This Is What Going Vegan For A Month Really Does To Your Body

If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that veganism is here to stay. Yes, this dietary regimen has only grown in popularity in recent times. But while the ethical reasons might be enough for some to make this lifestyle change, we have to ask: what does it actually do to your body? Even after a month?

It’s a pressing question, especially if you’re on the fence about making the switch. Then again, there are people who dip their toes into veganism for a brief period to see for themselves. Women’s Health magazine shared an intriguing number on that front via its website in July 2018.

According to the publication, more than 100,000 individuals give the eating regimen a go in January – or Veganuary! So keeping that in mind, you might be wondering what the overall number is right now. Well, it’s big. Very big. Like we hinted earlier, it’s grown significantly in recent years.

As per a research project by Ipsos Retail Performance, close to 10 million citizens in America were practicing vegans by the end of 2019. But here’s where it gets really interesting. Just 15 years earlier, the number only stood at 290,000. Wow! That’s an absolutely staggering jump.

A representative from Ipsos Retail Performance wanted to make something perfectly clear, though. Speaking to the website VeganNews in March 2020, Kelly Fairchild noted, “Plant-based diets are fast becoming mainstream, but the change hasn’t been a steady one. Recent years have seen rapid adoption of vegan diets and more meat-free products making their way onto shelves.”

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Fairchild then added, “As the dialog around veganism shifts from one of animal welfare, to wider concerns around climate change and personal health, we are seeing more and more people adopt this once minority dietary preference.” Climate change? How does going vegan tie in with that? Well, there’s connection that will a surprise many people.

You see, a group of analysts came together at the University of Oxford to produce an eye-opening report in 2018. The paper, which was shared in Science magazine, revealed that your food’s carbon footprint may drop by almost three-quarters with a switch to veganism. No, that’s not a typo!

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Alongside that, the paper also suggested that there’d be a big dip in farming activity around the world should we all become vegan. Specifically, the figure stood at 75 percent. That would have a huge impact on the agricultural greenhouse gases that are currently produced, with dairy and meat manufacturing making up three-fifths.

Reflecting upon the findings, the head of the project spoke to The Guardian newspaper in May 2018. Joseph Poore explained, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It’s far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

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But Poore then informed The Independent, “The problem is, you can’t just put environmental labels on a handful of foods and look to see if there’s some effect on purchasing. Consumers take time to become aware of things, and then even more to act on them. My view is that communicating information to consumers could tip the entire food system towards sustainability and accountability.”

Interesting stuff, right? Those numbers could certainly persuade you to give veganism a go if you were thinking about it. Mind you, that brings us back to the question that we asked before: what does the diet do to your body? Well, over the course of a single month, you might notice several changes.

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To begin with, let’s focus on one of the internal changes that come from adopting veganism. When a person cuts meat and dairy out of their diet for vegan options, the microbiomes in their stomach start to alter. Simply put, this “good bacteria” thrives in an environment where fiber is more prominent.

How do those microbiomes actually help your body, though? According to the Environmental Microbiology Reports journal, the boost in good bacteria can lower your chances of suffering from stomach inflammation. If you struggle with indigestion, then that might be music to your ears! And your metabolism could pick up as well.

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That isn’t the only potential benefit that comes with the dietary switch, either. For instance, talk often turns to weight loss when veganism crops up in conversation. Can you shed some significant pounds by taking dairy and meat off the menu at home? Even after only a month of trying?

Based upon her experiences as a dietitian, Jennifer Mimkha shared an interesting piece of information with Health.com. She stated, “Many clients tell me they are surprised by how easy it was to lose weight once they transitioned to a fully plant-based diet.” If we take a closer look at this topic, though, perhaps that shouldn’t come as such a surprise to people.

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Why? Well, most vegan foods don’t contain as many calories as meat dishes do, so a drop should be expected. And on top of that, strict followers of the new diet will quickly realize that certain nibbles are now off the table. If you’re eating less, then of course you’re likely to shed some weight.

Then again, it can go the other way. For example, some people could replace the old junk food with a vegan alternative, while also increasing their carbohydrate intake. Before they know it, they may very well have put a few pounds on. So finding the right balance is absolutely vital.

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But getting there isn’t always easy, as Rob Mohr explained to Health.com. He’s a triathlete and had been practicing veganism for several years going into 2018. From Mohr’s experience, that initial month can be pretty brutal when it comes to choosing the right meals. Mind you, he got through it.

“The first few dinners at home I remember thinking, ‘What am I going to eat?’ After some recipe research, I figured out some go-to meals where vegetables are the center of the plate,” Mohr told the website. “The key is finding five or six of these dinners that you really like and can make pretty easily.”

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On that note, BBC Good Food has a list of simple dish ideas on its website that you might want to try. From falafel burgers to vegan meatballs, there’s plenty of choice! Plus, snacks such as chocolate chia pudding and vegan brownies could satisfy your sweet tooth as well – pretty creative, right?

Yet while the options are certainly there, you might notice that the taste is slightly… different. In fact, pretty much everything could start to have an altered flavor after you make the jump to veganism. Alexandria Abramian found herself in that position only weeks into the diet and shared her thoughts with Health.com.

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Abramian said, “My whole sense of taste is heightened, and food brings me so much pleasure. And, my hard-to-tame sweet tooth has pretty much disappeared.” So what’s going on here? Why do the taste buds of a vegan change? And so quickly, too! Well, a gastroenterologist named Shilpa Ravella offered an intriguing answer.

“We have evidence to back up the idea that even if you go a few weeks without junk foods and animal products high in salt, fat, and sugar, your tastes start to change,” Ravella told the medical website. “Even after just a few weeks, the sensitivity of our taste buds for fat can change.”

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But that’s not all. You see, red meat contains zinc, and that chemical element also plays a role in managing taste. Without it, flavors that you’re used to can suddenly change – scents as well! Don’t worry, though. There are ways to incorporate zinc into your eating regimen through vegan food items if you want to.

Yes, ingredients such as kidney beans, kale, mushrooms, tofu and chickpeas are loaded with zinc. And if that isn’t enough, you can purchase supplements to boost your intake as well. So keeping that in mind, a vegan routine could leave you short in other ways, too – and they may lead to more severe consequences than altered taste buds.

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For instance, by dropping dairy products from your diet, you’ll lose out on helpings of calcium. That element plays a crucial role in maintaining our teeth and bones. You can find it in certain products such as soybeans, yet there’s a chance that you might need to grab some supplements to fill in the gap.

It’s the same with iron and vitamin B12 as well, as most meat dishes contain that goodness. Then again, with a bit of creative thinking, a solution can be reached. You see, mushrooms, fermented soy and algae are rich with the latter, while spinach and kale will provide you with the former.

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“Omega-3 fatty acids may also be deficient in a vegan diet, though [they] can be found in flax seeds and walnuts,” Shira Eytan, an endocrinologist, told Health.com. That’s a lot to take in, right? But have no fear – there are a few more positives to making the dietary switch for a month.

To give you an example, a vegan writer named Natalie Slater talked through one of the more noticeable transformations during a chat with Health.com. And in truth, it could surprise you. Yet if you’re big on skincare routines and facial creams, you might want to take this on board!

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“The biggest physical change I noticed was in my skin,” Slater revealed. “The change in my diet really seemed to clear my complexion.” Jennifer Mimkha was in a similar position too, adding, “I’ve suffered from skin issues my whole life, and it’s never looked better since going plant-based.”

Anyway, Mimkha picked up on another helpful benefit. “I noticed an increase in my energy level immediately,” she recalled. “My morning cup of coffee was all I needed to keep me energized throughout the day, whereas [before] I would typically head for a second cup by 1:00 p.m.”

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Is there a particular reason for that? Well, should you find yourself consuming more vegan staples such as legumes, whole grains and nuts, then you’re taking in additional macronutrients. They act like the fuel inside a car, offering your body a welcome increase in stamina. And on top of that, they don’t cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate.

So say goodbye to those crashes you might’ve felt in the past! And the positives don’t end there. Did you know that by switching to veganism, you reduce your chances of developing cancer as well? Yes, with no more cold cuts on the menu, your stomach, colon and kidneys won’t be at risk from their harmful properties.

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And we can’t forget about your heart, either, with a past study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition identifying a fascinating statistic. As per that paper, people on vegan diets were more than a quarter less likely to die from heart disease than fans of meat. That’s quite striking, wouldn’t you agree?

Mind you, when you consider that vegan foods aren’t loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol, it shouldn’t be that surprising. But speaking of surprises, that brings us on to our next negative point. You see, while too much of the latter may lead to cardiac problems, a lack of it could lead to higher stroke risks.

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How’s that possible? Well, it’s thought to be due to a combination of factors alongside the cholesterol. Namely, the lack of amino acids and vitamins that characterize vegan diets. Lots of questions still remain, though, and research into these matters continues.

Another important issue was flagged up on Health.com by a woman who attempted the switch over a month-long period. Her name is Talia Koren, and she’s the person behind the website Workweek Lunch. According to Koren, the diet left her in an uncomfortable state throughout those few weeks.

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“Cutting out meat was easy, but cutting eggs and cheese was much more difficult. Thanks to meal prep, staying vegan for a month wasn’t hard,” Koren said. “What I found difficult and the reason I stopped: I was hungry all the time. And [that made me] extremely tired by the end of the day.”

So there are plenty of factors to consider before trying a vegan diet for a month – both good and bad! But will you want to persevere with the regime once that period’s over? Alexandria Abramian had some thoughts on this as she looked to the future. Maybe you could follow her example?

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“I have a daily cheat because almond milk in coffee is just disgusting,” Abramian told Health.com. “I have some heavy cream every single morning. I don’t want to be too ambitious, but my gut tells me that I’ll stick with [the vegan diet]. Based on all the benefits, I’m probably not going to go back.”

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