Is switching towards a more plant-based diet healthier for you?

Well-balanced plant-based diets can provide the nutrients the body needs to be healthy. There is some evidence that dietary patterns that include plenty of plant-based foods (but don’t necessarily exclude meat/animal foods) have health benefits. A plant-based diet is typically high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and dietary fibre while, being low in saturated fat and added sugars.

The evidence specifically for vegan diets and health is limited, although some evidence suggests a reduced risk of certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes. However, these studies are mainly observational so can’t prove direct cause and effect. It may be that people who follow more plant-based diets have healthier lifestyles overall, for instance, they may be more physically active, maintain a healthier weight, consume less alcohol, and are less likely to smoke. In addition, not all plant-based diets are equal! Well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets can be nutritious and healthy, but it is also possible to follow a vegan diet badly. Some processed foods that are suitable for vegans can also be high in saturated fat, salt and added sugars, such as deep fried foods, biscuits, crisps and confectionery.