Vegan and skin health: It ain’t easy being green ...
Posted by Judy Cheung-Wood on
… but it may be the right thing to do, for you and your beliefs.
Many of us have a niggling feeling that we could be nicer to animals. We wonder if the cows that give us milk are happy to keep us fed like calves. Are chickens okay with us eating their eggs? What about bees, who work so hard to make that honey?
The farmers and beekeepers say their animals are happy, and that there are ways to keep their livestock comfortable. But now and then you may feel the urge to cut back. Not all animals are happy with farm life, and it’s been discovered that cattle are a major cause of climate change.
Say you decide to lay off the dairy. Say you cut out animal products completely. That makes a big difference to your nutrients. What does it mean for your skin?
It’s true, there are a lot of ups and downs for your skin if you go vegan. Let’s take a look at what you should know.
You’re going to clear up a bit
The best thing about vegan skin isn’t what you’re abstaining from, but what you’re about to eat. You’ll be replacing meat and other animal protein with nuts, legumes, fruit and vegetables. If you regularly come hang out on the SkinB5 blog, you’ll know this means you’re about to get a heavy dose of the things that make your skin strong, supple and self-grooming.
Sure, you’re eating vegetables rich in the B family, the almonds you live off are full of good fats (with a huge hit of protein), and chia seeds provide the goodness you used to get from fish. I may not be vegan, but I get chia seeds at half the price of fish and just thinking about it is making me agree with your lifestyle choice.
But the real vegan advantage comes from antioxidants. These little anti-aging solutions will smoothen up your complexion and fight back wrinkles. They’re a great line of defence against disease, and they’re found in all the superfoods you just started eating more often.
Along with this, when you go vegan you’re exposed to more of the healthy habits that we encourage in the SkinB5 lifestyle. Health food staff, people who believe what you believe, even ads targeted to you will push you to exercise regularly and drink water, have antioxidant-rich green tea instead of a cappuccino with milk, or to use almond milk with all its mighty nutrients.
There is some benefit in what you’re laying off, though. Here’s the biggest one:
Quitting dairy reduces acne. Milk causes inflammation, which is extra bad if you’re prone to flare-ups. At the same time, you’re losing a handy source of nutrients like calcium, enzymes and dairy protein. There’s one thing to especially watch out for.
You’re going to need more iron and B12
So you’ve been vegan for a month. You feel good, you’re eating right. You also have dark rings under your eyes, brittle hair and nails, pale skin. And did you just lose some hair? Chances are you’re missing out on iron and B12, the major vegan sticking point.
You’ll need a supplement for these. Also look at an omega-3 supplement. You could just eat more chia seeds and see how that goes, seeing how they’re cheaper than fish, but it’s better to make sure you’re getting the full benefits of these nutrients.
You’re also going to need heaps of collagen building nutrients. The thing about animals is that, like a good coat of skin, they’re full of collagen. Actually it’s the only collagen source in the wild. That makes it even harder to get than B12. But there’s a solution that sounds so obvious when you know it:
Consume supplements that cause you to produce collagen. You, an animal.
Citrus, berries and tropical fruits can help you ooze collagen because they’re packed with vitamin C. Capsicum and tomatoes also give you a high C dose. The sulfur in garlic, chlorophyll in leafy greens and amino acids in beans are powerful collagen stimulators.
The other great ingredient is copper, so top off this Mediterranean feast with some nuts.
Remember your variety
The best part of vegan food is the huge selection. Instead of one main feature your stew now has five, and they’re all different colours. Embrace this. Turn your food into rainbows.
In a vegan diet it’s easy to eventually get lazy and start doing what you did in your meat eating days -- get some simple carbs, put meat on it, and have spaghetti every night until your partner begs you for vitamins. If you catch yourself settling into this routine, try to remember what a great opportunity you have. It’s easy to treat your skin right with your lifestyle.
Look up vegan recipes and go with one that’s full of different colours. With the extra money you have, go buy a range of fruit. Try some new, exotic things. Dragonfruit is like kiwi fruit without the sting. A persimmon is jelly that comes from nature. Durian is the most controversial food of all, but it tastes like custard drenched in Italian almond liqueur and you might just love it.
If you found this exciting but you can’t go fully vegan, you can still take some ideas from it. Replace your dairy with colour. The best thing about going green is that you need to have fun with it. The more you explore, the more interesting you make your meals, the more nutrients you’re giving yourself.