Benefits of a Vegan Diet

My Findings After Switching to Veganism...

I’ve gone back and forth with myself about whether to write this or not, when I was given the subject I was excited. But I very quickly reclined and have been putting it off for over a month now. The reason? I don’t want the backlash that comes from it. Isn’t that funny? I can write openly about my sex life and intimate details of my relationship, but I am worried about the backlash from writing about what I choose to eat?!

The sad truth is that, anytime I have posted anything on my social media about being vegan there have been people who attack my choices. Saying ‘I hate vegans’ seems to be a popular phrase amongst carnivores at the moment. A bit strange to HATE someone based on the fact they don’t wish to consume animal products, don’t ya think?

I get that some vegans can be preachy, can tend to force their beliefs down your throat; that is annoying. As like with anything, having someone's beliefs that conflict yours forced on you is a pain in the arse. I am not religious, I hate having religion forced down my throat. But to say ‘I hate vegans’ just seems stupid to me.

I am not a preachy vegan, I respect that being vegan is not for everyone. I am just a girl that decided to make some changes and has enjoyed the benefits, a few of which I would like to share in hopes of inspiring others.

I have eaten meat on and off my entire 30 years of life, in between long dalliances with vegetarianism. I have always WANTED to go vegan. I LOVE animals, and the thought of living a cruelty-free lifestyle really appealed to me. But I never quite got round to it. I always thought, yeah I’ll eat maybe 80% vegan, or be a vegan that eats fish and yoghurt... Then I watched What The Health on Netflix and my entire view changed. Now I didn’t just want to be vegan for animals, I wanted to be vegan for me, too.

My diet has always been purely selfish; I want to be the best, healthiest, happiest version of me that I possibly can be! And if that meant eating a bit of meat, then I would do that. I do things that make my body and mind feel good. I have struggled with depression pretty much since the age of around 13, coupled with an acute hatred for my body.

When I turned 23 I decided to get fit and healthy, I had a career that meant my body was constantly on show and I was always on the move, I needed energy, I needed my health and I needed to be in shape. I started yoga and began trying to clean up my diet. No processed carbs, more fruit and veg, protein, the usual. I stopped taking any sort of medication unless I ABSOLUTELY had to. That includes any sort of hormones; like the contraceptive pill, or anything that alters my moods, like anti depressants, and even over the counter pain medications. I find that water, rest, exercise and honey and lemon can pretty much cure most things. So, there I was, thinking I was the healthiest girl in the world, with one problem: my stomach reacted badly to pretty much every meal I ever ate. I felt bloated and tired and often in pain after eating. So much that the thought of eating gave me anxiety. I had pretty much given in to the fact that I would forever be in pain every time I ate anything ever, because there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it.

I tried cutting out certain things, but nothing really seemed to fully work. Until now. I’m going to share with you guys some of the benefits I have discovered from going vegan, along with a few tips that will help you out. 

Weightloss Like, Woah

Let’s be honest, why do most of us change our diet and do physical activity? To lose weight? To look good naked? To look good clothed? Mine is a bit of all 3. My first month of being vegan I went a bit mental, I dragged my boyfriend to every single vegan restaurant, market and event that I possibly could. Living in super ‘trendy’ East London there is always an abundance of vegan things to eat. I also cooked more then I ever have, I baked vegan cakes, cookies, breads. I ate more chips then I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. And I lost weight.

Without even trying, it literally fell off me. And I ate more than I’ve ever eaten before. I was full up for the first time in forever. I used to go to restaurants and order a starter, main and dessert, finish before everyone else, and then clean up my boyfriend's plates too. No shame, I love to eat. But vegan food filled me up.

When you eat plants you are consuming less calories than when you eat meat and dairy, that is inevitable. So you can eat more and more then you would say, chicken wings and cheese, and be consuming half the calories. So you are full up before you have consumed even close to the amount of calories you were eating before.

Disclaimer — yes, I lost weight, yes, I didn’t even try. But I do yoga every day, drink a lot of water, no alcohol, and consume a lot of fruit and veg.

TIP: Make sure that you are ingesting the right amount of food for you, don’t under eat, just like you shouldn’t over eat. Make sure you are still allowing fats and proteins to be part of your diet. Protein is found in things like beans and pulses, and fat in things like nuts and avocados. I noticed in the first two months that my period was nearly two weeks late, I researched and found that my body may not have been consuming enough fats, so I ate a bunch of avocados and nuts and it came back within two days! Making the switch to vegan can be confusing for your body so make sure you take the right steps to ensure you are getting everything you need! 

Sleeping Like A Baby And Waking Up Energised

This might be something that you guys do naturally. I don’t. Never have. Sleep has never been my friend, getting in to bed at night I am usually plagued with anxiety, riddled with depression and overcome with wondering thoughts and worries. My body won’t relax and it takes my mind hours to switch off. Since going vegan I am able to fall asleep without the aid of Peep Show on my laptop for the first time since I can remember... sometimes I still put it on as a habit, but I no longer feel like I need it. I get up earlier then usual and work all day, I can fit more things into my day then I could before because I don’t feel as tired. I now teach three aerial classes in a row some days where before just teaching one would exhaust me.

I don’t know whether it was cutting out a lot of processed food and chemicals from from my diet or that my body found the lack of meat and dairy easier to digest, but the change to my sleeping habits have been remarkable.

It is important to note that after the first couple of months I did start to feel tired and want to nap during the day, which I have never done before. I spoke to a friend who is a life long vegan from a family of vegans who explained that many making the switch develop low levels of certain vitamins after coming from a diet rich in meat and dairy. Vitamin B12 is particularly hard to find as a vegan; she suggested some vegan specific multivitamins which are available in Holland and Barrett. I take one a day and it has made the world of difference.

Bye Bye Bloating

This is probably my favourite part of being Vegan. For me personally, I do not get bloated anymore. My tummy remains flat, my metabolism works perfectly and I am not in pain, hunched over the table after eating.

On Christmas day we cooked a full roast dinner with dessert for my family, before heading to my partner's parents house for another roast, complete with starter and dessert. I ate everything. No bloating. (I am a pig)

My boyfriend was so irritated that I had actually managed to lose weight over Christmas. 

Clearer Skin

Many people have complained of ‘vegan flu’ when switching. This is generally your body detoxing, getting rid of unwanted toxins that you are no longer consuming. This can make you feel grumpy, sick and weak. It can come out in your skin (mine did) I didn’t suffer from ‘vegan Flu’ as it were as I already didn’t eat that much meat and avoided dairy, but my skin, initially, really broke out. After the first week, however, my skin was clearer than it had ever been. Everyone complimented it. I went out with no makeup on and I didn’t care!

As a rule, I try to drink at least two litres of water a day which really helps with my skin, as does fresh fruit and vegetables. However, one part of ‘What The Health’ that I don’t agree with is the emphasis that sugar is fine. Meat and Dairy are bad, yes, but to an extent so is sugar. It is misleading to paint sugar in a good light, while it is not detrimental to have sugar and we do need it in our diet, too much sugar can cause ups and downs in your mood and it can cause skin break outs. The documentary touches on some amazing facts and it is the push I needed to go fully vegan, I would recommend it to anyone, but take their positive painting of sugar with a pinch of salt. When switching to vegan, if your skin doesn’t clear up, or in fact gets WORSE, have a look at your sugar intake and try and adjust it. 

Discover New Foods

Ever had a Jackfruit burger? A plantain and dumpling stew? An avocado and cocoa mousse? Since being vegan I have tried a million new things I never even knew existed. I have also learnt to bake and cook from scratch (which I was pretty shit at before) I have realised that the absence of dairy and meat in most food doesn't actually make that much difference. My boyfriend loves everything I make and over time we visit family or friends I bring a food offering. Last month it was apple and cinnamon cake or chocolate and raspberry brownies and this month it's chocolate, vanilla and pecan cookies.

 I experiment with fruits, vegetables, spices, flavours, oils, nuts, seeds, beans, nondairy milks. The change in diet has sparked a fascination in cooking and creating new flavours.

Cheaper and Easier Than You Might Think

It is a fact that fruit and vegetables are cheaper than meat. And since that is the basis of your diet, it will work out cheaper. I do sometimes opt to shop in the super hipster health food shops that charge 4 quid for a mango. My boyfriend calls these shops ‘fanny farts’, I don’t really know why; the stuff is good but if I got it all at Tesco it would be a quarter of the price.

It CAN be an expensive diet if you opt for a lot of expensive health foods and exotic things, but so could any diet. We made a three bean stew with brown rice, enough to last us 4 days, and it cost about £3 to make. You can’t even get quality meat for that price.

The other thing people worry about when considering the Vegan diet , is that it is hard to stick to. Now, I live in central London, I am very spoilt when it comes to choice. But even abroad and in train stations there are vegan friendly things available. A lot of things are secretly vegan: party rings, baked beans, sourdough bread, Oreo cookies, most crisps and cereals. On any menu there will be chips, or a salad. It might not be what you fancy but you can ALWAYS eat. I’m yet to find somewhere I couldn’t, and a lot of my friends and family are carnivores. I’ve found the switch surprisingly easy. 

Guilt/Cruelty Free

The original reason for me wanting to stop eating meat and dairy was for the sake of animals, I am an animal lover through and through and have always felt guilty whenever I’ve eaten meat. Dairy for me was a no just based on the fact I thought it was creepy and gross that humans want to drink milk made for baby cows. Then I learnt about the horrors of the dairy industry and it solidified my choice. Ultimately what you eat and what you do is your own choice. Mine is to feel good in myself, mentally and physically, and if I can feel like I’ve saved an animal or two as well, then thats all the better for me!

As I mentioned previously, the vegan diet does take time to work out exactly what your body needs, but when done right it is an incredibly rewarding way of life. I appreciate that it is not for some and also that it is hard to make the change. But I hope that this piece has inspired you a little or at least has enlightened those that ‘hate vegans’ as to why it is the right choice for us who do it!

Samantha Bentley
Samantha Bentley

Music Maker, Writer & Yogi. Proud Vegan/Animal Lover. Award winning Ex-Adult Actress. Penthouse Pet Aug 2015. Briefly in Game Of Thrones. Socially awkward, sexually devious, typically English.

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Benefits of a Vegan Diet