Good morning fellow sub-zer0 vegans and arctic herbivores, and everyone else, t00!
Since going vegan, my body and mind have gone through some interesting changes; some good, some weird. I figured that maybe sharing these would be helpful for both vegans and omnivores alike (and everyone within that spectrum). Keep in mind that these changes are subjective. Not everyone goes through the same thing because everybody’s body and mind are different. Without further ado, here are some wacky body and mind changes to look forward to when you go vegan!
Intention: This is a post mostly geared at omnivores. THERE IS NOTHING GRAPHIC IN THE ENTIRE POST. A large portion of vegans already know this information, but obviously, this can be a post for everyone. But I want to talk to the omnivores who are open-minded to new perspectives. I also want the omnivores to understand that I was there once. In fact, I was an angry omnivore. I thought that we were meant to eat meat, that “forcing” children to be vegan was child abuse, and that overall vegans were insane. I get it, trust me. But when I opened my mind to new possibilities, my world changed forever. Keep that in mind as you read this.
- Energy, Energy, ENERGY!
This by far has been my favorite part about going vegan. I have more energy than ever before! It took a little time to get to this point, though. My body went through some withdrawals when quitting dairy (not meat for some reason), which made me sleepy and crabby. But that’s the thing about food (especially animal products and processed food), it’s addicting. Once my body adjusted to my new diet, I got a kick of energy that had stuck with me. I feel more rested after sleep, and I am able to wake up earlier without feeling tired. I also find that I’m not napping during the day, which used to be a problem for me. It’s nice feeling like my food gives me fuel, instead of bringing me down.
The science: When eating a diet consisting of animal products, we often must restrict calories in order to not gain weight. When we restrict our diet, we lose out on our body’s preferred source of energy: carbohydrates. That’s what is funny about people saying that veganism is restrictive because it’s quite the opposite. When going vegan, you actually need to eat more food, which takes some getting used to. Fruits and vegetables are rich in carbohydrates, which gives our body a boost of energy. Meat actually doesn’t have carbohydrates, which means no energy. It takes more energy to digest meat than vegetables anyways, which is why you might feel sleepy after eating a steak.
2. Good Digestion and Good Poops
I’m just going to put it out there – I have the best poops since going vegan. I can’t tell you the last time I was constipated, and I take a good poop every morning when I wake up (the kind where you get a clean wipe and everything feels like it’s out of your body). I remember when I ate meat and dairy, I would have so many stomach issues. I felt backed-up and sick a lot of the time. I never had complete poops either, as in I’d keep having to go back to the bathroom. I’m telling you, there is nothing better than good digestion. It goes hand-in-hand with energy levels, and keeps me feeling good all day!
The science: The simplest way to know what our bodies are meant to digest is by looking at our teeth. Our teeth directly correlate with our digestive system. For instance, you can tell a cat is a carnivore because of their teeth. They have long, sharp teeth that are meant to rip apart meat, paired with a short, wide digestive tract that is meant to process meat. Herbivores, on the other hand, have flat teeth that are meant to crush fruits and vegetables, paired with a long, thin digestive tract to process them. Our sharper teeth are for biting into harder vegetables, like carrots. When something like meat is put into a herbivorous digestive tract, it obviously has a harder time going through. This is why you might experience stomach pain and constipation, as well as energy depletion from extended digestion.
3. Better Menstrual Cycles
Before switching my diet, I was on birth control for having horrible menstrual cycles. They were irregular, painful, and very heavy. It became a concern with my doctor, so I was put on the pill. Birth control was good and bad. It was good because it regulated my period and lightened it, as well as took away some pain and discomfort. It was bad, though, because I gained a lot of weight and didn’t feel like myself mentally. This past summer, I decided to take a natural approach to my menstrual cycle and sex life by doing fertility tracking. This has worked so far, and I feel so much better being off the pill. I found that switching to a vegan diet gave me the same benefits that the pill did, but without the crappy side effects. Although my period is still irregular, it’s shorter, lighter, and not painful anymore. It’s incredible what a diet change can do to regulate your system!
The science: There are many diet-related things that can affect your period. One of these is being overweight. If you’re consuming too much fat, your estrogen levels will increase and create a heavier, longer period. Meat and dairy are high in fat, which can cause someone to gain more weight. When we decrease our levels of fat (don’t get rid of fat, though. Some fat is necessary.), our period can become more regular. Switching to a plant-based diet also provides more fiber, which studies have shown contribute to a regulated period.
4. “Thinning Out”
Not everybody experiences weight loss when going vegan, this is something to keep in mind. For myself, I actually gained weight. The difference is that I’m leaner than I was before. I’m gaining more muscle than fat, but as a female, I naturally will have more fat (this is my body saying “HOLD ON- THERE MIGHT BE A BABY AT SOME POINT”). Weight loss is dependent on what you eat and how much you exercise. If you’re vegan, but you’re eating fake meat and Oreos for every meal, you will probably gain some weight. Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I consume a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables and save the processed food for going out or as a treat. As a result, I have thinned out because I am consuming less fat.
The science: We have discussed this already, but so much of diet-related weight loss comes from good digestion and eating the right food. Our bodies are naturally herbivorous, therefore we should be eating as a herbivore. Eating meat adds more fat to our bodies than we need, which just gets stored away. Veganism isn’t the end-all be-all for weight loss, but if done correctly, it can be a great tool to reduce weight and stay leaner.
Tips for vegan weight loss: VegNews.com (6 Tips for Losing Weight on a Vegan Diet)
5. Detoxing – Not So Fun
I never said that every effect of going vegan is a good time. Detox, while necessary, is frankly a pain in the butt. I am still going through the detox phase, especially since I’ve been eating healthier. Everyone’s detox is different. I like to think of mine as “puberty: part 2.” I currently have more acne than ever before and I smell bad. The smell is getting better, though. I use a natural, vegan deodorant and stay away from perfumes. The acne is getting better, too. But this is a natural process, and is just my body’s way of saying, “Hey nasty crap, get the heck out of here!”
The science: Did you know that skin is an organ? It’s your largest organ, actually. And organs looooove getting rid of toxins. Our skin has pores that release toxins all the time, which come out in ways like acne and B.O./sweating. While this can be annoying, it’s actually a good thing! It’s sort of the final destination for toxins to finally get out of the body. And it IS a phase, it will go away with time. So embrace the stink!
6. Taste Buds Change
This was probably the weirdest change for me. I have heard before that your taste buds change when you change your diet. This makes sense because going vegan is like retraining your brain to see what is food and what isn’t. For instance, I used to hate gravy when I was an omnivore. Since going vegan, I now love gravy and require it on my biscuits and Tofurky roasts. I also notice that I don’t need a ton of flavor (aka, salt and sugar) in my foods. I remember when I first went vegetarian, I was addicted to Cheetos. Anytime I went to the store, I would buy a bag. I thought that I would never stop loving Cheetos, but I decided to quit them for a month. When I tried them again, I hated them. It was way too much flavor, and frankly, they were gross. The reality is that you crave what you eat. If you’re not eating animal products, you will stop craving them.
The science: When we start eating less fat, salt, sugar, etc., our tongues become more sensitive to it. While it may be hard to quit these in the beginning, our taste buds begin to adjust to our new foods. For example, Dr. Michael Greger M.D. from NutritionFacts.org discusses a study where researchers did an experiment on people with salted soup. They had a group of people adopt a low-sodium diet for a year. They gradually reduced the amount of salt they put in their soup to taste, and the results showed that the subjects thought the soup tasted just as salty with about half the amount of salt they started with. The good news is that your taste buds can change within a few weeks, so you don’t have to wait an entire year to feel the change.
- Intense Compassion/Empathy Increase
Since going vegan (not just plant-based), the amount of compassion I have for everything that lives has increased. I struggle when I hear people say that they love animals, but they continue to eat meat and pay someone to torture and murder them. They may love SOME animals, but not all of them. My ethics professor had us do an assignment where we made a meal based on our values. This is what hit home for me, and helped me make the push to be vegan. Since then, I find myself having so much more compassion for animals, no matter how small. This includes humans. If I care so much about human rights, how can I ignore non-human rights? Why should I place a higher value on the life of a human, which is just another species of animal?
2. Weight Off Your Shoulders
There is something to be said about living and eating guilt-free. No one can kid themselves at this point. We all know that factory farms have some serious cruelty issues. So do the beauty and fashion industries. There really isn’t an excuse to not know about this if you have access to the internet. This is fact, but whether or not you pay attention to it is your opinion. I’m not only following a plant-based diet but a vegan lifestyle, as well. While I still own some animal-based products from before I went vegan, but I no longer purchase animal products. I’m switching to ethically-made products now too because human rights matter just as much as animal rights. Some people argue that the product is already made, so why not just buy it? When we buy something, we are voting with our dollar. Cruelty only happens because we continue to pay for it.
3. Anger/Frustration With Non-Vegans (This passes with time)
Just as there are the five stages of death, there are the eight stages of going vegan. Stage three is called “Becoming the annoying evangelical vegan,” and boy is it a long stage. Some people never get out of it. But with persistence and love, you can find the acceptance that not everyone is vegan or will become vegan. However, that’s not an excuse to not be vegan. If you have the resources and the knowledge, what’s stopping you? It’s hard for non-vegans to understand why vegans are angry. When I wasn’t vegan, I thought that vegans were insane. But when I dove into the ethics of veganism, I was angry for a long time, and rightfully so. It’s so heartbreaking to see animals go through cruelty, rape, and death. It’s hard to watch loved ones die from diseases that could have been prevented by changing their diet. It’s infuriating to see the environment die with no public knowledge that the animal agriculture industry is directly responsible, aka WE are responsible for climate change by consuming animal products. But this is a phase if you allow it to be. The best way to deal with it is to live by example and fight for what’s right.
4. Overall Happiness
You’ll often hear vegans say that going vegan was the best decision they’ve ever made, and I concur. I can’t imagine my life without veganism. I’m compassionate, healthy, and have a zest for life like never before. I’ve found a meaningful purpose that simply makes sense when you look at the science and the ethics. I want everyone to feel the great joy of going vegan, and I’m happy that the numbers have only increased as time goes on.
I hope you got something out of this, at the very least a new perspective.
Eat your vegetables,