What To Expect When Adopting A Vegan Diet
by Eve Nguyen of Renew Vitality
We know that a vegan diet is a healthy choice. The internationally recognised American Dietetic
Association has stated that appropriately planned vegan diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate,
and can provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Closer to home
and the Victorian government's Better Health Channel has also said: "A well-balanced vegetarian or
vegan diet can provide many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including:
~ Coronary artery disease
~ Hypertension (high blood pressure)
~ Some types of cancer."
So what can you expect when making the transition to a vegan diet?
In short, the answer is that it depends what sort of diet you are switching from and what sort of vegan
diet you are adopting. It will be an individual experience for everyone. There are healthy vegan diets
and there are junk-food vegan diets. Let me explain further.
A healthy vegan diet contains ample portions of fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses (lentils,
chickpeas, kidney beans, red lentils, green split peas etc.) and wholegrains (oats, barley, and gluten-
free grains including brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat etc.) with a smaller amount of nuts and seeds.
When people adopt a healthy vegan diet they often report many changes in their body in the first
week or so of adopting the diet. Changes can include more regular bowel movements because
the intestinal tract is cleaner and more efficient on a vegan diet, high blood pressure can start to
normalise, high blood sugar levels can start to normalise, pain from various conditions (arthritis, gout
etc.) can lessen, people may start losing weight, skin conditions/rashes may start to clear up or lessen
in intensity and digestive symptoms such as heart burn may improve.
Simply speaking, adopting a vegan diet eliminates nasty meat-derived substances from the body that
can aggravate inflammation, pain and other conditions in the body such as arachidonic acid and uric
acid for example. Eliminating dairy products from the diet may assist in clearing up the sinuses and
may lessen joint pain (in addition to other health benefits!). Also, the vegan diet eliminates all forms of
cholesterol from the diet as cholesterol is only found in animal-derived ingredients.
If your diet regularly consists of meat products, processed meats, fried foods and dairy products such
as butter, milk and ice-cream and you move to a healthy vegan diet then you may experience some
detoxification symptoms. This may occur when the body is moving from an acidic and overburdened
state to a more alkaline and healthy state, and can be a sign that the body is rebalancing and trying to
These signs may include headaches, sinus congestion or a running nose, discomfort in the digestive
system, perhaps some pimples on the skin and feeling tired and irritable or not quite optimal for a few
days to a week. If your body has been highly acidic and undernourished by your previous diet you
may experience cold-like symptoms as the body tries to cleanse itself by eliminating mucous from the
body. Bowel movements will probably increase. Urination may increase as you take in more fluid from
the fruits and vegetables.
Remember these symptoms can be due to a previous diet that burdened the body and digestive
system. As a new, healthy vegan diet is adopted with an abundance of plant nutrients, vitamins and
minerals, the body may put more energy into clearing old waste and trying to bring health and vitality
to parts of the body that have been stressed.