How to Survive the First Week of a Vegan Diet

It's World Vegan Month! For all those that are taking the challenge to go vegan read on to discover how to make it easier and more enjoyable for you.

The first week of switching to a vegan diet can be like going on a detox. You get withdrawals, you may feel irritable, have mental fatigue, and be moody.

Get past that first week and things will get a lot easier.

Here's what you need to do, not only to survive your first week but to have a good time doing it:

Eat more:
The main reason people give up on a diet in the first week is because they didn't eat enough calories and as a result are constantly hungry.

Calories are our bodies fuel, if we don't get enough we become tired, weak and grumpy. Imagine you didn't fill up the fuel in your car, your car wouldn't perform well and would eventually cease to work.

Not getting enough calories also changes your brain chemistry so that your appetite and food cravings are increased. No wonder binge eating is so common after calorie restricting diets. Your whole body is working against you, making it hard to keep going.
What's the remedy? Well the obvious one is just to eat more, but there is a bit of an art to it. Firstly, eat when you are hungry and eat as much as you want until you feel satisfied. Secondly, make sure to include foods that are higher in protein, fiber and good fats because they will keep you fuller for longer (e.g. beans, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, avocados, and nuts).

If you're worried about gaining weight by eating more you should know that gaining weight (from fat) on a vegan diet that is even relatively healthy is very difficult. Plant foods are filling (have high volume) and generally low in calories.

Don't try to be perfect:
Being vegan long term is a lifetime commitment. Trying to be perfect often leads to feelings of anxiety, obsession, stress and restriction which then culminates in you ditching the diet altogether.

It's especially important when you start a vegan diet that you don't have the mindset that it's "all or nothing" because you'll then begin thinking "well I slipped up this week I may as well give it up". No. If you slip up, briefly acknowledge that you did, then turn your focus to all the things you did right.

Aim to eliminate the main non-vegan foods (meat, dairy, eggs) and don't worry about the more subtle foods that use animal products like honey or some wines. That stuff can be addressed later on in your vegan journey, if you want to that is.

If you have a sweet tooth here are some delicious and simple vegan alternatives to the processed sweets you are used to:

Look forward to eating:
You want to be able to think of your next meal and get a little excited. Make sure you are eating things that are hearty and full of flavour.

If you are not a great cook then gather a list of a few simple and easy vegan recipes from the net to guide you.

Alternatively you can order take out. Yep it's pretty easy to get vegan meals from regular restaurants. For more advice on this topic check out this article:

Schedule non-food related Social get-togethers:
In the first week you will probably still be craving the familiar animal foods that you loved, so it is important that you not add any temptations. Replace you meeting with friends for lunch or dinner with attending an event or going for a walk.

Initially your friends may feel like they have lost something in common with you but ask them for support and if they care for you, they will understand. Plus, this is only temporary, once you get past the cravings stage you'll easily be able to go out to almost any restaurant or cafe.

Strengthen your motivation:
Will power is just a matter of having enough of the right motivation. To get this motivation discover how much a vegan impacts the world.

It's not just about preventing animal cruelty, it's also about increasing your quality of life by being healthier, about reducing your carbon footprint and about being able to feed starving people with the grain currently fed to livestock. See the benefits you will have as a vegan in this popular infographic

Adopting the strategies above should make your first week a breeze, or at least a lot easier.

Views: 4314

Comment by Judith Green Hershel on November 17, 2013 at 1:42am

Meat was not difficult; fish was a little tougher, but I'm good now.

I'm making a little progress in veganism - I rarely drink milk (that was a toughie) but cheese is harder.

The vegan cheeses (talk about an oxymoron) are nasty and sodium-laden.

And whipping cream!  How am I to top my beautiful chocolate and crystalized ginger pie?

Any thoughts, guys?

Comment by Lexy Roller on November 17, 2013 at 5:29am

Oh I have the perfect video for you :) it's about cheese cravings.

I literally just got back from a Vegan food market in Brooklyn and tasted the best Vegan Cheese I've ever had. It's aged raw nut "cheese" by a company called Treeline (

Shows that Vegan cheeses are getting better and better. So there is hope.

Like you know, Veganism is a process, it can take as long as you like. Using what I call the Vegan Add-On Technique like you're doing is the best way to go vegan (i.e. adding things to your diet like plant milks, rather than focusing on eliminating things). Good on you :)

Comment by Zombie Bunny on November 18, 2013 at 1:41am
I really like this post it's exactly what I would tell a newbie. When I first became vegetarian I felt great then a week into it I got sick but I stuck with it and after 2 weeks of my body detoxing I felt 100 times better.
Comment by Judith Green Hershel on November 19, 2013 at 2:21am

Thanks, Lexy.  Next question: is there an egg substitute which would be suitable as a leavening agent?  Also, I have been using fat free half and half for years.  Is there a substitute which doesn't contain all kinds of junk?

Comment by Lexy Roller on November 19, 2013 at 3:33am

Hi Judith, Making things rise is not really my specialty but some things you could try are Baking Soda which is the common one, Chia seeds with water (1tbsp seeds with 1/3cup water and let sit for 15 mins). Chia seeds swell. Or 2tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with 3tbsp water.

With the milk, the simplest way to get a milk substitute that doesn't have any junk is to make almond milk in a blender. I'm lazy so I just put almonds and water in the blender and drink that, but ideally you want to soak the almonds overnight, blend and strain the pulp. And this way you get way more nutrients and it's not toxic to your body at all.

Hope this helps :)



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