There’s no better time than Veganuary to consider test driving a vegan diet. That’s right, you don’t have to make a lifetime commitment to an entirely new lifestyle to reap the benefits of veganism. For a long-term lifestyle change, the Vegan Society advises that you take it slow and make the transition at your own pace: “Going vegan not only takes getting used to, but it takes time to determine what will work best for you. It’s not a one size fits all experience and there are numerous approaches you can take.”
So what is a vegan diet? It’s a more extreme version of vegetarian and there are many variations but overall it’s a plant-based diet that eliminates all animal products. That means no dairy, meat, eggs and even honey. Aside from giving up some of your favorite foods, it can be a bit of a challenge finding packaged foods with no hidden animal products (gelatin, for example). And once you get the hang of it and experience the results, you may just be hooked. Here are 10 reasons to celebrate Veganuary by trying a vegan diet.
1. Save the Animals
Animal suffering is one of the main reasons people opt to go vegan. As Ellen DeGeneres said, “I became vegan because I saw footage of what really goes on in the slaughterhouses and on the dairy farms.” Those following the full-on vegan lifestyle also don’t wear leather or fur and only use cruelty-free products.
2. Everyone’s Doing It
The number of vegans in the U.S. rose from 1% in 2009 to 2.5% in 2012 and that trend is continuing. Some celeb vegans include Bill Clinton and Al Gore, Russell Brand, Olivia Wilde, Samuel L. Jackson, Ariana Grande and Natalie Portman.
3. Lose Weight
Overall, vegans tend to weigh less than carnivores. A recent study by the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina comparing plant-based diets found that participants following a vegan diet lost 4.3% more weight than the others. Be warned though, there’s plenty of junk food that qualifies as vegan, so still need to make smart choices.
Eating meat takes a bigger environmental toll than you might think. It takes a lot of land and grain to keep cattle which leads to rampant deforestation and habitat loss. Then there’s the processing. Following a vegan diet is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and encourage companies to follow more sustainable practices.
In addition to weight-loss, plant-based diets are proven to reduce your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Don’t worry about missing out on protein, you can get all you need from foods like tofu, beans, lentils and nuts. You may even be able to give up your daily multivitamin since your eating so many nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
Many vegan converts rave about how much more energy they have. Although eating ‘bird food’ implies that you aren’t getting anything substantial, birds require an enormous amount of energy to stay airborne. Eating more fiber and eliminating heavy foods like meat and cheese keeps speeds digestion and gives your body more long-lasting fuel.
That’s right—some of your faves may be out but carbs are in. And you still lose weight! Low-carb has ruled the diet world for years but the tide is starting to change as more experts are saying that a diet high in complex carbs and low in protein may be more effective for weight loss. So get ready for a delicious bowl of pasta with soy cheese.
8. 22-Day Challenge
Yes, this is the Beyoncé and Jay Z diet and you can have it delivered right to your door. This is a great way to get started without having to come up with an entirely new menu on your own. 22 Days Nutrition offers meal delivery across the country for $16.50-$10.27 a meal. You can sign up for one, two or three delicious meals a day made from gluten-free, soy-gree, 100% organic, Non-GMO foods.
9. More Food for All
Because foods on the vegan diet have a lower carbon footprint and are generally less expensive to produce, the more we go vegan the more food there will be for everyone.
10. Live Long & Prosper
By lowering your risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, you’re increasing your lifespan. Animals raised for food are given large amounts of antibiotics, which is creating more resistant strains of bacteria. And meat is more likely to be contaminated with toxins or bacteria.