Whether you’re thinking about going vegan or have already made the leap, you may be wondering what types of symptoms you can expect during a vegan “detox”. You are making huge changes for your body, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible! Everyone will have different symptoms at different times, based on their own bodies and eating habits. It’s important to keep moving, drink lots of water, and steer clear of the carb (potato/rice/bread) trap during your transition to vegan.
Vegan “Detox”: What to Expect
Once you give up meat and dairy, you may notice some detox symptoms. Most will only last a few days to a few weeks, and you will find that most are actually positive!
The #1 positive change for me since going vegan is my digestion! I have lived with chronic constipation my entire life (to the point of being hospitalized as a child and as an adult). No matter which diets I tried, pills, supplements, etc nothing ever worked. I didn’t even think about digestion when I went vegan, so it wasn’t like I was trying, I was just eating… and my body thanked me! I have been regular every day since the transition, when I was pooping once a week if I was lucky before. The only BIG change was that I gave up dairy. Amazing.
For me, less sleep is a great thing! I was sleeping 8 or even 10 hours a night and still feeling tired. Now, I sleep about 6 hours and feel fully rested with no need for a nap. My productivity has been through the roof! Many foods you’ll be eating a lot of (bananas, sweet potatoes, almonds, kale) contain Vitamin B6, which can help improve your sleep quality. That means you need less sleep, and will feel even more rested!
Food tastes better!
After ditching dairy, you may notice that the thick “coating” on your tongue is now gone. You’re going to be tasting foods you’ve eaten for years, but they’re going to taste so different and amazing!
Also possibly due to giving up dairy and the coating coming off of your tongue, you may notice you’re no longer craving foods like chocolate, meat, and cheese. I used to be hungry, constantly. Once I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, I didn’t feel that way anymore. My cravings for unhealthy foods disappeared, and the only cravings I have now are for healthier foods (oh, and potato chips and cashew milk ice cream… let’s be honest).
In fairness, I’ve only had one period since going vegan. So I am not an expert by any means but I can tell you I did not have cramps (usually they’re so bad I’m in bed for several hours), and didn’t even know my period was coming because I had zero symptoms! I’m not the only one who feels like veganism cured PMS.
Gas. And lots of it.
The first two weeks of my vegan life, I thought every piece of meat I had ever eaten was somehow hiding in my stomach and revolting because I was eating so many vegetables! Stomach pains were frequent when I was a meat eater, so I was over the moon when the stomach pains stopped for good and my body was able to relax. Your results may vary, based on your previous eating habits as well as the new ones you choose. You might experience gas for a few days or for a few weeks, just know that it will subside. I’ve seen Gas-X mentioned in vegan groups many times, but thankfully mine went away on its own so I didn’t have to use it.
If you notice gas pains sticking around for more than a week or two, start journaling the food you’re eating as well as the symptoms you’re having. Try to figure out a correlation between the pains and certain foods, and you’ll know to slow down or avoid those for a bit.
Concentration on point.
I meditated on peace for a long time. I was getting frustrated because nothing was changing. Once I really got serious and honest with myself, I had my answer: go vegan. Then, a few days later, I had another answer that was a little tougher to swallow: get a divorce. Even though I was going through two major life changes at once, I felt lighter, more focused, and I could concentrate better! I have seen a huge boost in my creativity and have just been so relaxed. My mind is at ease, knowing I’m doing everything I can for peace (for myself, for animals, and for the Earth). If nothing else, going vegan was a huge sense of relief for me and I knew I had found peace.
Your skin may clear up, or you may find yourself breaking out – either way, you will probably notice some skin changes when you transition to vegan living. For most people, clearer (even glowing!) skin is a nice side effect. For a smaller number of people, pimples popping up is not fun. “I gave up chocolate and now I have acne? That’s some bullshit!” With any type of “detox” or major life change, acne is a possibility. It should clear up within the first month (or sooner!). Be sure you’re eating a variety of foods such as broccoli, berries, spinach, pineapple, apples, and peppers. They’re high in Vitamin C and can speed up the skin-clearing process.
You may also notice your hair looking and feeling healthier, and your nails growing faster!
Weight loss isn’t a given with going vegan, because many will rely on pasta, rice, and potatoes for filling (cheap) meals. I lost about 10 pounds in the first two weeks, because I was eating a lot of leafy greens and lean meat alternatives. If you are conscious about what you’re putting into your mouth, chances are, you will lose weight. In my opinion, it’s easier to lose weight as a vegan because you don’t have the temptation of eating out as frequently (because there aren’t as many options). I know every restaurant in my town, and I know their one or two “vegan” options (I usually have to have stuff taken off still). Eating out isn’t like it used to be. I can’t pull into a burger joint and pig out. That has helped me a lot!
Once you’ve fully transitioned to vegan, you may notice feeling some guilt about your past life as a meat eater. You may have been sharing cute piglet videos on Facebook and all of the sudden you realize how hypocritical you’ve been, eating bacon and supporting the mass slaughter of pigs, while claiming you “omg love them so much”. We all go through it in different ways, and some of us feel more guilt than others. The important thing to realize is that you’ve made the change, you’re doing everything you can for the animals, for the environment, and for your own inner peace. Let the guilt go and move forward.