affects overweight and inactive individuals, and the average vegan is about 18 percent leaner than his or her meat-eating counterpart. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that vegans are less likely to contract diabetes, and researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have found that diabetics who eat a low-fat vegan diet are able to stop taking medications – or at least take fewer of them – to manage the disease. The PCRM study participants also lost weight and lowered their cholesterol just by eating healthy vegan foods.
Go Vegan for Life
The fountain of youth is just a mouse click away. Take PETA’s pledge to go vegan for at least 30 days and find out how much better you feel. PETA also offer hundreds of free cruelty-free vegan recipes so that you can see how tasty vegan eating is.
Image Credit: Veggie Sandwich photo via Shutterstock