So we’ve all heard about the weight loss, great skin, higher levels of energy and disease-prevention that comes with a whole food, plant-based diet.
What are some of the less sexy benefits, those we don’t talk about too often but you’ll be darn glad of once you experience them?
Here’s a few to ponder on:
1. No more constipation
Let’s just get this one out the way first. I’ve heard of people who don’t have a ‘proper’ visit to the bathroom for up to a week. I can’t even imagine how awful they would feel after a couple of days, never mind seven!!! Once we’ve ingested food, it needs to travel through our body in an expedient amount of time – long enough for us to absorb the nutrients we need, but quick enough that it doesn’t stagnate and fester in our intestines. For this we need to be eating plenty of fibre. A whole food plant-based diet is pretty much ALL fibre. Animal products contain NO fibre. You do the math.
And guess what? After going vegan, your ‘proper’ visit to the bathroom will be much quicker. No need for books, phones, or indeed any in-toilet entertainment at all. You’ll be in and out in a jiffy.
Added Bonus: As the whole ‘process’ is easier and more efficient as a vegan, you are also at much less risk of hemorrhoids.
Phew! I’m glad I got through this without once saying ‘poop.’
2. The, um… ‘aftermath’ of the ‘proper’ bathroom visit is not as bad if you’re vegan
You want proof?
What smells worse, a dog’s business or a horses? Which is the herbivore (vegan), which the carnivore?
A corpse of any animal smells bad. Even fresh, the smell is weird (does anyone actually like the smell in butchers shops?) and when it exits your body – having been cooped up in this hot, sticky environment for two to three days (a meat dinner can typically take this long to digest) it makes sense that it’s gonna reek pretty horrendously. You have no in-body refrigeration to keep it cool.
By contrast, if you eat vegetables and fruits, they’re out of your system in less than 12 hours.
I’m categorically NOT saying that vegans always smell like a rose garden, far from it, but like it or not – they stink less. Fact.
3. No more heartburn/acid reflux
Here’s my short, sweet story. I remember having terrible heartburn as a kid. Since becoming vegan 25 years ago, I’ve not had it once – even at the beginning, when my vegan diet wasn’t particularly healthy. I’ve not actually had ANY digestion issues at all – unless I’ve been a total dolt and eaten something stodgy just before bed – but that’s MY fault, and of course I know not to do this now. I do remember how uncomfortable heartburn was, and am so grateful it’s a thing of the past.
The umbrella term for heartburn, acid reflux, and acidic burning in the throat down to the upper stomach, is Gastro Esophagul Reflux Disease (GERD). If left untreated, it can cause even nastier problems such as esophagul cancer. Meat and dairy are acidic foods, lots of people report being cured of GERD when they remove animal products from their diet. Indeed, the eminent Dr John Mcdougall advises this as a first step to ridding yourself of this problem.
4. Periods get easier
Look, sorry, but someone has to write about this. Just scroll down if you’re a dude.
If you’re not eating meat and dairy, you are not taking on the hormone load from animal food, so you only have to deal with your own estrogen levels. This makes for less upheaval in your body at the time of menstruation.
If, also, you are eating a whole food diet (where refined starches and sugars are minimised or eliminated) this will ease discomfort even more, as sugars, too, can mess with hormones. I can attest to the fact that it’s possible to have a pain-free, mood-swing free, easy time of the month, with energy levels kept consistent throughout.
5. Your mind gets clearer
Yay, this one’s not icky!
It’s hard to put into words though.
‘…but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit.’
-William Shakespeare (via Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Twelfth Night)
Unlike Shakespeare, I don’t mean plant-based peeps are cleverer per se, though by virtue of their choice to eat plant-based in a meat-loving world they are definitely free, independent thinkers, which does denote a certain level of cleverclogsyness. Hee.
What I really mean is, after a while of ingesting no animal products (and this happens quicker if you are particularly conscious of the ethical reasons for doing it) all other injustices become clearer to you and seem to appear before you in full technicolour. You begin to understand how all oppressions work, and see vividly the constructs that support them.
If you think this is a not a benefit and that it’s too overwhelming to think about all the hate in the world, you have a point.
BUT, there is most definitely a flip-side to this.
While you do empathise more with the terrible oppressions and brutality other beings suffer, equally, you also feel deeply connected at soul level to all the natural beauty in the world, and you realise in a very primal way that you are of it. There is nothing like being in nature and forgetting who you are; just sensing and being part of the wonder.
6. Fewer to no episodes of food poisoning
Back to the ick.
You know that feeling. I remember it well. You’ve had a meat or fish based meal, and a few hours later you start to feel a bit off. This feeling escalates into nausea, and carries on until you are begging sweet Jesus for your body to puke already. You puke. If you’re really unlucky you may even have elimination action going on at both ends. For a short while you feel good again…until the slow waves of nausea hit you once more. Rinse, repeat for at least forty-eight hours.
The bacteria that cause food poisoning all come from pathogens in animal’s intestines. Why then, have we heard of tomatoes and spinach that have been recalled because of e coli and salmonella scares? Not because veg produce these bacteria, but because we have a big problem with intensive farming, and animal manure (which contains the pathogens) ends up contaminating fruit and vegetables. If you are careful to wash your fruit and veg you should be fine.
I’ve not had a single episode of food poisoning since being vegan – my partner neither.
7. Vegans smell sweeter in general*
OK, another silly (yet true) one.
We know that high meat protein diets such as Paleo and Atkins are based on achieving a state of ketosis in the body, where the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates, and the fat releases ketones into the body. Aside from ketosis being an unnatural and unhealthy state, one of the side effects of this is halitosis. More specifically, breath that smells of acetone. Yeah, good luck with that one!
This study, (Dr Michael Greger talks about it here) shows that men who eat red meat smell less attractive than male vegans. Do you think Julien Blanc (you know, the guy that no-one wants in their country, who ‘coaches’ sad sacks how to get girls) knows this? 🙂
Eggs contain concentrated amounts of choline. This compound can cause you to smell of rotting fish. Nice.
Lots of whole, unrefined carbohydrates, nuts, beans, legumes, seeds and plenty of fruit and veg will keep you sweet and fragrant!
*unless they’ve just eaten a ton of garlic/onions/marmite!