Obviously, it depends on how much you used to eat before giving it up, but for the first 10 days of going meatless, you may still feel hungry after your main meal. This is because psychologically you’re accustomed to eating meat and a small side of vegetables at most meals. Some vegan diets may be lower in fat and protein, and the unsatisfied feeling may be related to that, too.
Although, for Rachel Ama, vegan recipe creator and author of One Pot: Three Ways, she felt a lot lighter and more energised within 10 days of making the decision to go vegan. “After meals I felt full, but never heavy and sluggish, which I realised I used to feel after eating meat. I really hadn’t noticed that happened until I went plant-based.”
Your taste buds will also change, as zinc, found in oysters, beef and crab, helps to boost tastebuds. Fortified cereals, yoghurt, cashews and oatmeal are some of the vegetarian-friendly foods that can help up your zinc intake.
What will also improve is your gut health. The dietary fibre in vegetables, fruits and wholegrains help your body maintain a healthy intestinal microbiome by contributing to the growth of “friendly” bacteria. When you first start adding more plant-based foods to your diet, you may feel like you’re going to the loo more than usual. But if you’re going once a day, you’re actually becoming more regular.
“One reason why it can be difficult to keep up a healthy habit at the beginning is because positive changes are unlikely to be noticeable for a few weeks,” says James Collier, registered nutritionist, co-founder and head of sustainable nutrition at leading nutritionally complete food brand, Huel (uk.huel.com). “Don’t let this get you down. If you’re on the right track, making small changes will lead to bigger results over time. Patience combined with determination will get you a long way.”
You may notice some weight loss; studies show that people who stick with a vegetarian diet consume less fatty food, and are thinner than people who eat meat.
Ten days is too soon to know, but there’s evidence that the world’s longest-living people are found in plant-based diet communities.