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Be About It

CPC's Blog About Health and Wellness

The Meat Hangover

Wednesday, 10 / 7 / 20

As someone who has eaten a plant-based diet for almost four years, I have heard many people tell me that they have tried to go vegan or vegetarian in the past but felt off after doing it for a little while. People will give it a go for a week or so but revert back to their meat-eating ways for a number of reasons. Changes are to be expected, however, when they aren’t smooth changes, some people think that their food choices aren’t working well, but it is oftentimes your body responding to the change in environment. Today I’m going to discuss what can be expected when you decide to transition away from animal products and towards a plant-based diet.

When it comes to taking meat out of your diet, some people have the idea that they will only see positive changes immediately following this choice. While those positive changes are definitely part of the deal, so is an adjustment period for your body. When you drink alcohol, you can expect an unpleasant morning the following day. How unpleasant that morning is all depends on how much alcohol you consumed the night before. The more alcohol, the worse the hangover. Most people understand that arrangement and still choose to drink, accepting that they may get hungover (I’m guilty of it myself). For this situation, however, we can look at animal products as the “alcohol” and at the period after quitting animal products as your “hangover.” The length and intensity of this hangover will be greater if you are a heavy meat consumer. The good news is that this hangover will come to an end and you will start to feel the benefits of a plant-based diet within a few weeks. It’s also important to keep in mind that not everyone will experience all or even any of these symptoms. Here are some symptoms of this hangover:

  • -Bathroom trips: with the addition of high-water content foods and lots of fiber, you can expect to spend more time on the toilet then you may be used to.
  • Gas: with those extra bathroom breaks, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that you’ll have some extra gas along the way.
  • Stomach pain/discomfort: your body is working hard to flush out toxins and adjust to the higher intake of fiber and other nutrients so some discomfort may be present, but this is normal
  • Sleeping issues: this can be expected with any diet changes but over time you can actually sleep better, so power through
  • Cravings for animal products: at this point, you’ve been eating meat for so long that your body still craves it. As your palate changes over time, these cravings will slow or stop and eventually may turn to a disgust for animal products (especially when you smell them being cooked).
  • Fatigue: this can be an issue if you don’t consume enough calories or the right micronutrients.
  • Headaches: these are also common with fatigue if you lack the appropriate amount of calories with a high nutrient density
  • Feeling emotionally drained: this tends to be from external factors more that what you’re eating. It is important to surround yourself with a supportive network and to keep your long term goals in mind!

Now that we got all of the negatives out of the way, I’d like to repeat that not everyone will go through the above symptoms. Everyone is different, with different diets, lifestyles, and digestive systems so your experience is your own. Also, don’t let these symptoms deter you from trying out a plant-based diet. As we’re about to discuss, there are many benefits to eating a plant-based diet. Here’s what you can expect in the long term when consuming a plant-based diet:

  • Energy: you can expect to have much higher levels of energy from eating such nutrient dense foods.
  • Focus: higher levels of concentration and greater attentiveness are common on this diet.
  • Athleticism: better athletic performance and higher stamina are to be expected.
  • Clearer skin: many factors that lead to acne are associated with consuming animal products so clearer skin is a plus!
  • Stronger hair and nail: your body may be receiving a higher dose of nutrients than ever before and it will make many aspects of your body improve.
  • Better body odor: smell good, feel good.
  • Higher libido: need I say more?
  • Weight loss: if you have excess body fat, weight loss is often a great motivator for staying on this diet.
  • Happiness: this is not a cure all for any mental health issues but knowing that you are doing good for your own health along with the health of the planet and the animals living on it has a positive effect on your well-being! Plus, all of those awesome nutrients help your brain to function properly.

These lists are just to give you a baseline idea of what to expect but since we are all different, everyone’s experience will be different. Now that you know what to expect from eating a plant-based diet, here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful:

  • Transition slowly: this is especially true for those who eat a lot of animal products. Start by replacing just one meal a day with a plant-based meal for a week. Do this each week and by the end of the month you’ll be fully plant-based!
  • Plan your meals: this is a big change for many people, so having a plan on what you’re going to eat will eliminate stress around meal times and allow you to enjoy your food.
  • Have a support system: some people will try to stop you from succeeding in this endeavor but it’s important to ignore those negative mindsets. Tell a friend or loved one what you are doing and have discussions with them about how you are feeling along the way. If you can convince someone to take this journey with you, even better!
  • Don’t get down on yourself: if you slip up and eat an animal product, don’t be harsh on yourself and give up on the whole process. Failure is a part of life and a mistake won’t throw off your whole plan. You got this!

Those are just a few to get you started. Just keep in mind that this is your own experience, so you are in control. Keep your goals in mind and you’ll do great!

By Brendan Logan
Continuum Performance Team