I decided to try the vegan diet for 1 month for one main reason.
As you might know, I have been experiencing problems with all of my hormones (thyroid, cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen, progesterone). A lot of these hormonal imbalances are then causing issues with my menstrual cycle, energy, weight, puffy face, acne, etc.
My main goal was to try and find out if the vegan diet could help me improve all of these symptoms and balance out my hormones!
I know there are a lot of benefits for animals and our planet by eating vegan so that is also a huge bonus! But it really wasn’t the main factor for me.
So I’ll tell you about all of the changes I experienced (good and bad), and also tell you what I have actually been eating as a new vegan. This is what happened when I went vegan for a month!
CHANGES I EXPERIENCED
In the first week, my diet was a bit all over the place as I was still finding out how to eat vegan properly. I was under eating fruit and veg and feeling hungry so filling up with high fat foods like nuts, which is a common mistake for new vegans.
Towards the end of the week I started feeling really tired so I decreased fats and increased my portion sizes and added quinoa and rice to some meals. It didn’t make much difference to how tired I felt.
I was super tired at the start of the week. It started getting better towards the end of the week though.
Another bad side effect was that I started feeling constantly bloated! It was so bad it looked like I was 3 months pregnant and it just wouldn’t go away! I realized the bloating was worse when I ate lentils so I cut them out and after a few days it started to improve. By the end of the second week, most bloating had gone.
I actually enjoy vegetables a lot more now! I have been eating lots of roast vegetables every day (red peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, pumpkin, potato, beetroot) and they are sooo tasty.
I’ve heard of people saying that their taste buds change when they turn vegan and I thought that sounded like a whole lot of BS. But I think that could be what happened to me.I’ve never loved vegetables like this before! But it could be that I am just getting better at cooking haha.
All of the bloating has completely gone. I’m not feeling really tired like I was at the start of the week. Overall my energy actually seems to be improving now, which is great!
I’ve always had a lot of trouble getting out of bed in the morning due to my low cortisol levels but it’s getting easier and easier.
Also, I’ve started going to the toilet twice per day now. Sorry if that’s too much information!
My skin seems to be clearing up! It’s not perfect but I’d say at least a 50% improvement. It’s also usually a lot worse around my menstrual cycle. I’m approaching my menstrual cycle (I think) and my skin hasn’t been breaking out like it usually does.
Also, I usually get extra hungry and have bad chocolate cravings around my cycle and haven’t been having those either!
Last month (before I tried the vegan diet) my period finally got to a 32 day cycle after being all over the place. But this month with a vegan diet, I am on day 34 with no period yet. So not sure what is happening there. But my cycle hasn’t been regular since coming off the contraceptive pill 1 year ago so I’m sure it is still figuring itself out!
Overall, I have lost no weight. However, I do feel like I have been eating more than normal. So I’m not complaining! Also, I haven’t really been perfect with my eating.
I still eat typical junk food like chocolate and sometimes I had cheese (if at a restaurant). I will always try to choose vegan food at a restaurant but sometimes it’s really when travelling. I didn’t eat any meat but did eat a little bit of dairy.
Also, I know that vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy as sugar is still vegan. You can definitely be an unhealthy vegan. So I’m always mindful of this!
SUMMARY OF CHANGES
- Very tired and bloated for the first 2 weeks.
- No change in weight.
- Improved energy and ability to get out of bed – hoping this means my cortisol and adrenal function is improving. Ideally I would need to get tests done to be 100% sure but I’m just going by my symptoms.
- My face is less puffy – a puffy face is common in people with thyroid problems and my face has been puffier than normal for a couple of years now. But it actually seems to be going down! :) Again, I would need to get testing done to find if my thyroid function has actually improved.
- Menstrual cycle is still not regular. It’s actually later than it was the previous month.
- No bloating and cravings have almost completely gone.
- Acne has cleared up by about 50%!
- I like vegetables much more now.
I am really happy with the changes I’ve experienced so far, and I’m going to continue with the vegan diet so far.
I’ve also done a lot of research over the past month regarding the impact that animal meat and fat has on your health, and I think I will find it very difficult going back to eating animal protein after what I have learned.
WHAT DID I ACTUALLY EAT AS A VEGAN?
In the first week, I did find it a little hard to get into a good eating routine. But I think I’ve perfected it. It’s actually quite easy for me now. The only challenge is finding vegan food at restaurants.
Also, just want to mention that I’m not eating gluten at the moment, because it’s recommended to avoid gluten if you have thyroid issues.
This is what I typically eat in a day:
- Breakfast = overnight oats with almond milk, 1/2 scoop vegan choc protein, sunflower seed butter, sultanas
- Lunch = roast vegetables (whatever I can find, but usually potato, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, aubergine, red peppers, mushrooms and carrot).
- Snacks = protein smoothie with 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen berries, 1 scoop vegan protein with greens, almond milk, chia seeds, and sometimes cucumber or pumpkin seeds. I’ll also have about 1/4 cup raw cashews at some stage throughout the day.
- Dinner = some type of vegetable based meal, usually with quinoa or rice. I was adding lentils and beans at the start but they made me bloated. I will introduce them back in slowly. My favourite meals so far are satay veggie rice, roast vegetable quinoa salad, eggplant moussaka, cauliflower pizza, cauliflower curry and broccoli soup.
I find it easier if I eat similar foods every day so I will usually stick to this (when I am at home). The only thing that really changes are the vegetables that I use and the meal I make for dinner.
CALORIES, MACROS AND NUTRIENTS
I am not counting calories, but I just wanted to check that I was eating the right amount of calories and getting all the proper nutrients.
I put all of my food into the app myfitnesspal to check. I am eating about 1400 calories (I’m not really exercising at the moment so that’s why it’s a bit lower than normal). And my macros are:
- 44% carbs (143g)
- 33% fat (45g)
- 22% protein (66g)
I’m happy with these macros and the level of protein. I am also eating 27g of fibre (the minimum is about 22g for females), so that’s great! Not many people eat the recommended 22g of fibre.
According to myfitnesspal, I’m also exceeding the iron intake by almost double. I know a lot of people worry that you don’t get enough iron on a vegan diet, and I was also concerned about this. But looks like I am getting enough, which I’m really happy about :)
I will do another update after my second month of following the vegan diet if I continue to notice changes. Fingers crossed my hormones continue to improve!
I would love to hear from anyone else who has tried or is considering trying the vegan diet?! It’s still such a new world to me xx
3 STEPS TO LEAN LEGS PROGRAM NOW ALSO HAS A VEGAN MEAL PLAN
I should also mention that my 3 Steps to Lean Legs program now also has a Vegan Meal Plan! Sooo many of you guys have asked me about eating vegan while doing my program so I wanted to give you a complete vegan nutrition plan :)
I’ve worked really hard on this meal plan and I really hope you guys are going to like it! :)
I love this blog. I stared literally 4 days ago. Eating protein, fruits and veggies. I am also finding myself super tired. I am making meals and not eating just basic beans, rice and veggies. Wondering if this is just my body getting used to the new diet. Have you stuck with it?
Yay, that’s awesome news! :) Everyone gets results at different rates, but it usually takes 4-8 weeks (consistency is key). Rachael was only vegan for a short period of time, but she still enjoys vegan meals.
If you feel too tired, you could try adding a little more complex carbs and fiber (fruit, whole grains, legumes) to your diet.
I got some info from a Dr Childs when I was researching about thyroid problems and came across this part about legumes and thought I would share with you because you mentioned you had bloating with lentils. Lentils are legumes.
It went something like this:
“Legumes have a combination of naturally occurring substances such as goitrogens and
lectins which can potentially cause problems for your thyroid.
Proper preparation and handling of these foods can limit your exposure to these
plant-based chemicals, but not everyone tolerates them the same (even after the correct preparation).
Due to the fact that so many people simply don’t tolerate them, and due to the fact that
these chemicals can potentially cause problems to your gut health, it is probably best to
avoid legumes and beans at least initially.
Re-introducing them at a later date will work well for some individuals, but you should
not use them if you notice abdominal pain/gas/bloating afterward.”
Hope that helps x
Thanks a lot for sharing this valuable information! :)
It’s always best to soak grains and legumes overnight and change the water while they’re cooking, so most of the phytates can be eliminated. You can also add a moderate amount of vitamin C (e.g. lemon juice) that can neutralize these irritating compounds. It’s said that foods that contain goitrogens should be eaten in moderation unless they cause a serious discomfort.
Loved this post – great to read about your experience so far! I emailed you quite a while ago, asking for suggestions to amend your 7 day slim down meal to suit a vegan lifestyle… now that you’ve experienced veganism for yourself, will you be creating a new veganised version of the plan?
Yes, there will be a full vegan meal plan out very soon. You will be notified about it! :) xx
I have just bought your lean legs program and I would like to know with what food I can replace meat in your Recipe Ebook ? By the way I am a mesomorph
I have emailed you a list of vegetarian and vegan substitutes to help you modify the meal plan :) xx
Could you also send this list to me? I am hoping to start Monday, and I know I will need to do some substituting!
Of course, you were sent the list of substitutes as well. I wish you best of luck!! :) xx
Hi Rachael, I was put on birth control when I was 16 because I had premenstrual dysphoric disorder – crazy acne, intolerable mood swings, bleeding like a stuck pig… all of it. I decided it was time to come off birth control just around 30 years old, and it took me a solid two years before I got a period that was even remotely regular. The doctors scanned me for PCOS and endometriosis and came up with nothing. I tried a progesterone “challenge” once to see if they could just artificially produce a cycle, and the first time, it didn’t work! I just wasn’t producing enough hormones to make anything happen!
I think my diet and lifestyle had a lot to do with it – I was doing too much cardio and not eating enough, especially carbohydrates. Making regular smoothies was one of the first big things that made a huge difference in my energy levels and well-being. I tried maca early on and found it did nothing; now that I’m much farther along in my journey, I added it back in and find that it does seem to help, but it’s very subtle and does more for stress-management, which in turn affects my hormones, more than being an in-my-face cure-all that a lot of people promote it as.
Anything that causes a particular amount of stress affects my hormones a lot, including stressing about my hormones, so I’ve made a point of loving the food I eat, getting my life organized, and doing more of what I love. I convinced myself to stop worrying about my hormones, take care of myself, and let my body figure itself out. I don’t eat vegan. I tried it once – I felt so unsatisfied for so long that I gained weight. I tried a point-system diet and found myself substituting carbohydrate points for protein points because I felt like I was starving. I tried Paleo and never pooped. Sometimes I gravitate toward pescetarian, and then one day I’ll eat chicken or beef and my whole body will sing with happiness. I eat dairy, not frequently because it does make me break out, but yes I will have full-fat yogurt and real freaking full-fat ice cream – but that’s the only dairy I eat, and not even weekly. I prefer the texture of vegan protein powders. I started making my own nut milk (I think you covered it in a blog as well) and I found that made a positive influence, as well as eating activated dehydrated nuts or using the leftover dehydrated nut pulp in my salads. It’s the only really crunchy thing I’ve adopted regularly. A few months ago I felt my body make a shift from preferring fruit to preferring starch as a carbohydrate source, and I’m not even sure why, so I tend to put oats in my smoothies instead of bananas. Weird, right? I try not to obsess – I think of it as an observation and try to adjust my daily diet accordingly.
Apologies for this long and rambling post. I feel for you, especially the frustration I can read in the second half of your post, but I think the journey back to hormonal health is also long and rambling. I kept trying to find The One True Diet and really, once I opened up to eating everything, that’s when I noticed change. The best moment was when I decided to just let my body tell me what it needed after years of trying this diet, that diet, the other diet. I’m still not 100% better, but I’m way better than I was three years ago, even if sometimes I still want to eat an entire rotisserie chicken and divorce my husband over the cat litter box just because it’s that time of the month.
P.S. I am doing your Lean Legs E-book for ectomorphs. I think it’s really well balanced. I use those bags of dehydrated activated nut pulp from my hippie nut milk in those protein balls, and they’re pure happiness.
Hello I have been vegetarian since the age of 16 and Vegan for over the last 30 or so years. I am 61 years old. I agree there are very bad Vegan out there. It is all about balance and being inventive with fruit & vegetables. There are many
protein sources out there Tempe, Tofu etc.
I stay fit an active I am 171cms and weigh in at
Hi Maree, wow that is amazing! It sounds like you are in fantastic shape. You are definitely an inspiration to everyone :) xx
Why do you think vegans are usually (not always, i know) so lean? Shouldn’t all those carbs be keeping insulin levels high and therefore impairing fat loss?
I think the fact that you didn’t lose any weight during this month is enlightening, since you aren’t a case of someone coming from a SAD diet. It’s pretty obvious that someone who eats mostly crap will lose weight after one month of eating vegan, even if it’s just water weight from cutting back on sodium (we’re talking about a sort of healthy vegan, not an oreo+fries 24/7 vegan, of course).
Hi Maru, I think generally it’s because their bodies function on a whole much better. They eat more carbs but also take in a lot more nutrients and fibre which helps with lots of different things and metabolic processes within the body. I’m about 2+ months into the vegan diet now with no weight loss. You can be an unhealthy vegan (sugar is still vegan) but I generally eat very healthy. For me, I don’t think diet is the issue, it’s more to do with my hormones. So it will be interesting to see how the vegan diet affects my body when my hormones are back on track! xx
Thanks for this Rachael! I’d love to see your recipes for those dinner meals :) x
You’re welcome Tamika! I will post these in the coming weeks :D xx
Hi Rachael, I also went off the pill and didn’t have a menstrual cycle for a year. What finally helped move things along was including the superfood maca into my diet. It is great for balancing hormones and is an adaptogen (so need a break after a few weeks use).
I hope this helps you :)
Hi Kate! I have actually tried maca (and lots of other herbs) without much luck. But I think it is because ALL of my hormones are a bit messed up, not just estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. But thank you so much for your advice and taking the time to comment! xxx
Research herbal remedies. They are so easy to use and they ave super powerful even a form of a tea. Raspberry leaf tea help women to balance our hormones and it’s increadibly helpful with balancing our menstrual cycle (i know from research and my own experience). Melisa is another great herb for us. Helped me in a form of a tea as well with my heart problems within just two days when doctors said there is nothing they can do. Best of luck!
Hi Katia, thanks so much for the advice! I have tried SO many herbal remedies for my menstrual cycle, but they didn’t work. I haven’t tried the 2 you mentioned though so I might give them a go. Thanks! :) xx
I too went vegan too weeks ago following Dr Furman eat to live plan. I felt same symptoms tired week one..I think detoxing …very bloated first two weeks makes me miss eating protein only for fact beans so bloating but I work out so I need the protein so need to eat beans and quinoa etc….I’m going to stick with it for at least 30 days and now readin these posts may go longer wait out the bloating …thank you for this blog very informative !
Hi Ama, good for you! I think it would be a great idea to stick it out a bit longer until you get through the transition phase and then hopefully start to notice some great benefits! :) All the best xxx
Thanks for sharing! I go vegan for lent and fast 3 times a year. I can recommend my recent vegan favorites: organic tofu, green buckwheat for taboule, pickled beets, berries, frozen watermelons, fire-roasted kale, shishitos, triple filtered coconut oil for cooking, Ripple and Malk milk (yum!). I had similar problems after going off contraceptives: acne, long cycles, cravings. I switched to only organic coffee, soy, greens and berries, and started taking Gaia Herbs Women’s Balance/ Vitex berry. It works when I take it regularly: no pain/pms, no delays, less acne.
Hi Alyona, thanks for sharing your favorites! I’ve taken all the supplements you can imagine haha. I think I’ve just gotta let my body do it’s thing! I think the worst is out of the way though :) xx
Hi rachel!! Thanks for sharing your journey, im one week 2 of vegan diet, and ive been doing a lot of research. Are you going to take b12 vitamins supplement? If you are, any brand you recommend?
Hi Azul, you’re welcome. I am taking a B complex supplement at the moment. I bought it online from Vitacost and it’s just the Vitacost brand one. Good luck with your transition to the vegan diet! xx
I was excited to hear that you were going vegan for a month, since I started your lean legs program while being vegan (I’ve been vegan for 20+ years). I actually undertook the entire program as a vegan, simply adapting the recipes you have in your program to swap out animal protein for vegetable protein, such as seitan (wheat gluten based), soy, lentils, and beans. I have a WholeFoods in my city, which made it much easier to find delicious foods to swap in! I completely changed my body. At 5′ 7″ I went from 130 pounds to 120 pounds in the first eight weeks, then I restarted the program, am on week six, and lost another five pounds. (I’m also 42 years old and have three kids!). So, yeah, the program works—even for vegans! Thank you!
Oh WOW Courtney! I’m so proud of you and very happy to hear that. You are very inspiring. Ahh soo jealous, I LOVE WholeFoods and wish we had one here haha! You must have it perfected after being vegan for 20+ years. That might be me one day ;) Keep on doing what you’re doing babe! xx
Thank you for sharing! I hope you continue to see improvements and feel better. Can you please share how you make overnight oats and cauliflower pizza? Sounds so yummy!
Hi lovely, here is the recipe for the cauliflower pizza. Obviously just minus the cheese and meat! I use veggie toppings. Also for overnight oats I just soak 1/3-1/2 cup oats in water overnight and in the morning I add almond milk, and whatever toppings I want! I love sultanas, nut butter, and berries xx
Your post is really interesting! I’ve been vegan for two years now, and the effects you encounter at the beginning of the vegan diet are normal. You may feel bloated because of the fiber intake that is increasing and tiredness often appear when you switch your diet, since the body is not used to.
I also had a hormonal problem before going vegan, I hadn’t had my period for one year and a half, and when I started eating vegan it came back. It was still not regular for about 1 year, so yeah it takes some time haha!
Hope you liked that change and found it interesting! xx
Hi Chloe, yes I know it will take time with my menstrual cycle, but it’s taking aaages haha. Anyway, glad to hear vegan is working for you! xx
Hi Rachel, to
Improve your health even more be ruthless at cutting out dairy, eggs and all oil. Refer to Dr John McDougall and Dr Caldwell Esseltyn. No added protein powder is necessary or good either ( refer Dr T. Colin Campbell). There is a big difference between vegan and whole food plant based no oil ….. If you want to chat further please call or message. Kerrie Young
Thanks Kerrie! I have cut out dairy (mostly) and eggs. I am reading The Starch Solution by John McDougall :) I’m still quite new so I’m sure I will continue to make improvements as I go! xx
I love this post! I’m on week 2 of my vegan diet and I haven’t yet started to notice any changes but I’ve heard it does take a little while :) please could you share your satay veggie rice recipe? Also where did you get your protein powder from? I’ve got some from my protein but it tastes like grass :(
Hi Lauren, good for you! Everyone is different so you may not experience the same changes as me :) I am using Vega Sports protein with greens and Growing Naturals chocolate rice protein. I bought them both from Amazon. I find pea protein tastes really gross so I try to buy brown rice protein or a mixed vegan protein. The satay veggie rice is basically just onion, garlic, whatever veggies you like (I used mushrooms, carrot, broccoli, red peppers, cabbage), a tablespoon or 2 of soy sauce, around 1/2-1 cup peanut butter and then about 1-2 cups cooked rice. Good luck with your vegan journey! xx