Veganism used to be viewed as a hippie thing, but now the lifestyle is totally mainstream. Whether people made the switch for their health or for the animals, there’s been a 600 percent increase in those who identify as a vegan since 2014. Not only has this shift led to having vegan options in just about every restaurant you go to, but with the growing lifestyle has also come a whole assortment of new products that are making it even easier to go plant-based.
From the Beyond Burger that’s found right in the meat section of grocery stores to former dairy companies switching to producing plant-based alternatives, it’s clear a revolution is happening. So why not be part of it? There’s no better time than now to rid animal products from your life, and here are 28 reasons that might just convince you to make the move today.
It Keeps Your Heart Healthy
One of the best ways to keep your heart healthy just so happens to be cutting all the animal products out of your life. “Vegan diets tend to lower heart disease risk by helping to lower LDL, HDL, and non-LDL cholesterol,” says plant-based nutritionist Courtney Pool. “A vegan diet also tends to reduce blood sugar levels from elevated to more normal, which also impacts on cardiovascular health.” In fact, a 2017 study from the American Heart Association found those who ate a mostly plant-based diet had a 42 percent decreased risk of developing heart failure compared to those who didn’t.
It’ll Help You Be More Productive
If you feel like your overall productivity—whether it’s at the office or in life in general—could use a boost, going vegan might be the way to do it. In a four-month-long study from the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers found that eating a vegan diet not only helped workers shed some pounds, but it also increased their productivity, allowing them to get more done and excel at their jobs.
It Can Help You Stay Youthful
Unfortunately, there’s still no Fountain of Youth to you can jet off to and come back with a sunkissed glow. One way to help you age gracefully, though, is eating a vegan diet. “If you’re after an anti-aging effect, a vegan diet is your best bet,” Pool says. “There tend to be more antioxidants present in vegan food, as well as more minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients, all of which support radiant skin, hair, and eyes.”
You’ll Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
According to BreastCancer.org, one in eight women will develop it during their lifetime—and that means there will be an estimated 330,000 new cases in the U.S. alone this year. One thing that can help lower the risk is going vegan: A 2017 study published in BMC Public Health found cutting out meat could help protect you against breast cancer. Eating meat, on the other hand, was associated with a higher risk.
It Can Help Keep Your Body in Check
Instead of going on a crazy diet, simply focusing on plants will do your body good, inside and out. “Plants are great for maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index,” Pool says. “Obviously a lot of vegan junk food now exists—which is best eaten sparingly—but when you emphasize eating veggies, fruits, healthy fats, beans, legumes, and other whole food ingredients, you’ll see great results.” And a 2016 study backs that up, finding non-meat-eaters tended to weigh less than meat-eaters.
It Can Help You Live Longer
When you go vegan, you’re not just saving animals’ lives—you’re lengthening your own, too. A 2018 study published in The Lancet found those who consumed animal-based diets had a shorter life expectancy than those who ate plant-based sources of protein and fat. In fact, there was nearly a 20 percent decrease in the risk of death.
It Can Improve Your Arthritis
People with osteoarthritis—a type of arthritis—deal with joint pain everywhere from their hands and neck to their back and knees. In a 2015 study published in the journal Arthritis, those who ate a whole foods, plant-based diet experienced a significant reduction in pain compared to those on a typical meat-eating diet. And get this: It only took two weeks to start feeling results. On top of that, another study found a vegan diet could also help you decrease your risk of rheumatoid arthritis—a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the joints—too.
It Can Up Your Disease-Fighting Antioxidant Status
When you have a good antioxidant status, your body is better able to fight off disease, whether that’s cancer or heart disease. And how do you get all those antioxidants? Going vegan. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found eating a vegan diet provided significantly more antioxidants than a typical meat-eating diet, which could lead to better health down the line.
It Will Keep Your Bones Strong
Ever since you’re little, you’re told to drink milk to have strong bones. Unfortunately, calcium from animal products is proving to do the opposite, despite what all those “got milk?” ads claim. A study published in Topics in Integrative Health Care found fruit and vegetables is all you need for healthy bones—and osteoporosis, the condition that weakens bones and makes them brittle, is actually “more prevalent in the developed countries where dairy products are abundant and well utilized by the population.” If you want quality calcium that will do your body good, you can get just as much with your greens. In fact, 100 grams of kale contains more calcium than 100 grams of milk. Crazy, huh?
You’ll See an Increase in Your Energy Levels
If you’re feeling tired and lethargic all the time, switching your diet could help you feel back to normal again. “If you suffer from low energy or energy fluctuations, a plant-based diet may improve this issue,” Pool says. “Meat, dairy, and eggs tend to require more energy to digest than plant-based products, meaning your body has less energy to fuel your body, brain, and your day.”
It Could Help End World Hunger
If you want to be part of a real change, going vegan is one easy way to do it. According to a study published in Environmental Research Letters, researchers found the cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals raised for food use up a lot of crops that could be used to feed humans instead. If those crops were grown strictly to feed humans instead of to fatten up livestock for meat, it could feed four billion more people.
You’ll Save a Lot of Water
No, like a lot. Sure, taking shorter showers is one thing. But if you really want to play your part, go vegan. Creating a single pound of beef you see on store shelves takes about 1,800 gallons alone—and that’s just a measly pound of one of the many animals eaten. As crazy as it might seem, agriculture in the U.S. uses up 80 percent of all water. So just imagine how much could be saved if people were no longer eating meat.
You’ll Save Animals
Most people don’t realize how much harm goes into producing meat. By going vegan, you could save thousands of animals over the years—and stop contributing to all the pain and suffering they go through to get onto people’s plates. “The vast majority of chickens, cows, pigs, and turkeys spend their lives on massive factory farms where they’re kept in crowded, filthy sheds or cages. They’re denied everything natural to them,” says Ashley Byrne, campaign specialist at PETA.
“Pigs never get to take a breath of fresh air or nurture their young, cows are in such terrible shape that they frequently collapse during their ride to the slaughterhouse where they’re prodded or dragged off the trucks, often resulting in their bones breaking as they hit the ground. Chickens and turkeys are crammed into crowded sheds with tens of thousands of other birds where disease, being smothered or having heart attacks are all common. These are all intelligent, sensitive animals that feel pain, just like our dogs and cats.”
You Can Help Stop Global Warming
Seeing pictures of starving polar bears due to their homes melting away because of global warming is devastating. Change isn’t just going to come from riding your bike to work instead of driving, though: transportation is only responsible for a small fraction of the problem. According to reports, animal agriculture is behind 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions—and to put that into perspective, that’s more than the combined exhaust from every mode of transportation. If you really want to see change, going vegan is the way to do it.
You’ll Have Better Gut Health
When your gut is healthy, you’ll feel better both mentally and physically: Those tiny bacteria play a role in everything from your digestion to your immune system and mood. According to a 2014 review published in the journal Nutrients, when compared to meat-eating and even vegetarian diets, vegans’ gut profiles are top-notch with less disease-causing organisms and more protective species of bacteria, as well as lower levels of inflammation.
You Can Stop Diabetes in Its Tracks
Whether you’re trying to prevent diabetes or help reduce diabetic symptoms, going vegan can make a big difference. “Studies have shown a vegan diet can support the reduction of diabetes medications, lower hemoglobin A1C levels, and improve blood sugar numbers,” Pool says. “There are countless anecdotes of those using a plant-based diet to address diabetes as well.”
You’ll Be Happier
When you go vegan, you won’t just feel great knowing you’re no longer harming any living creatures for your food. You’ll also get a mood boost from the diet alone. In a study from the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers found those who switched over to plants had improvements in their symptoms of depression and anxiety, making them feel happier and more at ease.
You’ll Save the Rainforests
Forget everything you’ve ever heard about rainforest destruction because the leading cause might surprise you: animal agriculture. In fact, it’s responsible for 91 percent of the destruction of the Amazon. To help save the animals facing extinction—from tigers to orangutans—stop eating animal products. Even one person can help make a difference.
There Are Awesome (and Delicious!) Food Options
Years ago, it was harder to find plant-based alternatives to your favorite foods prepped and ready-to-go at the grocery store. Now, vegans have plenty of options. There are realistic melty cheeses, burgers that bleed, creamy ice creams, non-dairy milk made from nuts, fluffy “egg” products—you name it. Basically, whatever you loved before going vegan, you can find a way to make it without causing any harm to animals.
It’ll Help Get Rid of Acne
Getting rid of acne can be really hard. If you’ve tried every product on store shelves to no avail, you might want to try going vegan. Not only will all those extra vitamins and nutrients make your skin glow, but ditching milk could do wonders for those zits. Multiple studies have shown drinking milk from cows—no matter the type—was positively associated with acne, so eliminating it from your diet could help things clear up for good.
It’s Never Been Easier
Oftentimes, people think going vegan is hard. That’s not the case, though—especially with all the resources available. “It’s never been easier to be vegan, and the food has never been more delicious,” Byrne says. “Plus, there are so many resources for people who want to transition. Even if you’re traveling, there are apps like Happy Cow that will let you see all the options available around you.”
You’ll Sleep Better
The key to a good night’s sleep probably isn’t from counting sheep—it’s from helping them (and other animals!) by going vegan. One older study found those who took on veganism improved their quality of sleep, so making the switch could allow you to get more out of that time spent resting—and take on your days with all that extra energy because of it.
You’ll Be Less Stressed
Feeling stressed isn’t fun for anyone. But—you guessed it!—going vegan could help lower your levels. In a survey of 620 participants, all the fruit and veggies vegan participants ate gave them lower stress and anxiety levels than non-vegans. And all those positive vibes helped female participants eat lower intakes of sweets, too.
You’re Joining a Cool Community
Believe it or not, the vegan community isn’t scary: It’s full of kind-hearted individuals who don’t want to cause any pain or suffering to any living creature. And there are plenty of familiar names you might recognize. The list of vegans celebrities is pretty long, but a handful of the many include Madonna, Ariana Grande, Gisele Bündchen, Miley Cyrus, Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone, James Cameron, Liam Hemsworth, Ellie Goulding, Natalie Portman, and Peter Dinklage.
It Can Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Want to keep your colon in good shape? Going vegan is a great way to do it. It turns out if you devour meat on the regular, you’re really pushing your luck: Research shows those who eat processed or red meat are a whopping 50 percent more likely to have colon cancer than non-meat-eaters. Instead, replace that animal protein with healthier forms of plant protein, like tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, and seitan.
You’ll Smell Better
You can spray on as much perfume or cologne as you want, but everyone still has their own personal scent underneath it all—and being vegan can make that a very good smell. In a study published in the journal Evolution & Human Behavior, researchers found the people who ate higher intakes of fruit and veggies—aka something vegans are total champs at!—had a much more pleasant-smelling sweat than those who didn’t.
You’ll Be Involved in an Exciting New Change
The world is changing, and going vegan now will let you be at the forefront of what’s happening instead of being left in the dust. “Delicious vegan options are available all over the place now, whether you’re talking about the many restaurants that have added delicious veggie burgers and vegan chicken to their menus or all the coffee shops that have a wide range of non-dairy options, from soy to almond, coconut, and oat,” Byrne says. “Even the top ice cream brands—like Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers—have come out with non-dairy options. It’s all around us now.”
It Could Help Treat Asthma
Anyone who’s sick of carrying around an inhaler 24/7 could greatly benefit from going vegan. After a group of study participants with serious asthma issues (who had been taking medication for around 12 years!) ate a vegan diet for a year, nearly all of them barely had any symptoms anymore and were able to either get rid of or reduce their meds.