I’m sure you’ve heard the cautionary tales about the dangers of veganism. They sound something like this
“I tried to go vegan but I was always so hungry and felt tired all the time I couldn’t take it”
“I tried to go vegan but I started having too much digestive upset, I had to quite””
“I tried to go vegan but I started gaining weight, I thought I lose weight”
The short answer to all of these issues is nutrient deficiency. However the problem isn’t the vegan diet, it’s the choices new vegans often make when transitioning.
Let’s start with hunger and fatigue.
Many people associate this with a lack of protein because that’s an obvious easy assumption. However it’s not protein in animal products that give you energy and curb your appetite. It’s the fats. Most vegan protein sources are comparatively quite low in fat and few people realize that they can and should add a bit more olive or or an extra serving of guac to their meals. To combat this issue be sure to add some extra servings of the following healthy fats to your diet.
1) Olive, avocado or grapeseed oils
2) Nuts & Seeds
That’s right, we’ve got to talk about gas and bowel movements. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen new vegans concerned about digestive issues only to be told that “It’ll go away after a while”. Well that’s only true if you make the right adjustments. Yes most vegans will eventually do this naturally as they get accustomed to vegan cooking, however for most never get relief. This is often because they remain too dependent on heavily processed vegan products that mimic animal products. Regardless of dietary preferences this will cause digestive upset for anyone. The other issue is neglect to adjust fpr the significant increase in fiber through effective hydration. When you switch to a higher fiber diet it’s no longer an option to “get by” without drinking enough water. Your body will punish you for it. If you want to avoid vegan digestive issues be sure to stay hydrated and only depend on processed products when absolutely necessary.
But wait, aren’t all vegans skinny??
Many people believe going vegan is an easy way to drop weight fast. While there are many health benefits to the vegan diet (zero cholesterol and higher nutrient density and variety to name a few), they certainly aren’t automatic. The reason for this again ties back to the processed foods. Yes, early in your vegan journey you likely will need to, and should, use these products to fill gaps if your diet consists entirely of packaged vegan cheese, burgers, and frozen meals of course you’re going to gain weight. When transitioning to veganism and using those products, you should constantly be working toward cycling those foods out of your everyday routine by learning vegan cooking methods and recipes.
The truth is, while there are many health benefits to a vegan lifestyle they’re not automatic. Yes it’s wonderful that the world is opening up to veganism and there’s more convenient options out their but processed foods are still processed foods. If you want to make the transition to veganism the right way and feel good it’s important to be just as conscious of your choices as you would with any other transition to a healthy lifestyle. There are no shortcuts to health.