In our over-stressed and rushed world, is there a simple secret to inner peace? Amid the wasteland of fast food and supermarkets crammed with thousands of processed choices, is there a straight line to health? Surrounded by pavement and parking lots, how can you feel a direct connection to the majesty of nature?
2,068 vegans took a moment to share the answers in the survey Vegan From the Inside. Respondents completed questions on what it’s like for them to be on an animal-free diet, plus wrote in over 100 pages of comments. People from around the world participated; about three-quarters from the United States, and the rest from Canada, Australia, the UK, and many other countries. All had been on a 100% plant-based diet for at least 3 months, with 10% vegan for more than a decade.
You can read the press release and complete survey report with all the numbers on the survey’s website. You can even download charts to use in your own writing or research.
This first-of-its-kind project paints a complex picture of what it’s like to be vegan – and it’s a picture that in no way matches the misconceptions and stereotypes in mainstream media. Here’s a quick list of the six myths that the survey demolishes, replaced by just the facts.
MYTH ONE. Vegans are pale, weak, and unhealthy because their diet lacks protein and other vital nutrients. Fact: fully 68.6% of
respondents got healthier after starting an animal-free diet. Only 1.6% said their health got worse. Over half noted their energy level improved after they became vegan, while 44% got more physically active.
MYTH TWO. A vegan diet is not a good weight-loss choice because of all those darn “carbs.” Fact: four out of ten respondents lost weight they wanted to lose after going plant-based, and almost that many started at their ideal weight and stayed there. How many gained weight? A puny 5%.
MYTH THREE. A vegan diet is boring. Fact: 96.7% of respondents enjoy their food on a vegan diet. 94.4% intend to stay on a 100% plant-based diet for the rest of their life. These numbers tell a story that can change the world.
MYTH FOUR. A vegan diet is all about deprivation and lower quality of life.
Fact: in addition to the almost total satisfaction expressed with being vegan, respondents found much else to enhance their lives as a result of their eating choice. Rewards included enjoying cooking more (73.4%), making a difference for animals (90.8%) and the environment (86.3%), feeling closer to animals and nature (70.5%), helping others by being a good role model
(69.6%), and feeling more spiritual (41.6%). Not bad just for a simple change in diet.
MYTH FIVE. A vegan diet requires a high level of discipline and is difficult to stick to in the long-run. Fact: the longer you stay on a plant-based diet, the easier it becomes. Although the initial transition can be demanding, 61.2% experience remaining on a vegan diet long-term is effortless. Only 3.2% feel it takes a lot of work.
MYTH SIX. Vegans can’t enjoy eating out or other social get-togethers. Fact: While this is the area of greatest challenge, most respondents have developed strategies to get what they need. 60.2% answer eating out is less convenient, yet this falls into the annoyance category. In the write-in comments, no one seems especially upset about dealing with restaurants.
Coping with friends and family is more of an emotional issue, though. The most common reactions respondents experience when someone learns they are vegan are curiosity, surprise, and a willingness to accommodate. Nonetheless, some reactions are more negative. When faced with lack of understanding from family, friends, and potential dates, vegans feel a range of emotions from sadness to anxiety to a determination to show how great vegan food can be.
Taken as a whole, the survey confirms vegans are happy, healthy, energetic, and committed to their eating choices. The following comments from respondents show what a difference an animal-free diet can make:
Becoming vegan is the single most important choice I’ve made for my health and well-being as well as for animals and the planet.
Going vegan is the best thing I ever did, I feel so much healthier and happy. I have learned to really enjoy the wonderful tastes of food instead of smothering meat in heavy gravies, sauces, or lots of condiments.
My only regret is that it took me so long to learn about the overwhelming reasons to go vegan, and I hope it won’t take my younger family members that long.
Becoming vegan was the best choice I could have ever made. It’s made such a difference in so many different areas in my life. It saddens me that more are not open to learning more about the positive benefits.
Preventing cancer is important to me and one reason I became vegan. The taste of meat had gotten less interesting to me and I have found meat and dairy substitutes that are satisfying, so it was a very easy transition. I had also taken a series of cooking classes. I couldn’t have done it without those. I feel much better about animals not dying for my dinner.
I only wish that I had discovered the benefits of a vegan lifestyle sooner.
Going vegan was easily the most exciting, enlightening and rational thing I have ever done. It is also frustrating at times and alienating and irritating…but I would not change back for anything.
Being vegan is easy, I would never go back to a vegetarian diet. Eating out at times can be difficult but it’s not a huge problem
I love eating delicious food and I’ve been vegan a little over 4 years… it saddens me when people act like food can’t be good without animal products. Few people on the planet enjoy a delicious meal as much as I do!
If you are thinking about trying a 100% plant-based diet, maybe these facts and feelings will make it easier for you to take that step. If you are like these 2.068 people, it may well be the best decision you ever make.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, the smart person’s nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.