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How to Deal With Some Detox Symptoms When You Go Vegan


Making the choice to switch to a plant-based diet (or better yet, a plant-based diet emphasizing whole foods) is one of the best health choices anyone can make, or even aspire to transition into. Just the concept of eating more plants in place of animals is a remarkable way to enhance your longevity, optimize your taste buds to crave healthier foods, balance your mood and hormones, and increase your chances at preventing disease with every single bite. Or, maybe you’ve made the choice to do so for your budget, the environment, and the animals that a plant-based diet benefits. Whatever the case, know that you’ve made the right choice and are likely to experience more health benefits than you ever imagined such as cancer prevention, blood sugar benefits, digestion improvements, and even a more energetic and happier mood thanks to all the nutrient-dense properties a plant-based diet has.

Even The Best Choices for Our Health Come With Challenges

But let’s be honest — not everything is rainbows and sunshine when you make the switch, even if you’re completely stoked about the diet and are witnessing several health benefits. Many people who transition into a plant-based diet go through a detox period. Not your typical detox diet where you skip out on meals or just drink juice all week, detoxing from animal-based products is a real issue that you need to be aware of. It can include headaches, digestion changes, and even feelings of sadness as you learn to let go of old traditions surrounding meals with meat, dairy, eggs or poultry and get used to the concept of eating different foods than you might be used to.

Many people assume these are signs their body doesn’t deal with a plant-based diet well, but this is always true. Detox is a real issue that most people go through; it can last a week, a month, and for some people it can occur off and on every few months for a couple days as the body continues to clean itself out from old toxins, hormones, mercury, pesticides, bacteria, and other harmful things found in most all animal-based foods.

How to Deal With Detox Emotions


Many people don’t realize how much they’re emotionally tied to certain foods. For instance, if one of your most favorite memories is sitting down and enjoy chicken or beef burgers at the table with your parents as a kid, or having a plate of mom or grandma’s bacon and eggs on Saturday mornings makes you just smile with warmth and good emotions, the idea of not eating these dishes anymore can be a little depressing. But realize that you’re not attached to the food; you’re attached to the memory around the food that enhances the strength of that emotion.

Physiologically speaking, your body’s hormones also change when you quit eating animal products and many people’s bodies are more sensitive than others. As hormones change and stabilize, realize that emotional changes are normal. One unique thing to point out is that a plant-based diet can be very mind-clearing due to the way it sweeps out excess hormones from animal-based foods in the body. As it does this, the body can go through almost a shock emotionally and physically. If you are experiencing emotional changes, know that it’s completely normal, and don’t be afraid. See some tips for transitioning away from your favorite traditional meals, and explore How Your Food Choices Affect Your Hormones to learn more about the physiological changes that happen when you quit eating animal proteins.

How to Deal With Bodily Changes


As your body cleanses itself from many sources of harmful animal protein stored in your cells, keep in mind that your liver, digestive system, kidneys, and lymph system are in major “cleaning house” mode. Be aware of this and know that because they’re sweeping all that out without you eating any more of those foods to slow the detox down, you’ll likely be a little (or a lot) more tired than usual, may experienced increased bathroom time (which is a good thing!), and may even have headaches. It feels a little like the flu and can be exhausting in the beginning if your diet was especially toxic before. These are all signs your body is cleaning itself; be patient and wait things out, they do get better!

Be sure you eat a very clean diet with very little processed foods during this time if possible. This will better allow your body to do its job so you can feel your best much more quickly. Remember, the cleaner the food you give your body, the better it can use food to detoxify and supply you with nutrients for fuel. Greens, fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds and their milks and butters, complex carbs from gluten-free grains and root vegetables, beans, legumes, along with healthy fats like olives, coconut, nuts, and avocado are all great choices. Be sure you take in adequate protein from seeds, greens, many grains, and keep in mind that all greens and vegetables have protein too. See some digestion troubleshooting tips here if you have some especially uncomfortable issues going on.

How to Deal With Skin Changes

foods high in vitamin C

As your body cleans house, it may expel some of those toxins from your organs and cells through your skin. This is normal, but not always fun to deal with when you’re showing up for a big meeting or presentation at work or going on an important date! However, keep in mind this is usually short-lived and typically goes away in a week so long as you’re not eating a food you’re allergic to (such as gluten, soy, nuts which are many of the most common).

Eat a variety of foods high in vitamin C which will clear your skin and speed up detoxification even further. Vitamin C rich foods include broccoli, citrus fruits, berries, spinach, kale, apples, pineapple, papaya, sweet potatoes, and peppers. Also be sure to eat foods rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A), which clears the skin and promotes a healthy glow; it also supports your immune system which will help you during the transition. Vitamin A rich foods include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, carrots, spinach, kale, turnip and collard greens, Swiss chard, spirulina, and goji berries.

Lastly, don’t forget your healthy omega-3 fats; these fats promote healing to the skin and inner organs, reduce inflammation, stabilize your blood sugar (which will also benefit your skin), and they’re also great for the mind to improve emotional health. Omega-3 rich plant-based foods include walnuts, chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, and acai fruit. Be sure you also wash your skin with a natural cleanser and for those that use makeup, wash it with something free of chemicals such as coconut oil.

How to Deal With Transitioning Your Meals

 there are so many ways you can learn to replace animal-based proteins with plant-based foods

When it comes to changing up your meals, there are so many ways you can learn to replace animal-based proteins with plant-based foods. Open your mind to the concept of getting to choose between limitless amounts of produce, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, legumes, and fruits. Then come up with all types of combinations that best suit your needs and taste buds’ desires. Check out our FAQ section in our Plant-Based Nutrition Guide to see how to transition more easily; you’ll also get plenty of information you need about nutrients your body needs.

Always keep in mind that your body needs adequate sleep, with no less than eight hours a night. Your body detoxifies, heals, and repairs as you rest; let it do its job and you’ll also feel much better the next day. Be sure to maintain a regular exercise routine and try detoxifying activities like yoga and hot baths. Spend time in nature, with friends laughing and communicating (which most of us don’t do enough of), and have fun in the kitchen! All of these things keep our bodies healthy even though we often seem to forget about them.

Remember, detox is temporary, but a positive healthy change can be life-altering. 

Lead Image Source: Tips, Times, Admin/Flickr

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0 comments on “How to Deal With Some Detox Symptoms When You Go Vegan”

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1 Years Ago

I was wondering if it was unheard of to develop an itchy rash during detox once going vegan? I\'ve been vegetarian for many months and after watching Earthlings my husband, myself and our kids all became vegan overnight. I haven\'t eaten anything I haven\'t eaten before just dropped milk, eggs, etc.. We have been completely vegan for two weeks now and I\'m the only one experiencing this particular symptom.

1 Years Ago

Thank you so much for this! The information in this article has really helped me understand why i\'m feeling tired and weak, and I\'m very happy to know it\'s from detoxing, not from lack of animal protein! Lot\'s of great info here. Thank you!

09 Apr 2017

buy this brand specifically! It saved me from the major detox symptoms of feeling sick...........Gaia Olive Leaf capsules. You can get it online or at whole foods grocery. Its a life saver, I never even get the flu or a cold anymore. Whenever you feel like your nauseous or getting sick take 1 of these capsules, they are the strongest antibiotic in existence and nothing can become resistant to it. You can research it, I personally found out about it when pharmaceutical antibiotics the doctor gave me didnt work for me when I was sick. Ever since then I ALWAYS keep a bottle in stock, it carried over to helping me tremendously when I decided to go vegan and my body was cleaning itself out. When you expel old fecal matter from your body (which can only happen once you stop eating processed foods, gluten, meat/animal products and junk) old bacteria and viruses that were hiding out can resurface as well as just mass loads of trapped toxins which can cause you to feel nauseous and sick. If you take oilve leaf it destroys all that, be sure to drink plenty of fluids (never drink tap water) to help your body move the waste out. You will start feeling great once you realize your resetting and recreating your whole body inside and out and if you had any excess weight it just starts to shed off and the best thing is being vegan isnt a diet! So you never hungry or feel like your starving yourself or suffering because you can eat as much as you want. if you choose to eat clean AND go vegan (keyword "AND", so both! Just going vegan doesn\'t mean your eating healthy there are alot of processed vegan foods and all processed foods are bad!) your eating whole raw natural foods which are easily digested and super-concentrated with vitamins/minerals/nutrients which has you always feeling energized and satasfied. Also none of them cause the weight gain that animal products, processed foods and gluten foods do. (Gluten is inflammatory just like animal products to the body) Happy Detoxing!

09 Apr 2017

Also take your time and build your way up at your own pace not everyone can go from eating meat to eating completely clean and vegan. As you learn more and more you will naturally go towards that route, research is important I also suggest to create an account on instagram to see fellow vegans posts about foods, facts and nutrition.

3 Years Ago

There are substitutes for the traditional sources we rely on for our nutrients. http://killingthebreeze.com/this-is-food-for-thought-the-best-nutrient-dense-underdogs/

3 Years Ago

"Detox is a real issue that most people go through; it can last a week, a month, and for some people it can occur off and on every few months for a couple days as the body continues to clean itself out from old toxins, hormones, mercury, pesticides, bacteria..."

"As your body cleanses itself from many sources of harmful animal protein stored in your cells, keep in mind that your liver, digestive system, kidneys, and lymph system are in major “cleaning house” mode."

And it\'ll feel like the flu? This is BEYOND pseudoscience. If anyone experiences that it\'s because they\'re not getting a balanced diet when switching. Feel free to show me a (real, published, legitimate) study if you actually have a source for what you\'re claiming.

The human body runs best by far on plant foods, but it\'s an omnivore. You will not experience withdrawal from simply switching to kinder protein sources, people. It\'s easy to go veg so please ignore this article.

06 Jul 2017

Maybe you are not familiar with Candida Albicans and people that have systemic yeast from taking anti antibiotics and steroids. It really does not have anything to do with being Vegan. A large percentage of the population are experiencing over growths of Candida and do not know it. They are over weight and have insulin resistance or they are seeking a cure to their cancer, crones, MS, IBS, and gastrointestinal illness\'s or both. They have heard that a vegan diet can cure these illness\'s ( it can) and they start the diet. A few days into the diet the Candida ( that lives off sugar, starches, and meat that is turned into glucose ) starts to die. It floods into the liver, it gets into the lungs, and it sends the immune system into a frenzy. There are all kinds of symptoms in a typical Herxheimers\'s reaction, (named after the DR.) Plenty of water is needed preferably with lemon and rest. Sugar addiction, can come in all forms, even in reference to dairy. For those overweight the liver also has to process the fat that is being lost as well. This can be overwhelming to the body, especially to a previous under nourished body and it takes time. The cells of the body are addicted and send messages to the brain for the loss of the beloved addicted food. It takes will power and lots of rest and education to learn to reprogram the body of a typical American diet.

3 Years Ago

"Many people assume these are signs their body doesn’t deal with a plant-based diet well, but this is always true."

That\'s quite a claim. So if you feel bad on a plant based diet, its always because of the animal products you are no longer eating? You need to stop posting articles like this because you can really hurt someone. There are real issues with a plant based diet that many have encountered. Nutritional deficiencies are one of them.

Don\'t let your bias against animal products hurt others.

10 Apr 2015

Every single dietary association says vegetarianism and veganism are perfectly suitable at all ages. You cannot get nutritional deficiencies or "feel bad" from switching - you can only get those by eating a bad diet. People are built the same — you can\'t just have some people who "can\'t not live without meat." That\'s not how diet works for any animals.

Veronique Perrot
13 Apr 2015

This article is right on the mark. Yes, people assume they feel bad because a plant-based diet is not for them. It\'s absolutely untrue. They don\'t take into consideration lifetime of destructive habits and poisonous foods. So this statement is perfectly true.


Katrina Baptist
3 Years Ago

At the suggestion of my naturopath, I looked around for sugar handling protocols and found Diane’s 21 Day Sugar Detox program. After reading rave reviews, I gave it a try, and I LOVE IT. http://bit.ly/sugar-detox-21 After a week, my cravings for sugar were gone, I was no longer waking up at 4am starving, and I had a lot more energy – no more dragging myself through the day at the office with huge amounts of coffee


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