Do vegan students perform better in school?

Author: Jennifer Landis

Read Time:   |  5th February 2021

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Eating a plant-based diet offers a myriad of benefits for both your physical and mental health, but does going vegan also help students to perform better at school too?


It’s no secret that veganism can impact people in all kinds of magnificent ways, from physical health benefits to emotional and moral ones.

A growing body of evidence suggests veganism is one of the healthiest diets for kids to grow up on, and that the misconceptions about vegans being weak and lacking in nutrition are only that — myths. Veganism has proven its benefits not just for the body, but for the brain, too.

While plenty of studies are still in the works about the specifics of vegan student life, the available case studies and the obvious physical and mental benefits all point toward vegan diets improving academic performance.

While not all vegan diets are alike, and it’s crucial to focus on whole plant foods rich in essential nutrients, veganism and even vegetarianism can offer vast improvements from a standard diet, even in the classroom.

Essential vitamins

One of the essential components of any diet is the ability to access the necessary nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. Contrary to popular belief, vegan diets are less likely to be nutritionally deficient than standard diets. Since B vitamins, vitamin C, Omega-3s and other vital vitamins for brain function are routinely present in plant-based diets, they can be of great help in the classroom.

From the calcium found in broccoli to the iron in leafy green vegetables, plant foods offer abundant nutrients for kids to grow and students to learn. And getting the correct nutrients has shown direct results to academic success.

Energy levels

Another benefit of veganism that can offer a classroom boost is the increase in energy levels many people discover when switching to a plant-based diet. By eating more nutrient-dense foods with high hydration and carbohydrates to increase energy, students can focus on school and be alert and awake in the classroom.

Unfortunately, plenty of students feel overwhelmed and lethargic, especially when they have lots of schoolwork and aren’t eating a balanced diet. However, the added energy boost from plant-based foods can offer some serious support.


Mental health

Veganism can positively impact mental health in countless ways. Of course, taking care of your physical body fosters a positive mind-body connection, which can make you happier.

But in addition to the physiological benefits that can improve mental health, veganism also promotes lower stress levels and a sense of passion and community around the plant-based lifestyle that feels supportive and ever-growing.

When students are happier and have a better relationship with their mental health, they tend to perform better academically. Factors like stress, sadness and anxiety are common culprits of dragging down motivation and ability to perform well on tests, projects and class participation.

While veganism won’t always balance someone’s mental health, it can offer a helping hand.

Brain function

Between the combination of essential nutrients, higher energy levels and improved mental health, it’s no secret that students’ brains function better on a vegan diet. And while brain function doesn’t always equate directly to improved test scores and grades, it can, especially if it’s the only changing factor.

While data is still in development, some plant-based schools have noticed a difference in student performance.


Real results in vegan schools

While most schools aren’t fully vegan or even vegan-friendly, a few have taken the plunge into vegan or vegetarian meals full-time. Their students have benefited from those choices in so many ways, including academic performance.

PS 244Q in New York adopted a full vegetarian policy, and as a result, BMIs have gone down and kids get sick less often. The school’s standardized test scores even ranked 11th in the state. The 10 other schools with higher test scores have no English language learners, and they all have gifted programs, neither of which applies to PS 244Q.

Looking at things on a global scale, schools from California to Germany to Brazil have taken steps to go vegan or vegetarian. Most often, once a school makes the switch, they see an increase in academic achievement and don’t want to turn back.

Plant-based power for students

All in all, veganism can benefit brain function, energy levels and mental health in so many ways, and it can be extremely beneficial for students. While researchers are continuing to assess and study the vegan diet, schools are seeing measurable results from the plant-based lifestyle.

You don’t have to wait for your school or district to go vegan for you or your child to make a dietary change. It’s all about personal choice and taking the plunge so you can see the academic benefits veganism has to offer.

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