Vegan Detox: How To Nail Your Next Cleanse

assorted fruits and veggies

Going vegan is one of the best ways to detox your body. And while mainstream scientists don’t like that use of the term, that’s precisely what happens when you switch over to plant-based foods.

Why Vegan Diets Are Detoxifying

Medical detox is when a person abstains from all pharmaceutical substances, both legal and illegal. During this process, their body gets to work on ridding their system of chemicals that shouldn’t be there. Depending on the nature of the substance, detoxifying can take anywhere from a couple of days to six months. 

Something similar happens when you go on a plant-based vegan diet. The foods themselves don’t actively clean out your system (though some help). Rather, you avoid all of the foods that actively cause your body to become more toxic. 

As you might expect, meat, fish, and eggs are the biggest culprits. These tend to accumulate more heavy metals and “forever chemicals,” such as PCBs than plant foods. That’s because they are higher up the food chain, and these chemicals concentrate in their flesh as they grow. 

The good news is that when you switch to a vegan diet, these chemicals make their way out of your system. Because you’re not adding to them all the time, the body has a chance to process them and turn them over. 

What Are The Essential Components Of A Vegan Detox Diet

But what actually is a vegan detox diet?

Well, it certainly isn’t drinking green smoothies for a month. All that will do is make you feel hungry, tired, and cold.

In addition, it’s not just avoiding meat, dairy and eggs, either. It involves choosing whole foods that will actively support your health. 

Most people do vegan cleanses for 30 days or so. However, there is no reason why you couldn’t continue on a balanced vegan diet for the rest of your life. There are millions of long-term vegans who make it work for them. 

A first vegan detox sounds a little daunting. But the changes you need to make are minimal. In most cases, you can substitute beans for meat and soy milk for regular whole milk. Eggs are a little trickier, but tofu is still a good substitute. 

In general, center your diet around whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Add a few nuts and seeds on the sides to keep you full. 

Why Do A Vegan Detox? 

heart-shaped bowl of berries

Animal foods are high in dangerous, harmful chemicals, just like processed foods. Eaten together consistently over a long time period, they can cause significant damage to the body. Partly this has to do with the effect they have on your metabolism. But it also has to do with the toxic chemicals they contain. Over time, these bioaccumulate in your body and lead to dysfunction. 

Plant foods are usually ten times lower in toxic chemicals or more.

If you’re worried about going on a vegan diet long term, just try it for a few weeks and see how you feel. Most people feel so good (and enjoy the food so much) that they decide to stick with it long-term, just because of all the positive effects it has on their lives and bodies. 

If you’re struggling to start, do so in a way that feels familiar to you. Don’t just start eating tofu for the sake of it. For instance, you could have oatmeal and fruit in the morning made with soy milk, and then eat a bean burrito with salsa for lunch. These flavors probably won’t be dramatically different from what you’re used to. 

How Long Will It Take To Feel Good After Going Plant-Based

How long it takes to feel good after going on a vegan diet depends on three things: 

  1. The current toxicity levels in your body
  2. The quality of the food you eat
  3. Whether you eat sufficient calories

On the first point, people can vary significantly in terms of the level of toxicity in their bodies. Furthermore, the type of chemicals you have inside you determine how long they take to get out of your system. 

For instance, some heavy metals, like mercury, can clear out quite quickly. Within six months, you may have normal levels. 

Others, such as PCBs, can take significantly longer. It may take the body up to ten years to get rid of these compounds on a plant-based diet because there is no established biological mechanism for removing them. 

On the second point, the quality of the food you consume also matters a great deal. A diet of cola and French fries is, strictly speaking, vegan, but it probably won’t help you detox. Quite the reverse. 

Lastly, many people run into trouble on a vegan diet because they don’t consume enough calories. When you eat more wholefoods, you have to physically consume more, often until your stomach feels quite full. If you don’t, you’ll struggle with a lack of energy

What Happens When You Successfully Detox?

Most people don’t realize just what weight they are battling under until after they detox. Once they complete their vegan transformation, everything is different. They have more energy and feel happier at the same time. 

This transformation happens for many reasons. People start to lose weight, their metabolism improves, they become less insulin resistant, and they have better bowel movements. Importantly, all those toxic chemicals start leaving the system, improving how it functions. 

Do You Need To Eat Organic? 

You can go vegan without eating organic food. However, most professionals agree that organic is better, especially for detox. That’s because it doesn’t contain any herbicide or pesticide residues.

With that said, going on a conventional vegan diet eating regular produce will still generate substantial benefits. Organic foods are very much the cherry on top. 

Remember, once you transition to a vegan diet, you won’t feel great immediately. During the detox phase, some people can actually feel quite bad as their bodies purge all of the chemicals that aren’t helping them. Expect to feel crappy for up to twelve weeks before the positive benefits kick in. 

Last Updated on November 2, 2022

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