Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying a vegan diet but want to learn more about the potential health benefits first. Or perhaps you’ve recently adopted a vegan lifestyle and are looking for ways to better understand how it can benefit your physical and mental well-being.
Either way, learning about the various health benefits associated with going vegan is an important part of making sure you make the best decisions for your body and lifestyle.
By exploring the physical, mental, and environmental benefits of a vegan diet, you can gain an understanding of why many people are choosing to go vegan – and how it could benefit you too! In this article, we’ll take a look at all the potential health benefits associated with following a vegan diet.
Definition of veganism
Before we dive into the health benefits associated with going vegan, it’s important to understand what veganism is and why people choose to follow a vegan lifestyle.
Veganism is a way of living that seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing, or any other purpose. As such, vegans tend to avoid all animal-based products, including eggs and dairy.
Instead, vegan diets largely consist of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. By opting for vegan alternatives to animal-based products, vegans can enjoy a balanced diet while avoiding foods that may have been produced unethically.
The differences between vegetarianism and veganism
Despite having similarities, there are distinct differences between vegetarianism and veganism. Vegetarians don’t eat meat, poultry, or seafood, but they still consume eggs and dairy products.
Vegans go much further in abstaining from the use of animals for food – they wholly reject all animal-based foods, including dairy and eggs. They also make a conscious effort to avoid all animal-derived materials like leather goods and fur clothing.
Both vegetarians and vegans share the same ethical philosophy of striving to reduce or eliminate animal suffering as much as possible.
The main distinction is that vegans generally go one step further in reducing their impact on animals by not using any animals or their byproducts at all.
Now that we’ve fully defined veganism, let’s take a closer look at the benefits.
Physical Wellbeing Benefits of Going Vegan
Below is a complete list of the physical benefits:
1. Reduced Risk of Developing Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, so it’s important to know what you can do to reduce your risk of developing it.
One of the primary health benefits associated with following a vegan diet is that it can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. This is because plant-based diets are typically low in saturated fats and following them for a sustained period of time can help to reduce cholesterol levels.
Not all cholesterol is bad, in fact, it plays an important part in keeping us healthy (the beneficial kind of cholesterol is commonly known as “good cholesterol”) ; following a vegan diet can help reduce your “bad cholesterol”, which can coat your arteries and increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Therefore, by lowering your bad cholesterol levels through diet, you’re proactively protecting yourself against heart disease.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is another major risk factor for many adults, with approximately 46% of Americans having elevated blood pressure levels, so it’s important to know the dangers, and how you can keep your blood pressure at healthy levels. 
Research has shown that switching to a vegan diet can help to reduce blood pressure, leading to improved heart health, this is because vegan diets are often high in fiber, magnesium, and potassium and very low in saturated fat compared to unsaturated fat. 
3. Improved Gut Health & Digestion
Your diet has a big impact on your digestive health, and vegan diets are renowned for their positive impact on the gut overall.
Studies have found that switching to a vegan diet can help to promote a more diverse gut microbial system, which is just a fancy way of saying that your gut will contain more good bacterias that can both help support digestion and your overall gut function. 
Additionally, this can lead to reduced bloating and abdominal discomfort, which is often triggered by eating animal-based products.
4. Lower Risk of Diabetes (Especially For Men)
To explain it in an extremely basic fashion, people with diabetes have too much sugar in their blood. Although there is no cure for this condition, it can be managed through diet and lifestyle changes.
Research has found that switching to a vegan diet can help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This is because plant-based diets are typically lower in saturated fats (which usually comes hand in hand with eating meat), and contain high-fiber foods and a large amount of high-complex carbohydrates.
It’s also worth noting that the studies showed the link between meat consumption and increased risk of diabetes was stronger in men! 
5. Weight Loss
Weight loss can be a difficult and often frustrating process, but it’s essential for maintaining your physical health. Research has found that those sticking to a vegan diet for the purposes of weight loss typically outperform those following a regular calorie-restricted diet.  It’s speculated that this is because vegan diets are lower in processed meats (saturated fats).
Additionally, many anecdotally find that vegan diets can help you feel fuller for longer, due to the high fiber and nutrient content, which can help to reduce cravings.
6. Healthier & Clearer Skin
The appearance of your skin is greatly influenced by your diet and nutrition. Research has found that switching to a vegan diet can help to improve the texture, tone, and overall health of your skin.
The reason for this is that vegan diets are typically high in vitamins A and C, which play a key role in skin regeneration. Additionally, vegan diets are free from dairy, which has been linked to an increased likelihood of acne. 
Finally, plant-based diets are typically rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which can help keep your skin supple and glowing too. 
7. Can Help Manage Arthritis Discomfort
Remarkably, there’s evidence to suggest that following a vegan diet can actually significantly reduce pain and discomfort caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis. 
It’s believed that this benefit is likely related to a reduction in immuno-reactivity to food antigens (antigens can be any substance that elicits an immune response from the body to that substance), which get eliminated when you change to an all-vegan diet. 
Mental Wellbeing Benefits of Going Vegan
In addition to the physical benefits of veganism, there are several mental well-being benefits as well:
8. Helps Depression
Research has shown that those following a vegan-style diet (i.e. a diet that’s high in whole grains, unsaturated fat, and plant-protein sources) were much more likely (up to 4x) to experience an improvement in their depression. 
In general, having a high intake of fruits and vegetables has been linked to lower rates of depression. 
9. Stress & Anxiety Reduction
If you thought that you’d end up being depressed and miserable having to quit meat and dairy, well you’re wrong! In addition to managing your mood, those who follow a vegan diet also typically experience less stress and anxiety when compared to vegetarians and omnivores, according to research. 
This is thought to be because vegans typically consume fewer sweets and sugars.
10. Improved Cognition
When thinking about vegan foods, you may not automatically associate them with “brain food”, however, research has shown some promising results for the vegan diet when it comes to helping support our brain’s performance.
It is believed that those sticking to a plant-based diet are more likely to see improved cognition. While we’re still not fully sure why this happens, researchers speculate that it may be due to reduced inflammation. 
Bonus: Other Benefits of Going Vegan
In addition to the physical and mental well-being benefits of a vegan diet, there are also important environmental benefits that should not be overlooked:
Reduces Your Carbon Footprint
As the demand for animal products increases, so does the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. By reducing the number of animal products you consume, you can help to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a greener planet.
Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of deforestation, destruction of habitats, and pollution. By reducing your consumption of animal products, you can help to reduce the amount of deforestation that is occurring in order to cater to this industry.
Reduced Water Usage
It takes significantly more water to produce animal-based foods than plant-based foods, in fact, it’s estimated that we need to use a staggering 1,847 gallons of water to produce just 1 pound of beef.
So by switching to a vegan diet, you can help to reduce your water footprint! Why would you want to reduce your water footprint we hear you ask? Simply put, it saves energy, which then goes on to lower your carbon footprint by helping prevent the over-extraction of natural resources.
In conclusion, switching to a vegan diet can have numerous physical and mental well-being benefits. These include improved digestion, lower risk of diabetes, weight loss, better skin and complexion, mood and stress management, reduced stress levels, improved concentration, and increased energy levels.
Additionally, it has important environmental benefits such as reducing your carbon footprint, deforestation, and water usage. For those looking to improve their overall well-being and help protect the planet, a vegan diet can be an attractive option.