As of 2021, 6% of Americans now identify as vegan. This is a 500% increase in plant-based consumers since 2014. Veganism has become mainstream in culture and the grocery store. In 2020, plant-based food sales were up by 27%. There has never been a better time to go vegan. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, be prepared for positive lifestyle and health changes.
So, what actually happens to your body when you stop eating meat? For starters, you’ll feel healthier. While an adjustment period to your new diet is necessary, the health benefits will kick in right away. Fill up your plate with leafy grains and filling legumes. Discover how you can eat your way to better health when you give up meat and start a plant-based diet.
- You’ll Lose Weight
New plant-based people looking to lose weight are in for good news. After adopting a plant-based diet, it’s likely that you will see the scale drop. Research from the Physician Committee of Responsible Medicine shows that overweight people who eat a plant-based diet lose weight without restricting calories. Of the weight that participants lost in the study, 2/3 of it was belly fat.
It’s no wonder that high-fiber and low-calorie plant-based foods will naturally fill you up. It’s important to make sure you’re getting the right nutrition to lose weight on a plant-based diet. Existing solely on vegan substitutes will not help you lose weight. Load up on vegetables and plant-based protein. You won’t even miss meat after seeing weight loss results.
- Your Gut Bacteria Will Change
If you’ve experienced gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome in the past, a plant-based diet can positively impact your gut bacteria. Research shows that a vegan diet rich in high fiber and vegetables improves the gut microbiome. Plants naturally contain healthy prebiotics that balance your gut bacteria and nourish your gut.
Healthy plant-based diets for your gut include beans, vegetables, and fruits. Combined, these foods contain diverse microbiota. Antioxidants from fiber-rich meals will certainly help your gut flora. The more diverse your gut microbiota, the happier your gut becomes.
- Your Risk of Developing Cancer Could Drop
People with a predisposition to cancer due to genetics or other health conditions should listen closely to this research. A plant-based diet can slash your cancer risk. Researchers from The Mayo Clinic tracked over 70,000 participants over time to analyze their cancer risk based on their dietary choices. Of all participants, vegans had the lowest risk of cancer overall. They concluded that plants contain phytochemicals, an anti-inflammatory chemical that fights against cancer.
Fiber is also another important factor in this research. Fiber-filled foods help keep people fuller longer and are nutrient-dense. Women who eat fiber-rich diets are 25% less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives.
- Your Risk of Heart Disease Will Also Drop
Across all genders and ethnicities in the United States, heart disease remains the leading cause of death. A plant-based diet can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. Research from the Journal of the American Heart Association found that people who ate plant-based diets had up to a 32% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Participants were studied over time from 1987 to 2016, making it a large longitudinal study of how plant-based diets affect heart health over time.
Some research suggests that plant-based diets can even help reverse heart disease. The research from Dr. Dean Ornish found that participants with moderate heart disease had improved blood flow to the heart in a month of eating plant-based foods. After a year, participants’ arteries reopened. Simple lifestyle changes made a world of difference for those suffering from heart disease before any surgery took place.
- You’ll Dramatically Reduce your Chances of Type 2 Diabetes
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 10 Americans have Type 2 diabetes. At this point, you guessed it, a plant-based diet can help prevent or reduce symptoms of Type 2 diabetes as well. Research found that vegans were far less likely to have type 2 diabetes. The study concluded that even small increases in red meat appear to increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
Of course, Type 2 diabetes is more complex than just reducing sugar intake. Following a plant-based diet helps people maintain a healthy body weight, as we discussed earlier. A healthy plant-based diet paired with a lower BMI helps manage and even reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Plant-based diets not only taste delicious, but they’re incredible for your health. With your new colorful plate comes a plethora of positive health improvements. Maintain a healthy and balanced plant-based diet for optimal results.
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