Vegan food is nutritious and the vast majority of people who take part in Veganuary say that they feel better as a result of going without animal products. Even within the first few weeks, they report that they have more energy, have lost weight and sleep better. Many also say they have improved digestion, sleep, skin, hair and nails. For most people, switching to a vegan diet feels great in the short-term but crucially it also protects them from an array of diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes in the long-term.
If someone becomes ill when they switch to a vegan diet, then one of two things are happening: either they have caught a bug or developed a condition and would have become ill anyway, or they are eating all the wrong foods.
It’s entirely possible to be a junk food vegan these days, as there are so many convenience foods out there, but if you fail to eat good, wholesome, nutritious foods, you are likely to feel under the weather, and that is true whatever your diet. If a person chooses to live off biscuits and crisps, you can’t really blame their deficiencies on veganism. It’s their food choices that are the problem. Conversely, if they eat a balanced diet – and we aim to provide as much helpful information as possible in our Nutrition section – then they are very unlikely to become ill as a result.
All the nutrients you need can be found on a vegan diet so if you find you are falling short of, say, enough iron, then make sure you include plenty of wholegrains, beans, peas, nut butters and green leafy vegetables in your diet. And we should realise that it takes a little time for a good diet to undo the damage of a poor one. Online nutrition trackers can be useful in giving you a rough idea about whether you are consistently failing to get enough of a particular nutrient. If this is the case, you’ll need to adjust your diet to account for it, but the good news is that this can all be done on a vegan diet, and there is no need to go back to the animal products that can cause so much sickness in the long run.
It may take a little time to adapt and get into the groove of a vegan diet, and you may notice some changes to your body in that time. But if you start to experience unpleasant symptoms don’t make assumptions about the cause. Instead see a doctor for advice.