The Alarming Thing I Learned After Going Vegan for a Week

First of all, I’ve never been totally into the vegan movement. I own a pair of leather boots, eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and trust that eggs and Greek yogurt help my health. As someone who’s constantly hitting the gym and quite health-conscious, I didn’t actually think going vegan for seven days would have much of an effect. If anything, I thought I’d try this experiment and ditch it when the pizza cravings kicked in.

The thing is, I was wrong. In just seven days, I noticed a ton of changes, both physically and mentally, after foregoing animal products altogether. And I plan on continuing this diet for the foreseeable future.

For starters, my digestion improved

Woman holds her belly during stomachache

Switching up to a vegan diet can improve digestion problems. | Champja/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Ah, digestion — everyone’s favorite topic. If you eat a carb-heavy diet loaded with dairy and meat, your digestive system will probably cry for help. I was eating what I considered to be a healthy diet, but thanks to over 10 years of antibiotic usage as a child, I’m used to living with stomach distress.

The key to a healthy gut is fiber. When you go totally plant-based (no, I didn’t eat a ton of processed vegan junk food during the week) you take in way more fiber than you’re probably used to. And this is really a good thing.

The texture of my skin changed

Woman inspects her skin in a mirror

An increased diet of fruits and vegetables will brighten your skin. | lenanet/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Some people are blessed with beautiful, glowing skin. I’m not one of those folks. Everyone in my family has experienced some type of skin issue — from cystic acne to eczema to psoriasis — so the odds of inheriting a perfect complexion have never been in my favor. I hoped going vegan for a week would assist me with my dry, dull skin texture, and it actually did. All those fruits and veggies made me appear more nourished.

Here’s something else to consider: If you’ve been plagued with acne your entire life and you’re eating animal products, you might be sensitive to vitamin B12, Live Science reports. Vegans generally don’t get enough B12, which isn’t really the solution, as it’s important for neurological health. But research suggests a possible link between the skin condition and the vitamin.

I felt stronger during my workouts

Woman in a plank position

Improve your workouts with a plant-based diet. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus

There’s nothing worse than standing in the gym parking lot thinking about how much you don’t want to enter. Before my week of veganism, I completed my workout despite how tired or weak I was feeling. But toward the end of my animal product-less week, both my cardio and weight-lifting abilities improved. One of the trainers in my fitness class even asked, “Did you get stronger overnight?”

And it’s not just me who feels stronger, faster, and more athletic on a vegan diet. Men’s Fitness says olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris sticks to a plant-based lifestyle, and he’s fitter than ever.

I was more satisfied after eating

A colorful and delicious vegan sandwich

Vegan cuisine is colorful, delicious and incredibly filling. | OksanaKiian/iStock / Getty Images Plus

After I exercise, I usually feel like I can eat everything in my pantry. And if it’s something carb-heavy with cheese on it, I can eat a lot of it without feeling super satisfied after the meal. During my vegan week, however, I noticed I was staying fuller for longer after my meals. This is because I was eating a lot more produce than before. It’s a good thing I love vegetables, because I was going through bags of frozen broccoli faster than Aldi could stock them.

So, why do I feel fuller after a produce-heavy meal than after five slices of pizza? Healthline explains filling foods tend to be high in protein, high in fiber, and low in calories for their weight. Consider that the next time you’re super hungry.

The most alarming thing: How tired I was before going vegan

Woman waking up tired after a night of sleep

A vegan diet can increase energy. | AnaAdo/iStock/Getty Images Plus

It’s no secret most of us are pretty tired. We live in the 21st century — we have a thousand places to be, a million things to do, and not enough coffee to help us get through it. I thought I was just your average millennial, running on the treadmill and performing my daily duties half-awake like the rest of America. I didn’t realize animal products may be contributing to my exhaustion.

The first couple days of my vegan experiment, I didn’t notice my energy levels increasing. But by the end of the week, I discovered I didn’t even need coffee to fuel my workouts or get me through the workday. And it only took one alarm, instead of five, to wake me up in the morning. It was a modern-day miracle.

I was way more focused

A delicious vegan blueberry smoothie

Put down the sugary, creamy coffees | baibaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When I was eating animal products, I expected to finish a certain number of projects while working. By the end of my vegan experiment week, however, I was finishing more projects than ever before, and I was taking on new assignments and responsibilities. In other aspects of my life, I felt a creative spark, too. Having more focus and more energy allowed me to get a lot more finished in both my professional and personal life.

If you’re the type to reach for another cup of coffee or a sugar boost to get you through your midday slump, I encourage you to try incorporating avocado and berries into your breakfast. Men’s Fitness notes these foods can help you stay focused all day long, and they’re personal staples of mine.

Want to give it a try? How to get started

Woman shopping for organic vegetables

Aspiring vegans should slowly add more vegetables to their diets. | William87/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Maybe you’re a diehard meat and dairy fan, and that’s OK — you don’t have to shock your body with a vegan lifestyle to get the benefits of eating more plants. EatingWell suggests making veggies the stars of your meals (even if that means adding a splash of cream or some cheese), and start incorporating more nuts, seeds, and beans to replace animal proteins.

You might feel limited at first without meat, but once you learn how to get creative with the ingredients you have, it’s pretty limitless. You can even make vegan pancakes and pulled pork.

Here’s one thing to keep in mind: Don’t chow down on vegan junk food. Yes, Oreos are technically made without animal products, but they won’t help you feel better. Fill up on the good stuff before you delve into the world of vegan snacks.