So, you decided you are going vegan for the animals.
What kind of detox symptoms might you experience?
What can you do about them?
Lets discuss in this dietitian written post all about it!
Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for personal medical or dietary advice. Talk to your doctor about any health concerns, before making major dietary changes or starting a new supplement. See our Disclaimers for more details.
This article was originally published on 12/6/21. The recent updated date is listed above.
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 think 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
Based on this definition, veganism goes beyond diet, but we are focusing on the diet component for this article.
Does the definition mean a vegan diet is the same as a detox? Lets talk about that next!
Is a Vegan Diet a Detox diet?
Based on the definition above, a vegan diet simply means the elimination of all animal products and animal by products.
Can a “detox diet” happen to eliminate all animal products? Yes, but most vegans are not on a “traditional detox diet.”
What is a detox diet? 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 what symptoms associated with detox diets?
What Are Detox Symptoms?
Side effects of a detox can vary widely. The-Well.com suggests some symptoms may include:
- Brain Fog
Going Vegan Detox Symptoms
Firstly, we gotta be up front about this: going vegan does not automatically mean everyone will experience symptoms that are touted as “detox” symptoms.
We are not aware of any studies that suggest the below items are more common in vegans as compared to non vegans.
Alright, now lets get to the list!
Lets face it: most of the world is not vegan. In fact, some estimates suggest that vegans make about 1% of the worlds population. One percent! In other words, not the most popular thing.
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.
As an example, vegans could 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 do you do if that has always been a tradition?
What Can I 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, talk to your doctor and seek 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 towards those 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 Can I Do About It?
Conversations that quickly go south could be a result of the other person believing you are attacking their 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 in a compassionate way.
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 about grocery shopping as a vegan).
While getting adequate fiber can have great benefits for GI health, those who increase fiber too much or too quickly, could experience gas, bloating, constipation, or loose stools.
What Can I Do About It?
Consider these questions (and if you have any concerns, talk to your doctor about your digestive woes):
- 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 get enough water!
- Are You Increasing Your Fiber Too Quickly? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 states women aged 31-50 years old 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. 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’s not can be hard! Its a huge learning curb, and that’s 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 (unfortunately).
So, many new vegans may fill up their meals with plain salads, steamed low calorie veggies and fruit, only to realize their energy levels are low (no to mention they are more hungry than ever)!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with fruits and vegetables, and there are many health benefits to these nutrition powerhouses.
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 Can I 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!
Finally, if you want A Registered Dietitian can give you personalized advice about your diet.
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 I 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: it’s fun to eat more highly processed foods, but a healthy diets tends to focus more on a variety of whole foods.
Does what you consume have an impact on your skin? Perhaps.
For example, some research suggests that dairy milk might be associated with acne in some individuals, but again, this research is limited, and there are so many factors that contribute to acne (learn more in our article about vegan diets and acne here). Since vegans don’t consume milk, they don’t have to worry about that one!
On the flip side, it’s also been proposed that eating more quickly digested foods (such as sugar) compared to more slowly digested foods (such as nuts) might contribute to acne.
What You Can Do About It
Skin changes can have many causes. 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.
New vegans may (or may not) experience a variety of “detox like” symptoms. Following the tips above may help. If you have any health concerns, talk to your doctor.
Staying healthy, taking care of yourself, and eating a healthy and varied diet with whole foods playing a lead role goes a long way.
Did this inspire you to stick with your plant based diet? Any other questions? Let me know below!
Do you want more awesome content about vegan diets sent to your email address? Then sign up for our e-mail subscribers list right here!
And while you’re here, why not check out our blog? We discuss more important topics like Veganism and Intuitive Eating and whether or not vegan is gluten free.
I’m also on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me and say hi there.
Until next time✌❤