A newly published study in Science Magazine concluded that switching to a vegan diet (from an all-inclusive one) is the single most effective way to reduce ones environmental impact*. Diet change is more powerful than for example switching to green electricity or electrifying travel, because it doesn’t just tackle greenhouse gases but also reduces ocean acidification, agricultural land use and water consumption. The study included data from 40,000 farms in 119 countries.
When I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle (from vegetarian + sometimes fish or chicken), I did so because of climate change sure, but mostly because of the health benefits and my personal need to clear my perioral dermatitis. Little did I know that changing my family’s diet would improve my life in a bunch of other ways too! Turns out, there are a few surprising benefits to plant-based living that truly enhances quality of life. At least I think so. Read on and then tell me what you think about these five amazing changes I’ve discovered!
1. Bye, bye gross bacteria
Here’s something amazing and convenient that comes with plant-based living: your trash doesn’t smell. Think about how fast your trashcan goes sour and gross after you toss a Styrofoam tray in there with meat juice on it. After just one day (tops) you have to empty the whole bin. (Since, you know, meats are forbidden in the compost). There’s another benefit to this bacteria thing as well: dirty chopping boards and having the toddler “help” in the kitchen is suddenly no big deal. I know that even if we miss a spot, the “chickpea residue” (lol) will not pose a health threat to any of us. Kids can lick their fingers after helping you out without any risks. If they drop the spatula on the floor, no biggie. Plus, you can taste the bean patties when raw to check if they need more salt. This is a TRUE win.
2. Bathroom breaks are FAST
Let me put it this way; you won’t be seeing any magazines in a vegan family’s bathroom. Because every time plant-eaters consume protein they also consume FIBER, bellies and intestines are generally super happy which means no constipation. Meat is also tough on your belly flora and stays inside you much longer than plant foods do. I hate public restrooms with huge openings around the door, so if I can shorten my time in there; mega win.
3. Serious savings
If you are like me, someone who shops at the grocery store, prefers organic and natural foods and cooks most meals at home, you’ll save money ditching animal products. Soy milk costs the same as organic cow’s milk. Legumes (beans, lentils) are much cheaper per pound than meat is. The savings add up even more when you consider legumes are often sold in a dry state. Did you know one cup dry lentils becomes almost three cups when cooked? Ca-ching! Also at restaurants, vegetarian and vegan meals cost less than that steak or seafood dinner. Every time.
4. More varied menu
How often did we really eat cauliflower steaks before going plant-based? How many fun salads did I actually make? Did we ever reap the benefits of nutritional yeast? The answer is no. Heck, I didn’t even eat squash regularly! I have invited so many new foods into my life since I started to cook vegan, which is what ultimately lead to my love affair with lentils.
5. Learning commitment by limited selections
This may not sound like an amazing benefit, but I tell you, ordering food at restaurants has never been easier. Sure, there are a few places where I can’t eat anything which is kind of inconvenient but in most places there are a few vegan options. And by a few, I mean two. Tops. This is what makes it so easy! Even at the Cheesecake factory where the menu is a thick as a bible, it takes me two seconds to flip to the “superfoods” section and pick the vegan cobb salad. Often, if a menu offers little or no options, combining two or three side dishes will do the trick.
How does those sound?! Great benefits if you ask me.
*A note from me: I am all about “do what you can” – also when it comes to diets. Every vegan meal matters, even if you are not 100% vegan. I call myself plant-based, not vegan, because cheese and leather sneakers, but most meals I cook are 100% vegan.