10 Ways Veganism Has Benefited My Health
I often talk and write about the importance of a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, but what about making the choice as a result of personal health reasons? For me, this was not the deciding factor. Whilst there is an enormous bucket of research supporting the plant-based diet (for starters, check out The China Study, there are also many peer reviewed studies supporting meat, eggs and dairy. In an age of information which is prolific and conflicting, it can be highly confusing to know which approach to follow.
I have found 2 things to be particularly helpful in this regard. The first is to check out Dr. Michael Greger’s research. He offers a non-biased view based on peer reviewed literature, digging into the history and funding of the articles and sources to determine whether the study conducted was convoluted or motivated by reasons other than truth. The second thing is simply to listen to your body. In a world where research and information are convoluted and exhausting, what better truth is there than to listen to what your heart and your body have to say.
For me, going vegan affected my life drastically in so many ways. Here are 10 ways in which veganism has impacted my health:
1. Increased energy
A plant-based diet is far easier for the body to digest when compared to the standard diet. Animal protein is very dense and requires a lot of time and energy for the body to break down. On the other hand, plant proteins from leafy greens, seeds, nuts and legumes are able to be digested easily. They are also packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals that help you feel more alert. We need to remember that food is our fuel, and if you’re not fuelling your body efficiently then you can feel sluggish and slow.
2. Improved digestion
This is a miracle for me. For years now I have struggled with lots of problems with my stomach and my digestion. Over the last year or so, I have made leaps and bounds in this department. In general, a vegan diet promotes good gut heath due to an increased fibre intake which, whilst it may take a while to get used to in the beginning, aids digestion and also promotes regular bowel movements. People eating a plant-based diet also tend to consume a wider range of foods (I believe this is because they tend to be more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies). Both of these factors result in lower inflammation of the stomach and improved digestive health.
3. Loss of unnecessary weight
Don’t get me wrong, I have never been overweight, yet after transitioning to a vegan diet I definitely noticed I was leaner and stopped carrying around a bit of excess weight that I did not need. This can be attributed to eating a larger volume of lower caloric foods. The higher volume and increased fibre help you stay full for longer and assist your body to hold less weight. I also eat a lot less saturated fats than before, and in general, a whole foods, plant based diet involves the consumption of fewer high calorie foods, which tend to be much better for you.
4. Better skin
It’s a benefit that flies well under the radar. By changing to a vegan diet, you are effectively cutting out all the hormones you would typically consume through meat and dairy, which wreaks havoc on your skin. Dairy is probably the worst culprit in terms of skin problems, as it is high in hormones and fatty materials which clog your pores. Another helping hand is given by the high amount of antioxidants consumed in foods like fruits and veggies, which are utilised by the skin to prevent oxidative damage from occurring, and help the skin have a tighter, brighter complexion.
5. Hair growth
I have treated my hair dreadfully over the years. Whilst I looked spectacular in my bright blue do, it was also causing horrific damage to my hair. Keeping my hair at a bright colour all the time meant dying it at least every month – my natural hair is not blonde, so this also involved bleaching, and for those of you familiar with bleach, you will know it is harsh stuff! Eating a vegan diet has meant I am consuming a much higher level of vitamins and antioxidants. For the same reasons as they helped my skin, they also promoted my hair growth. Antioxidants help protect hair follicles against damage from harmful molecules in the environment, and in products we expose our hair to.
6. Reduced health complications
Before going vegan I was having a series of health complications. It was nothing too serious, all minor issues such as those with my teeth, cholesterol and uterus. Yet, after I changed my lifestyle and diet towards a more wholesome approach, my body has healed itself. We often forget that food is our fuel and it also gives the body the ammunition it needs to work in balance and heal itself. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” The importance of this cannot be overstated!
7. Helped my relationship with food
My relationship with food has not been a best friendship. It’s something I have struggled with in the past, and as a result, eating has often been stressful and I have neglected to focus on what food truly is – fuel and pleasure. Dedicating myself to a vegan diet has resulted in a massive shift in perspective for me. I think this is also attributed to the negative karma of an omnivore diet. When you eat an animal that has been innocently slain for your consumption, you are copping some heavy karma, and on top of this, you are consuming the rotting corpse of an animal. Now, I eat the rainbow, and I eat in abundance. I eat life. I eat antioxidants and vitamins and minerals, and I eat in a way that fuels my body with power, but also with love. Food to me is now fuel, and it’s something positive – this is how I affect positive change on the world.
8. Heightened my self-awareness
It’s a painful part of going vegan. You do a whole heap of research about eating animals, and as you come to live in alignment with yourself and the earth, you gain a heightened sense of self-awareness. This is not specific to food – it manifests in so many ways. I now have a much better understanding of what is going on in my body; I am more in tune to the messages it sends me. I have a better idea of when I need rest, and when enough is enough. I now see the beauty in the food that I eat, and I don’t focus only on my diet. I see how it is linked to my footprint on the earth, and how I can affect that. I also focus on removing chemicals from my world, and on trying to lessen my impact on our planet. It’s fascinating for me that all these changes can stem from making such a simple shift in my life.
9. I am so strong… stronger than I’ve ever been
Guys, I feel SO DAMN GOOD. I feel ALIVE. I feel MOTIVATED. And I feel STRONG AF. It’s the first time that my body feels like it is getting everything it needs to train and grow. I can now lift weights – I can squat, I can bench press, and I feel GREAT doing it. My body feels as though it has finally come into its own.
10. Happiness!!!! Every meal feels like you’re doing good
It may sound extreme, but I feel blessed. It seems ridiculous to gain so much happiness from switching one of your lifestyle factors, yet here I am. Every single meal feels amazing, like I’m doing a good thing and making the world a better place. And I am. Every meal is cruelty free. Every week that goes by I’m making the conscious decision to save animals from pain and suffering. It’s pure happiness, and I’m so incredibly grateful for it.