There are many factors that contribute to the sometimes-fatal effects of COVID-19 — a compromised immune system, old age, lung conditions, and obesity are only a few. That being said, studies show that certain lifestyle choices may reduce the severity of coronavirus symptoms, such as following a vegan diet, according to several top U.K. doctors.
“Going vegan is one of the simplest, cheapest things Britons can do to slash the risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19," reads a letter written by British medical experts addressed to the government, as per Plant Based News. "Now more than ever before it’s time to embrace the benefits of a plant-based diet before it’s too late."
How does veganism combat COVID-19? Here's what medical experts say:
As previously mentioned, a group of top British doctors wrote an open letter to the U.K. government about how veganism can reduce the effects of COVID-19, according to Plant Based News. The letter explains that people who follow well-balanced, plant-based diets are less likely to be obese, have diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, this ultimately lessens the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
The country's government has started tackling the obesity crisis by banning junk food ads from running before 9 p.m. as well as eliminating buy-one-get-one-free promotions. Although these are useful steps towards combatting weight problems, doctors feel they overlook the fact that encouraging a vegan diet — or at least cutting back on meat and animal byproducts — could vastly improve the issue.
Doctors are standing behind #SlashTheRiskCampaign created by vegan charity, Viva!, which is installing billboards promoting the benefits of a plant-based diet nationwide. Viva! director, Juliet Gellatley, said in an official statement: “Today some of Britain and America’s top clinicians are delivering a very clear message. A healthy vegan diet can help you lose weight, reverse Type 2 diabetes and protect heart health, reducing your risk of severe COVID-19.”
Does a vegan diet prevent COVID-19?
Although a plentiful plant-based diet can help reduce the side effects of the coronavirus, it doesn't completely prevent one from contracting it at all. COVID-19 is contracted through the eyes, nose, and mouth, which means those who follow a vegan diet are just as likely to contract the virus as non-vegans, according to Vegan Friendly. Our point? Vegans have to wear masks and social distance, too!
Also, not all vegan diets can necessarily be deemed "healthy" ones. Following a plant-based diet is only "healthy" if it's well-balanced with fruits, vegetables, proteins, and complex carbohydrates. Being too restrictive, or consuming unusually high amounts of any one food group can make following a plant-based diet virtually useless, healthwise. If you are just starting out in the world of plant-based foods and need a helping hand, check out our guide on transitioning to a vegan diet for tips.
Getting started in the realm of veganism isn't always easy, but making a gradual transition is certainly worth your while – not only for the sake of the environment, but also to lower your chances of developing weight problems, diabetes, or heart disease, and ultimately, to mitigate the risk of suffering from the effects of COVID-19.