Thinking of going vegan? The lifestyle is known to impact many areas of living, including the way your body functions. Whilst everyone’s experience will differ, here are 15 common side effects of going vegan.
15 Side Effects You Might Experience When Going Vegan
1. Increased Energy
Those opting for a vegan diet frequently report an increase in energy. Recently, we have seen a surge of athletes turning to veganism to improve their physical ability and stamina. Vegan foods such as bananas, avocados, hummus, brown rice, and nuts are all great options for increasing energy levels.
2. Lower Cholesterol
A systematic review of 49 studies showed that vegans typically have lower cholesterol than those who consume meat and dairy, adding to other evidence that supports this.
Interestingly, the leading cause of dietary cholesterol in America is chicken. According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, and meat all increase cholesterol levels.
Contrastingly, lentils, beans, vegetables, nuts, and tofu all help to naturally lower cholesterol. Even some vegan ice cream is cholesterol-free!
3. Improved Skin
Many vegan foods are “skin-friendly” (such as carrots, tomatoes, blueberries, and beans), while animal products, especially dairy, are renowned for being detrimental to your skin. Reportedly, meat consumption has also been linked to dark circles under the eyes.
4. Improved Digestive Health
Following a plant-based diet and ditching animal products can be an effective way to get your digestion and bowel movements healthy and regular. In fact, red meat has been suggested to cause constipation along with other bowel problems. However, vegans regularly report improvement in these areas, likely due to rich fiber levels.
5. Improved BMI
Recent data linked meat consumption to growing obesity issues in the U.S. Additionally, it has been found that one serving of processed meat per day increases the risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent. Contrastingly, a vegan diet frequently assists with weight loss.
However, if you swap to a vegan diet and don’t want to lose weight, click here to learn how to maintain weight whilst transitioning.
6. Lower Blood Pressure
Research suggests that adopting a plant-based diet substantially reduces blood pressure. Those with high blood pressure are warned to stay away from certain meats, which may worsen the problem.
Contrastingly, organizations such as Heart Foundation and Blood Pressure UK recommend increasing vegetable, fruit, nuts and whole-grain intake to assist with blood pressure levels.
7. Reduced Risk of Disease
The information on the dangers of meat is ever-growing. Since the World Health Organisation declared meat a carcinogen, consumers seem to be paying more attention than ever to the food on their plates.
Red and processed meat consumption have been found to increase the risk of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes, while “plant-based nutrition” was able to reverse similar conditions in a separate study. Additionally, dairy has been linked to a multitude of health problems, including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and colon and breast cancer.
Meat intake has also been linked to the “epidemic” of heart disease in young people, while it has been discovered that a plant-based diet can “reverse” heart disease. Similarly, following a vegan diet has been used to treat Crohn’s disease, control type 2 diabetes, and assist with arthritis.
In fact, it’s suggested that veganism can reverse or prevent the top 8 health-related causes of death.
8. Longer Life Expectancy
The reduced risk of disease explained above may also contribute to longer life expectancy. In fact, a longitudinal study that observed over 130,000 people over several decades found that vegans had “substantially lower death rates”.
Animal products, such as eggs, have been found to decrease life length. Meanwhile, eating green is linked to an increased lifespan.
Roughly 70 percent of deaths are related to lifestyle and are, most importantly, preventable.
9. Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions
While a vegan diet has been found to have a reduced overall impact on the environment, greenhouse gas emissions are particularly improved by avoiding animal products.
Animal agriculture contributes more emissions than all of the world’s transport combined- at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Contrastingly, a vegan diet produces 50 percent less carbon dioxide than the diets of meat-lovers.
10. Reduced Deforestation
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of habitat and rainforest destruction. It uses more land than any other human activity and is responsible for up to 91 percent of Amazon’s destruction. However, those who opt for plant-based living, save 30 square feet of forested land daily!
11. More Water Saved
Animal agriculture consumes between 34 and 76 trillion gallons of water annually, which is 80-90% of water consumption in America. Additionally, 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef, with similarly substantial amounts needed for other animal products.
By following a vegan diet, you can save 1,100 gallons of water every day. Why does this matter? Only 1% of the Earth’s water is drinkable; by conserving water we can minimize water shortages and droughts, build safe communities, and help the planet.
12. Global Food Supply
We are currently growing enough food to feed ten billion people, yet on average, ten percent of the world’s population is undernourished—this number exceeds 50 percent in some locations.
How has this happened? Contributing factors include the industries of meat and dairy production. A staggering 50 percent of the world’s grain (and 95 percent of America’s oats, 60 percent of corn, and 75 percent of alfalfa) is fed to livestock. In fact, if the grain that was fed to livestock was given directly to humans, the amount could feed roughly 800 million people.
13. Reduced Antibiotic Misuse
According to research, “rapid emergence of resistant bacteria is occurring worldwide”. This is caused by the overuse of antibiotics, rendering previously treatable infections threatening, once again. Currently, 23,000 people die every year from bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.
The problem (and solution) may be in the food we buy as 80 percent of antibiotics sold in America are given to livestock. Unfortunately, the use of these medications is for the wrong reasons- to promote growth and to prevent (rather than cure) illness.
Thankfully, by choosing to skip meat, you can help to decrease the demand for these products.
14. Less Animal Death
Though it may seem obvious that veganism saves animals, the amount of change you are impacting might surprise you.
Currently, more than six million animals are killed for food every hour. This figure doesn’t represent the whole picture, as it’s not just the meat industry doing damage. The production of eggs results in millions of male baby chicks being disposed of, while the dairy industry passes calves on to veal producers.
Additionally, animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction worldwide.
For an eye-opening perspective on how much animal death is occurring, click here to see the statistics.
Thankfully, there is an alternative. Each person who goes vegan will save 198 lives of animals every year. And with the ever-growing number of people switching to veganism, plant-based food sales continue to go up while meat and dairy sales drop. With time and continued compassion, the amount of animals suffering will decrease.
15. Increased Happiness
Those who follow plant-based diets have previously been found to experience improved mood states. Another study found that reducing meat, fish, and poultry intake resulted in bettered emotions, while veganism was also found to “reduce stress and anxiety”.
As well as the evidence backing this, just the knowledge of the good you are doing for your body, the environment, and for other lives on the planet, is enough to make anyone feel a little happier.
Thinking of trying a vegan diet? You can sign up for this year’s Veganuary for free, by clicking here.