Kale Yeah! Ten Unexpected Perks Of Going Vegan
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Kale Yeah! Ten Unexpected Perks Of Going Vegan

Saving animals is just the beginning.

Kale Yeah! Ten Unexpected Perks Of Going Vegan

If you ask five different vegans why they made the switch, you'll get 20 different answers—that's how complex our motivations are. Typically, vegans will cite animals, the environment, or health as their primary motivation, but every herbivore quickly learns that being vegan comes with a hefty benefits package. Considering the numerous sacrifices they must make every day to uphold their cruelty-free commitment, these minor, unanticipated perks are a major plus.

1. Fewer options = fewer decisions.

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Having a full menu to choose from can be overwhelming. Occasionally, a vegan ends up staring at a menu in which the only vegan-friendly item is a side salad. That sucks. But usually, at any restaurant worth its kosher salt, one or two quality dishes will be available for the herbivore. In the beginning, this might feel disappointing, but many vegans come to enjoy having their options simplified. This means the vegan not only has an easier decision, but...

2. Exposure to new foods.

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Upon switching to vegan, most find that their diet becomes more—not less—varied. Suddenly, many herbivores are experiencing different cuisines like Ethiopian or Indian, and they're sampling obscure ingredients like jackfruit or millet. This becomes especially true when ordering at restaurants if the only vegan option is a dish previously foreign to the herbie. I can name many foods that I never ate until I gave up animal products but now love: mushrooms, avocado, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and basically every single green vegetable.

3. Occasionally getting private service.

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This one is rare, but when it happens, it's pretty cool. Because vegans do not hide in caves all day, they sometimes find themselves at catered events inundated with animal products. If the vegan speaks up (nicely), they will sometimes receive a unique dish made just for them that often rivals the food made in bulk for the rest of the crowd. In one instance, I was even granted the luxury of choosing any restaurant in town and picking a dish to be delivered, just for me. Not too shabby! Of course, a modest vegan will not and should not manipulate this. I never demand special service but am always grateful for the kindness of others.

4. Adiós, acne!

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As long as the vegan is eating mostly whole foods, the omission of dairy usually ushers in the best skin of their life. No more sudden breakouts. No more piling foundation on their chin before leaving the house. No more editing photos to hide awkward blemishes.

5. Savvy cooking skills

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Most vegans—especially those living in rural areas—accumulate tremendous skills in the kitchen. This is because they can't rely on restaurants, Seamless, or prepared food from Safeway as easily as an omnivore can. Furthermore, the beloved vegan products that are available to the average vegan (like a Gardein burger) are pricey, especially outside large cities where the demand is lower. Thus, herbies become experts at dicing, steaming, mincing, chiffonading, and even improvising. Don't be surprised if they made that delicious dish without a recipe!

6. Improved problem solving skills

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From figuring out how to replace the egg in their grandmother's famous banana bread, to creating a meal out of side dishes at the Memorial Day BBQ, vegans have daily practice at finding solutions. Basically every day for them is like an episode of 'Chopped' and they're constantly searching for ways to make it work, regardless of the circumstances. Thus, if a vegan is brought to a steakhouse, they might not be thrilled about it, but they will probably—against all odds—find something to eat.

7. Increased sense of self.

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Despite popular belief, vegans do not actually enjoy saying, "Excuse me, but I'm vegan. Is there anything here that I can eat?" In fact, many vegans absolutely hate it. We dislike inconveniencing our hosts, burdening the wait staff, and giving anyone any reason to complain about us, even if the end result is worth it. Living in an omnivore world, vegans must learn to stay true to themselves and be assertive. That means asking if there's milk in the tomato soup, no matter how grumpy the waiter looks. It also means remaining confident and firm while receiving some classic vegan mockery from coworkers and family members. While we might snap or crumble a couple times in the beginning, the constant invalidations, inconveniences, and insensitive comments will continue to strengthen most vegans' sense of self.

8. Being prepared for anything.

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Given the unpredictable accommodations for vegans in an omni world, herbivores quickly learn to pack some "just in case" snacks. They become the people with cashews in their backpacks, Lärabars in their purses, and dried mango stowed away in their desk drawers. They pack apples on airplanes and bring Earth Balance to restaurants. They stock their suitcases with oatmeal and Justin's almond butter packets. You can almost always count on a vegan to have a snack if you're feeling peckish. (Whether they will share it for you or not is another story—nobody said we're perfect!)

9. Increased empathy.

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Sure, most vegans who transitioned probably had a good level of empathy to start with. However, the experience of being somewhat of an outcast from society makes many vegans learn to relate to a variety of human rights issues that may have been unknown to them before. For White, middle-class herbivores in particular, becoming vegan may be their first experience in a group that is not considered the "default option," and navigating that world can be quite illuminating. While the frustrations of being vegan are nowhere near the oppression faced by Black and Brown people in the United States, sometimes that initial lightbulb moment is all it takes to wake them up from their unacknowledged privilege and launch them on a path of understanding.

10. Find out who your real friends are

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It feels a little cynical, but people's reactions to your veganism can reveal a lot about them. I don't expect all my friends to be vegan, vegetarian, or even flexitarian. They are allowed to eat whatever they want, as long as they respect my choices to do the same. I'm not saying they need to try the new vegan spot in West Village with me, but if they think it's cool to sneak bacon grease in my food and laugh about it afterwards, there's a strong chance I'll be finding someone else to spend my time with.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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