I've been vegan for the past few months and here's what I've noticed
By Baylee Casper
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
As the New Year had been approaching, I was in a crunch to figure out what my New Year's resolution was going to be. Feeling pretty lousy, tired, under the weather, and overall just not myself at the time, I figured attempting to eat healthier and switching up my diet could be a decent start to fixing this problem.
Plus, my body had been screaming for some fruits and vegetables.
I remembered that, a few days prior, I had watched a documentary titled "What the Health." The film basically explains the roles played by big pharmaceutical companies, agricultural businesses and processed animal food companies that have been corrupted by government and "big business." It explains how this corruption has led these industries to have had a negative effect on the nation's overall health, and therefore promotes veganism as a solution to the problem.
I found it to be extremely interesting and encouraging to try veganism out. Keeping this in mind when choosing my New Year's resolution, I decided I'd give it a go. I wanted to start eating healthier, so what better way to do it than to go vegan?
I grew up in a primarily omnivorous/carnivorous family, where we typically ate meat and other animal products with every meal. I knew that, once I started this journey, I would be in for a treat. However, I wanted to challenge myself and see how far I could actually go with this.
The first couple of weeks were definitely more difficult than I had anticipated. I have basically gone my entire life eating animal products almost daily, so this new lifestyle took a bit of getting used to. For example, grocery visits took way longer than necessary. I was constantly turning to food labels to make sure no animal products were present. But that's OK, because I knew that, in doing so, I'd be helping save the planet.
Being vegan for the past couple of months, I've noticed a number of differences in myself as well as some other aspects in my life.
Here are five benefits to being vegan that might encourage you try it out, too:
Your Bank Account Will Thank You
It is a common misconception that with veganism comes spending ungodly amounts of money on groceries. However, this is certainly not the case, and you will actually end up saving more than you thought.
Before going vegan, an average trip to the store resulted in a $70-$80 expenditure each week just on groceries - for myself, might I add. As a vegan, my grocery expenses lowered, and averaged to be around $30 each week.
So, in other words if you do the math, grocery shopping as a vegan can save you money.
Your bank account will thank you in the end.
You Can Eat More Food
Vegans only eat plant-based foods, and therefore absolutely no animal products. This means no meat, no dairy and not even a drop of honey. Plant-based foods are much lower in calories than any meat or dairy products. Therefore, you can eat way more food for the same amount of calories.
As a vegan, it is essential for your health to eat more. Failing to do so could potentially lead to nutrient deficiencies. Eating more food will also fill you up and keep you satisfied for longer periods of time.
But overall the No. 1 takeaway here is more food!
Pictured is an acai bowl: acai, almond milk, papaya, mango, kiwi, vegan granola, peanut butter, coconut flakes and hemp seeds.
One thing to keep in mind as a vegan is the lack of vitamin B12 in our diet. B12 keeps our blood and nerve cells healthy, and it helps make our DNA. Without it, symptoms such as fatigue, nerve or mental problems, vision loss, heart palpitations, etc., could be present. Animal products are one of the only sources for obtaining it, so, as vegans, it is important that we take vitamin B12 supplements.
Besides taking supplements, an additional way to get B12 into your diet is through nutritional yeast - yeast that has been grown on molasses. Nutritional yeast is enjoyed by a number of vegans, not only for its B vitamin benefits, but also for its cheesy flavor.
You'll Have More Energy
Before my vegan journey, I was always tired. I felt that I was never getting enough sleep, even with eight hours of sleep at night and a two-hour nap during the day. I hardly had any motivation to get myself to the gym on most days, and all I wanted to do was lie in bed and watch Netflix.
However, since becoming a vegan, all of that has changed and I have noticed a drastic difference in the amount of energy I have. I feel like I'm constantly bouncing off of the walls - but in a good way. I wake up earlier (7 a.m. every morning), and am way more productive throughout my day.
Fruits and vegetables contain large quantities of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs. Together, they work to provide your body with the energy it needs to get through the day.
Shown is a "Buddha" bowl: white rice, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cucumbers and tofu.
Being in college, I am constantly surrounded by germs. Prior to going to vegan, I felt that I could never catch a break and that I was always sick. As soon as one illness went away, another one showed up shortly after.
I have been vegan for almost four months now, and have not once been sick. The copious amounts of fruits and vegetables that I have been eating have provided me with the energy and nutrients needed to build up my immune system. I can honestly say that I have never felt this good in my entire life.
You'll be in a Good Mood
Plant-based foods contain overwhelming amounts of nutrients. Since you are giving your body the correct amounts that it needs, your body will thank you, ultimately, by putting you in better moods.
Meat and dairy products contain toxins that aren't meant to be put into our bodies. These toxins tend to make our bodies feel lousy, providing us with less energy. As a vegan on the other hand, you'll typically be eating fairly healthier and taking in almost zero toxins, which can overall make you feel good.
It is scientifically proven that eating foods that are plant-based provide your body with more energy. Eating healthy makes you feel good about doing something good for your body and can increase your overall moods.
You are Saving the World
Turning to veganism comes with a number of benefits. Besides saving money, eating more, having more energy and becoming accustomed to better moods, you are - most importantly - saving the animals.
Millions of animals are mistreated and killed on a daily basis - in the most unethical ways - specifically for their meat. However, as humans, we have no nutritional need for the use of animal products. We can get all that we need through plant-based products.
For more information on the mistreatment of animals and veganism, I would highly recommend watching "What the Health," like I did.
Being vegan comes with a number of benefits. I would encourage anyone to try it.
Starting is certainly easier said than done, however, once you get through the first couple of obstacles, it gets much easier along the way.
Veganism is different than what most of us are used to. If you are interested, I would strongly suggest that you do your research, for there are so many benefits that come along with it.
This article is part of a college journalism class project and is not intended to endorse any product, nor does it constitute professional health advice. Please consult your doctor before adding or subtracting anything from your diet or workout, and before consuming any item or product listed herein.