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How vegan diet affects the skin

Vegan nutrition stands for a conscious use of resources, animal welfare and an effective solution for a variety of chronic diseases. But what actually happens to our skin when we switch to a purely plant-based diet? We talked to a medical specialist.

What does a vegan diet mean?

To eat vegan means to abstain from any kind of animal products, regardless of their effect on the skin. This includes all kinds of meat, poultry, fish and dairy products as well as eggs and honey.

What are the benefits of a vegan diet for the skin?

Outbreak of acne or neurodermatitis may decrease

Particularly clearly on the skin health the renouncement of milk products is to affect. They are suspected of favoring the outbreak of acne, pimples and neurodermatitis. Reason for it are the hormones contained in the milk as well as coal hydrates, which can affect the insulin mirror", white; Dr. Stefanie Derendorf.

Less clogged pores

"Our pores constantly secrete a mixture of fats and water to clear the skin appearance. Saturated, or hardened, fatty acids from meat, butter and milk make for particularly stubborn fats that are more difficult to excrete and can thus lead to clogged pores and blackheads," according to Derendorf.

Healthy skin balance

Meat products have an acidifying effect on the body and, due to industrial animal husbandry, contain many added substances, such as antibiotics. These burden the human body and have a negative effect on the skin balance.

Reduced risk of skin cancer

As you eat more fruits and vegetables as a vegan, this will not only have a positive effect on your overall health, but also on your skin. "A healthy diet based on plenty of fruits, vegetables, little sugar and saturated fats can, under certain circumstances, reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinoma and non-melanoma skin cancer", says dermatologist Derendorf. This is because skin tumors are reduced by the vitamin C and E and selenium contained in fruits and vegetables. At the same time, a particularly meat- and fat-rich diet can in turn increase the risk of skin cancer.

Healthy gut = healthy skin

If the intestine does not function properly, important nutrients cannot be absorbed and the skin has to fight more with harmful substances. Pimples, eczema and neurodermatitis can be the result. Our skin is like a mirror of our intestine condition", so the Expertin. A vegan diet promotes intestinal health because it changes the microbiome of the body and increases the proportion of healthy bacteria in the digestive system;

What are the disadvantages?

Vegan does not automatically mean healthy. Especially not if, due to the renunciation of animal products, more industrially processed alternative products, such as vegan sausages, are on the diet, or if the diet is now less balanced and thus lacks important nutrients.

Tips for healthy, beautiful skin on a vegan diet

1. protein sources

Animal protein; is considered an important source of collagen and is thus said to contribute to a jünger skin appearance. "Be sure to meet their protein needs and take enough alternative protein sources, such as tofu or lentils", says Derendorf.

2. antioxidants

They provide important protection against free radicals, against negative external influences, and thus ensure a healthy, radiant complexion. Natural antioxidants are vitamin C (e.g. in blackcurrants, lemon, chili peppers, green vegetables), vitamin E (e.g. in olive oil), vitamin E (e.g. in olive oil), vitamin C (e.g. in olive oil), vitamin E (e.g. in olive oil), vitamin E (e.g. in olive oil), vitamin E (e.g. in olive oil). in olives, sweet potatoes), carotenoids (e.g. in carrots, apricots, parsley, honeydew melon) and resveratrol and flavonoids (e.g. in grapes, peanuts, raspberries).

3. green tea

Its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial effects support overall skin health.

4. omega-3 fatty acids

They counteract the skin aging process by providing soft, supple skin and a strengthened cell membrane. Natural sources include walnuts, soybeans and linseed.

5. vitamin B12

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to dry skin, cracked corners of the mouth, as well as a pale, yellowish skin tone, due to a lack of red blood cells. It is contained, for example, in sauerkraut, fermented soy products and shiitake mushrooms. However, caution is advised when taking vitamin B12 as a dietary supplement. "It can lead with too high dosage to skin blemishes and should be taken therefore only at ärztlicher Rücksprache", so Dr. Derendorf.

6. low sugar consumption

As a vegan, you may be more likely to eat refined carbohydrates such as pasta, sugar, bread and white rice, which all lead to higher serum glucose levels and therefore more insulin. This in turn increases sebum production in the skin, which can contribute to acne," says Dr. Derendorf. Sugar also has a negative effect on collagen and elastin production in the skin.

7. vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer. That is why I recommend everyone to make sure they get enough", says Dr. Derendorf. Natural sources include peanuts, calf’s liver, sardines and mushrooms.


To nourish itself vegan means a holistic reorientation. Draws it nevertheless a conversion of the life-style, the Essgewohnheiten as well as the Schönheitspflege after itself. However, this seemingly drastic step can be implemented relatively easily and conveniently nowadays. You can find vegan restaurants everywhere, meat-free food alternatives and the selection of vegan beauty products is now immense.

Questioning our habits towards a more conscious consumption is absolutely timely. Whether you have to become a vegan for that, remains to be seen. Certainly, some advantages speak for it, but maybe also here – as so often – the right measure is decisive.


With the expert advice of Dr. Stefanie Derendorf and Dr. Alexandra Michaelis, specialists in dermatology and venereology, dermatology practice at St. Anna Platz in Munich.