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So curiosity has hit its peak, and maybe you’ve decided that you just might try that vegan diet, but…what should you expect when you do? With almost any adjustments to your diet (especially if it’s a drastic one) you will likely experience some crazy side effects, good and bad, amongst some other rather interesting surprises along the way.
I myself went through the transition – and LIVED TO TELL! Now, I’m sharing what exactly you should be expecting on a vegan diet.
Keep in mind that truly everyone is different and while I can speak from experience, each body is unique and may respond entirely differently.
Before we begin I would like to clarify what a vegan diet really is. I’m not talking about veganism as a whole (because truly it is a whole lifestyle) but rather just the diet itself. Over time (or right now) you may find the desire to go completely vegan in not only what you eat, but what you wear, and what products you use at home…but today the focus is on just the diet portion, just what you EAT.
A vegan diet consists of nourishing foods in which none come from animals or animal byproducts. There is no dairy, no eggs, no meats (and a few more that we will dive into as we go). The biggest key here is to not get overwhelmed or intimidated by the process. Learning is the key to success. New habits will form, new foods will arise. So let’s dive right in and discover exactly what to expect when going vegan. Trust me, it’s not all that scary.
I’m starting off with this one because I just frankly want to get it out of the way so we can focus on other things. So listen, when you starting eating only vegan foods, your body will adjust by changing your gut bacteria (gut flora) and there may be some…side effects of that.
YES, you’re going to fart, and bloat…like, a lot. It’s gonna smell, your relationships are going to be tested. However, it’s all for good reason. It’s happening because the body is cleansing itself of dioxins, hormones, bacteria, antibiotics, and more all coming from your former animal-based diet. Here’s the good news – it goes away. Yes, you transition and studies have shown that those on a vegan diet have overall better gut bacteria than other diets. Okay. We talked about farts. We can move on now.
Maybe a given, but worth talking about. When you switch to a vegan diet, labels are your best friend. Thankfully these days – most foods are labeled “vegan” which usually means they are processed in a facility that does not process any animal products whatsoever.
Now, that said…depending on your moral lines here, often if you read the label you’ll discover that a product is non-containing of any animal byproducts, it’s just not made in a facility cleared for that “vegan” stamp. Up to you if you make the call. Most times labels clearly define the use of dairy and eggs, and you’ll be surprised at how often they show up…like in many forms of potato chips.
Vegan diets, like we discussed, contains no animal meats or byproducts. That word “byproducts” though, you may be thinking just means eggs and dairy. Oh, gosh no. The list is LONG. Animal byproducts of the vegan diet include insects as well, and things like gelatin that you may not have know come from the skin and bones of animals. So, say goodbye to honey, and gummy bears, and a lot of types of sprinkles. Don’t fret because where there’s a will there’s a way and you’ll find vegan replacements in no time (almost all of these foods come in the vegan form as well).
A Plant-Based diet is a little different. While incredibly similar, plant-based dieting focuses more on a whole food diet. So, where a vegan can easily enjoy Oreos and french fries and sweets, that’s a no-go on a plant-based diet, but…honey is seemingly ok. Feel free to be your own compass on this one, and find out where you land.
This was a surprise bonus of a lifetime, let me tell you. Suffering on average with 1-2 pimples at any given time, it wasn’t until several months into the vegan diet that I realized it and thought, “huh…where’d all the acne go?”.
Turns out, since your skin acts as a vehicle for eliminating toxins, that often means it’s trying to rid them of your body through things like acne. Since meat and dairy are also known for disrupting the body’s hormones, it’s no wonder you also have a hormonal reaction with some zits on your face. So, yeah. BONUS!
This one is a bit of a shocker, for sure. Mostly because vegan foods (the pre-packaged kinds at least) are often found in specialty markets or sections at your grocer that tend to upsell on your dietary needs/choices.
However, meat and animal byproducts aren’t all that inexpensive…and eliminating meats especially can be helping you save some serious cash. By comparison, a protein source like a can of beans may be $1 while a chicken breast will run you $5 a piece. The only major price influx will often come in things like vegan yogurts, cheeses and the like.
Since we equate those who eat a vegan diet immediately with a healthy lifestyle, we forget that the following foods are vegan: Sour Patch Kids, Oreos, French Fries, Potato Chips, Nutter Butters & more.
While everything can be enjoyed in moderation, try and focus on foods that aren’t so processed, fried and the like, because the positive results may be amazing.
Yeah, if you don’t eat all the vegan junk foods! All jokes aside, this is a real thing. You can absolutely eat fruits and veggies and carbs and LOSE WEIGHT. Remember that each body is unique and some may do well on a higher-carb diet, some on a low-carb diet.
There’s proof, too. Studies show that veganism ranked highest for weight loss. This is still greatly up to the dieter themselves with what they choose to eat and drink. Regardless, it’s certainly a bonus worth noting for those who are interested in shedding some pounds.
Thank you, vegetables. Soon after you’ve gone to a vegan diet, within a couple weeks actually, you might notice something missing…body odor.
While it won’t be totally gone, it’s likely to dissipate. Due to the fact that red meat causes toxins to be released into the bloodstream and intestines, which make their way through the pores of your skin. So, studies show that eliminating that and other meats should lead you to a more pleasant smell.
When you cut out meats, dairy, and eggs from your diet, you’ll also be cutting out the vitamins that they formerly provided you. In most cases, you can find natural vegan food sources to replenish them. However, there’s a few you may want to pick up if you’re not sure you’re going to be taking them enough.
Thankfully, there are many multivitamins available exactly for this. Designed towards meeting the needs of those adhering to a vegan diet, it balances you out with b12, Vitamin D, Iron and so much more. Makes life so much easier!
Since you’re eating foods with way less saturated fat, your heart is going to be happy for it!
With every rule, there are always exceptions and for this one, it’s all about your food choices. Making good choices with your food options at each meal includes being mindful of saturated fats, which do still exist on a vegan diet. Just not as much so as one with meats, cheese, dairy and animal fats.
There is so much protein in plant-based foods, that it’s truly incredible how locked into the notion that we need animals for protein we tend to be.
Early stages of my own vegan diet, I felt I had to constantly supplement proteins into it with shakes and vegan protein bars. That was until I discovered my meals were already FULL of protein, and I just didn’t even recognize it! Beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, quinoa, and vegetables amongst many others are some examples.
How can you bake without butter, milk, and eggs? Aren’t those kind-of KEY ingredients? Well, sure they are, but we’ve come a long way with substitutions. Thank you, food bloggers.
Beyond store-bought egg replacers, there are many ways to supplement the key binding ingredient in baking, and typically, that’s flaxseeds (I know, shocking right?). Additionally, there are several healthy dairy-free kinds of butter and milk that are perfect substitutes for the animal-derived sources for your baking.
This one may shock you because immediately after going on a vegan diet the first thing you’re likely doing is sourcing vegan restaurants to eat at. Turns out, you likely don’t have to.
While plant-based only restaurants are amazing, with the increased demand for vegan food in mainstream restaurants, it’s projected that dining out will include a 300% increase in vegan foods on the menu! Don’t expect half the menu to be vegan, but expect to see some new menu items like black bean burgers, cauliflower steaks and much more popping up on your favorite menus.
It’s tough doing anything alone. Diet restrictions can often be embarrassing at restaurants when you have to ask about specific ingredients or allergens. Or maybe you’re filled with cringe-worthy moments when you pass on the meat and cheeses at your next family function and someone asks why. Saying “I’m vegan” might be opening a can of opinion worms.
So, find your community. There are a ton online and perhaps some locally in your area. Having someone to talk with, share with and maybe even meal plan alongside is often the point of success when making such a diet change. Having a steady flow of recipe ideas is also really helpful. You can find all ours on our VEGAN Pinterest board.
I remember when my daughter was about 8 months old and skin started to appear rather tanned. I freaked out, obviously concerned by what was happening. Well, as it turns out there was no reason for concern, she’d just been eating a lot of carrots that week.
Beta-carotene found in vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and cantaloupe can actually create a change in the skin’s pigmentation. Studies have proven it. So you can skip the spray tans and sun altogether and opt for more of these foods for that perfect glow. If you’re not a fan of the tan, just simply stop eating so much of those beta-carotene veggies.