On December 27th 2018, I made the decision to go full-out Vegan. I have been a vegetarian for many years (on and off) but found myself unable to commit to a life without dairy and all those other goodies I enjoyed. I am, or was, a sucker for cheesecake and doughnuts – not something easily available to the vegan community.
In a way I did not think that I would able to function on a vegan diet. I didn’t believe that there would be much to eat – I was not willing to commit to just eating fruit and vegetables – still wouldn’t! This gals gotta have her chocolate and I hate salad.
I noticed that I had gained a lot of weight since my father had died, I am talking 5 stone and since I am only just under 5″4, I was starting to put my life at risk and found myself developing more illnesses. I wanted to eat better but nothing had stuck other than converting to brown bread and rice. I have tried all of the diets over the years but none have been sustainable.
My self-confidence and ego had become non-existent, I was ashamed of who I had become and how I was living. I could not look in the mirror without wanting to throw up and the more I thought about my animal friends – the more veganism made sense to me.
I did some research and discovered that some people had found that going vegan had improved their mental health as well as their physical health. So I thought, there is nothing to lose if I just see how it goes – try before you buy sort of thing.
I am now about six months into being a vegan and there is no going back. I am fully committed to this new lifestyle and honestly, I am loving it. Much to my surprise, it has been extremely easy to ditch the animal products and find yummy food, all it takes is a little googling.
I am not a healthy vegan by any means, I am not there yet. The truth is that I still eat burgers and ‘ham’ sandwiches, which taste pretty much the same but without the guilt I would have in the past. I have not given up tasty food and I do not find myself bored. In fact I find myself experimenting and trying more food, which for a fussy eater like me, is a big breakthrough.
Now this post is not about the pros of being vegan or me to try to sell veganism to you. As I feel that this is just my lifestyle choice and you can eat whatever you like. So let’s get onto the point of this post, has going vegan improved my mental health?
Going vegan, as well as controlling calorie intake to manage my binge eating disorder, has allowed me to lose 2 stone of weight so far. Because of this, I find myself more comfortable in my skin and more happy to leave the house and wear the clothes I haven’t touched in months. This may or may not be a direct effect of the vegan diet but all I know is that since I have made this change, I am happier with my body which makes my mental health miles better as I am vain by nature.
I am an animal lover, like I would choose any animal over a human any day. I have plans to rescue so many animals and improve their habitat, going vegan has been the first step in that. I always felt like I was doing enough by being vegetarian but I always felt guilt and shame in myself for drinking milk and eating eggs, which I ate a lot off. Now I will not judge a person for eating these things but for me, I just couldn’t do it without feeling this way. Being vegan has eliminated that stress and mental torture that I put myself through from eating dairy etc. I feel very good in myself because I am sticking to my own values and morals, which gives me no reason to punish myself.
As for a direct result in my mental health being better for eating vegan? I couldn’t say for sure, I have made milestones of recovery in my mental health for many reasons. Taking medication, getting therapy and writing has all contributed to me feeling lighter than I have in years. But, I have noticed that I no longer suffer from as many abdominal pains and do not have so many adverse reactions to eating, which had become chronic pre-vegan diet – so that is defiantly a plus.
So can going vegan work for you? Honestly we need to remember that there is no one size fits all for mental health and there is certainly no cure. Being in recovery means that you have to fight your mental health from many angles. Just changing your diet won’t fix all your problems but a lifestyle change could help your mental health – with other aid.
I would say this, if you have been pondering going vegan, there is no harm in trying it, you could do it for a week or a few months and see how it goes – there are no rules. But if you just don’t think you can go vegan, then that is okay too, the important thing is that you stay true to yourself and do only things that make you feel good.