I’ve pulled away from those days now and my mind is much stronger and more resilient. I owe it to my vegan diet. While on a meat-based diet, I couldn’t get over the hump to happiness. Life was a constant uphill battle. As vegetables and fruits became more central in my diet, my mind healed and rebounded and replaced pessimism with optimism, bleakness with possibility, starkness with creativity, and resignation with hope.
I gained more courage to take in the world around me rather than hiding from it. I was finally able to tell myself that I could deal with whatever came my way. Most importantly, I appreciated more honestly who I was and what I wanted to achieve. This pride got me over the wall to well-being.
Could I have done this without changing my diet and shunning meat and dairy products? I don’t believe so. I could plainly detect the perception of myself and the world transforming in my head as I ate better food. The diet was expansive for me – it opened my thoughts to new ideas and created new connections. It led me away from the past. I could finally envision having an original and distinct life and a brighter future. I needed to become a vegan. I needed that sunshine in my mind.
I’m convinced that vegetarian and vegan diets not only improve physical health, but also improve mental health. I've learned from my experience that the relationship between diet and mood is strongly linked. Being in a good state of mind enhances how one feels leading to increased mental and physical activity and eventually better physical health. This in turn promotes better mental health which is an important cycle that starts with diet!
A recent study published in the Nutrition Journal indicated that a vegetarian diet improved mood within the study group over a fish and fish and meat diet. In fact, mood improved significantly. The results also indicated that the vegetarian group was better able to handle stress. This is a useful finding since both results point to better mental health and happier, more peaceful people which is central to healthy living and a healthy community.
While many physical and dietary factors are linked to chronic disease, some research indicates that stress is one of the highest factors linked to bad health. By eating well, mental health improves and one is able to cope with life better, reducing stress, and the burden on the body imposed by stress.
I'm also certain that vegan diets reduce anger and violent tendencies in people. Research in a California state prison gave inmates the option of enrolling in a program which served only vegan food and offered counseling. The inmates who opted for the vegan diet had dramatic changes in behavior. Compared to the inmates not in the program, instances of violence reduced significantly, recidivism rates drop to 2% compared to the state average of 90%, and attitude changes occurred so much that the inmates no longer formed associations based on racial groups.
The vegan diet has been very helpful to me and will always be a foundation in my life. Consuming fruits and vegetables regularly can put you in a good state of mind. It did it to me. Because diet affects mood and behavior, you will always have the opportunity to feel charged and energized everyday by eating with your happiness in mind!