9 Surprising Things I Learned After Going Vegan for One Year

It has been seventeen months since I started my vegan journey. I decided to look back and share those aspects which impacted my life during one year of being vegan. I learned a lot and I wanted to share with you some of the surprising things I learned after Going Vegan for one year.

How it started

My husband and I wanted to challenge ourselves to go vegan for one year (Vegan diet focused). Our plan was to go back to “normal” after that. But things didn’t go according to plan……..Instead, we learnt so many new things which had a huge impact on our lives.

Here are nine surprising things I learned after going Vegan for a year

1. Losing weight without paying attention to calories or quantity (if you stick to real food and not processed junk)

Did you know that by going vegan you can shed those extra pounds without even exercising? You can eat as much as you want, whenever you want and still lose weight. Isn’t that great?

8 surprising things i learned after going vegan for a year
Losing weight without much of an effort.

I wanted a shed a few pounds of weight but it wasn’t my primary goal. I found out that I was wrong for wanting an immediate weight loss result. I simply needed to give my body time to go through the cleansing and detox process first and be patient with myself.

I began to focus on eating healthy food such as pulses, vegetables and fruits. I didn’t go to the gym. I was occasionally going for a walk, taking stairs (whenever possible) and 2 -3 times per week doing yoga at home (20 – 30 minutes per session) which involved stretching and toning my body. And within 4 months I started to see the desired result. I lost weight effortlessly by simply being patient and staying focused on eating good food but without restricting the amounts. How many olives in my salad? as many as I’d like. How much dark chocolate? Until I didn’t want any more.

Hard-core vegans would argue that focusing on health means it’s not vegan but I would argue back cutting back or eliminating long-term medication is important for veganism too.

2. Massive health improvement

8 surprising things i learned after going vegan for a year
Healthy and happy.

Within 3 weeks of eliminating animal and dairy products, my husband and I both started to notice that we no longer lost our hair (with a few exceptions when we travelled). And that is not only it. We noticed countless benefits and were very excited to see the changes our bodies were going through.

I’m outlining some majors:

  • Improving nail strength
  • No more night sweats.
  • Our senses improved,
    • We can smell things from far away.
    • Some things smelled different after a while.
      • Fresh Milk, instead of smelling sweet, reminded me of the smell of farms. – Very offputting which helped because we needed to keep away from it.
  • No more hayfever tablets
    • This was the biggest surprise of all. My husband was dependent on hayfever medication since I’ve known him. It’s like having permanent flu that’s suppressed using antihistamines.
      He went from twice a day to every other day and then once a week, to: “I can’t remember the last time I took them”. I think this is entirely to do with not having dairy more than anything else.

3. How unsupportive parents can be

8 surprising things i learned after going vegan for a year

We told our parents that we are not going to eat any food containing animal products they simply thought we are going mad. Most of all, they thought that we become vegan because it’s “fashionable” and trendy, it is temporarily and soon after, we will be going back to eating “normal” food. When they were having meat and dairy dishes, they will always look at us with pity and feel sorry that we are missing out on “delicious” food. There were also lots of cultural aspects that we had to deal with. Eating certain meats is a part of cultural identity – e.g. certain food at Christmas or other days whether you are religious or not.

Based on my experience, I have learnt not to try to convince parents that vegan food is healthy and better for them and every other being. Try not to prove your point which could only provoke an argument. You could simply say “I’ am experimenting with a new diet avoiding all animal products for a period of time and I want to see what effect it will have on my body” and lead by example.

The truth is, that my husband and I decided to go vegan for one year mainly to improve our health. One year passed by and we felt so much better in many ways. And after seeing so many benefits to our health there is no way of going back. We are vegan for life! Also, we were only supposed to be Plant-based, but the way we viewed animals changed quite a bit and we avoided purchasing and consuming anything that required animals as ingredients or animal testing.

Instead of proving your point lead by example, be the role model, and inspire them with your dedication and commitment to whatever you are trying to achieve. Let them discover veganism through your benefits and the impact it has on you.

4. Never have cravings for meat and dairy

8 surprising things i learned after going vegan for a year
Delicious meat-free food

Once the decision for adopting a vegan lifestyle was made, we did it straight away without transitioning. Some people may argue that you need to do it slowly and gradually but the gradual process has never worked for us for anything. I am one of those people when comes to a decision, make the decision, commit to it and do it all at once.

The first two weeks were challenging of not being able to have the usual “bad” food, especially cheese. But soon after, all the cravings went away. After one month on a vegan diet, the cravings never came back. Furthermore, whenever I smell cooked meat on the street it makes me feel nauseous rather than appetising.

5. Can stay for longer without feeling hungry and there is more self-control

I am writing this while on a 36-hour train journey and neither of us had anything than water for the last 23 hours. We were not going to be the type that removes meat from a meat dish to eat or pray for the animal and eat anyway. If there was nothing available, we just didn’t eat. Our bodies surprisingly adapted to the new requirements quickly. No suitable food to eat? No problem, that’s what our stored energy reserves (body fat) are there for.

6. Vegan doesn’t mean healthy 

8 surprising things i learned after going vegan for a year

The majority of vegans are vegan for the animals and they don’t care about what food they eat and if it is healthy or not. The bottom line is to protect animals and do whatever possible to ensure that they don’t end up on a dinner plate.
I learnt that vegans eat a lot of junk food, processed food, substitutes for meat, substitutes for dairy which are high calories food and some food with a high amount of oil and sugar.

Coke (the drink and the other kind) and chips are vegan but will kill you eventually if you consume just that.
Try to eat more wholefood products such as beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits and you can’t go wrong. I watched many videos on health and nutrition topics by Dr M. Greger, Dr N Barnard, Dr J Mcdougal and Dr C. Campbell all of them promoting the importance of whole food plant-based diet.

All medicine is tested on animals. Being healthy means, less medicine is needed. Less transport, fewer ingredients etc. Being vegan also doesn’t mean we need to give in to corporate greed by purchasing every “Plant-based” junk product that they push on us.

Don’t go from one corporate trap to another

Buy locally grown seasonal plants and support the local economy which also reduces the need for processing food and mass transport from 1000s of miles.

What about the claims about almond milk?

Almond milk is the worst nut milk for the environment. HOWEVER: ALL of the non-dairy milks are much better for the environment than cow’s milk – sciencefocus.com

7. How ignorant people can be of veganism

You don’t eat fish? No honey as well? Won’t you die without protein? Do you get sick often?

I had so many people asking these questions: “Can you eat fish?” Not even eggs? What’s wrong with eggs? It occurred to me that people are either ignorant or genuinely don’t know what comes from animals. I’ve told to my parents that I don’t eat any meat or any living creature that has a face and eyes etc. They still managed to ask me if I’d eat seafood.

You have to expect this sort of ignorance when you become vegan. It might seem shocking at first but then you will get used to dealing with these sorts of questions.

Nutrition 4101121 1920 1
I heart you are vegan, so i made fish – because you don’t eat meat.

8. Diverse and delicious vegan / plant-based food can be

What to eat? What vegan food I can cook? I had no idea where to start but I knew that decision was made and there is no way of going back.

Chickpea beetroot and spinach humus dips with fres fh7dmvu
Clean eating, whole food plant-based food

I started to read countless blogs and watched YouTubers making vegan food. Found out a substitute for meat, Seiten and what nutritional yeast is used for. After all, I only once bought Seiten when I was in London and nutritional yeast when I was in Malaysia. I didn’t feel the need for having these products as essential cooking ingredients. To have it as a one-off or when it is absolutely necessary is one thing but making it a part of your eating habit isn’t healthy. After all, all the substitutes for meat and dairy are loaded with calories, oil, and hydrogenated fats which are detrimental to your health.

I love experimenting with all the recipes that come to my mind on a try-and-error basis whilst travelling and what was available based on the country, I am in.

The possibilities of creating healthy vegan/plant-based food are countless. Anywhere in the world, you can always find countless varieties of pulses, grains, tubers, spices, vegetables and fruits. Your imagination about preparing healthy dishes can go wild. That said, having not adopted a plant-based diet I would have never experienced so much fun with food that can be so delicious and insanely healthy.

9 – Hardcore vegans are unsupportive

There is a lot of gate-keeping. “Oh, that’s plant-based”. “Veganism isn’t a diet”. “You need to be an activist or you are not vegan”.

Vegan means you actively do your best to avoid

  • Animals
    • e.g. chicken, cow, fish, shellfish, pork and other animal meat
  • What animals produce
    • e.g. milk, eggs, honey, fish oil
  • Made from animal products
    • Butter, Cheese
  • By products
    • e.g. guano, egg shells, feathers, wool, beeswax, leather
  • Animal-derived
    • Whey protein powder, Lactic acid, Gelatin, Tallow
  • Tested on animals

All the activism is optional and we’ll leave this up to you – Different people react to different methods. We personally were put off by veganism due to activism – We just didn’t want to hear what activists had to say simply because we didn’t like their behaviour. On the other hand the earliest we considered veganism was when we were offered vegan tacos by a very friendly Air-BnB host in Spain. Ultimately it was the fact that vegans were generally healthy that really pushed us to learn what it was all about. It took us one week to go from being on a 100% plant-based diet to be 100% Vegan.

I’m making a few updates to this article such as new links, it has been over four and a half years since we became vegan and we will never go back to “normal”.

Read my other useful articles

Plant Based Knowledge

Why Vegans Fart and How to Deal with It?

The Importance of Vitamin D And How to Get It

Here are the 9 best vegan foods that are high in calcium

Veganism and B12

Veganism Vs. Plant-Based – What’s The Difference?

Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet





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About the Author

<a href="https://strongwithplants.com/author/inga/" target="_self">Inga K</a>

Inga K

Inga became vegan in March 2018. After a series of documentaries that hit hard, she and her husband switched to a plant-based diet within a week and vegan soon after. Inga has a UK Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Diet and Nutrition.


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Strongwithplants.com is a blog for anyone who strives for a healthy and happy life. We share 100% plant-based (and often healthy and oil-free) recipes and give you the best tips on finding vegan local food whilst travelling and living a plant-based lifestyle focusing on good health and spiritual wellbeing.

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