For all the attempts to classify vegans as weak and feeble individuals ridden with deficiencies, science shows otherwise. Studies upon studies have all indicated the same thing; vegans tend to be healthier, and live longer on average than consumers of meat and dairy products.

When you consider the foods that vegans eliminate from their diets, as well as what they eat as dietary replacements, it’s clear to see why there is a solid connection between veganism and good health. Here are some of the ways that vegan diets can be better for your body.

A healthier body mass index.

Going vegan means cutting out a significant number of food products containing egg, milk, meat, butter and other by-products. Vegan alternatives are often healthier, as replacement ingredients are usually plant-based. For example, vegan cakes can contain ingredients like banana, applesauce, coconut oil or soy yogurts instead of butter, making such cakes less high in saturated and trans-fats. All in all, removing meat and animal by-products from your diet typically requires you to find more wholesome and nutritional foods, which promote weight loss and lower the percentage of body fat in a person.

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Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Studies have shown that a vegan diet, for similar reasons, also helps lower the body’s levels of cholesterol and its blood pressure. There is a decreased risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes in vegans, suggesting that the vegan diet is appropriate for those concerned with the risk of heart attack or strokes. Bill Clinton famously adopted a vegan diet to improve his health – particularly the health of his heart.

Reduced risk of cancer.

As well as decreasing the risk of heart complications, a vegan diet has been linked with a reduced risk of various types of cancer. This is because vegans, on average, eat fewer foods that are known, or suspected, to be ‘carcinogenic’ – i.e. cancer-causing. Red meat is one such food, as well as many fats in processed animal products. In particular, the vegan diet has shown to be promising in reducing the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

Better mental clarity.

Many vegans have reported feeling more concentrated and mentally alert just weeks into having adopted the diet. Daniel Negreanu, a professional poker player who has amassed over $35 million in earnings, claims that he owes a lot of his success in poker to veganism, as he became more energised and focused after removing meat and dairy products from his diet. Eliminating processed products and other calorie-dense junk food that is lacking in nutrition will understandably make us feel less drowsy and slow. It’s not surprising that there is a link between what we eat and our cognitive state.

More physical energy.

Other vegans have reported that their overall fitness and physical stamina have improved with the vegan diet. Germany’s strongest man, the bodybuilder Patrik Baboumian, is a record holder in many international strength contests, and a proud vegan. Baboumian is just one of many athletes and sports personalities who prove it is possible to have as much, or even more, physical energy when on a vegan diet.

Healthier skin, hair and nails.

A common health improvement reported by those who switch to a vegan diet is that of their hair, skin and nails. This is likely due to the fact that consuming more fresh and natural food helped stimulate hair growth, nourish nails and hydrate the skin. Miley Cyrus and Beyonce are just two of many Hollywood beauty icons who claim that their vibrant glow and luscious hair can be put down to vegan diets.

Reduces risk of arthritis.

There is also a connection between dairy consumption and arthritis. Recent studies have indicated that reducing or removing dairy products from your diet can alleviate symptoms of arthritis, though there is still a lot of research that is needed before we can identify why.

In summary, there are numerous immediate improvements to our health that can be noted when we cut out meat and dairy products from our diet. Although eating a vegan diet can undoubtedly be an inconvenience to some, vegan food is nonetheless becoming increasingly accessible and affordable, giving us reason to be optimistic about the future of our health.