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 on November 23, 2021
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
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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 leaner than omnivores. Instagram is crowded with vegan bodybuilders claiming you can get as massive by consuming nothing but plants.

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.

Article Vegan Challenge Picture

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

My diet diary

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 ☠️

Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Article Vegan Challenge Picture

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?


Expert's thoughts 🤔
Expert
Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

Raw veganism (raw fruitarianism in particular) can cause higher risks of dental erosions. The reason lies in the high acidity of natural fruits. If you want to add more fruits and berries to your diet but have poor tooth enamel, cook your fruits before consuming 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 3. My source of plant protein 🤤

I got up earlier than usual today to cook some full-course meals. After all, this experiment aimed to try veganism, not to mess my health up.

A moment for pride: I make the best stew in the world! The one with beans and all kinds of vegetables. I'd usually replace one type of legume with meat, but it should be fantastic with lentils and chickpeas anyways.

It turned out even better than I expected! A delicious meal that is well balanced in macros. It satiates my body, it satisfies my soul, and there are no words to describe it enough. Gonna cook it again tomorrow. I bet it's perfect for eating before a workout!

Day 4. Awkward side effects 💩

Good Lord! My body usually reacts to legumes fine. So why do I feel so bloated and, pardon me, gassy?! Poor, poor thing. And all those living beside me!

Obviously, the training wasn't easy at all. I couldn't run, as my belly was rumbling so hard it drowned down the gym's music. Approaching the weights seemed dangerous, as only the devil knew how my stomach would respond to lifting. Stretching was not fun as well. In the end, I spent an hour on a safe stationary bike. What a great workout! Damn.

Day 5. The lesser of two evils 🤢

Try asking vegans where they get their protein. Chances are you get "Tofu!" as a response. Vegans love tofu. Why? It has about 70 kcal and almost 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. A perfect product, for sure. There is just one little thing about it. It appears I can't stand it.

I hate the smell, the taste, the texture. Unfortunately, it looks like the lesser of two evils. Since I can't eat beans anymore, protein should come from somewhere.

It is so difficult to restrict yourself from the food you consider healthy! For example, what did eggs from the local farm do to vegans? Chickens don't suffer, the planet is not polluted, and the mouth is happy! Or a farm cottage cheese? A cottage cheese that would perfectly complement acidic berries or make the vegetable salad so much more satisfying!

Expert's thoughts 🤔
Expert
Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

Harsh restrictions almost always lead to binges. Severely restrictive diets create an uncontrollable desire for "prohibited" products, leading to disruptive eating and eating disorders. Before you start a strict diet, think about whether you will be able to sustain it for a lifetime.

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

Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Article Vegan Challenge Picture

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 7. Vegans are slim, they said 🙄️

Dear diary, we need to talk. Straight to the point, I've gained 2 pounds. I feel chubbier, and my face looks more round. I don't overeat and maintain my calorie level. How could that happen?


Expert's thoughts 🤔
Expert
Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

There might be two explanations for such weight fluctuations. First of all, carbs retain water. As you've increased your carbs intake during this week dramatically, this might be just water weight. Eventually, it flushes away, so no need to worry. Another explanation is that in volumes now, you're eating more. And if you haven't been to the lavatory yet, you know where this weight gain comes from.

Day 8. Eating out as a vegan 🍸

Article Vegan Challenge Picture

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!

Expert's thoughts 🤔
Expert
Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

Be careful with alcohol, as not all spirits are vegan. For example, wine producers often use non-vegan products in the manufacturing process. Animal products can be involved in squeezing grapes or during fermentation.

Day 9. Hangover food for vegans 🤕

Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Article Vegan Challenge Picture

(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 🤕

Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Article Vegan Challenge Picture

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.

Day 11. Family business 👪

My husband freaked out because of another veggie salad for dinner and went to our favorite steakhouse alone. It's okay for me; he can go wherever he wants. However, the situation has shown me how difficult being a vegan can be if your family doesn't support your choice. What if you're a new vegan but not the one who cooks for the family? Or, what if you are the one who cooks, but you also have to feed three children and a dog? What should you do then? Live in the kitchen?

I think being the only vegan in a large omnivore family might be pretty challenging. Luckily, I can always tell my hubby, "Eat what's in front of you or stay hungry!" Lots of love, honey.

Day 12. Positive changes start to show 😃

I haven't changed my skincare and washed my face with the same tap water. Yet somehow, my skin has become noticeably clearer. Yes, the skin is the first organ affected by nutrition, but I didn't expect changes to appear so rapidly! I think this is because I stopped eating dairy.

I read a study once saying that even those lactose tolerant can face adverse side effects of dairy consumption. Maybe I should opt for lactose-free dairy when the experiment's over?



Expert's thoughts 🤔
Expert
Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

Lactose-free products can be an option, but only for those with a skin reaction associated with lactose consumption. Milk protein itself is also an allergen for some people. In their case, lactose-free or regular cottage cheese, milk, or yogurt will have the same effects. Before ditching any of the food groups, make sure that you're allergic to them.

Day 13. It’s not only about food 👩🏻‍🌾

I knew that vegetarians and vegans were not the same. But did you know that vegans and people who eat only plant-based products are not the same either?! Turned out that I cannot be called vegan in the total sense of the word because I wear leather shoes and don't sort garbage.

Apparently, veganism is a lifestyle when people try to limit their influence on the planet in every possible way. And I just eat plants. Well, okay, it's not that I wanted to become a member of that elite, exclusive, selective club of "true vegans."

Day 14. The future of veganism? 🍔

I couldn't finish this experiment without trying two buzz brands, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger. They're 30 to 50% more expensive than an average ground beef burger but still affordable. They taste good and contain almost the same amount of calories and protein as natural meat patty.

These substitutes might be a helpful tool for meat-lovers who try to transit to a plant-based diet. They contain vitamins B12 and B6, the exact micronutrients that vegans are often deficient at. However, if a typical ground beef burger has three ingredients on average, their vegan alternatives have more than ten ingredients, including soy protein, potato protein, and gums. What's more, "mock" burgers contain almost 4 times of salt than their meaty original.

I'm not really sure if gorging into these alternatives is healthier than eating your average burger. There is not enough scientific data on the topic.

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.

Article Vegan Challenge Picture
Expert's thoughts 🤔
Expert
Ievgeniia Dobrynina, Dietitian

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.

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 g 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 health and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. However, veganism can also have some drawbacks. For instance, vegans are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. 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!