Unexpected benefits of a vegan diet
First off, a disclaimer: I’ve only been vegan on and off for a few months of my life. But even in my short experiments with veganism, I noticed profound changes, and I want to share my observations.
Compulsive behavior melted away
I have always struggled with certain compulsive behaviors. Nail-biting is a big one. Endless internet browsing, another. These behaviors were stubborn, resisting all my efforts to stop them.
After just a few weeks of a vegan diet, they disappeared on their own. It took no effort on my part, the compulsion itself had simply dissolved as if I never even had it.
Later, when I returned to a non-vegan diet, these compulsions came back quite shortly afterward.
This was the biggest impact veganism had on me, and I’ll dedicate a separate article to why I think that happened.
Less guilt over eating out
Sometimes I do this thing at restaurants, where in the middle of my meal, I start thinking about how much money I’m about to spend.
“Is the quality and quanity of this food worth the price? How much value am I getting here?”
“I could be saving by eating at home. If I keep eating out at this rate, it’s going to drain my bank account over the long term.”
“I should be saving up for my future but instead I’m wasting my money because I’m too lazy to cook at home.”
“Oh, what was I eating again?”
But eating vegan gave me an unexpected escape valve from this neuroticism, and heres why:
Most vegan restaurants I go to are like underdogs. They’re small and scrappy, with fewer customers than other restaurants. And they look more like a labor of love than a business. Everything from the menu to the decorations oozes passion and care.
If I sound overly romantic, that’s actually the point. My brain believes it, and it sees that meal as mutual generority, rather than a mere expense.
With that perspective, my stress and guilt of overspending are replaced by a wholesome feeling. Of course that improves the meal, but it even lingers afterwards and improves my overall mood during the day. Can you put a price on that?
My mind adjusted very quickly
You’d expect that a lifetime of delighting in animal products would make it hard to cope with their absence. It’s more than taste - eating good steak or good sushi is an emotional experience for me.
Indeed it was hard at first. Watching someone eat a pepperoni pizza created an explosion of craving, jealousy, and frustration in my mind.
But after a few weeks, those reactions were so weak I could barely notice them.
It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy eating that - I probably would. But there was no craving behind it, no feeling of missing out.
Meanwhile I started craving good vegan food, and I was genuinely excited to try new restaurants and dishes every day.
Once I decided to stop eating vegan, my mind quickly reverted to its meat and dairy loving ways.
I had some ideas of what to expect going into veganism, and a lot of that turned out to be true. But the most important outcomes were total surprises, like the disappearance of compulsive behaviors.
I think there’s no replacement for actually doing something yourself. You can read about it and think on other people’s experiences, but you shouldn’t be confident in your conclusions.
Someone else trying a lifestyle shift as radical as veganism would likely not experience these same things I mentioned here, but their own unique set of benefits, as well as problems. And yes, I had problems with it too, but that’s for another article.
My only recommendation is to try it and see for yourself.