Whether it’s a diet, a dance class, or a DIY project, it’s helpful to have some idea of what to expect when you’re about to try something new. If you’re thinking about going vegan, take a moment to educate yourself on the potential pluses and minuses of the lifestyle so that you’re going in with eyes wide open.

Does Veganism = Weight Loss?

Many people find that cutting out animal products translates to looser clothing, but veganism isn’t a magic trick for weight loss. Plant-based foods are less energy-dense than meat and dairy, so if you’re eating produce, whole grains, and legumes, you may indeed lose some weight. On the other hand, if you’re overdoing the carbs or filling up on mostly high-calorie, high-sugar vegan foods (Duncan Hines frosting and Oreos, we’re lookin’ at you), you may actually see the pounds start to pack on. Like with any other diet, it’s about calories in vs. calories out when it comes to numbers on the scale.

Side Effects of Veganism

Assuming that you aren’t eating sugary, processed foods all day, research shows that a varied, healthy vegan diet can play a significant role in improving overall health. Check out some of these noteworthy side effects:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower risk of diabetes/heart disease
  • Better digestion
  • Lower inflammation
  • Better sleep
  • Clearer skin
  • Longer life span

Side effects of veganism extend beyond our own bodies and to the environment, with plant-based diets shown to contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions, water wastage, deforestation, and climate change, all of which are repercussions of large-scale meat production.

Veganism isn’t all rosy if you aren’t careful about what and how you’re eating. Adverse side effects can include the following:

  • Deficiencies in nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B12
  • Sudden hunger pangs and intense cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive discomfort (yup, it’s a pro and a con)

Many of these go away over time, particularly if you’re eating a well-balanced vegan diet and getting enough calories, but it’s important to monitor your symptoms and see a doctor if some don’t seem to go away.

The Takeaway

Being vegan, ultimately, is as beneficial or as harmful to your health as you make it. Maintain a balanced diet and listen to your body, and you’ll experience more of positive side effects than negative ones.

Ready to give veganism a try? Cozy up to it with these vegan versions of your favorite comfort foods.