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BlogChallengesI Have Tried a 14-Day Vegan Diet for Weight Loss. Here Is What Happened

I Have Tried a 14-Day Vegan Diet for Weight Loss. Here Is What Happened

14 mins read
Mariia Roza
Written by Mariia Roza
Mariia Roza

Written by Mariia Roza

Mariia Roza is a weight loss and fitness writer at Unimeal. She is an expert in nutrition, wellness, longevity, and sports.

on April 13, 2022
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Dr. Olena Avdiievska is a nutritional and medical expert at Unimeal. She is an MD and RDN in Dietology and nutrition and a university professor with 76 scientific publications. 

Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.

Among various reasons favoring veganism, the ethical component outstands. However, there are many other compelling arguments for the diet. Statistics show vegans are healthier and leaner1W. J. Craig (2009, May). Health Effects of Vegan Diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N than omnivores. Instagram is crowded with vegan bodybuilders claiming you can get as massive by consuming nothing but plants.

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Not gonna lie; I define myself as a reasonable, sane adult. That's why I know exactly: you can't have your cake and eat it. Along with all the good stuff, there should be some disadvantages to a vegan diet. So does veganism have pitfalls that are not idly talked about?

I have tons of questions! For example, do vegans feel better than the rest of us? Is it easy to lose weight as a vegan? Is it hard to be a vegan in the modern world? And most importantly: could I be a vegan? Trying to get these questions answered, I've committed to a 14-day experiment. I've been attempting to settle if beliefs about veganism are true, namely those concerning losing weight and building muscle.

To keep this experiment objective, here is some data incoming. I'm 5'4, 134 lb, work out 2-3 times a week, and have no health problems. Let's see if these 14 days can change anything.

Jumping ahead, was this experiment easy? Nope. Am I happy with the results? Hell yeah!

Rules

  • NO MEAT
  • NO DAIRY (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc)
  • NO EGGS

Day 0. How much?

I am pretty lucky! Mid-summer seems like the best time to switch to a plant-based diet. Moreover, I have a market nearby, with local farmers selling fruits, vegetables, and legumes of all kinds. I bought 20 pounds of pretty everything they've had. It cost me a small fortune.

But that was only the beginning! I still had to pay a visit to the local supermarket! And yes, I've spent even more there.

Vegetable milk and yogurts are 3-4 times more expensive than dairy products in my area. Falafel is 2 times more than chicken breast. Beyond Burger is 3-5 times more comparing to a regular beef patty. Long story short, all of my purchases cost me 20% more than I'd usually spend on food. Superfoods and supplements are not included.

Day 1. The cruelty of fruits 

Do you know the problem with fresh berries and fruits? They spoil quickly. I usually buy frozen stuff, but the colorful market beat the temptation of impulse buying yesterday.

Since I don't like throwing food away (costly one especially), I declare this day the day of raw fruitarianism!

Later that day. It went so, so wrong. Feels like someone's rubbed my teeth with a nail file. They are so sore I can neither drink nor eat. I don't know when I'll be able to look at peaches and raspberries without fear. Damn, is there a way to brush my teeth without touching them?

Day 2. Full but hungry

A busy day; couldn't cook anything sound. Usually, if a situation occurs, I make a bowl of salad. Just cut some vegetables, add tuna, a couple of boiled eggs, some feta, and voila! A delicious, balanced, hearty lunch (or dinner). But let me remind you: fish, eggs, and cheese are no longer welcomed in this house. That's precisely why, instead of a perfect lunch, I'm staring at a huge bowl of chopped vegetables drenched in olive oil. Nice.

Later that day. Well, I can see why vegans are so slender now. I'm top off with greens, but somehow still hungry! My huge bowl of salad had only 400 calories (mostly from olive oil) and no protein.

I'll have nuts for dinner. They're calorie-dense and won't take much space in the stomach. Check-mate, animal protein! Devote more time to cooking tomorrow.

Day 6. Oh, so that’s how you eat as a vegan!

I think I owe an explanation to cereals, starchy vegetables, and pasta for not being my primary source of calories. The thing is, I've been following a high-protein diet for almost five years now. Not a low-carb one, moderate. I just find this macros ratio delicious, satisfying, and comfortable. That's why I haven't eaten cereals, flour, or pasta for a very long time. Therefore, to buy them was just... bizarre.

Turns out if you eat porridges and cereals, you can stay full and bloat no more! However, that brilliant discovery doesn't belong to me. I learned it thanks to a vegan friend. She invited me for dinner, where I expected some wild stuff: a beetroot steak, a spirulina smoothie, or goji berries. Shockingly, all I've got was vegan noodles with tomato sauce. What a delicious disappointment!

Day 8. Eating out as a vegan

I once had a pal who always liked to remind any party hosts he's vegan, and there should be some vegan food for him. When one of my friends suggested he cook for himself and stop annoying the others, he somehow got offended, and our paths parted.

I used to mock the guy, but here I am, wearing his shoes, asking a friend to choose a vegan-friendly restaurant for our dinner.

It's not that easy to stick to veganism when eating out. Truth be told, the percentage of people who consider themselves vegan is relatively low. In 2016, there were only 0.5% vegans, and now, according to some sources, it's about 6%. Probably, that's not enough for fast food chains or cafes to change their omnivore-focused menus. For instance, the Greek restaurant my friend chose definitely wasn't about to turn their recipes vegan.

The most disturbing thing was my friend has chosen this restaurant specially for me! She thought Greek cuisine is full of plant-based recipes, like dolma, spanakopita, or tzatziki. But all these dishes are vegetarian, not vegan. That means cheese, butter, or eggs.

Well, that was okay; I can live without authentic dishes. At least the bar menu is suitable for vegans!

Day 9. Hangover food for vegans

(These are vegan seitan sausages on the right. An excellent protein source, btw.)

It's not that I'm a heavy drinker, but I know what helps me out after a long night. A meaty, fatty, spicy soup. Unfortunately, as I barely walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I still have an experiment to complete. No soup it is.

With a heavy heart and an even heavier head, I began to rummage through kitchen shelves. And have found an unexpected! Turns out some instant noodles and miso soups don't contain animal products! God bless you, Asian comfort food producers!

Day 10. Working out as a vegan

Today is just a good, satiating, and delicious day. I had a fortified cereal with coconut milk for breakfast, portobello stuffed with seitan for lunch, and hummus with beetroot for dinner—a perfect day in terms of calories and macros balance.

Today's workout surprised me, too, as I made more reps with heavier weights! I'm sure that this sudden energy burst is due to more complex carbohydrates in my diet.

The bottom line

It wasn't easy. I'm glad it's over. Without a passionate desire to save the planet, veganism is just a very restrictive diet, and I don't see any point in it.

When people say that going vegan is a step towards better health, ask them what diet we compare veganism to. If we're talking about a typical American diet, then, of course, the transition to more thoughtful veganism will affect health positively. But what if a person already eats a balanced diet?

In this case, veganism will simply limit the list of products one can eat and force them to take vitamins and other supplements, which will become necessary after a couple of months of dieting.

Anyways, now I'm ready to answer the questions that I asked myself at the beginning!

Does veganism help you lose weight?

Rather yes than no. Of course, you can eat chips, sweets, salted nuts, and even vegan burgers and gain weight. But, if you opt for balanced meals, it will be harder to do so. The thing is, most vegan products are low in calories. So, you can eat a massive bowl of vegetable salad, fill your stomach, and stay within your recommended calorie intake.

In two weeks of the experiment, I lost 2 pounds. However, truth be told, I would get the same result if I followed a standard low-calorie diet. And in that case, I would feel less hungry and deprived of foods I love.

Does veganism help you lose weight?

Rather yes than no. Of course, you can eat chips, sweets, salted nuts, and even vegan burgers and gain weight. But, if you opt for balanced meals, it will be harder to do so. The thing is, most vegan products are low in calories. So, you can eat a massive bowl of vegetable salad, fill your stomach, and stay within your recommended calorie intake.

In two weeks of the experiment, I lost 2 pounds. However, truth be told, I would get the same result if I followed a standard low-calorie diet. And in that case, I would feel less hungry and deprived of foods I love.

Expert's thoughts

To be in normal weight and have good health indicators as a vegan, you have to pay a lot of attention to your diet, calculating macros, and making sure you get all the micronutrients. When you tell that most vegan foods are low-calorie, this is not completely true. What you often can see are vegans overeating with high-calorie products like hummus, nuts, peanut butter, sweets, and bread just to stay satiated. What’s more, as these products lack protein, they don’t saturate vegans for a long time, which makes them overeating and gaining weight.

Keeping your diet well-balanced as a vegan is a real challenge and it takes a lot of time, effort, and skills!

Talking about the experiment, you should understand that two weeks are not that big time period. In a month, your body is more depleted of necessary micronutrients and you might start having massive hunger urges and the desire to gorge on high-calorie foods like sweets, nuts, or bread.

- Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

Are vegans weaker than people who eat animal products?

Probably not. The high carbohydrate content of the diet provides a burst of “quick” energy. On the other hand, if your goal is to build muscle, you must carefully plan your diet to get 1.4-2 g4R. Jäger, C. M. Kerksick, B. I. Campbell, et al. (2017, June 20). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. DOI:10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8 of protein per one kilo of your body weight. This is the amount of protein you need daily to maintain or increase your muscle mass.

Is it hard to be a vegan in the modern world?

Of course, there are some limitations. For example, there are not many balanced and satisfying snacks in vendor machines. Also, the assortment of vegan food in cafes and restaurants lacks variety.

Another huge disadvantage of veganism is that you should read your packages very carefully, as even the most innocent foods can contain animal products. What's the way out? Eat whole foods and limit the amount of pre-packed meals.

In some areas, it's also more challenging to find vegan products in supermarkets. I bet being a vegan in Texas is not easy at all!

Are vegans healthier than omnivores?

According to statistics, yes. Vegans have better cardiovascular health5H. Kim, L. E. Caulfield, V. Garcia‐Larsen, et al. (2019). Plant‐Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All‐Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle‐Aged Adults. Journal of the American Heart Association. DOI:10.1161/JAHA.119.012865 and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes6M. McMacken, S. Shah (2017, May). A Plant-Based Diet for the Prevention and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology. DOI:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.009. However, veganism can also have some drawbacks. For instance, vegans are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety7U. Dobersek, G. Wy, J. Adkins, et al. (2020, April 20). Meat and Mental Health: a Systematic Review of Meat Abstention and Depression, Anxiety, and Related Phenomena Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. DOI:10.1080/10408398.2020.1741505. This might be partially due to vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies. Vegans may also lack omega 3 and 6, as well as some other nutrients.

Generally, to see the possible long-term adverse health effects of veganism, google "Why I stopped being vegan," and the abundance of results will surprise you.

Will I continue my veganism?

No. I agree with the basic arguments of vegetarianism, where the consumption of meat is reduced, but I consider it unnecessary to abandon eggs, dairy products, and honey.

In general, although veganism itself did not impress me, I liked the format of the experiment! This is an excellent way to understand what difficulties people face on different diets and get a reasoned opinion about a particular nutritional system. I will surely continue my experiments!

Maybe I'll even try keto the next time!

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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W. J. Craig (2009, May). Health Effects of Vegan Diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N
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R. Jäger, C. M. Kerksick, B. I. Campbell, et al. (2017, June 20). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. DOI:10.1186/s12970-017-0177-8
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6.
M. McMacken, S. Shah (2017, May). A Plant-Based Diet for the Prevention and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology. DOI:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.009
7.
U. Dobersek, G. Wy, J. Adkins, et al. (2020, April 20). Meat and Mental Health: a Systematic Review of Meat Abstention and Depression, Anxiety, and Related Phenomena Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. DOI:10.1080/10408398.2020.1741505