Can Going Vegan Spice Up Your Sex Life?
Scenario: A global pandemic has robbed you of your social life, made you more sedentary and negatively impacted your diet. After months in isolation, your sex life is starting to show some signs of decline, and your performance is lackluster (at best).
Whether you’re living solo or year-long isolation has dulled your relationship, getting back on top of your game is going to require some changes. And while you’re working on yourself, you’re wondering if you should upgrade your diet to something better for you and the planet.
If you’ve heard the stories (admittedly and unsurprisingly spearheaded by PETA) that a vegan diet can improve your sex life, you’re not alone. The idea has been gaining attention for several years now, and it’s not exactly without merit.
But the answer to the simple question of whether or not going vegan can increase your libido isn’t so simple. Here’s what you need to know.
Why your diet affects your libido
Your diet plays a big part in the relative success or failure of your sex life. You still have to get a “yes,” but once it’s on, your health is going to determine whether you're ready to play ball.
A 2015 article in the Asian Journal of Andrology concluded that a healthy lifestyle caused a direct benefit to sexual function in men, including conditions such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and sedentary lifestyle (this has been demonstrated to be the case for women, as well).
It further stated that diets that limited red meats are “are associated with a reduced risk of ED (erectile dysfunction),” and that “red and processed meat…are more represented in subjects without ED.”
The science behind a vegan diet
Strictly speaking about your penis, the benefits of a vegan diet are all about reducing cholesterol and other dietary compounds that make your blood pressure go up and affect the ability of the blood vessels in your penis to become engorged and stay that way.
Plenty of studies have found a link between better vascular function, lower cholesterol and decreases in ED symptoms. Pretty much every food that is high in “bad” LDL cholesterol is made with or entirely of an animal product, such as certain dairy products, eggs and red and deli meats.
By eliminating these items entirely, you’re preventing your body from having to deal with regular influxes of bad cholesterol. Less bad cholesterol equals universally better erectile function, right?
Well, not exactly.
The limits of a vegan diet
Reducing high cholesterol foods is almost certainly going to lead to better vascular function, and a vegan diet accomplishes that goal. But not all vegan diets are created equally. More importantly, not all foods considered vegan are good for you. For example, many types of potato chips, Fritos, Oreos and Bac’n Bits are vegan.
People on a vegan diet still need to watch their intake for optimum erectile health, and specifically, they need to keep an eye on certain deficiencies that can come from avoiding meat without proper education.
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition highlighted a list of potential vegan diet deficiencies, including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
Many of these compounds are necessary for erectile function as well as stamina. It’s not just about loading up on protein for the night’s activities, either. Studies show that vitamin deficiency—specifically of vitamin D—can play a critical role in ineffective erectile function.
In other words, a vegan diet might correct some problems, but it can also bring new ones to the table.
What really matters
Here’s what it comes down to: There are plenty of good reasons to eliminate or reduce the amount of meat you eat, but erectile dysfunction shouldn’t be in your top five. Cutting meat out of your diet because you’re suffering from ED is the equivalent of changing into more comfortable clothes because the cruise ship you’re on is sinking.
And by the way, the reverse is true as well: By the time your diet can be a solution to your ED issues, you’ve got a pretty bad diet.
What we’re saying is that your ED might have other causes besides your diet—psychological or hormonal causes, for instance—and though you may feel better in your body after scarfing a salad, diet won’t cure performance anxiety.
A well-balanced meal plan—in addition to whatever a physician or nutritionist recommends based on your age, needs and so on—is going to have profound effects on your well-being, which will affect everything from your blood pressure and stamina to your body image and self-confidence.
But if cutting back on the red meat gives your meat a boost, maybe it’s time to give it a try. So here’s some good advice for the next time you’re staring down a porterhouse: Focus on the meat that really matters.