The ‘Mind-Altering’ Benefits of Veganism
Universally, as we are challenged with a deadly pandemic, many are taking the initiative to reinvent and revamp their lifestyles to become healthier and more sustainable. Due to the widespread discussion about the advantages of following a Vegan lifestyle, we all are well aware of the benefits to our physical health. However, well-being as we know it currently, doesn’t only pertain to one’s physical health, but also one’s mindset and mental health. Hence, this article is a humble attempt to reveal the literally “mind-altering” benefits of following this holistic lifestyle.
Drawing inspiration from the proverb “You are what you Eat”, it is evident that the quality, quantity and nutrients present within one’s diet significantly contributes to the emotions experienced post the meal. It has been proven that the numerous antioxidants and vitamins present in a vegan diet can protect one’s brain from free radicals and oxidative stress. For example, a recent study conducted by the University of California shows that a diet high in trans fatty acids is directly linked to increased aggression and irritability. This is because it reduces the Brain’s capacity to produce and use Omega-3 Fatty Acids, a nutrient that leads to reduced aggression. Based on this logic, the intake of phytochemicals which seems to be relatively high in a Vegan Diet has proven to promote better emotional wellbeing. Furthermore, not only can phytochemicals enhance one’s attentiveness but also has been proven to improve cognitive function. As a bonus, many fruits, especially berries have been linked to lower levels of depression. Although, there hasn’t been much research conducted into the same, it is believed that the high levels of antioxidants can help relieve the inflammation associated with depression and other mood disorders.
Adding onto the cognitive benefits of a vegan diet, it is said that 95% of serotonin, “the happy chemical” is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Thus, reiterating the direct association between one’s food consumption and their mood. Serotonin is responsible for stabilizing one’s emotions, aiding with sleep and enhancing one’s motor skills. A vegan diet can positively trigger the synthesis of serotonin due to a particular amino acid that is frequently found within plant-based foods. Furthermore, it was found that vegetarians and vegans have lower scores on depression tests and mood profiles. This is because the presence of long chain fatty acids, frequently found within an omnivorous diet is directly linked to high rates of depression. A renowned example of a Vegan Aficionado is Joaquin Phoenix, well-known for his role in the 2019 Film ‘Joker’. Although he hasn’t explicitly mentioned the benefits to mental health of following a vegan lifestyle, he reinforces the idea of pain and how he doesn’t want to be a party to this suffering caused by an omnivorous diet on several occasions.
Additionally, it is no secret that the manifestation of positive energy fuelled by compassion and love goes a long way in strengthening one’s cognitive and emotional health. One of the hidden benefits of veganism is that a vegan practices compassion everyday, often without even knowing it. The act of consciously picking life over pleasure stimulates increased happiness and satisfaction. In addition, the fact that vegans tend to consciously craft their meals to be sustainable and nutritious gives one the feeling of self-care. This is likely to lead to a more positive outlook and enhanced capabilities to combat mood disorders. Fully embracing the vegan lifestyle, promotes and encourages a greater feeling of fulfilment that is borne out of being a morally responsible person. Furthermore, this lifestyle has also been proven to lead to longer life expectancy with relatively few health problems as one ages.
To conclude, a plant-based diet has numerous benefits, not only towards one’s physical wellbeing and the environment, but also for our cognitive well-being. Embracing this lifestyle promotes the feeling of sympathy and affection towards animals that are being brutally tortured, only to land up on someone’s plate. The manifestation of such positive energies encourages mental and emotional stability.
Written by Saanchi Shah
Edited by Cissy So