Does Veganism Affect Your Mood

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How does veganism affect your mental health?

The short answer is β€œNo”, The long answer is β€œit depends”. There can be several factors that affect your mood like, environment, stress, sleep cycle, interaction with people around you, hormones, lack of exercise, etc.

Now that we know that many factors affect our mood and mental health, let’s see how a vegan diet can affect our mood.

We know that following a vegan diet can lower your risk of chronic diseases. It has also been shown to improve other health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease. If you have any of these conditions a vegan diet can help you give a better sense of well-being, thereby affecting your mood a little.

The effect on your mood

This is a complicated topic as there are so many factors involved that can change your overall mood. Some people say that eating a vegan diet lowers their anxiety and improves their mood, while others report it makes their anxiety worse.

We for sure know that veganism doesn’t cause depression, otherwise I would’ve been very depressed by now. The link lies in other factors. Psychological illnesses are complicated matters, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s causing anxiety at times.

There can also be biases especially when people are trying veganism for the first time. But, let’s try to tackle them one by one.

The link between Veganism, Vitamins, Minerals, and Depression

Nutrient deficiencies are more common than we think. It’s easy to mess up our diets from time to time which can cause depression and anxiety. Not getting enough of the essential nutrition your body requires might cause depression. So eating a balanced plant-based diet is important.

What we get plenty of on a vegan diet -

What we should focus on getting -

Not getting enough of these vitamins and nutrients can surely cause mood problems like anxiety and depression.

Two things you should focus on are Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is very common, not only in vegans but in meat-eaters as well. Plants or animals do not make and B12. We need to acquire it from bacteria in the soil, as most animals are supplemented with B12, meat-eaters get those through the animals but for vegans, it’s not the same.

Supplementing with vegan B12 tablets is the easiest way to go, they are cheap, can last a long time if you buy a big pack.

Not consuming enough B12 can cause symptoms like tiredness, weakness, disturbed vision, mouth ulcers, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and depression.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are important for your brain. We should normally have a balance between the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 we consume. Typically this ratio was 1:4, 1 being omega-3 and 4 being omega-6. Now the problem with modern western diets is the overconsumption of omega-6s so much so that the average ratio these days stands at 1:15 to 1:25.

The problem is not that you’re not consuming omega-3, the real problem is you’re consuming way too much omega-6.

Where are you getting so much omega-6?

Foods that are mostly processed and contain ingredients especially oils from, soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower, and other nut and seed oil. So the best approach would be to avoid foods that contain a lot of oil.

If you still feel you need to get more omega-3 the best source in my opinion is consuming flaxseeds. As little as 20 grams of flaxseeds a day is enough to give you all the omega-3 that you’d need for the day. If for some reason you can’t eat flaxseeds you can consume, Chia seeds, Brussel sprouts, Hemp seeds, Walnuts.

What if you get depressed on a vegan diet

If you have made sure that you’re depressed because of the diet then it’s important to keep notes on what you eat. Having a general idea of what’s going in your body can help you identify what you’re lacking or overconsuming. If you find that your diet does lack some important nutrients then it’s not hard to find vegan sources. If it’s a problem of overconsumption then you can find many healthier vegan alternatives online for the same.

If the depression and anxiety still last it’s important to seek medical help. It can also be that you’re having trouble digesting some particular nutrients which are rare but can happen to some.

For most people fixing the diet will be enough but, if you still want to improve your mood you should consider fixing other things like getting enough exercise, staying away from negative people, getting enough sleep, reducing your stress, etc.

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