How Veganism Can Help with Smoking Cessation

Why smokers should turn to veganism

Among smokers who attempt to quit, only a small percentage end up successfully kicking the habit due to urges and withdrawal symptoms. However, an article from US News notes that the health benefits of quitting smoking can be a strong motivating factor for smokers. Beyond immediate changes such as a normal heart rate and blood pressure, the health improvements of cessation multiply the longer individuals abstain from cigarettes. These benefits include increased blood circulation and lung function and a reduced risk of developing smoking-related diseases like pneumonia, lung disease, and stroke.

Since healthy lifestyle changes are essential for successful smoking cessation, transitioning to veganism can actually boost quit rates. Read on to learn more about how veganism benefits the cessation journey and helps smokers live healthier and longer.

Why smokers should turn to veganism

How smoking affects animals and the environment

Beyond individual health benefits, smokers may also be motivated to quit out of concern for animals and the environment. Although it is largely known that secondhand smoke can affect other people, a Tobacco-Free Life article sheds light on how the tobacco industry also harms animals through unethical animal testing. Major tobacco companies directly pump tobacco smoke into rats and mice to further product development and discover the extent of tobacco’s adverse effects.

While the main ingredient, nicotine, is derived from tobacco plants, cigarettes are also not considered cruelty-free since they contain aromatic additives like castoreum, which comes from male beavers' castor sacs and anal glands. Lastly, cigarette smoking harms the environment through the compounded effects of tobacco farming, manufacturing, and waste disposal. In light of smoking’s health and environmental consequences, the following section further highlights how veganism as a health-based, cruelty-free, and eco-conscious lifestyle is a viable option for smokers who want to quit.

Why smokers should turn to veganism

Why smokers should turn to veganism

Availability of plant-based cessation aids

Smokers who struggle with cravings and withdrawals can still quit with the help of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Fortunately, NRT products are smokeless and tobacco-free, thus reducing harm to individuals, animals, and the environment. Additionally, oral NRTs like nicotine pouches use synthetic nicotine manufactured in a laboratory without the need for tobacco and animal sources. These pouches are easily accessible offline through convenience stores and online through retailer Prilla. Top pouch brands like ZYN, VELO, Rogue, and On also use plant-based packaging and flavorings like mint, citrus, and coffee for a more convenient and satisfying nicotine experience. Meanwhile, plant-based quit medications like cytisine (brand name Tabex) reduce nicotine's rewarding effect to prevent relapse.

Protective effect against diseases

Vegan-friendly cessation aids can also be complemented with plant-based diets to improve smokers’ health in the process of quitting. Smokers are vulnerable to lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) due to inhalation of and exposure to tobacco smoke. However, a 2023 Nutrients study found that plant-based diets can have a protective effect against COPD. Specifically, prioritizing high fiber intake and lowering or eliminating processed meat consumption can reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by up to 39%. Vegan diets are also rich in antioxidants from fruits, leafy greens, and legumes, thus decreasing oxidative stress, otherwise known as a risk factor for certain cancers.

Why smokers should turn to veganism

Improved mood and self-awareness

Many smokers turn to cigarettes as a way to cope with stress and anxiety, thus making quitting not only physically but also psychologically difficult. However, a previous post on the ‘Mental Health Benefits of a Vegan Lifestyle’ shows how switching to a vegan diet can help smokers better relax and cope with stressors. Going vegan has been linked to improved mood and reduced cortisol levels, and the conscious food choices that veganism encourages also increase self-awareness. This allows smokers to be more mindful of their lifestyle choices and sustainably wean off tobacco.

Now that it is clear how veganism aids in successful, long-term smoking cessation, smokers should remember that it is never too late to quit tobacco and, at the same time, transition to a vegan lifestyle. If you're interested in a healthy, harm-free life, the Vegan Eats website has multiple articles and resources that can help you with this major lifestyle change.

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