5 Things That Happen To Your Body (And Self-Esteem) When You Go Vegan

by Dayana Aleksandrova

Before I went vegan, I had been and on-again-off-again vegetarian for a few years.

I couldn't make up my mind about my diet because, on one hand, I always felt lighter and more energetic without meat and fish. On the other hand, I hung around fitness gurus and body builders, all of whom swore by the "six pack by chicken" method.

I fluctuated for about four years until I went vegan. And it was the best decision for me. Here are the five reasons why going vegan will improve your confidence, as told from experience.

1. You Will Become A Killer Chef

A common misconception is that being vegan pretty much means grazing on dry spinach leaves all day. That could not be more wrong.

If anything, switching to a vegan lifestyle will encourage you to be more creative in the kitchen. I'm now a pro at making raw chocolate brownies, quinoa and vegetable medley with smoked paprika and onions, and oatmeal crepes.

Then there are kale chips, stuffed zucchini, coconut energy balls, hazelnut butter -- the options aren't nearly as limited as you think.

2. You Will Lose Weight

One of the many health benefits of going vegan is forcing yourself to eat better. And with eating better comes weight loss. Now, before you go and say, "OMG, I'm gonna go vegan for a week and drop 10 lbs in time for summer," this is not how it works.

Weight loss is a byproduct of going vegan. The reason is simple. You will watch what you eat and focus on natural food, mostly fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains. You won't consume all that saturated fat you get from a steak or the sugar that's in milk (bet you didn't know about that one, did you).

Being vegan will increase your overall awareness of the things you put in your body and you'll be more inclined to eat clean. I dropped weight without trying and it was mostly the fat around my hips and belly, which I hadn't been able to get rid of with exercise.

Give veganism a go; you'll not only help save animals, but it might help you fit better in your jeans too.

3. You'll Be Helping Animals

I've been a dog owner for the majority of my life, but wasn't really aware of how my lifestyle choices affected animals. Going vegan isn't just about diet. It's about helping nature overall, starting with animals.

By using vegan makeup, you'll support only companies that don't test on animals. Being aware of the food you eat will also make you aware of the food you give your pet.

I mean, do you actually know what's in the food you give your puppy? You'll become more conscious of it and take better care of your pet.

Ditching furs was major for me, since I'm from Bulgaria, which is basically Russia, and we LOVE our furs. Veganism has put a stop to that; no more minks have to die.

Going vegan will show you what a great impact you have on other living creatures and the environment. If doing good does not boost your self-esteem, I don't know what will.

4. Your Skin Will Look Amazing

The question about whether dairy affects the skin has been debated forever. Well, instead of reading study after study, I ditched dairy to see for myself.

Lo and behold... my breakouts stopped. This is embarrassing, but I like to pop pimples and I haven't had any since I went vegan. I guess it has to do with the IGF-1 hormone that dairy contains.

Not only that, but cutting out dairy also flattened out my stomach because the bloating stopped. I swapped cow milk for soy and almond.

It tastes different, yes, but just as good. Coconut milk is my favorite because it's thick, delicious and a great addition to my morning coffee.

5. You'll Reconnect With Nature

I never used to get out in nature. Ever. I mean, with all this technology we have as well as air-conditioned gyms, why should we? Well, going vegan made me curious about what else nature has to offer aside from the plants I make gourmet meals out of.

I started with hiking once a week on Sunday and then progressed to every other day. I take pure pleasure in the simple things -- walking through leaves, watching the waves calmly approach the shore and breathing clean air.

My diet has brought me close to nature and I love it.

Plus, I'm a trained hiker now who knows everything from the best trail shoes to the best camping coffee maker around. I've got enough confidence to lead a group without being afraid I'll lose direction or stumble into poison ivy.

Give veganism a shot for a week or two and see what it does for you. I guarantee you'll see a major confidence boost.