Welcome back to Vegan Week! So, what’s all the hype about? What’s so great about veganism? Today I’m going to talk about the benefits going vegan that I’ve noticed. I’m going to list the ones I noticed personally first, in the order I noticed them, and then add a couple that maybe aren’t quite as obvious just by looking.
1. Improved Digestion
This one starts right away. All that fiber you’re eating keeps things, well, moving, as it were. It took me about a week for my body to adjust to all the fiber and legumes. I wasn’t much of a bean eater prior to going vegan and now it’s a staple for me, so I think that was the biggest issue. It was a little uncomfortable, but then things settled down. The lack of dairy also makes a huge difference in, well, motility. When I first went vegan, I cheated a few times with the cheese and I noticed a difference the next day. Dairy gums up the works, even if you’re like me and don’t have an actual lactose intolerance. The nice thing about things moving is that it keeps bloating down. My stomach is definitely flatter just from this.
2. Increased Energy
I had no idea how much food affects energy levels. I was eating vegetarian 5 days a week prior to going vegan. I never imagined what a big difference I’d see giving up the dairy. I have no real idea why this happens, but my theory is I’m not wasting energy digesting hard to digest foods, so I get to use that energy elsewhere. I noticed a change withing a week of switching. And again, when I cheated with cheese, I was sluggish the next day.
3. Weight Loss
The weight loss happened also within the first week. I easily lost a pound a week for the first seven weeks when I went vegan. I was not working out at all, nor was I overweight. Going vegan got me back to where I was at 22. A place I never thought I’d see again. In my reading about veganism, people who are overweight lose weight at a healthy rate easily and keep it off. Are you going to be super skinny if you go vegan? I don’t know, but, as long as you do it right and don’t become a junk food vegan, you will reach a healthy body weight. I firmly believe that veganism allows you to reach your body’s ideal weight. Not every body is the same. Some are skinny, some are stocky, some are short, some are tall. That’s fine. Your overall body shape is what it is, but it can be a healthy weight and you can have a healthy body mass index. (If you don’t know your BMI, click on the link to calculate it.)
4. No More Food Cravings
This one surprised me. I didn’t realize I had dairy cravings. I went through cheese withdrawals. No joke. It was really hard to kick the cheese habit. That’s why I cheated a few times. It turns out a lot of the foods we crave have proteins in them that bind to morphine receptors in our bodies and make us feel good when we eat them. Some people are affected more than others. Some of the foods that do this are cheese, meat, dairy, and chocolate. (That’s why when we’re stressed, chocolate is such a good thing.) It’s really nice not to have cravings like that anymore. I have had cheese after I got over the cravings, and guess what? It doesn’t even taste good anymore. Hmm.
My sugar cravings also decreased. That has more to do with plant based diets help keep our blood sugar steady. When blood sugar drops, we crave fast sugar, which means cookies, candy, and simple carbs. (I did not give up chocolate. That would have been a deal breaker for going vegan.)
5. Easy Weight Maintenance
This is so nice. I don’t have to think about calories or not eat so much for one meal because I’m going out later and planning on overeating. I eat what I want (as long as it’s vegan) and how much I want when I’m hungry and my weight stays the same. I feel like I’m a kid again, eating all the time and not worrying about it. I love it.
I put on a couple pounds after Penny weaned, but other than that, my weight hasn’t budged. At all. And I do eat plenty of desserts/junk food. Since I don’t have cravings anymore, I can really listen to my body and give it food when it wants it. Oh, and I’m not exercising regularly. That is not a good thing, but as far as maintaining my weight, it is purely due to eating vegan and nothing else.
6. Clear Skin
Wow. I love my skin now. It’s clear, not just blemish free, but radiant. Like when I was pregnant minus the baby. I attribute this to a couple of things. First, I’m eating less sugar. Until I went vegan, I didn’t realize that I was eating a lot of sugar and how much sugar affects my skin. Didn’t know, but sugar is a huge contributor to acne, even the monthly kind like I had. Also, I’m drinking way more water. It helps with the digestion. When we eat lots of fiber, we need to drink lots of water too. And the third, scientific reason is all those vegetables. The same compounds that give veggies their pretty colors, also give skin a little extra glow. The more you eat, the more you glow. Carrots and orange veggies, by the way, will also give skin a little tan from the inside. Too much makes you orange, but that’s pretty hard for an adult to do.
7. Decreased/Absent PMS signs
I had no idea but this is a scientifically proven fact. Plant based diets decrease or eliminate PMS and cramping. I used to know a good week in advance when Aunt Flo was coming for a visit. Things would swell and get sore. I’d put on five pounds overnight of water weight. My pants would be tight from the bloating. And my skin would break out. No fun. Now, I’m surprised every month. Now, it does not seem to help me with the moodiness. So although I’m surprised, pretty sure my husband’s not.
The cramping. I used to have pretty severe cramping. The kind where I took Midol and it helped a little but I still spent two days bent over, lying curled up on the couch, or in a hot bathtub trying to get comfortable to no avail. Now, there are months with no cramps at all. I do have months with some cramping, but they’re mild and a little ibuprofen makes them go away.
8. Health Benefits
There are lots of health benefits to eating a plant based diet. Weight loss and weight control if you’re overweight. It’s a super great diet to prevent or get a handle on heart disease. Animals are the only source of cholesterol, making vegan eating cholesterol free. Vegan is naturally low fat diet, and the fats that are part of the diet are the heart healthy unsaturated ones. A lot are the super healthy monounsaturated kind. It helps regulate blood sugar naturally. That, combined with the weight control, can help people manage Diabetes with less insulin. Some people even stop being insulin dependent. It helps control blood pressure. There are studies that show it helps with chronic pain. And, people on plant based diets have lower instances of cancers, especially colon and breast cancers. All alone are great reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
9. Benefits to the Planet
This was one of my main motivations for trying veganism in the first place. A plant based diet is just overall less hard on the environment. Animal production requires crops to be grown specifically for their consumption. It takes seven or more pounds of feed to produce a pound of beef. If we fed ourselves with plants only, we would need far less land devoted to crops. There’s runoff from feedlots and farms. And the greenhouse gases. Cows are the biggest source of greenhouse emissions. They produce more greenhouse gases than all the cars we drive. Part of that is due to how they are fed. And although better than cows, poultry and pork are not great for the environment either. If we all ate a plant based diet one day a week, it would make a major impact in the environment.
10. Benefits to Animals
I wasn’t big into the animal rights aspect of veganism when I started eating this way. But, it is nice to know nothing has to be killed for me to eat. I’ve been on slaughterhouse floors, and while it didn’t stop me from eating meat, it is pretty intense and my conscience feels better now that I don’t eat meat.
This, of course, raises the question what do vegans eat exactly? The simple answer, anything that isn’t animal based. Tomorrow I’m going to share with you some of the things I eat. I think you’ll be surprised how diverse and non-restrictive it is.
Were you surprised by any of these benefits?