Men’s health

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 animal 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…

10 good reasons for men to go vegan

1- Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. In Uganda, it is the most common cancer among men and has one of the highest rates in Africa, often with a poor prognosis. Men who eat lots of red meat or high-fat dairy products have a greater chance of getting it. 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.

2- Impotence

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 blood vessels leading to and from the heart can also block blood flow to other vital organs! American 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 (blood vessels), heart disease, stroke and lowers the risk of impotence which can be an early warning of heart disease.

3- Fertility

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 eat 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

Men are more likely than women to develop heart disease, which is one of Uganda’s leading causes of death. Furthermore, they are more likely to develop it earlier in life than women. In 2019, out of every 100,000 people, 22.5 men (and 17.5 women) died from heart disease. There are many things you can do to help prevent and even reverse 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.

5- Stroke

In Uganda, stroke is the sixth-highest-ranking cause of death and people with low socioeconomic status are among those worst affected. Strokes appear to be marginally more common in men than women. The good news is that replacing meat ​and dairy foods with other, healthier plant-based sources of protein (beans, lentils, soya, chickpeas, nuts, seeds and wholegrain foods), cutting out eggs, and reducing sugar and salt intake dramatically lowers the risk of stroke.

6- Depression

Almost one in three people in Uganda has depression, with refugees being disproportionately affected. Others reporting relatively high levels of depression include war victims, individuals living with HIV, postpartum or pregnant mothers, university students, children and adolescents and carers. In Uganda, men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide, this could be because they are more reluctant to seek help. Although poverty and food insecurity are certainly contributing factors to depression, studies in nutrition and mental health, mostly from high-income countries, show that some foods may be associated with improvements in mood and that vegans report less stress and anxiety than meat and dairy-eaters. One study of carers in Uganda found that fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. Reducing meat and dairy and increasing plant foods may offer significant mental health benefits for some people.

7- Acne

Bodybuilders 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 cow’s milk is often taken from pregnant cows, when hormone levels are high, avoiding dairy may reduce the risk of acne.

8- Male breast cancer

Just one per cent of breast cancer cases globally occur in men. However, some research suggests much higher levels in Africa with over six per cent of cases in one Ugandan study occurring in men. Furthermore, it is suggested this may be increasing. 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. Numerous studies link the consumption of meat, milk and cheese with the incidence of breast cancer.

9- Bowel cancer

Although the highest rates of bowel cancer are seen in high-income countries, increased rates are now being seen in low and middle-income countries too as diets change. The World Health Organisation says that processed meat causes bowel cancer and red meat probably does too. Eating processed meat, not eating enough fibre-rich foods and obesity increase the risk of bowel cancer. The solution is easy; go vegan!

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 healthy vegan diet that provides all the essential nutrients, while avoiding saturated animal fats, animal protein and cholesterol – all linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers. Vegan diets contain plenty of complex carbohydrates; wholemeal bread, wholewheat pasta and brown rice, to provide slow-release energy and fibre to help protect heart and bowel health. It’s 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, pulses, avocados and vegetable oils, including omega-3s from flaxseed (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, build up extra muscle and reduce recovery time.