So, you decided you are going vegan for the animals, environment, social justice issues, or your health.
What kind of detox symptoms might you experience?
What can you do about them? Vegan Registered Dietitian, Christine answers these questions and more, so keep reading!
Disclaimer: Christine is a Registered Dietitian, however, she is not your personal Registered Dietitian. The information in this post is not medical advice. Talk to your own doctor about any health concerns you have.
Table of Contents
What is Veganism?
Before we dive into detox symptoms within veganism, lets define the subject matter!
When most people hear the word “vegan” they immediately thing about diet. Yes, dietary change is a big part of the vegan lifestyle, however, it’s not the only component.
Here is how The Vegan Society Defines veganism:
“Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism
In Summary: One following a vegan lifestyle strives to minimize as greatly as possible the exploitation of animals (ie: via choices related to food, clothing, makeup, entertainment, furniture, etc.)
Is a Vegan Diet a Detox diet?
Not necessarily! A vegan diet simply means the elimination of all animal products and animal by products. Can detox diet also be vegan? yes, but most vegans are not on a “traditional detox diet.”
What is a detox diet? The nccih.nigh.gov describes it this way:
A variety of “detoxification” diets, regimens and therapies – sometimes called “detoxes” or “cleanses” – have been suggested as ways to remove toxins from your body, lose weight, or promote health.For full quote see: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-and-cleanses-what-you-need-to-know
“Detoxification” programs may involve a single process or a variety of approaches. These include:
-Drinking only juices or similar beverages
-Eating only certain foods
-Using dietary supplements or other commercial products
-Reducing environmental exposures…”
While it’s true that vegan’s only eat certain foods, the goal of a vegan diet is not always motivated by health concerns or weight loss. Even if it is, many vegans will not restrict their diet to strictly raw fruits and veggies, which is common on some detox diets.
So what’s the problem? Why would new vegans have any detox symptoms on vegan diets? Aside from plant based foods, are there any detox symptoms from starting a vegan lifestyle?
Lets talk about that! But first we must understand what detox symptoms are…
What Are Detox Symptoms?
Side effects of a detox can vary widely. The-Well.com suggests some symptoms may include:
- Body Aches
- Brain Fog
Could some of these be associated with a new vegan lifestyle? I am so glad you asked! Keep reading to find out how and what you can do about it.
Going Vegan Detox Symptoms
Lets face it: most of the world is not vegan. In fact, some estimates suggest that vegans make up less than 1% of the worlds population. One percent! In other words, not the most popular diet.
Needless to say, you may be vegan, but many of your close friends or relatives may not. For some people, this could mean stressful social situations.
For example, vegans may experience anxiety when their friends want to gather at a restaurant with few vegan options. As another scenario, vegans might lose some sleep over their families annual visit to the zoo.
What You Can Do About It
Anxious thoughts can make you feel very alone. Try finding a vegan group that supports your values to reduce animal exploitation. Many vegans deal with some discomfort in social situations, including myself! Ask your support group how they have dealt with them.
And if you feel comfortable enough, ask your non vegan friends if they would be willing to try a vegan friendly alternative (ie: a restaurant that has more vegan options, or a animal sanctuary instead of a zoo). The worst they could say is no!
Lastly, if your anxiety is interfering with your life, seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional.
Many new vegans are motivated to stick to their lifestyle because of the horrors of the animal industry. While this is an inspiring factor, sometimes it can lead to irritability who do not understand or are not vegan.
While it is important to raise awareness of issues like animal cruelty, the way we talk about these problems could damage relationships.
What You Can Do About It
Conversations that quickly go south could be a result of the other person believing you are tackling his or her beliefs.
One strategy to help preserve these relationships is to lead by example, rather than preach. If someone wants to hear about your vegan journey, share! But in a compassionate way.
Its also important to remember that following a vegan lifestyle is a privilege for some people. Not everyone can be vegan, whether it be because of lack of access, finances, etc.
Many (but not all!) new vegans may unintentionally increase their fiber intake. Why? Because vegetables and beans are vegan, and for some, its the only foods they know are vegan. FYI: There are many foods that are vegan! Learn more via our post Vegan for Beginners.
For some, the additional fiber may result in more regular trips to the bathroom for number two.
However, for those who increase fiber to much or to quickly, gas, bloating, constipation, or loose stools could occur.
What You Can Do About It
- Are You Drinking Enough Water? Fiber loves fluid! Think of insoluble fiber (found in foods like sweet potatoes, beans and veggies, etc) like a sponge that attracts water and bulks up your stools. If you aren’t drinking enough, you could experience bloating and irregularity. So make sure you drink up as you add more plant foods!
- Are You Increasing Your Fiber Too Quickly? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 states women aged 31-50 need about 25 grams of fiber/day, while the same aged men need about 31 grams of fiber/day. If you are having digestive woes, ask yourself, are you significantly increasing your fiber intake too quickly?
If so, try slowing down. You could cut back, and then gradually increase your fiber intake over time.
- Are You Getting Enough Daily Movement? If you are more sedentary, exercise may help with constipation. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any serious exercise routine.
Fatigue and Feeling Hungry
Lets face it, learning what’s vegan and what not can be hard! Its a huge learning curb, and its no surprise, being vegan is not the norm.
Most of us know that fruits and vegetable’s are vegan, and may not know more than that. So, many new vegans may fill up their meals with plain salads, steamed veggies and fruit, and realize their energy levels are low, and are more hungry than ever before!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with fruits and vegetables, and there are many health benefits to these nutrition powerhouse. The problem comes when we only eat certain foods.
Many fruits and veggies are also missing out on some unique nutrients other vegan foods, like whole grains, fats, and legumes can provide.
What You Can Do About It
Before you decide to quit veganism, take the time to educate yourself about a balanced vegan diet. You’ll learn all about this in our post Vegan for Beginners, a must read for both new and well seasoned (pun intended) vegans alike!
Confession time: I haven’t intentionally eaten meat for about 2 decades, yet: I crave a beef taco from time to time.
Alright, before you go on to say what a bad vegan message that is, I want to give you a different perspective. I m human- a human who use to eat meat!
Even though I enjoyed the taste of beef taco, I have not acted on my cravings. Why? Because of I decided to forgo meat to reduce animal cruelty.
When you go vegan, you may find yourself missing out on those animal products you use to eat so frequently. Which leads us to the next question…
What Can You Do About It?
Don’t feel bad about it! Easier said than done, but I can not tell you how many vegans I know that have cravings for animal products. Sure certain cravings may go (and they have for me) however this is not a guarantee for everyone though.
This is where your vegan support system comes in to play! Ask them what they have done about cravings.
Perhaps they tried a vegan product that was similar in taste to the animal product (for example, I like MorningStar Veggie Griller Crumbles as a convenient taste replacement for beef). You never know! Your next favorite vegan treat could be right under your nose- but you didn’t’ know about it until now!
Will any vegan substitute perfectly replicate the flavor of animal products? Maybe, maybe not. Taste is so individualized. But with some creativity in the kitchen and a reflection on your vegan values, it can get better.
One more point: its fun to eat processed foods every now and then, but a healthy and varied whole foods diet often best provides the nutrition that your body needs.
Depending on what you eat (and don’t eat), your skin might change once you start a vegan diet. Certain foods foods eaten on a vegan diet might promote clearer skin, while other foods (or lack thereof) could promote acne.
For example, a vegan diet could include lots of fruits and vegetables, but always eliminates dairy products. Milk may contribute to acne, but increasing fruit and vegetable intake may decrease acne.
What You Can Do About It
Skin changes can have many causes. So before you attribute or blame your vegan diet on your skin changes, know that other factors, such as skin reactions, genetics, stress, and sleep can all play a role as well. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about skin changes that are bothering you.
And if you want to learn more about what could cause blemishes on a vegan diet, check out our article: Vegan Diet and Acne: What You Need to Know!
New vegans may experience a variety of detox like symptoms. Following the tips above may help. Staying healthy, taking care of your self, and eating a healthy varied diet focused on whole foods goes a long way.
Did this inspire you to stick with your plant based diet? Any other questions? Let me know below!
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May the fork be with you…