Are Vegans Happier?

When you read about the benefits of veganism, most articles, videos, and books talk about how it’s great for animals and also good for our health, but what about our mental health? Are vegans happier?

Studies show that a vegan diet can also help with mental health issues like depression and can increase overall happiness. Because vegans eat more beans, seeds, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains than meat-eaters, they consume more nutrients that positively affect mood and mental health. 

This study from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences looked at how increased servings of fruits and vegetables affect people’s moods. The study concluded that, “The vast majority of the included studies indicated that the intake of fruits and/or vegetables and their specific subgroups, as well as processed fruits and vegetables, seems to have a positive influence on mental health. Therefore, the general recommendation to consume at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetable a day may be beneficial also for mental health.”

In this study by Tracking Happiness, “Vegans report 7% higher happiness ratings than meat-eaters.” This study was based on 11,537 respondents and also showed that meat-eaters with a higher happiness rating were more likely to become vegan. I’m not surprised by this at all because every anti-vegan person I’ve come across on the internet has seemed like such a miserable human being! 

Does that mean you can eat vegan chicken nuggets and commercial vegan ice cream every day and expect to be happier? No! It’s important to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other natural whole foods. Try to stay away from ultra-processed food as much as possible because it will affect your mental health and overall happiness. 

Ultra-processed food is food that has chemicals, artificial colors, sweeteners, and preservatives. Basically, anything that you buy at the market or fast-food restaurant with a laundry list of ingredients you can’t pronounce is considered ultra-processed food and should not be confused with processed food. Some processed food like tofu and plant milk can be healthy.

According to a study from Qingdao University, consumption of ultra-processed food, or “UPF” is said to be “positively associated with depressive symptoms in US adults. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, and chronic disease, participants whose UPF contributed more than 73% of total energy intake had a 35% higher risk of depressive symptoms compared with those whose UPF contributed <34% of total energy intake.”

If you had to pick between eating vegan processed food and eating processed food with animal products, vegan processed food is better for you and the animals, but it’s still best just to have it as a treat once in a while or avoid it completely. I eat ultra-processed food around my period since my PMS cravings are intense and I want every unhealthy vegan food I can get my hands on. I’m like another person during that time of the month. It’s like turning into a vegan werewolf every month but sans the excess body hair and instead of wanting to eat humans, you want vegan fish burgers from 7-11. They’re so good but not healthy!

Even though a vegan diet is healthier and can increase your happiness and help with depression, it won’t cure it. As someone who has suffered from depression for all of their life, I can tell you there is no cure, but there are ways to manage it. Eating a healthy, vegan diet has helped me manage my depression a lot better. Especially now that I’ve been sober for five years, I can see how different food affect my moods. I feel a lot happier when I eat cleaner and avoid soy, wheat, sugar, and ultra-processed food. I can’t cut those out completely though, not with my crazy PMS cravings! There’s no way! But at least I can try to avoid it as much as possible outside of menstrual werewolf time.

It’s not just about nutrients and chemicals, though. We’re not machines and we’re more than what exists in the material world. Having a vegan philosophy gives people a clear moral compass and sense of purpose, which is really important for humans to have. When people don’t know their purpose and don’t have a strong sense of morality, they can feel lost and depressed and turn to harmful things like drugs or Jordan Peterson, which will make their life worse!

I’ve always been extremely empathetic towards animals and knew it was my life’s purpose to help animals and end animal suffering. Through difficult moments in my life, I have always had that purpose and that drive that has kept me going. When I see how much work still needs to be done in order to help liberate all the animals on this planet, I know that I must keep moving forward and doing my best to spread the word about animal rights and the importance of becoming vegan. 

When I write a vegan article, rescue an animal, or post about veganism on social media, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and contributed something positive to this world. I feel good about myself but not in an annoying, self-righteous way, just in a motivational way that helps me see the glass as half-full instead of completely broken into pieces. It helps me keep going, especially when I feel depressed. 

Being a vegan is not all rainbows though. When you become vegan for the animals, you also become more sensitive to animal exploitation. The problem is animal exploitation is all around us, embedded into our everyday lives. I can’t take a walk around my neighborhood without encountering animal exploitation. I see dead animals being sold for food, especially in the fresh market that I go to every morning. I see birds in cages and horses being forced to give rides along the beach. And because I live in Thailand, there are tourist companies all over the city promoting trips to wildlife exploitation businesses that force animals like tigers, apes, and elephants to perform stupid tricks. Animal suffering is everywhere and that can be really difficult to deal with as a vegan. 

Animal liberation is extremely important because of how much animals suffer in this world at the hands of humans. We need more people speaking up on their behalf and vowing to not contribute to their suffering. One vegan can save 365 animals a year and tens of thousands of animals during their lifetime simply by not consuming animal products.

Happiness is not this black-or-white thing that can only exist if you eat X amount of nutrients or follow a one-size-fits-all way of living. It can be a very fleeting emotion that only lasts for a small moment in time and it completely depends on various factors both inside and outside of yourself. 

In order to have more happy moments though, you need to have a healthy lifestyle and not eat food that comes from suffering. It’s important to have a sense of purpose that fulfills you and helps you feel like you’re contributing to the greater good. Becoming vegan can not only increase your happiness but it also increases the happiness of other species too.

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Fashionista. Film-maker. Digital nomad.

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