If you don’t currently embrace a fully plant-based or vegan way of life (veganism in particular is a way of life) then your perception of what it might be like could well be peppered with notions of challenge, difficulty even, along with echoes of voices heard over a lifetime telling you why not to head in that direction. It would be completely disingenuous to suggest that there are no difficulties or challenges, but the voices of opposition contrast starkly with the most frequently expressed statement amongst vegans: “I wish I’d done it sooner.”
The reasons for the regret are usually indeed plural, the greatest of which undoubtedly relates to realisations surrounding animal welfare. Henry and Henry place the greatest emphasis on the health aspects of eating a plant-based or vegan diet, not because the other issues are less important, most definitely not, but because it’s what we know best from our own experience and our education.
We’ve talked and written at length about our own major health transformations, specifically weight loss and endometriosis reversal both of which corresponded with increasingly plant-based eating. And we’ve included many others in our Your Story feature. But what about the surprises, the unexpected bonuses?
As Graham’s dietary change was not part of any plan or objective, it’s fair to say all of his transformations were unexpected, he didn’t expect to lose the weight and he didn’t expect to be free of all medication, in particular the blood pressure medication that he anticipated being on for the rest of his life.
For Annette it was different, there had been a plan or at least a hope of improvement. The surprise was that a nutritional approach was so effective. But there were other revelations. Eliminating dairy has been said by some to reduce or eliminate hay fever symptoms and yet it was still unexpected when Annette's experience of hay fever diminished to almost nothing. More surprising still was the vanishing cellulite which had seemed like such a permanent fixture. Was this due to the dietary improvements, too?
Of course there are also plenty of people whose move to veganism has little or nothing to do with any health goals, so we decided to ask a few of our vegan friends and acquaintances in the Vegan Business Tribe about the bonus health experiences they witnessed after becoming vegan. We cannot claim that the elimination of animal products is the unique factor in promoting these outcomes; new additions to the diet can be every bit as beneficial, and maybe simply becoming vegan induces a shift in emotional health and this can also play a part in physical health.
The cellulite story above certainly isn't the only instance of a skin related improvement we've heard of. One of our contributors had this to say: "I used to have dry itchy skin, especially after taking a bath with a not so toxic soap but after being a vegan, no more dry skin even with the same soap." And Co-founder of the Floop app (the food carbon footprint calculator), Kayleigh experienced a resolution of yet another skin issue after becoming vegan: “I used to suffer from facial acne which I was very self conscious about and it completely cleared up!”
For a young adult, especially perhaps a woman, alopecia and total hair loss can be devastating, but this story has a happy outcome: "My hair is thicker. I lost all my hair when I was 19. It grew back but very thin. Since going vegan over ten years ago, it's thicker. Not pre-alopecia levels, but certainly the best it's been since losing it."
We referred above to the potential for emotional health to change as a result of adopting a vegan way of living, and this was echoed by a major transformation experienced by Niall Hall (who is a contributor to the Your Story feature mentioned above): "I lost a lot of weight! And felt a lot more confident and fulfilled within too." The multiple transformations experienced by Niall took him in a new direction as a Mental Well-being Coach which aligns with his heart-felt desire to help others.
Niall isn't the only one whose career developed from his own experience and passion. We know a Plant-based Nutritionist who chose her career out of a desire to enable others to experience what she had found by becoming vegan: "I lost 20 kilos without starving myself."
Sometimes better health can be the enabler of something extraordinary, so we're rounding this off with a beautiful account from our author friend, Ray who has been one of our Change Maker interviewees: "I didn't think I could have children and going vegan gave me two beautiful pregnancies resulting in two equally beautiful boys."
Of course, these are anecdotal accounts, but research is increasingly revealing that a plant-based diet, especially a wholefood plant-based diet, can result in a range of health advantages from the seemingly small to the literally life saving. A vegan lifestyle goes further than just addressing food choices and done well, this way of life can lead to a more healthy, compassionate and potentially more fulfilling life. We thank our vegan friends for demonstrating this so wonderfully.