Just as a vegan diet is the healthiest diet for infants, children, women and older people, it is also the healthiest diet for men. There is no magic ingredient in meat or dairy that benefits men’s health. In fact, the saturated fat, growth hormones and chemical compounds in meat and dairy are linked to a wide range of men’s health problems. Here are 10 good reasons for men to go vegan…
1. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products have a greater chance of getting prostate cancer. A low-fat vegan diet rich in fruit and vegetables combined with exercise can help slow the progression of prostate cancer in men who already have the disease.
The idea that men need to eat red meat to perform sexually couldn’t be more wrong. The foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol (meat and dairy products) that clog up the arteries leading to and from the heart can also block blood flow to other vital organs! Vegan fire-fighter Rip Esselstyn (son of esteemed heart surgeon Dr Caldwell Esselstyn) says: “the canary in the coal mine when it comes to heart disease is an underperforming penis”. 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.
Meat and dairy foods may be linked to fertility problems; 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 (which means more vitamins, folic acid and fibre and fewer proteins and fats) have higher quality sperm that swim faster.
4. Heart disease
Nearly 1.4 million men have heart disease in the UK and around 50,000 men in England alone have a heart attack each year. There are many things you can do to help prevent heart disease including: stopping smoking, taking regular exercise and going vegan. 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.
The UK has become the ‘fat man of Europe’. One in four British adults is obese. 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 major risk factor for heart disease. A low-fat vegan diet can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight. It also helps improve fat levels in the blood and in people with diabetes, it can help control blood sugar levels.
Depression may be more common in women than men, but men are far more likely to commit suicide. This could be 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.
Body builders who use steroid hormones or whey-based supplements to stimulate muscle growth are more prone to acne. The hormones increase oil secretion in the skin, which can lead to blocked hair follicles, which if infected and inflamed give rise to large pus-filled spots. 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
Breast cancer is relatively rare in men affecting about 400 men each year in the UK, compared with around 50,000 cases in women. However, the outlook for breast cancer is not as good in men as in women probably because there is reduced awareness and it may take longer to diagnose. A large body of evidence links the consumption of meat, milk and cheese with the incidence of breast cancer.
9. Bowel cancer
The BBQ is a popular male domain where sausages, burgers and hot dogs are frequently burnt to a crisp! The World Health Organisation says that processed meat causes bowel cancer and red meat probably does too. Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in England and the third most common cause of cancer death after lung and prostate cancer in men. The solution is easy; stick a vegan sausage or a Portobello mushroom on the grill!
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 whole grain vegan diet. The advantage of this diet is that it provides all the good stuff; complex carbohydrates, antioxidants and fibre, while avoiding the baddies; saturated animal fats, animal protein and cholesterol, all linked to a heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers. It contains plenty of complex carbohydrates; wholemeal bread, brown pasta and brown rice, to provide slow-release energy and fibre to help protect heart and bowel health. It is rich in disease-busting antioxidants; vitamins A, C and E, especially important for sportspeople. It also provides a good supply of unsaturated essential fatty acids found in nuts, seeds, beans, avocados and vegetable oils, including omega-3s from flax seed oil also known as linseed oil, walnuts and some green leafy vegetables, to help maintain a healthy heart. It can satisfy the heartiest appetite while also supplying all the nutrients your body requires to maintain a sporty lifestyle and build up extra muscle.