Oh boy. Sometimes you just know when an article is going to cause trouble…
The idea that diet influences our physical health should be under no dispute by now. We’ve extolled the benefits of a vegan lifestyle for health reasons several times on these pages already- but does a plant based diet mean there’s more… um… juice in your fruit?
As much as I’d love to say that I’m the greatest lover who has ever existed, and it’s down to my vegan diet, it’s not something that you would believe; despite it being 100% true. What we need is some evidence. Some science that categorically proves to the world that I am a plant powered God among men, and a gift to women.
Here’s how I’m going to work this. I’ll break down factors that could contribute to elevated sex drive or performance that are not related to the subject. My personal physique, for example, is irrelevant when we’re talking about such a large section of society as vegans. I need to find common factors that tend to be present in vegans and not in omnivores. The obvious place to start is with foods that are common in vegan diets.
Healthy Arteries – The Natural Viagra
Ok, first of all we need to understand the very basics of how our genitals work. Both the penis and the clitoris are essentially powered by pressurised blood- without healthy arteries leading to our genitals, there’s a restricted blood flow and decreased quality of physical arousal.
I’ll speak more accurately about the penis because I have one and understand it better. I could, of course, talk about the vagina, but I need a flashlight and a map of Borneo, and I left them at home.
Contrary to what you might think, a healthy erection requires muscle relaxation. It’s a very particular kind of muscle that cannot be flexed like a bicep- it’s called smooth muscle, and is found in our arteries, stomach and intestines.
To allow for a substantial erection, the muscle around our arteries must be relaxed to allow blood flow to the penis; so while we’re not feeling relaxed, in fact, that’s exactly what parts of our body is doing. Very Yin and Yang, no? This is effectively what taking Viagra does. It relaxes the smooth muscle, and when mental arousal occurs, physical arousal can follow.
There are of course plants that help this process. What we’re looking at, in this case, is the amino acid L-arginine, which works in tandem with nitric oxide in our blood to relax blood vessels. It doesn’t just provide this function, of course; L-arginine is also linked to lean muscle mass development, enhanced sperm count and even to delaying the development of tumours.
With explicit reference to the wood in your pencil as opposed to the lead, relaxed blood vessels and smooth muscle elevates blood flow and enhances erections. Being an amino acid, it is, of course, present in meat as well as plants. Chicken breast provides 1000mg of L-arginine per 3.5 ounce serving, but this pales in comparison to the 4750mg per 3.5 oz of pine nuts, and even the humble oat clocks in at over 1200mg. Adding pine nuts and seeds to my porridge never sounded like such a great idea as it did today.
The secondary factor in why these vegan superfoods are superior to the average meat equivalent is the lower saturated fat content of the average plant-based diet. I’m sure that a balanced diet with lean meat and fish would come close to challenging the average vegan diet in this case, but let us be real. Loading up on pepperoni pizza, steak and chips every night will cause more arterial damage than even the most elevated amount of L-arginine can hope to remedy. The pay-off for the vegans, in this case, is the diet allows the amino acid to work on a system that is less damaged by saturated fat.
While we’re talking blood vessels (sorry, I did not know talking about penises would end up this way) leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli are high in magnesium, folate and nitrite. All contribute to a healthy blood flow to our bodies. What these factors suggest to me is that it’s not so much that plants are automatically better, but that a diet that is high in saturated fats is demonstrably worse.
How Brain Chemistry Makes the Mind the Most Powerful Sexual Organ
Following on from that idea, I decided to look into whether it is the absence of meat, rather than the proliferation of vegetables that truly underpins the idea that vegans make better lovers. After all, meat eaters still eat vegetables too, just less of them. I happened upon this Nutrition Journal study that in layman’s terms came to the conclusion that something called arachidonic acid promotes changes in our brain chemistry that disturbs our moods. Arachidonic acid is present in high amounts in meat diets but negligible in vegans. From the study:
These results support the results of our cross-sectional study which found that vegetarians reported significantly better mood than their non-vegetarian counterparts. Although omnivores who consumed fish frequently and avoided meat and poultry for two weeks did not significantly improve their mood, those who adopted a lacto vegetarian diet did improve their mood. These data suggest that consuming a diet high in meat, fish, and poultry may negatively impact mental state. Beyond differences in the ratio of long-chain fatty acids, Vegetarian diets are typically rich in antioxidants, potentially conveying mood protection for the VEG group via reduction of oxidative stress.
From this study, we can easily see the knock on effect on sexuality. If you are feeling stress, it has been shown to affect sex drive, particularly in men. We all have stress in our lives. Surely, if we are better equipped to deal with stress within our very brain chemistry, that will allow us to lead lives that we are happier with- and that includes sexuality. I know in the past when I have felt great pressure in my work life, it has made my sex life suffer. Sure, we can try and use sex to paper the cracks in our heads, but it’s not a sustainable fix. Happy sex is frequent sex, after all.
From a non-medical angle, vegans by and large are concerned with mental well-being in greater numbers than meat eaters. Whether the choice to go vegan is for animal rights, environmental, personal health, spiritual or yogic reasons, the underpinning drive to make the change is a consideration for our bodies or the bodies of others. This cognitive process is at least one step on the path towards raising the level of personal satisfaction in our lives. Happy vegans, happy sex.
Why Energy Levels and Athleticism Matter
I would hope that in the year 2015 we have finally put to bed the notion that vegans are some emaciated subspecies of humans, crawling from one dish of mung beans to the next and craving protein. The reality is that a vegan diet that is high in fruit provides long lasting and sustained energy for exercise of all kinds, without the sugar crash of energy drinks and processed sugar.
Whether we’re talking about elite athletes like the Williams sisters and Frank Medrano or humble average Joes like us at VM.com who enjoy exercise, vegans are showing that plant based diets are amazing for work outs. The knock on effect is once again not so much that the vegan diet is completely superior in nutritional terms than a balanced omnivorous diet, but it is more likely to be high in fruit, and less likely to be high in saturated fats. The consequence is a slimmer physique, whether exercise is taken or not, and higher levels of energy. An excess body fat leads to becoming tired more quickly- not to mention that people likes to look attractive naked.
DISCLAIMER: I’m categorically not saying that fat people can’t be attractive, or that an anorexic standard of beauty is in anyway desirable. I’m merely pointing out that while I’m sure John Goodman is a beautiful man, in terms of physical stamina he is likely to run out of steam before Venus Williams. Yep, you are now thinking about those two hooking up.
There’s Something in the Water
Nope, not talking about how the government is mind-controlling us all with fluoride. Foods that are high in water content, you will be unsurprised to learn, help to lubricate the skin.
Also vaginas. Yes, this one’s for the ladies. Cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon for example are literally packed full of wonderful H2O, which is obviously a good deal for both men and women. Women in particular benefit from foods that are high in Omega 3 such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin. Salmon is also high in Omega 3, but why catch a fish when you can eat a seed? Omega 3 is shown to keep vaginas happy and lubricated; which provides benefits to all parties when it comes down to sex.
It’s not just a physical benefit. Lubricated sex reduces that great enemy of abandon; the self-conscious terror that everything is going wrong and your partner is there hating every second. More likely they are thinking that they don’t turn you on enough which is another bag of neurosis in itself. It’s the little things that contribute to good sex that we can easily change through diet that add up.
I might get a lot of hammer from vegans for saying this, so I’ll be totally clear. We advocate for a cruelty free diet on this site every single day, and we’re all on board with that. This article has not been about the cruelty that is inherent with carnism, it’s about the physical effects of diet when related to sexuality.
Hopefully we can bear this in mind when I say that a vegan diet is not necessarily better than a diet that includes some meat when it comes to this topic. Someone who works out and eats lean meats and fish can be healthy and an athletic lover just as a vegan can live on nothing but fried potatoes and bear the consequences of that choice.
What I would say is that it is statistically less likely for a vegan to have a diet that is full of transfats purely based around the dietary limitations we have set on ourselves. If I can try and put a finger on it without taking into consideration all the usual arguments against meat like antibiotics, mercury, growth hormones and other pollutants, I would suggest that it is junk diets in particular that skew the data in favour of vegans.
Vegans are not perfect people, same as meat eaters are not. There are no perfect people, but we can do the best we can for our bodies, whether that involves meat or not. For example, there’s nothing dietary that prevents me from washing down all my fruit with a litre of coca cola, but I don’t do it because it’s really bad for me.
People who eat meat are just as deserving of love, spiritually, physically and emotionally as vegans are. Love, and subsequent great sex, has to begin with the self. We have to understand that if we love ourselves not in the egotistical or arrogant way like I wrote at the top of the article, but in an accepting way that desires a healthy mental and physical state, the love we can give will be improved also.
What we choose to put into our bodies affects every aspect of our lives. The crazy thing is, we all know this but still get hooked into junk food the same way people get hooked on alcohol, or crack cocaine. The convenient food we don’t think about begins to think for us, just as our addictions do. If we free ourselves from the drip of easy food that kills us, imagine the love we could bring to ourselves, our partners and the world around us.
Eat well, be healthy.