MenFit and healthy the vegan way
Make no mistake, a vegan diet is the healthiest possible for infants, children, women, the elderly and men – yes, men!
There is no magic ingredient in meat or dairy that benefits men’s health. In fact, the saturated fat, growth hormones and harmful chemicals in meat and dairy are linked to a wide range of men’s health problems so here are 10 good reasons for men to go vegan.
1. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among UK men. Those who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products have a greater chance of getting the disease. 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 it.
The idea that men need to eat red meat to perform in the bedroom couldn’t be more wrong. Meat and dairy foods are high in saturated fat and
cholesterol, which clog up the arteries leading to and from the heart and 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.
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 (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 in the UK have heart disease and every year, around 50,000 in England have a heart attack. Things you can do to help prevent and even reverse heart disease include 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 and 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, can help control blood sugar levels.
Depression may be more common in women than men but men are more likely to commit suicide if they have it, maybe because they 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 promote muscle growth are more prone to acne. The hormones increase oil secretion in the skin which can block hair follicles which become infected and inflamed, giving rise to large, pus-filled spots. As two-thirds of cow’s milk is taken from pregnant cows, when hormone levels are sky-high, avoiding dairy can reduce or eliminate 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 in women. However, the outcome is not as good in men as in women, perhaps because reduced awareness may delay diagnosis. A large body of evidence links the consumption of meat, milk and cheese with 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 (sausages, ham and bacon) 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 wholegrain vegan diet. It provides all the good stuff such as complex carbohydrates, antioxidants and fibre, while avoiding the baddies – saturated animal fats, animal protein and cholesterol, which are all linked to a heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
Complex carbohydrates in wholemeal bread, brown pasta and brown rice, provide slow-release energy and fibre to help protect heart and bowel health. They are rich in disease-busting antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, especially important for sportspeople. Nuts, seeds, beans, avocados and vegetable oils provide a good supply of unsaturated, essential fats, including omega-3s from flaxseed (linseed) oil and walnuts. They can satisfy the heartiest appetite while also supplying all the nutrients your body requires to maintain a sporty lifestyle and build up extra muscle.
- See Viva!Health’s muscle-building 7-day meal plan
- For more information see Viva!Health’s Men’s Health pages