A vegan diet is one which eschews all animal based products. Strict vegans do not eat any meat, dairy, eggs or other animal derived products like honey. This restrictive diet is not for everyone, but there are certain benefits to giving up these animal based products.
Why Choose a Vegan Diet?
- You may be able to grow a higher proportion of the food you eat at home, in your polytunnel and elsewhere in your garden. While you are unlikely to be able to grow your grains at home, polytunnel gardeners are often able to meet most, if not all, of their fresh produce needs. A vegan diet, whether home grown or bought, requires far less land and resources to sustain than a meat and dairy-eater’s diet. This is one reason why a vegan diet can be a more sustainable and eco-friendly choice.
- Did you know, you can reduce your carbon footprint more by giving up beef for a year than by giving up your car?! The meat and dairy industries are incredibly energy intensive and polluting, so a vegan diet, especially if mostly home grown, is much better for our planet.
- Vegan food is cheaper, and so you can often save a lot of money by choosing to avoid animal-derived products.
- A vegan diet can have a range of health benefits.
The Health Benefits of the Vegan Diet
As with any diet, the key is to be well informed about your nutritional needs and to make sure you eat a well-balanced menu throughout the year. The first thing to remember is that a well-balanced vegan diet can cater for almost all your nutritional needs. The only thing that cannot be delivered by a vegan diet is vitamin B12 – this will have to be taken as a supplement (or in fortified foods). B12 aside, a good vegan diet can keep you extremely fit and healthy. There are a number of benefits to adopting a vegan diet. The health benefits of a vegan diet include:
- Weight loss: A vegan diet can help you to lose weight, since you will be eating a diet rich in diverse fruits and vegetables, and giving up the saturated fats in meats and dairy.
- Better systemic health: A good vegan diet can improve heart and general health, reducing the risk of ischemic heart disease and cancer.1
- With better general health comes more ability to concentrate and focus the mind. A good vegan diet will be rich in omega 3s (found in walnuts, pumpkin and flax seeds), which helps build myelin2 and improves the connections between brain cells.
- Improved appearance: a healthy vegan diet can improve your general health in a number of ways. This can improve the appearance of hair, skin and nails and, along with getting enough water, sleep and exercise, can make you look better.
Have you seen the health benefits of vegan diets? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.