Looking back at quite some years on a fully plant-based diet I wish I had knew a few things before. This would not have changed my mind at all, but when just starting out these tips would have been helpful. I started in a time when veganism was not popular and actually a bit weird. So I had to learn along the way. Whether you are just starting out on a vegan diet or are a long-time vegan already, I hope this personal article might help you out in any way. So here we go: 5 things no one tells you about going vegan.
The bloated belly
We hardly talk about the bloated belly and the gas when going vegan, right? Most of what you see when you scroll through vegan accounts on social media are the colorful smoothie bowls and girls in crop tops with their slim tummies…. That’s not real life. A vegan diet often comes with bloating. I speak for myself and kuddos to you if you can rock this diet with an all time flat belly. The bloating is not uncomfortable, but noticeable. I wondered in the beginnning if this would be forever. I quickly found out though that bloating in the beginning is a normal issue, especially if your diet used to be low in fiber. You can read more about fibers and bloating here. Drinking enough water helped me for sure. It may also help to take baby steps and work your way up in your fiber intake. Don’t go heavy on fibers immediately if you can’t adjust. If you are already a long time vegan and still struggle with this, it helps to listen to your body. If you want to eat a certain fruit such as an apple and your body doesn’t respond well, replace it with a different fruit and don’t continue just because all vegans eat apples all day long.
What I noticed is that switching in a vegan diet from a low fiber vegan diet (such as vegan cheese, white bread and so on) to a more nutrient dense high fiber vegan diet (such as beans, fruits and veggies) can also cause bloating and digestive issues. If I switch in my vegan diet too much from food low in fibers to food high in fibers, the bloated belly is back again.
Calories are still calories
Do you remember the days when there were just a few online influencers actively promoting a vegan lifestyle and throwing in dozens of bananas in a blender like there’s no tomorrow? The more bananas your blender could handle, the better. Although I lost weight on a vegan diet, I know I can easily gain it again if I don’t follow a healthy whole food plant-based diet and rely on vegan junk food or excessive amounts of food. Calories are still calories. Maybe you can eat 20 bananas a day and keep your athletic figure, but you’re probably burning off those calories with some sort of activity then.
Luckily I’ve never made those insane 20+ banana and date smoothies, even when I tried the banana island diet for a few days (although 9 bananas in a smoothie is a lot!). No matter what people will say, no diet permits you to eat a crazy amount of calories and not gain weight if you don’t burn off those calories. Of course there is a difference in 300 calories from an avocado and 300 calories from a chocolate bar, but overall if you constantly eat more calories than you burn off and need, you can gain weight.
There is also good news. On a whole food plant-based diet I can fit way more food on my plate than when eating a vegan junk food diet or any other diet low in fruits veggies, beans, legumes, grains and so on. So I’m more easily satisfied with what I eat although I’m eating more food, less calories and a meal higher in nutrients. This books explains this principle very well.
It’s easier than I thought
A whole food plant-based diet is really not as complicated as I thought in the beginning. It’s really easier than you think. I was always overprepared and constantly had snacks with me wherever I would go. I was also a bit overwhelmed by the rise of superfoods and added way too many dried products to my smoothies. I realized after some time that the more simple my diet is and the more whole food plant-based my meals were, the better I felt and the less stress it caused. It’s also cheaper that way. Eating food right from its source is healthier than when it’s proccssed. I don’t need to travel with 4 raw energy bars ever time I leave the house. I can get a vegan snack everywhere such as bananas, dates and nuts. It’s as complicated as you make it. If you enjoy making your own cookies and energy bars (like I do from time to time) that’s fine, but you don’t have to in order to be a ”perfect vegan”. Traveling is also way easier than I thought. I never had problems being vegan while traveling even with little preparations. Again, you can prepare as much as you wish. Sometime I love to prepare a lot, sometimes I just leave the house and see what my travel will bring me.
People will judge
I didn’t realize food could be such a sensitive topic. It’s as sensitive as politics, religion and sexuality. I wish I knew that before and did not bother to share my knowledge with people who are not open to what I belief. My diet is my business and your diet is not my business. As much as I don’t like it when people judge me, I never share my opinion unless they ask me for my advice. The things I have heard in the past are quite remarkable. I was told vegans can’t have a social life, most have an eating problem, are deficient in nutrients, and look down on others… When I hear or read those comments today it honestly doesn’t affect me anymore, but I wish I knew years ago that people will judge me.
Can you guess? Let me tell you first what is not the biggest downside of a vegan diet. I’m not missing out on anything, I get all my nutrients, I travel, eat out, have no issues with my hubby (who decided himself to turn vegan, without me asking or pushing) and I also don’t miss specific dishes since everything can be found or made in a vegan version nowadays. The biggest downside of a vegan diet though is the endless cutting, cleaning, and cooking. My food is more bulky than maybe an average diet, so it involves more work. I like big portions, I eat a lot and that takes time to prepare. Is it all worth it? YES!