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To vegan … or not to vegan?

Those who adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle may choose to do so for several reasons. Some, like my younger sister, believe that the way animals are killed and prepared for packaging in warehouses is cruel. Others choose to become vegetarians and vegans because of the numerous health benefits that a plant-based diet provides.

A vegetarian diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Also, obesity levels are lower for vegetarians, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. According to the American Dietic Association, the source of these health benefits is a vegetarian diet’s typical low fat and high fiber content.

There is a vast body of scientific research suggesting that a diet consisting of more fruits and vegetables greatly reduces the risk of cancer. Many fruits and vegetables contain cancer-preventingagents, and by inserting these into your regular diet you can lower your risk of cancer 20-50%.

Studies also show that vegans, who abstain from dairy and egg products in addition to meat, have a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease. However, deficiencies in calcium and vitamin B12 have been shown to be higher among vegans because of their lack of dairy intake.

If you are considering adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, make sure to research and develop a diet with alternative nutritional food options, with particular attention given to those that contain protein and calcium. It is also important to make sure that you are getting enough calories to match your height, weight and activity level so that you stay energized throughout the day.

Sources:

www.vegetarian-nutrition.info

www.veganhealth.org

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