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The Vegan Lifestyle boasts many benefits, including decreased chronic illness, reduced inflammation, and overall health and wellness. But, if you’re envisioning yourself in a lush garden eating from Mother Earth’s gifts to be a smooth, angelic transition, you’d be sorely mistaken.
Going from an omnivorous lifestyle to a vegan lifestyle may have some unexpected side effects. While temporary (from a few days to a couple of weeks), these adverse side effects may make you want to turn back to your meat-eating ways. Understanding the possible effects and learning how to mitigate them will help you stay in alignment and committed to your new vegan lifestyle.
Switching to a vegan/ plant-based diet means you’ll be consuming more fiber than your gut is accustomed to. While increasing fiber intake leads to a healthier gut microbiome and healthier gut flora, a sudden increase leads to bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea. The good news is these effects are temporary, and you can mitigate intensity by increasing your water intake.
You may also want to keep a food journal to track which foods you are most sensitive to. Those of you considering a vegan lifestyle because of health conditions like IBS or gluten intolerance may be used to digestive discomfort and food journaling so really – this may be no big deal. Regardless, we all need to take an active and responsible role in understanding our human body’s ecosystem.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Fatigue
Feeling unusually tired during the transition to a plant-based diet is also very common. Fatigue is often a direct result of nutritional deficiencies. There are ways around this – please do not take this to mean that a vegan/ plant-based diet robs your body of all that it needs to function (a common misconception of the vegan lifestyle).
Not only should you be aware of your overall caloric intake but make sure you are getting the appropriate number of vitamins (iron, iodine, protein). Supplements like B12 and plant-based protein shakes are game-changers, making it easy for you to get what you need without too much effort.
In the transition phase, supplements are highly recommended, but they are not mandatory if you dial in your food intake. Again, this requires you to take an active role in planning your nutrition (but this goes for meat-eaters too!).
Weight Gain (Before Loss)
Vegan simply means you don’t eat animal or animal by-product; it does not mean healthier. Many newly turned vegans are surprised when their new vegan lifestyle has caused weight gain. Why do new vegans put on weight? If you substitute meat with overly processed foods, high in carbohydrates and fat content, anyone will gain weight. Even if you lead an active lifestyle, you cannot out-train a bad diet.
Especially if you’re going vegan cold to-furkey, the early days of transition may cause a noticeable increase in hunger and cravings as your body adjusts. This phase is called detox. The key to your success is to minimize junk vegan food. Instead, opt for whole foods. Raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato), and legumes can be eaten in abundance without packing on additional pounds in your transition.
Trust the Process
Knowledge is power. Knowing what to expect and preparing yourself for the transition should increase your success in making a full transition into the vegan lifestyle. As we’ve discussed, the vegan lifestyle has many lifelong benefits but comes with transitional challenges. They say “pain is weakness leaving the body.” Just remember, the ‘pain’ and discomfort of this transition is temporary … and worth it. Trust the process.
#veganjourney #journeytovegan #govegan #veganism #veganlifestyle #veganhealth
Written by: Christina Burruss
Edited for SEO by: Veronica Castillo
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