Veganism and plant-based eating can have a profound effect on our minds. The impact of a vegan lifestyle can be felt in the physical, emotional, mental & spiritual realms.
When discussing veganism or a plant-based diet within this post, I am referring to a diet that is focused on whole foods. Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, nuts & seeds—with minimal processed foods. This is the diet that is optimal for health.
The benefits that come along with veganism are due to two things. The addition of so many great plant foods and the elimination of foods that make us sick. We have the opportunity to take control of our health every day with the foods we choose to eat.
“Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
First, a note about supplementation. B12 and Vitamin D are essential for our brain health, and everyone should be supplementing – regardless of diet!
Nearly 40% of people are deficient or low in B12, and almost 50% of people don’t get enough vitamin D! Due to various lifestyle factors, it can be harder for us to receive and absorb nutrients than it was in the past. Industrial farming is the norm, we spend a lot less time outdoors and overall, our food quality is declining.
The plant-based population is only about 1% of the world – so this isn’t a concern for only vegans. The vegan community just tends to be more open to the discussion and honest about the need for supplementation.
A vegan lifestyle is one that recognizes that our actions impact others. Being more self-aware and owning our choices can be the first step to improved emotional maturity and health.
We, as people, are the master of our own emotions. While you can’t control your initial emotional response, you can choose if and how you react to those emotions. Veganism can jump-start the path to self-discovery, oneness and calm.
Veganism is a lifestyle of compassion. When we have more love for all, we tend to include ourselves. This can lead to a new emotional range and increased consciousness.
The power of empathy should not be understated. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – vegans have an increased sense of this. Our empathy transcends the species barrier.
Beyond the increased awareness, empathy and shift in perception, there is evidence to suggest that vegans are happier! This can be attributed to our higher than average fruit and vegetable intake. According to this study, well being peaks at seven servings a day! This is easy to reach and exceed on a vegan diet!
Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This results in many great benefits for your body and brain. When all is well and in balance, you see improved cognitive function (there is even evidence to suggest that vegetarians have a higher IQ than omnivores!) and mental health!
Vegans experience less stress and anxiety than those on omnivorous diets. Dietary interventions have even been shown to improve depression and anxiety! It’s science!
A plant-based diet has been shown to reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s. In addition, green leafy vegetables can slow cognitive decline. Adding in extra servings of fruits and vegetables daily is beneficial at all life stages.
Veganism can lead the way to improved spiritual health. This has to do with the journey that many of us embark on. When we go vegan, we become closer to mother nature, our food and our bodies.
Going vegan banishes the cognitive dissonance that comes with ignoring the human impact on our planet. We understand and acknowledge the suffering animal agriculture causes to the animals, our planet and our bodies. We are no longer disconnected.
There is an interconnectedness —unity amongst all life on this planet. When we open up our compassion and love for all creatures, we begin to recognize the ways we are the same. We all have the same wants and desires. These are simplified through an animal’s eyes.
This simplified connection helps bring awareness to our own lives. We become more in line with our basic desires, wants and needs. We all have the need to be loved, feel secure and be heard – regardless of species. When we spend more time with ourselves, we learn to navigate our internal guidance systems.
This connection can tie into the finding of inner peace and meditation. Of course, meditation can be a religious practice or one of no denomination. Either way, meditation is a great method to bring quiet and clarity to our minds.
We are what we eat. We can choose to consume life or death: peace or violence. This translates and ripples through the other aspects of our life. Peace to all creatures is the start of the path to enlightenment.
“My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Veganism and vegetarianism have a strong place in many religions throughout the world. Hinduism and Buddhism being some of the most notable.
While it does not require a vegetarian diet, Hinduism promotes the practice of non-violence against all forms of life. Vegetarianism is seen as a purification of body and mind. It is believed that meat is bad for the mind and spiritual development.
Buddhists also tend to follow a vegetarian diet. It is believed that Buddha insisted that the bodies of sentient beings should not be consumed, though not all Buddhists or monks practice this. This varies according to the temple, country and Sutra. Some practice “pure vegetarianism” or what we refer to as veganism.
Veganism has also made appearances in Jainism, Taoism, Orthodox Christianity and other religions. There are many vegan Christians who use the bible to support their choice to abstain from consuming animal bodies.
A vegan lifestyle gives you the foundation you need to have a healthier body, mind and soul. But it’s not as simple as just eliminating meat and dairy from your diet. You must add in a variety of healthful plant-based foods, connect with yourself and the world around you and commit to a journey of lifelong learning. There is no wrong time to start this voyage, but the best time is now.
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