When I first decided to become vegan, there were some significant changes I was expecting. I prepared for the cravings as best I could by stocking up on all the alternative meats and cheeses I could find, and I took melatonin to help me on those sleepless nights while my body was first adjusting. I even went to the doctor to have some blood work done–just to make sure I was healthy after such a big dietary shift. Even though my first two weeks were filled with uncomfortable cravings and restlessness, soon all these symptoms subsided and I was a perfectly healthy new vegan. But I began to experience some powerful differences that caught me off guard in a surprisingly positive way. And it wasn’t just me–most of these changes I was noticing were backed up online by either scientific research or individual testimony–or both. I was thrilled to learn that the perks of veganism they don’t tell you about include: improved complexion, higher libido, and less smelly body odor. Not only were these changes incredibly noticeable for me, but many of my vegan friends had similar experiences. These days it is almost common knowledge that eating a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health and the planet, and with these added perks there’s just no reason not to give veganism a try!
1. Clearer Skin. Like most people in their twenties, I am glad to say that the worst of my acne breakout days are behind me. But I still get the occasional blemish, and I think I speak for most people when I say any pimple, no matter how small, is unwelcome. I’ve found myself using less and less cover up since becoming vegan, and I slowly realized this was because my skin wasn’t breaking out as often. After doing a little bit of research, it turns out a lot of vegans were experiencing the same thing. Studies show that milk and whey protein are linked with an increase in acne and blemishing. As it turns out, eliminating dairy products from your diet is one of the best things you can do for your skin.
2. Higher Libido. Without getting into too much detail, I will say that the urban legend about an improved sex drive on a vegan diet is true for most people. Even if one has a healthy sex drive before transitioning to vegan, it is not uncommon to experience an increase in libido while on a vegan diet. Foods rich in zinc and B vitamins are known to act as aphrodisiacs and can contribute to our overall sexual health by boosting blood flow and natural lubrication. These powerful foods are even rumored to improve the taste of bodily fluids.
3. Less BO. I began to notice my body odor didn’t smell as bad when I first became a vegetarian in my early teens. While a meat-free diet will not guarantee that you will sweat less, it can significantly reduce the smell factor associated with it. Not only do vegetarians and vegans not smell as bad when sweaty, but we are also perceived as more attractive as a result. Another added bonus of having less smelly BO is that vegans don’t attract quite as many bug bites. This is more of a personalized experience than a scientific fact; however, lots of vegans will attest that they’ve been bitten far less since cutting animal products out of their diets.
4. Thicker Skin. This one is especially true for me. Before I was vegan, I was far too preoccupied with the opinions of others, and it was exhausting trying to befriend everyone I met. I believe it is normal and very human to crave approval from those who surround us. Once I committed to a cruelty-free lifestyle, I experienced more judgment than ever before, and often at the hands of friends and family who were very dear to me. I won’t go as far to say that I’ve lost friends since my decision, but some close relationships have definitely wilted. As a result of facing judgment every time my diet came up in conversation, I grew a thick skin and learned that it is possible to not care what other people think. This is not to say that non-vegans do not learn the same lesson, as I’m sure many people come to this realization at some point in their lives. But at least for me, veganism helped my thick skin grow twelve times faster than it had before.
5. A More Open Mind. I can’t even begin to count how many times I was told that being vegan meant having fewer options. It seemed logical to me at first, and I made peace with the idea that saving animal lives meant fewer meal choices. But this couldn’t be further from true! My taste has expanded to include virtually every edible thing that grows out of the ground. For example, I used to hate beets, but now they’re one of my favorite veggies. As a kid, I would cringe away from all kinds of foreign foods, but now I couldn’t possibly love trying new cuisine anymore. Once I came to terms with the idea that my life was going to be a little bit more “restrictive,” I came to the realization that it wasn’t actually restrictive at all.
6. Easy Conscience. Okay, this one wasn’t exactly “unexpected.” I think most of us understand the ethical implications of this decision well before we make it. I know I sure did. For months after I learned about the inherent cruelty in the egg and dairy industries, I practiced some cognitive dissonance while I indulged my cheese addiction. But the guilt after each meal was very real, and becoming vegan was nothing short of a relief. Even if vegan food was exclusively bland and boring (newsflash: it’s not), it was worth sacrificing meat and dairy in exchange for my clear conscience.
How about you? Have you experienced any of these perks of being vegan?
Also by Francesca: Vegan Sauce Recipes: Creamy Sundried Tomato Pasta Sauce
How Fake It ’til You Make It” Saved My Life
Related: Opinion: Why Some People Stop Being Vegan
5 Unexpected Benefits of a High Raw Diet
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Photo: Tonglé Dakum via Unsplash