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5 Physical Benefits of Being Vegan: What I’ve Noticed After a Year of Following a Vegan Diet

(This post is part one of a two-post series celebrating my Veganniversary. See part 2 here.)

You know how sometimes we get caught in a whirlwind of things suddenly happening to us, and we forget something important? Last month I started a new job, started the new  Everyday Heroes series here on the blog, continued to explore the beautiful Northwestern Washington – and in the meantime, completely forgot that May marked a year since I went vegan!

All is not lost, so I’m going to celebrate my belated first Veganniversary today. I’m going to count all my blessings and share the physical benefits of being vegan that I’ve noticed after following this diet and lifestyle for a year.5 physical benefits of being vegan: what I've noticed after following a vegan diet for a yearIn case you’re new to my blog, here’s what influenced me to make this change. In the past few years, I have read a number of books (Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run are just a couple) and watched some inspiring documentaries (Forks Over Knives – the original, and its follow-up, Forks Over Knives – The Extended Interviews) that I finally decided to give a try to this plant-based vegan lifestyle. You can read about my switch in more detail over here.

I realized that going vegan could not only improve the way I felt and reduce my carbon footprint, but also could possibly help me become a better runner and improve my endurance.

I started writing this blog the very first day of my marathon training plan, and now, almost a year later, not only have I run my first vegan marathon successfully last November, I also had a number of improvements in my well-being and outlook.

As I started writing down all of the things I wanted to say here, it quickly became clear that there’s just too much info to put into one post.  So I’ve split my narration into two more reasonably sized posts for your enjoyment.

Today is about sharing the benefits of being vegan that I’ve noticed in my health and appearance since I went vegan, and the second part to be published later this week will be about the changes in my mindset.

If you’ve been following a vegan diet/lifestyle for some time, I’m sure you could add a few of your own points to this list. Post your thoughts in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your opinion!

5 Physical Benefits of Being Vegan for a Year

1. More energy for day-to-day activities. This is especially helpful right now, when I wake up at around 5-5:30 am Monday through Friday to go to work for 8 hours, then stop by the gym for an intense HIIT workout or some cardio, come home to make dinner, and spend another 2 hours or so on my blog. This constant go-go-go rhythm would be hard to maintain if I had slumps in my energy levels during the day.

2. Better athletic endurance and faster recovery. Even when I push myself hard during my workouts, I always have some more energy left in the tank.  Plus, I recover faster for the next workout, which was very important when I was training for my marathon.

3. I grew some muscle! Yep, even while eating no meat/dairy/protein supplements, etc. There must be protein in those plant foods after all!

But seriously, going vegan coincided with the time when I changed my workout routine in the gym from doing the same ol’ routine with exercise machines for years (ugh!) to using free weights or my body weight only in 20-40 minute long intensive exercise sequences that change all the time.

Now I rarely do the same exact workout the same way twice, and my vegan muscle proves that this routine is way more efficient.

4. I finally have fewer digestion issues. Those have been dragging me down for as long as I remember myself. These days, all of the fiber of plant foods and lower ‘added’ fat amounts make a huge difference on my digestive flow – you may think it’s too much information, but most plant eaters out there will agree.

5. My acne has finally cleared up! I’ve been plagued by breakouts since adolescence, and the issue never went away as I got older.

Looking back at those days, I realize that I should have ditched at least dairy long time ago – I had known for years that it wasn’t digesting right, but my cheese addiction was too strong to break.

Once I got the courage to let it go, the changes didn’t take long to be seen. My skin might still be acting up sometimes, like when I go through bouts of stress, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be.

Me happyA question for you: what are the differences that you’ve noticed in the way you feel or look since you went vegan? Do share!

In my next post, I’m sharing the ways my mindset has changed since I went vegan. In my opinion, the changes in our mindset are even more important than the physical changes, because if something becomes our second nature, we are much more likely to stick with it.

If you’re considering going vegan but aren’t sure where to start, see my easy-to-follow guide to first steps when going vegan, and make sure to avoid 5 common mistakes people make when going vegan.

Also, here’s an update on what I found out about my health after six years of being vegan.

And if you’ve been vegan but are thinking of quitting, see my 10 reasons for staying vegan in this post.

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author avatar
Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats
Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Eventually she embraced veganism as a way to be kinder to fellow living beings and the environment. Alina hopes that this blog helps its readers on their path to becoming vegan and making this world a better place.

Thomas Clarence

Thursday 30th of June 2022

It was interesting when you mentioned that being vegan can help you have more energy. I have felt very sluggish lately. It might be a good idea for me to try a vegan diet and see if that can help me feel better.

Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Friday 1st of July 2022

Sure, let me know how it goes!

Eve Mitchell

Monday 16th of August 2021

I love the info you shared about being vegan helping you have more energy for workouts and such! my daughter is a gymnast and she has really struggled with her diet that past couple of years. She wants to be healthy and perform well, so I think going vegan might help her.


Friday 1st of January 2021

I’ve had problems with food the past 3-4 months. Everything I eat makes me super sick and anxious, and it seems worst with dairy and meat. I want to go vegan for a few weeks to see if it helps, but I’m worried my parents won’t respond well. Any advice?

Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Monday 4th of January 2021

Just do it. Tell your parents why you want to try this - I doubt any parent would have a bad reaction to their child trying to do something to feel better. Good luck!


Friday 15th of April 2016

Hubby and I started on this journey 2 years ago, Jan.. We feel amazing. We have both lost weight, he went from 36 inch waist to 32, me from a size 14 to a 10. Our energy levels are up, up, up. No more afternoon nap cravings!! My cholesterol(reason we started) has gone down over 40 points, and neither one of us has been sick for 2 years!! Not even a headache. He is 64 and I am 55 and we are loving every minute of our plant strong life!! We wish we had begun our journey sooner.


Monday 18th of April 2016

So great to hear that plant-based diet is working so well for you and your husband, Janice! Keep it up!


Tuesday 1st of March 2016

I used to be hypoglycemic (low blood sugars) and since going vegan, this problem entirely disappeared. Blood sugars totally normalized! No idea why this is happening, but yay plants!


Wednesday 2nd of March 2016

Awesome Katie, glad to hear that!