Vegan Diet and Mental Health

By August 20, 2021July 31st, 2023Nutrition
Vegan Diet and Mental Health

Your mental health matters- and trying to support that in the everchanging uncertainty of a global pandemic alongside the catastrophic beauty of day to day life can feel a little bit like looking for a diamond in the dark. From the food you’re eating to the socks you’re wearing and the way you’re moving your body, everything comes into question when you’re grappling with the ways you can improve your mental health and flourish on your own terms. 

While it’s been suggested that a vegan diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce diabetes risk and pain, did you know it also has many benefits to your mental health? We’re here to help support your interest in Veganism, guide your transition and illustrate the ways you can transform your mental health with plants. 

Cultivate curiosity and compassion 

Plant-based diets are rooted in excluding animal products and byproducts from what you eat, and they can feel a little overwhelming to begin. While veganism itself doesn’t enhance or alter your nature, it certainly has a way of provoking inner change. From considering the repercussions of removing animal products (and byproducts) in your life to sourcing new ideas for meals and snacks, veganism invites you to engage your mind in new and creative ways. Being vegan offers you an opportunity to exercise compassion in the small details of your life. You get the chance to choose not to contribute to the animal-sourced food industry while making space for you to get curious about the options you will choose. 

In one fell swoop, your new vegan meals will ask you to think outside the box and help you to get excited about potential as you do. Whether you’re reimagining your favorite meals or finding new ones, your mental health will benefit from the exercise of engaging with your daily meals in the curious way we engaged in play as children. The compassionate choice not to involve animals in that is a warm hug for the heart and mind on top of that. 

Viva la vitamins 

A common refrain when someone hears you are vegan, or considering veganism, is concern for your vitamin, iron and nutrient intake. Much of our society cannot fathom a balanced diet that doesn’t rely on animal products, which is understandable as less than 1% of Americans are vegan. 

Whether it’s your own uncertainty you’re trying to combat, someone else’s or just a new awareness of your nutritional intake, adding multivitamins, probiotics and supportive supplements may be a byproduct of your new vegan lifestyle. As such, your body may experience a more balanced micronutrient profile than you have before. The more commonly supplemented nutrients, like B12, Folate and Omega-3, are an important part of supporting mental health and adding them into your routine alongside your new vegan diet can have positive benefits on your wellbeing. 

Great for gut health 

Vegan diets can help to stimulate a more productive microbial colony in your gut, creating a more productive environment for your body to collect and store the nutrients it needs to nourish you through every day. While a vegan diet on its own can’t create this change, the creativity and new protein sources drive a natural encouragement toward new and more diverse whole food choices. 

When the gut is happy, so too is the mind. The Gut-Brain Connection is the link between what you eat and how you think- and it’s largely undervalued. By eating a vegan (and likely more versatile) diet, you can enrich your body’s connection to the mind and support a more productive exchange of information. Given that the Gut-Brain connection has been shown to correlate with anxiety, this is great news for supporting your mental health. 

vegan dietEating a vegan diet isn’t a miracle cure that will make you live forever, help your skin glow or give you superpowers. It isn’t always easy and the surprising list of limitations may feel frustrating as you begin a new journey. However, the benefits of being vegan can touch every corner of your life, from physical to mental health, and expand beyond you to making a difference in the ethical use of animals by the food industry. Supporting a cause you believe in through the choices you make will always benefit your mental health overall, but the day to day is yours to consider and cultivate. 

Our residential program is one of the very few substance abuse treatment centers that provides vegan meals and an emphasis on nutrition as a part of our holistic programming. Connect with us today to learn more about the way that we do treatment differently. 

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