Although you may be going vegan for various reasons such as the environment or animal welfare, there is also the added benefit to your health. Once you make the switch from eating meat and milk to a plant-based diet, you will start feeling and seeing changes. In this blog, I go into the details of what you can expect.
After one week of eating vegan, you may need more bathroom breaks
As you will be swapping out meat for high fibre plant protein sources, you will eat more fibre over the day improving frequency and ease of bowel movements. You may also notice an increase in gas and bloating but do not worry as this will go away with time as you and your gut microbiota adjust to your new high fibre diet.
After one month of eating vegan, expect your health levels to improve
At four weeks, research on humans has shown that your blood cholesterol levels will lower because a vegan diet contains zero cholesterol, is low in saturated fats, and has lots of sticky fibres which bind and remove cholesterol.
Your body’s inflammation will go down. A common way we can assess systemic inflammation is by measuring levels of highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) in the blood. Scientists have found that when individuals are placed on a vegan diet hs-CRP levels drop significantly. The reason why vegan diets reduce inflammation is less understood, however there are researchers at Cleveland Clinic who have discovered that Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), derived from compounds found in meat, fish, and eggs, is pro-inflammatory, and high levels of TMAO increase your risk of having a major cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.
After three months of eating vegan, you may have lost some weight
Your waistline will shrink – in 2015, a study by Dr Neal Barnard found that within the first few months on a vegan diet, volunteers lost an average of 10 pounds. We lose weight when we consume fewer calories throughout the day. When you’re eating a healthy vegan diet, you will feel fuller from a smaller meal because plant foods contain more fibre which helps you resist the temptation to indulge in your late-night snacks.
What happens to your body after eating vegan for years?
By adopting a vegan diet, you lower your risk of developing many of the leading chronic diseases. Studies have shown that plant-based eaters have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and some cancers.
As a disclaimer, not all vegan diets are created equal. What you replace the meat, eggs, and dairy with will make all the difference to the sort of health benefits you will see. I always like to point out that coca cola and french fries are vegan, but that does not make them healthy. For guidance check out my previous blog on the best/healthiest vegan foods to eat every day.
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Meaghan has a Master’s degree in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Guelph. She currently works with researchers at the University of Toronto exploring the health benefits of plant-based diets. She believes that a healthier diet is also a kinder, more sustainable one.