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Benefits of Vegan Diet: How it Will Affect Your Health, the Planet, and More

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After learning the truth about how eating animal products affects animals, the environment, our health, and more, many people make the compassionate decision to go vegan. Veganism is a way of living that tries to exclude all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals, as defined by the Vegan Society. This predominantly affects diet choices, as vegans eat a plant-based diet free of meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal byproducts; vegans also seek to avoid exploitation of animals in other parts of life, such as clothing, cosmetics, and entertainment. Veganism is not about perfectionism or personal purity, but about saying "no" to animal exploitation whenever possible.

If you're thinking about going vegan, you may be wondering what benefits you'll start seeing as you transition to this benevolent lifestyle. Even though your motivations may be saving animals and lowering your environmental impact, there's a high chance that you will also experience a number of personal health benefits. Not to mention, the knowledge that you're not supporting animal cruelty and that you're eating a low-impact diet may give you an increased peace of mind every time you sit down to eat.

Keep reading to learn about some common benefits of the vegan diet and lifestyle.

Health Benefits of Vegan Diet or Plant-Based Diet

Eating a plant-based diet can have numerous positive effects on our health, both in the short term and the long term. The American Dietetic Association's official position on the topic is that "well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."

Short-Term Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

As for short-term health benefits, a balanced plant-based diet is generally higher in fiber — that's because most plant foods contain fiber, while meat, dairy, and eggs do not contain any fiber. Fiber is a key component in digestive health, and increasing fiber intake is a great way to keep digestive systems regular and avoid constipation, according to Everyday Health. Eating more fiber can also help you feel full and less sluggish, since fiber-rich plant foods digest quicker than animal products. Plus, the foods that you might eat more of on a vegan diet — such as fruits, vegetables, greens, beans, nuts, and whole grains — are rich in various nutrients.

Additionally, an estimated 65 percent of the world's population is lactose intolerant to a degree. Dairy milk is actually breast milk that cows produce for their babies, and it contains mammalian estrogen — so it's no surprise that milk biologically meant for calves to drink causes issues for so many humans. When phasing dairy out of one's diet, it's common to immediately experience improved digestion, clearer skin, and more balanced energy levels.

Something else you will notice immediately is that you may need to eat slightly larger portions to get full — that's because animal foods are typically more calorically-dense than most plant-based foods. So don't hesitate to pile up your plate or go back for seconds — keep eating until you're full, with no restrictions.