Have you signed up for Veganuary yet? If so, you’ve just taken the first step towards what may be one of the most positive changes of your life.
If not, what are you waiting for? Sign up for Veganuary here.
Going vegan is not only a compassionate gesture towards our furry friends and a huge step towards reducing your environmental ‘foodprint’. There are also many health benefits you’ll likely notice after you make the switch to a vegan diet.
By the end of the month, you’ll most likely notice a marked difference in how you feel, both physically and mentally, and in how you look! Especially if you make the effort to choose whole foods and other healthy plant-based options while avoiding anything packaged or processed convenience foods during your month-long Veganuary challenge.
5 Veganuary Health Benefits
Here are a few of the health benefits you’re likely to experience by month’s end:
Health Benefit #1: A Positive Change in Body Weight
Many people find that a switch to a vegan diet helped them arrive at their ideal body weight and a healthy body mass index (BMI). Plant foods have a high fibre content which gives you a satisfying feeling of being full while helping you avoid overeating. One of the biggest health benefits of a plant-based diet made up of healthy whole foods, is that it helps you to keep any unwanted excess pounds off in the long term.
A 2015 randomised study took an in-depth look at five different diets (including vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, and omnivorous) and compared the effect each had on weight loss.
Guess which diet came out on top as the most effective? Yup, the participants in the study that followed a vegan diet lost more pounds while also seeing a fall in their fat and saturated fat levels.
If you have a few extra stubborn pounds you want to get rid of quicker, then Veganuary can be a good time to start a fitness programme to see faster results.
Health Benefit #2: Clearer Skin
Don’t be surprised if your complexion improves during Veganuary and people say that you have a certain glow about you.
Drinking milk and eating other dairy products like cheese, yoghurt and butter are linked to adult acne. Research points the finger at the growth hormones found naturally in cow’s milk as well as the artificial ones fed to dairy cows to increase their milk production. These hormones are present in dairy products and are a trigger for acne. Other chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are also linked to the consumption of milk and other milk products.
Of these 12 foods touted as superfoods for healthy skin, 11 are vegan. The list includes avocados, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, soy, green tea, red grapes and even dark chocolate.
These foods contain essential fats, vitamins E and C amongst others, as well as antioxidants that are especially beneficial for the skin.
Many people who decide to make the jump to a vegan diet during Veganuary find that once they ditch the dairy completely, their skin clears up for good and their complexion looks brighter and healthy-looking. This ‘vegan glow’ is just one of the many health benefits of going plant-based.
Health Benefit #3: Improved Mood
Another health benefit of eating vegan is the boost it provides to your brain. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains while shunning meat and dairy has a pick-up effect on mood and provides an overall sense of well-being for many.
A 2015 study that compared the effects of vegetarian, meat-based and fish-based diets on the mood, depression, anxiety and stress levels of 39 meat-eaters found that the group who were fed a plant-based diet scored the best results in mood and stress tests.
Many new vegans also report experiencing increased mental clarity thanks to the plant foods that they feed their body – and brain – with. The antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables do a good job at clearing up brain fog while also boosting levels of depression-fighting serotonin.
Health Benefit #4: Better Digestion
Did you know that the high fibre content of plant foods is great for your gut and overall digestive health?
Research done in the United States in 2014 revealed that Americans spend a jaw-dropping $12 billion on treating constipation. The researchers concluded that by adding more fibre-rich foods to their diets, such as whole grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, Americans could get things moving in the digestive department while also saving a few dollars and cutting down on sick days from work and school.
Fill up on fibre this Veganuary by choosing foods rich in probiotics to give your stomach a hefty dose of healthy microbes. Reach for fermented foods like miso, tempeh and kimchi, or probiotic-rich veggies such as leeks, onions, garlic, spinach, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root and dandelion greens.
A healthy diet that includes a variety of these foods has the effect of feeding the good bacteria in your gut which assist with digestion while also kickcharging your immunity and reducing inflammation.
Your stomach will thank you!
Health Benefit #5: Improved Long Term Health Overall
Another health benefit of going vegan that’s perhaps less tangible in the short term, is an improvement in overall health and well-being. Avoiding meat and dairy and reaching for the veggies and other heart-healthy foods translates to long lasting benefits to your health.
Research completed in 2019 confirmed that plant-based diets are linked to a lower incidence of heart disease and mortality in general but also other lifestyle diseases, including diabetes and colon cancer.
Meanwhile, a large-scale review in 2016 of the beneficial effects of vegetarian and vegan diets on health concluded that a vegan diet brings down the risk of cancer by 15%.
New vegans should be aware that they can still run the risk of dietary deficiencies on a plant-based diet. Vegans do need to make sure they’re getting essential vitamins and nutrients. A few to keep your eye on include iodine, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, as well as Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 and others.
Read our vegan supplement blog to find out more.
Making the switch to a diet of healthy plant foods is a massive step towards a long and healthy life. This is perhaps the best reason to consider sticking to a vegan diet beyond Veganuary!