There are a lot of things that change and happen to your body when you make the decision to go vegan or start a plant based whole food diet. If you are wondering what it’s like to make this transition here is what you can expect the first 21 days.
I never thought I would call myself a vegan. A year ago I was eating meat at least twice a day and wouldn’t have ever dreamed about going vegan. Until 21 days ago when we made the choice to cut out all animal products from our diet.
Why We Decided To Go Vegan
It wasn’t a hard choice for us after we watched two documentaries. Forks Over Knives really proved to me that a plant based whole food diet really is the best choice for the human body. What the Health drove that point home and convinced me – a hardcore cheese and bacon lover – to give up animal products all together. I still had a meat loving husband to convince though.
Even after showing my skeptical husband these documentaries he couldn’t deny that the typical western diet is one of the worst diets we could be eating. I showed him the documentaries so he could find flaws and he couldn’t.
We made the decision to go as Vegan as possible 21 days ago. I say as Vegan as possible because I know there are milk products in salad dressings and milk derivatives in my coffee creamer.
Outside of those two things there we have not been consuming any type of animal product. Eventually I will run out of the bad salad dressings and find a new, just a delicious, creamer to use in my coffee.
It was after watching these two documentaries my husband and I both figured out that we just didn’t want to support the animal product industry anymore. Between the health reasons and the corruption within the western diet recommendations we just didn’t want to continue to pay for and eat animal products.
Take Your Supplements
Animal products are good for a couple of things – Protein, Fat, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Here’s the thing, eat an avocado, eat some peanut butter, and use legumes in your meals. That replaces the protein and the fat that you should be consuming.
Vitamin D is not naturally in any one food. Milks and cereals are enriched with this vitamin. The way to actually get Vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones, is by getting enough direct sunlight.
So if you are a hermit like I am and/or live in a non sunny area (looking at you central PA) you will want to take a Vitamin D supplement. You will also want to take a Vitamin B12 supplement as well.
You get far more nutrients from eating a plant based diet than you do from eating meat. Simply adding certain supplements to your daily routine will replace what you might possibly be missing from a meat filled diet.
You would have to take far more supplements to make sure you are getting all of your nutrients being on a meat based diet.
If you are concerned about your protein intake try adding a supplemental plant based powder like Vega One to your smoothies, oatmeal, or just in a glass of milk. Here’s the thing, protein deficiency is extremely rare and as long as you eat your legumes you will get enough protein.
The Food Is Really Good
I was really surprised about how delicious the food really is. My first actual vegan dish that I made was a sweet potato and chickpea curry that was unbelievably delicious.
The amount of flavor that is in a lot of the vegan dishes is amazing and you learn how to mix flavors pretty quickly. The sweet with the spicy or savory is a favorite in our house.
Within just a few days I realized I didn’t even miss the animal products at all and even 20 days in the craving for cheese just isn’t as bad as it used to be.
I think the best part of the food is learning how to create new vegan versions of your favorite dishes. While it can be a learning curve at first there are already dishes that I know are on a definite repeat.
For instance, I was really in the mood for mexican food and decided to try to make mexican fajitas. We used refried beans and black beans for our protein. We sauteed onions and peppers. Then we added salsa, rice, and guacamole to our fajitas. They were filling and delicious. We didn’t even miss the meat.
You Will Fart A Lot
So no one likes talking about farting but this is one thing that I did notice almost immediately with the change to a vegan diet. It’s to be expected really so don’t be too surprised that if you find that you are farting a lot more.
A vegan diet is high in fiber because of all the legumes and greens you start to eat. Since legumes basically replace your meat you are going to see a massive increase in your fiber intake. This is a good thing.
On your typical western diet you just aren’t providing your body with enough fiber. When you switch to a vegan diet, that drastically changes. As your body adjusts to this change more healthy bacteria replaces the not so healthy or completely vacant bacteria in your gut and you will fart a lot.
The farting usually subsides within a couple of weeks. If it goes on for longer than a month check with your doctor or see if you can pinpoint exactly which food is causing the discomfort.
For the time being try to leave your beans and legumes for dinner. This will help your body adjust and leave the gas for the night when you are home. Once your body adjusts to the new diet and you notice the gas isn’t as bad try adding more legumes to your lunches too.
I was not prepared for the energy increase that came with going to a vegan diet. Within just a couple of days I went from my normal 4-5 cups of coffee a day down to 2-3 cups.
I wasn’t groggy when I woke up and furthermore I wasn’t wanting a nap after every meal. It was at this point that I realized food should NOT make you feel tired. Food is fuel for your body so you shouldn’t feel tired after eating. You should feel energized.
This was an eye opening experience for me. I’ve always believed that food should be treated as fuel for your body. Too often people look at food as a necessary evil that needs to be limited drastically in order to avoid weight gain.
I hate this type of thinking. What didn’t click – and probably should have – was the type of food actually matters just as much as making sure you are eating enough of it. You can’t eat dead animal and expect it to not harm your body.
For more on the diet aspect of this I highly recommend watching Forks Over Knives and What The Health? In both of these documentaries you will see vegan bodybuilders with results that will blow your mind.
Being Vegan Doesn’t Mean You Will Be Sickly Skinny
When you start researching veganism and bodybuilding or fitness you start to see that there are loads of people who actually thrive on a vegan diet. These people are in their best shape ever.
Too often people assume that being Vegan means you are super skinny and sometimes even sickly looking. They don’t associate veganism with muscles and peak fitness.
With this change in my diet and the extra energy it becomes important to work out every day. Even if it’s just a 20 minute yoga routine or a quick walk around your neighborhood. Burning that extra energy off in a workout helps.
What you start seeing too is that the weight just starts to melt off. At this point I’ve lost 5 lbs without working out in just this diet change alone. It’s these type of results that have me actually excited to workout and build muscle.
A Change In Mindset
As a meat eater we are pretty regiment with our diets. We try to consume less than so many calories, eat enough protein, stay away from carbs, and eat the right fats. We also try to eat at certain times throughout the day.
When you switch to a vegan diet this all goes out the window. Instead of eating at certain times of the day, abstaining from eating too many snacks, and watching what we eat – we just eat all the time.
Ok so not all the time but whenever we feel a little bit hungry we eat something. A piece of fruit or veggies, avocado toast, peanut butter, a fruit smoothie, a half a cup of oatmeal.
Getting used to not eating on a schedule and eating whenever you want is only one part of the mindset change. The second part sneaks up on you.
Suddenly realizing that you live in a meat eating world and not letting it get to you. It’s not that I miss meat, it’s that I don’t understand why friends and family would continue to poison their bodies in this way.
Listen, people have to make decisions for themselves so I’m not here to convert every person I meet or know into a vegan. I am not going to do that. I have already told people why we made this decision for ourselves and our family, if they want to educate themselves they can.
However, it is an internal battle because I know what eating meat does to your body. I know the corruption that is in the animal product industry. The internal struggle is recognizing that after you initially tell them, there may never be a convincing argument to make them change their eating habits.
Being Vegan Is Easy
Normally, a lifestyle change of diet comes with a learning curve. You have to figure out new recipes, count your numbers, and plan out everything. It can feel like a lot of work.
10 years ago veganism could have been harder to adjust to but today … there is no reason to complain about it being hard. There are so many fantastic resources and products for vegan diets.
You can easily find recipes on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook groups. Furthermore, cutting out animal products from your diet is easier now because you have so many plant based options too.
Plant based milks like soy milk and coconut milk easily replace milk from your diet. There is vegan friendly cheeses and nutritional yeast for creamy sauces. Mixing flax seed meal and water creates an egg substitute for baked desserts.
While I personally don’t often buy the meat substitutes sometimes it makes making a vegan meal easy. I used to make a chicken teriyaki dish that was loaded with veggies and served over rice. To make it vegan all I did was buy a chicken strips substitute and replace the chicken.
The protein is higher now with the vegan substitute than it was with actual chicken. It tastes fantastic and it’s a dish that I make at least once a week.
Being Vegan is Cheaper
Everyone always complains about how expensive a vegan diet is. I have to wonder if these people aren’t shopping correctly.
If you are purchasing loads of processed vegan food, yes it will be more expensive than your meat based diet. I found that if you only leave processed vegan food to one or two meals a week and eat fresh the rest of the week you are going to spend a lot less money.
Another massive trick to saving money on a vegan diet is to shop only what is in season. During the winter stick with your winter squashes for meals and winter fruits. During the summer eat loads of fresh greens and fruits.
By sticking to what’s in season you will get cheaper prices due to the over abundance of the product. If you are buying out of season you will end up paying more.
Nuts are the most expensive product on a vegan diet. Go to the bulk section of your store to get nuts when you need them. It’s always cheaper than the pre-packaged.
We personally don’t eat a lot of nuts in our home so this isn’t a large expense for us.
Will I Stick To It?
Yes, for the most part. I’m not going to say I won’t have a slip up here or there. When I visit other countries and travel I probably will have moments where I will eat an animal product. I will try not to and still do my best to avoid animal products but I might slip.
There is one thing that my husband and I have agreed to cheat on our Vegan diet with, and that’s sushi. We both really love sushi and California rolls don’t always cut it. From time to time we might decide that sushi is in order, though it’s already been a year since we last had sushi.
Overall, because of how easy a vegan diet is we just don’t think we will ever go back. The health benefits, the energy, the flavors, and everything just really makes this diet one that we really enjoy.
21 Days Of Veganism
On any other diet by week three I would have probably cheated and given up. This time I don’t feel like I need to cheat or give up. I feel like I need to find a way to make vegan versions of more of my favorite comfort foods.
This diet has been fun and eye opening. I’ve already started losing weight even though I feel like I am eating more. I’m starting to do yoga again and workout which is a great feeling.
I am motivated to show a huge change in my body so that those closest to me can see the changes for themselves and hopefully decide they want to make the change too.
The biggest lesson from all of this for me is learning to thrive is so much more than just mental health, self care hobbies, and time management skills. To really thrive you need to take care of your physical health too. The vegan diet really helps me to feel like I am thriving physically as well.
Are you thinking about or are you on a vegan diet? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Instagram to see the changes and meals that I am making.
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