Vegans know there are many benefits that come with their lifestyle: low rates of disease, lower blood pressure, a sustainable and healthy diet, environmentally friendly living, a life free of animal cruelty, more energy and greater vitality.
But perhaps the most significant health result of the diet is the 15% lower mortality rate vegans enjoy.
A majority of the top ten causes of death in the United States have a direct relationship to diet and can be protected against by the vegan lifestyle: cardiovascular disease (CVD) at number one, cancer at number two, stroke at number four, Alzheimer’s at number six, diabetes at number seven and kidney disease at number nine.
The vegan lifestyle protects against each of these potentially deadly diseases in many important ways. Here are the top five deadly diseases veganism protects against:
1. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Stroke:
Vegans are less likely than meat-eaters to develop CVD according to several statistical analyses. A study of arterial stiffness found that vegans have the most elastic arteries of any populations. The hardening of the arteries, or arteriosclerosis, is a direct cause of heart attacks and strokes, since without elasticity, the blood vessels become narrower. That narrowing raises blood pressure and makes the blockages that cause heart attacks, strokes and peripheral vascular disease more likely. The vegan diet keeps the blood vessels elastic and blockage-free.
Vegans have a 15% lower incidence of all types of cancer, a 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer and a 34% lower incidence of female-specific cancers such as ovarian, uterine and breast cancer. Meat, dairy and processed foods are linked to several types of cancer that the vegan lifestyle protects from. High levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants, carotenoids and polyphenols combined with a lack of carcinogenic junk foods make it the perfect diet for a health-conscious person.
Meat-eaters are more than twice as likely as vegans to develop dementia. The mechanism is unknown but has held up when other factors were controlled. A possible explanation is that Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes linked to inflammation, and the vegan diet promotes lower levels of inflammation in the body.
Vegans have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than other populations. They are likely to eat fewer calories, less saturated fat and more protective plant foods. Vegans are also less prone to obesity than other populations, a condition that is a risk factor for both diabetes and CVD.
Diets high in plant intake fare best for all kidney diseases. Most serious chronic kidney diseases are caused by diabetes, which the vegan diet prevents more than any other type of diet. For patients who already have kidney disease, a vegan diet slows the development of potentially deadly cardiovascular risk factors.
What does this add up to? Long-term studies of all-cause mortality find that vegans live longer and with fewer debilitating chronic diseases, as a result of a plant-based diet. Vegans have found a sustainable and effective way to approach healthy eating. Ignoring fad diets that come and go, vegans have instead proved over many years of good decision-making that their lifestyle can provide an exemplary quality of life and vitality into old age.