13 unexpected benefits of a vegan diet you may not have considered

Read Time:   |  26th August 2021

From saving animal's lives to protecting the future of our planet, there are many benefits of a vegan diet. But here are some benefits of a vegan diet that might just surprise you...

More of us are making the switch to a vegan diet than ever before1.

Our top reasons for following a long-term vegan lifestyle include the pursuit of better health, concern over the climate change emergency and the distress of animal exploitation.

These are the most commonly discussed motivations for a vegan diet, and they are certainly all worth going vegan for. But what else might happen when you go vegan?

Here are 13 surprising health benefits of a vegan lifestyle that you may not have considered.

1. Improved digestion

Moving to a vegan diet and including plenty of whole, plant foods will increase your intake of dietary fibre.

Fibre is crucial to support the healthy functioning of your digestive tract.

You may find that you visit the bathroom a little more often with an easier and more satisfying movement.

At the same time, you will be feeding the beneficial bacteria of your gut, producing an anti-inflammatory effect2.

2. You can eat more

benefits of a vegan diet

Whole plant foods are generally lower in energy per weight compared to animal products and processed foods.

This means the same volume of food will contain far fewer calories and much more fibre, water and phytonutrients.

If you like to fill up your plate and feel satisfied at each meal, going for a whole food vegan diet is a great way to eat.

3. Re-connection with the natural world

When adopting a vegan diet, the link between our food choices and the natural world come into focus.

The knowledge that your daily food choices have a far-reaching impact on the world around you allows you to feel more in touch with the intricacy and fragility of the natural environment.

4. Reduced risk of chronic disease

In western society, chronic diseases are becoming thought of as an unavoidable consequence of ageing.

Heart disease and cancers remain firm front runners as causes of premature death and disability.

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

In areas of the world where populations live healthy lifestyles, with predominantly plant-based diets, people live healthy and active lifestyles well into their 90s and 100s with these diseases being almost unheard of3.

Amongst other lifestyle factors, plant-based diets support risk reduction by providing low calorie but nutrient-dense foods. They also support the avoidance of dietary carcinogens, a healthy gut microbiome, and an improved hormone profile4.

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5. Better mental health

benefits of a vegan diet

Research has shown us that our diet plays a crucial role in our mental health.

One study has confirmed a causal link between diet and mental health6.

In the study, 32% of participants diagnosed with depression were no longer considered depressed after 12 weeks consuming more plant foods.

Only 8% of those with no dietary changes had the same result.

Although not a silver bullet, increasing plant foods appears to be a new and important part of the puzzle in mental health, with only beneficial side effects!

6. Less painful periods

Many women report an improvement in their premenstrual symptoms when adopting a vegan diet.

Although research is limited, one study found that women following a low-fat vegetarian diet achieved reduced menstrual pain, as well as less water retention and fewer mood swings7.

This is likely due to the impact of diet on levels of oestrogen; an important hormone involved in regulating the menstrual cycle.

7. Reduced risk of food poisoning

If you have experienced food poisoning, you know how unpleasant it can be!

Although you are not exempt from food poisoning by going vegan, your chances are highly reduced.

Poultry in particular causes around 50% of all cases, some of which are fatal.

In fact, over 70% of supermarket chickens are contaminated with Campylobacter due to exposure to faecal matter during processing8.

8. You might smell better

Research suggests that when you remove meat from your diet, your body odour may improve.

One study found that when smelling clothing samples from vegetarian versus red meat-eating men, women found the vegetarian samples less intense, more pleasant and more attractive!

This is likely due to the changes in substances emitted from sweat glands as well as the bacteria feeding on these substances as a result of dietary changes9.

9. You could save money

There is a misconception that eating a vegan diet is more expensive.

Of course it is always fun to try out the latest vegan alternative on the market, but this may not be so good for your wallet (or your health!).

Stocking up on whole plant food staples like potatoes, beans, rice, bananas and oats, as well as frozen fruits and vegetables is a great way to save the pennies.

In fact, it could even reduce your food bill by 40% compared to an omnivorous diet10.

10. Your tastes may change

If you are used to a diet that is high in fat, a few weeks of no dairy, eggs, butter and meat has been shown to increase your taste sensitivity to fat. This can result in a change in your taste preferences11.

This is also true for salt.

This suggests that the longer you are on a healthy vegan diet, the better it will taste. An unexpected benefit of a vegan diet!

11. Your sleep could improve

benefits of a vegan diet

If you are switching to a plant predominant diet, you are very likely to be increasing your fibre intake and reducing your saturated fat.

This is great news for many aspects of our health, but research has found that this could also be key in supporting a deeper and restorative night’s sleep12.

12. You will be helping to fight hunger

Over 800 million people go to bed on an empty stomach, yet we produce corn purely for animal feed on 90 million acres of land.

Choosing to go vegan supports our global requirement to reduce animal agriculture, and instead use land to grow crops for starving populations13.

13. Your risk of severe COVID19 will reduce

A recent study looking at dietary patterns and COVID infection found that those following a plant-based diet had a 73% reduced risk of severe COVID symptoms14.

This indicates that a plant-predominant diet will not only reduce your risk of non-communicable disease, but can also be considered protective against viral infections such as COVID19, and potentially future novel viruses.

We all have our different reasons and motivations for going vegan, but when you make the switch, you may just find some unexpected benefits of a vegan diet!

Have you gone vegan? What would you add to the list?

Now that you know the benefits of a vegan diet, here’s how to transition from vegetarian to vegan

Written by

Rosie Martin

Rosie Martin

Rosie is a plant-based registered dietitian working both in the NHS and freelance. As a former zoologist working in animal welfare, Rosie turned to a vegan diet in 2014. Having studied and experienced the physical and psychological benefits of a diet based on whole plant food, Rosie now works to support others embrace a plant-based diet for human, planetary and animal health through her business, Rosemary Nutrition & Dietetics. Rosie is also a board member of Plant Based Health Professionals UK.

www.rosemarynutrition.co.uk/

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