Man holding a bowl of lettuce while wearing a red apron and cap.

Veganuary: Could Going Vegan Help with ED?

Forget “Dry January!” It’s time for a new beginning-of-the-year health challenge. This one may help your sex life too!

The British organization Veganuary is encouraging people to try a vegan diet for a whole month. They claim it’s good for health and the environment. What’s interesting, plant-based diets may also help men with ED. But will one month be enough to make a difference?

What’s the idea of Veganuary?

Veganuary was first launched in 2014 by a UK-based charity under the same name. Since then, over 500 000 people took the pledge to go vegan for a month. Among the celebrities who support the campaign are singer Paul McCartney and actor Joaquin Phoenix.

The idea is simple. You sign up on the organization’s website and receive ready meal plans and recipes to help you change your eating habits. Many restaurants around the world take part, so you can have a vegan lunch in town too. Organizers hope once you’ve tried meatless eating, you will never go back to your old diet. Or at least reduce your meat consumption.

Health benefits of a vegan diet

Plant-based diets are good for the planet and for your health. They are a great choice for men suffering from cardiovascular problems and related ED. After all, healthy erections are all about blood flow to the penis.

One study revealed that vegans had lower BMI (body-mass index), total cholesterol as well as non-HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. These factors are well-known risks of heart disease.

Older couple cooking together.

Vegan diet helps you manage weight and lower cholesterol levels

Another study, published in the “Journal of the American Heart Association” indicated that veganism helped cut inflammation (which is a heart attack risk factor) 32% more than the currently recommended AHA diet (based on lean white meats, fish, and low-fat dairy products, as well as fruits and veggies).

Research also shows eating a plant-based diet is good for your mental health. According to a study, published in “Nutrition Journal”, vegetarians had better moods than meat-eaters. Aside from physical causes, depression and stress are major factors leading to ED in men.

Will going vegan improve your erections?

The vegan diet went even more mainstream in 2019 when a Netflix documentary “Gamechangers” was released. It showed masculinity icons such as Arnold Schwarzenegger talk about the benefits of ditching meat.

The movie also featured a scene that suggested eating a single plant-based meal helps improve the strength of your erections. Although this is still anecdotal evidence, research is currently underway to examine whether men with erectile dysfunction could benefit from veganism.

So far, no large-scale studies have addressed the impact of plant-based diets on ED. One smaller trial, conducted with the participation of obese men aged 35-55, showed lifestyle changes (which included losing weight and exercising more) improved erectile function in about 1/3 of cases.

Make gradual diet changes

If you’ve been a heavy meat eater all your life, even the smallest modification of your eating habits can make a difference. So even if you’re not going full vegan for a month, Veganuary may inspire you to introduce more fruits and veggies to your meals.

Gradual improvements are the key here. According to one study, halving your red and processed meat consumption will help you cut your “bad cholesterol” levels. With a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, you will have a better chance of enjoying healthy erections for years to come too.

Couple cutting vegetables while drinking red wine.

Introducing more vegetables to your diet will help you improve your health

Which diet is best for heart health?

In general, doctors and nutritionists recommend switching to balanced diets if you want to keep your heart healthy. Mediterranean diet is one popular, tasty and versatile option. It encourages the consumption of fruit, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy, and healthy oils. Meat is allowed but poultry is preferred to red meat. You can even have a glass of wine with your dinner! Not such a bad lifestyle change, right?

If you’ve taken the Veganuary challenge and enjoyed your new diet, don’t stop there. Doctor Melanie Boehmer, R.D. from Lenox Hill Hospital told “Men’s Health” that one month is not enough to make sure if the vegan diet is the best fit for you. Give yourself three months at least and talk to your doctor or nutritionist.

As great as plant-based diets can be, they come with their own risk of deficiencies. Make sure to control your iodine and B12 vitamin levels and supplement as needed.

Remember, if you want to improve your cardiac health and manage your ED, you need to act on many levels. Diet is a great first step but you have to add regular exercise and stress reduction to the mix.

And don’t forget to talk to your doctor. Your erections may gradually improve as you continue with a healthy lifestyle, but you may still need treatment with Viagra or similar medication. Click here to learn more about currently available ED treatments.

Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy parents solve their intimate problems.