When people find out I’m vegan, I usually get a lot of questions. Aside from the ever-present concern about where I get protein (beans and dark leafy greens, if you’re wondering), I receive a lot of questions about why I choose to be vegan and what is so good about it that I would give up what most people consider to be traditional or favorite foods. I went vegan for my health, but I’ll tell you a bit about why I love being vegan.
How I Feel
It’s not always feasible for me to have tons of vegan food around, so sometimes I do eat clean food but non-vegan food (although still vegetarian). But when I have to add things into my diet that aren’t vegan, I feel noticeably different. When I eat a vegan diet – mostly raw, if possible – I find that I feel energized, clean inside, healthy, and vibrant. I feel alive. When I eat non-vegan (or even overly processed vegan) food, I feel heavy, groggy, sick, tired, and just not as good as I do when I’m on a vegan diet. Because I have several chronic health conditions, I want to do all I can with my diet to help myself stay well, and I find that I can do that much more efficiently when on a vegan diet.
How I Look
Another thing I find totally great about a vegan diet is the fact that my skin, hair, nails, and body weight are all vastly improved on a vegan diet. I look younger, more radiant, and healthier when eating vegan. When I start eating non-vegan or processed foods I notice that my skin becomes dry, my nails end up with ridges and become brittle, my hair looks dull and breaks easily, and I gain weight. Even if I don’t gain actual fat, I look and feel puffier. Whenever I go back to a vegan diet, all of these things improve.
Being Able to Eat (A Lot)
I like to eat, which is probably what led my formerly processed food enthusiast self to gain so much weight in the first place. But on a vegan diet (mostly raw, in my case) I can pretty much eat whenever I want and I still lose weight. Why? The natural carbs and nutrients you get from plant-based food gives you energy, and the more energy you have the more you want to do, meaning you’ll likely exercise much more and get out and do more in your daily life. In essence you set yourself up to be active. Most vegans have to count calories only to make sure they’re getting enough, not in order to restrict them, which is a definite perk.
My Running Performance
I love to run, but I was really seeing a downturn in my performance when I was not eating a vegan diet. I followed all the rules most runners follow about protein and carbs and fat, but I just kept burning out during my runs. Since I train for distance running, burning out at five miles is a big problem. Once I stocked my diet with fruit (lots of fruit), vegetables, rice, and so forth, I felt much better and found that I had the energy to go miles more than I could on a non-vegan diet. Score one for veganism.
My Quality of Life
Overall my quality of life is so much better as a vegan. I recently house sat, and ended up getting quite ill before I could go grocery shopping. Since I was essentially couch-ridden for several days, all I had to eat was the processed food I had as backup in the car and some non-vegan food that was at the house. My body just felt wrong, I felt down and negative, and I just wasn’t myself. The second I got to the store and stocked up on my vegan foods my recovery skyrocketed and I felt much, much better. A vegan diet does wonders for my body, but it does just as much for my mental state, too. I’m a happier person as a vegan, which is why it works for me.
One thing I want to mention is that when I talk about a vegan diet I’m talking about a nearly non-processed vegan diet. Obviously there are some things that are lightly processed or that you can add to foods, like vegan dressings or corn pasta, that aren’t “pure”. But my diet is almost entirely natural and unprocessed. I see a lot of people make mistakes when they go vegan because they stock up on vegan chips, packaged vegan soups, microwavable meals, and so forth and then wonder why they aren’t feeling the benefits or losing weight or hitting their health goals like they want to. Processed food is processed food whether it’s vegan or a pepperoni stick, so be sure you are choosing at least 80 percent of your foods from natural foods, particularly fruit and veggies. No one way of eating works for everyone, and I’m not perfect about it 100 percent of the time, but for my body and my life these are the reasons I love veganism so much.