Going vegan is a big decision. Whether you’ve already cut out the animal products or you’re thinking about doing it, you should have a clear idea of what you might expect as a new vegan.
Changing your diet (or lifestyle) is bound to have an effect on you physically and emotionally. Keep in mind, though, everyone’s body is unique and will react differently to the transition so you may experience some, all or none of these changes.
This guide is meant to give you a better idea of what to expect when you go vegan.It’s important to mention here that there are many types of vegan diets ranging from raw vegan to processed junk food vegan. Where do you fall on the spectrum?
Please remember that “vegan” does not automatically mean healthy. Of course, vegan cheese is better than dairy cheese but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
The type of diet you adopt will determine the extent of the health benefits you reap from being vegan.
Let’s dive right in to some of the many things you can expect as a new vegan.
Can you believe that meat can take several days to fully digest? YUCK!
A meat eater’s digestion tends to be slower than a vegan eating whole, plant foods. This has a lot to do with a lack of fiber.
Fiber keeps your digestive tract clear and your stool soft, among other things. If you’re eating enough fiber, you will be using the bathroom at least once per day
Plant foods are the only natural source of fiber. And because many meat eaters don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, they aren’t getting enough fiber.
Once you start incorporating more plant foods into your diet, your digestive system will get a kick start and you’ll be “eliminating waste” on a regular basis.
You’ll feel a difference too! You may notice that your stomach gets a little flatter because you’re not carrying around all that waste anymore.
With optimal digestion, you may even find that you’re able to eat fruit in the morning and eliminate it that same day!
Your intestines will be clean as a whistle.
This one might sound a bit scary but it’s actually really exciting!
Here’s why: Animal products are full of toxins like medication and hormones injected into the animals and when we eat the animal products, we are putting that nasty stuff in our bodies.
Those toxins get absorbed into our body as they digest, and eventually become part of our cells. When you stop eating that toxic food, your body is finally able to start flushing them out.
People who eat a vegan diet high in fresh, whole foods are giving their body a bonus, too! These life-giving foods nourish and rejuvenate your cells even further.
So…the exciting part of detox symptoms comes in knowing that your body is renewing itself and cleaning out animal product toxins that have been stuck in your body for a very long time.
Here are a few symptoms you may experience:
- Stomach Pain
Please don’t let that list discourage or scare you. It will only be temporary. While everyone’s detox symptoms last for a varying amount of time, it’s common to experience detox for anywhere between 1 week to 1 month.
A while ago, I shared my detox story. Something that I repeatedly told myself through my one month of detox was, “Stay consistent and push through because the health and clarity on the other side would all be worth it.” And it was.
Food plays a huge part in the health of our skin. As I said before, the food we eat eventually becomes part of our cells.
As you eat more fruits and vegetables, your skin cells will be renewed and you won’t have toxins trying to escape your body through your skin.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all vegans have perfectly clear skin. But you’re giving yourself a better chance by eliminating a major contributor to breakouts.
I wrote a post all about using food to clear up acne. Be sure to check it out for a list of skin-cleansing foods!
Wanting to clear up my skin was a main reason why I went vegan. I had become so frustrated with my acne and so tired of being embarrassed by my skin that I was ready to try anything.
I started seeing an improvement in my skin after just two weeks into my vegan diet. Today my skin is clear and smooth. I do get the occasional pimple (maybe one a month) if I’m super stressed or eat a lot of junk food one week, but there has been such an improvement overall.
There’s something that happens internally when you cut out the animal products that makes you feel amazing.
Eating more fruits and vegetables makes you feel this undeniable connection to the earth from which they’re grown. You start to notice all the little things you had missed before. The feeling of the sun on your skin, the butterfly floating by you, the smell of the morning air.
You may even start to feel happier and more joyful. It may come from a place of knowing you are doing something good for the planet, the animals and yourself. It may also come from a place of just not being weighed down by all those toxins anymore.
I even noticed that I started to feel lighter (obviously not physically since I gained 6 pounds) but mentally and emotionally. I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me and I could now live with purpose.
When you switch up the food you eat, your body needs a minute to adjust. It’s like turning on the lights in the morning. Your pupils constrict as they get used to all the light flooding in.
Depending on the person, this means you may gain, or lose, a few pounds.
I gained about 6 pounds in the first couple months of my vegan journey. Instead of immediately trying to drop it off, I welcomed the extra insulation and continued to love my body.
Eventually, my body found a new rhythm and decided it didn’t need all the weight it originally packed on. I naturally shed about half of what I gained and now I feel fantastic.
The key here is to let your body decide how much weight is good for you. If you gain a few pounds, be content and allow your body to do its work. And same thing if you lose weight.
Just go along for the ride until your body finds its groove.
There is a caveat to weight change, though.
If you find that you are drastically losing weight after going vegan, you may need to increase your calorie intake.
Whole, plant foods are less calorie-dense than animal products so you will inevitably need to eat more to get the same number of calories. The average person needs about 2,000-2,500 calories per day.
On the other hand, if you find that your body is gaining an unreasonable amount of weight, you may need to take a look at the type of vegan food you are eating. A diet high in processed, fatty, junk foods will probably make you gain unnecessary weight.
You might have noticed that this list focused a lot on the physical and emotional aspect. Next week, we’ll take a look at what sort of external factors you can expect as a new vegan!