The decision not to eat animal-based foods has been present in human societies for a long time–like, 2,000 years type of long. Ancient Indian communities were well known for following strict vegan diets. In Ancient Greece, the mathematician Pythagoras of Samos (known for his theorem on right angles) was famous for more than his geometrical genius.
Pythagoras believed that animals had souls and that eating them prevented union with a higher form of life. Many other philosophers of the past labeled meat as a decadence that leads to war and suffering.
After cropping up in many groups worldwide and in the west, veganism finally caught a tailwind straight into modern mainstream culture. In the 2010s, it took off. Today, countless celebrities and people of all backgrounds are adopting the lifestyle.
Here are some of the benefits of cutting out animal-based foods.
It should go without saying that when your body gets all of the vitamins and minerals it needs, it functions more effectively and efficiently.
It’s easy to get all the nutrients you need if you cut out animal-based products because you’ll need to get creative with your meals, and your only options will be healthy, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, pulses, and grains, nuts, and seeds.
Studies have shown that vegan diets contain a more robust inclusion of fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. They also contain more potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.
While humane treatment of animals plays a significant role in many people’s decisions to cut out meat, many do it simply for health benefits.
An observational study conducted to determine the relationship between plant-based diets and body weight found that people whose diets didn’t contain meat were thinner with lower body mass indexes.
Several randomized controlled studies, the most reliable and respected form of scientific research, concluded that plant-based diets were decidedly more effective in weight loss than any of the diets they tested against.
There is a direct correlation between plant-based diets and lower blood sugar levels. Vegans also have higher insulin sensitivity, meaning their bodies can use blood glucose more effectively.
A noteworthy 2009 study found that of participants following a vegan diet, 43% reported reducing their dosage of blood sugar-lowering medication. Of the participants in the other group who followed the ADA-recommended diet, only 26% said the same.
To be clear, it’s not all or nothing with these diets. The main goal is to include more nutritious foods in meals and less meat. That doesn’t mean everyone needs or even wants to be a vegan or vegetarian. But the average diet of the modern human being is nearly absent of balance.
The benefit of committing to something like a plant-based diet is that it forces you to include food in your meal plan that you might not otherwise. That’s because meat takes up a significant portion of a given meal, so something needs to take its place when you remove it.
If you’re like any of the billions of meat-eaters on the planet who can’t dream of a life without it, consider reading up on foods you might not know about or have never tried and adding them to your dishes. The goal is to be healthier and happier. And if that works, then later on down the road, you might also give an entirely plant-based diet a test run.