Many men are reluctant to try a vegan diet because they feel it somehow undermines their masculinity or, specifically, their ability to build muscle. But meat does not make a man, and there is no magic ingredient in animal products that benefits men’s health. In fact, many of the ingredients in meat and dairy are actually detrimental to men’s health. Here are 10 good reasons for men to go vegan for their health.
1. Prostate cancer
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and men who eat lots of red meat or high-fat dairy products have a greater chance of getting it. However, a low-fat vegan diet rich in fruit and vegetables combined with exercise may help prevent it or slow the progression of prostate cancer in men who already have the disease.
Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol (meat and dairy products) clog up the arteries can block blood flow to other vital organs! But a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds protects against blocked arteries, heart disease, stroke and lowers the risk of impotence which can be an early warning of heart disease.
Men who eat the most meat and full-fat dairy products have been found to have fewer and slower sperm, while those who ate the most fruit and vegetables have higher quality and faster sperm.
4. Heart disease
Men are more likely than women to develop heart disease, which is one of the UK’s leading causes of death and the most common cause of premature death. Avoiding meat and dairy can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, avoid or manage type 2 diabetes and ultimately reduce the risk of heart disease.
Obese men are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, three times more likely to develop bowel cancer and more than two and a half times more likely to develop high blood pressure. A low-fat vegan diet can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight, improve fat levels in the blood and, in people with diabetes, it can help control blood sugar levels.
Men are far more likely to commit suicide than women, possibly because men are more reluctant to seek help. Research shows that vegans report less stress and anxiety than meat and dairy-eaters and that reducing meat and dairy may offer significant mood benefits.
Bodybuilders who use steroid hormones or whey-based supplements to stimulate muscle growth are more prone to acne. As two-thirds of retail cow’s milk is taken from pregnant cows, when hormone levels are high, avoiding dairy can reduce the risk of acne.
8. Male breast cancer
Although breast cancer in men is relatively rare compared to women, the survival rates for men are not as good. Numerous studies link the consumption of meat, milk and cheese with the incidence of breast cancer so going vegan is a great way to reduce the risk.
9. Bowel cancer
Bowel cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death after lung and prostate cancer in men. Almost a third of cases are caused by eating too little fibre, 13 per cent are caused by eating processed meat and 11 per cent by obesity. The solution is easy; swap that beef steak for a tofu steak with plenty of veggies on the side!
10. Men’s fitness
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t build muscle by eating muscle (meat). Muscles develop by being used, and the best diet to fuel this is a well-balanced wholegrain vegan diet. This diet provides all the good stuff; plant proteins, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants and fibre, while avoiding the baddies; saturated animal fats, animal protein and cholesterol. It can satisfy the heartiest appetite while also supplying all the nutrients your body requires to maintain a sporty lifestyle, build up extra muscle and reduce recovery time.
Men can get everything they need from a plant-based diet without any of the hidden nasties found in meat and dairy. But if you’re a fitness fanatic and still have your doubts, check out Viva!’s Sports Nutrition pages to find out how you can supercharge your performance by switching to a vegan diet.