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Plant-based diet: What happens to your body when you stop eating meat?

Your body will experience a variety of short and long-term effects after eliminating meat from your diet.

During the month of January, known as Veganuary, many people have begun committing to an entirely plant-based diet.

What Is Plant-Based Diet?

Some people are motivated to follow these diets because of animal cruelty and the environmental effects of eating meat, but health is also an important factor.

Plant-based eating, once considered a fad, is quickly becoming a mainstay in American kitchens. This year’s Veganuary, a global challenge to go green with your hunger in the new year, attracted a record number of participants. While just about 2% of Americans consume a completely vegan diet all year, more of us are becoming more conscious of our meat, dairy, and seafood consumption.

According to Packaged Facts, nearly 40% of Americans identify as “flexitarian,” a diet that prioritizes plant-based foods while allowing for animal products in moderation. That figure rises to more than 50% among younger Americans between the ages of 24 and 39.

According to studies, up to 84 percent of vegans or vegetarians eventually return to eating meat. However, this reflected another trend among survey respondents: the majority of individuals who abandoned their plant-based diet did so quickly.

“A transition period helps you ease into [a plant-based diet],” explains Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, Senior Dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and author of Recipe For Survival.

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Short-Term Consequences Of Meat Abstinence

During the month of January, known as Veganuary, many people have begun committing to an entirely plant-based diet.

While you may be unaware of it, your body changes within the first few hours after removing the meat.

Following a few hours to a day without meat

A vegetarian diet typically includes higher amounts of other necessary food groups such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These foods have a lot of fiber.

Dietary fiber-rich foods start assisting healthy digestion right away by slowing the amount of sugar your blood takes in.

After a few days without meat

More consistent bowel movements. Increased dietary fiber, whether soluble or insoluble, from a vegetarian or vegan diet, improves the quality and frequency of bowel movements. Soluble fiber promotes easier defecation by promoting healthy stool formation and texture, whereas insoluble fiber encourages you to “go” more frequently.

After one week without meat

A plant-based diet naturally avoids adding components such as cholesterol and saturated fat because they are less prevalent in these meals. Plant soluble fiber also aids in the reduction of elevated cholesterol levels by decreasing the pace at which our bodies absorb cholesterol, in the same way, that fiber reduces the rate at which we absorb sugar.

Long-Term Effects Of Giving Up Meat

Be patient, as it can take one to several months before you start seeing more positive results.

After one month and beyond without meat

After a month of not eating meat, you may notice and feel differences as a result of your new diet. These are some of the most important advantages you can notice around this time:

  • A healthier gut: A healthier gut may result in a stronger immune system and even the prevention of some cancers.
  • Improved skin: Vitamins A, C, and E help to fight free radicals on your skin, which can lead to acne and other unsightly blemishes if left unchecked.
  • Weight loss: Weight loss is associated with vegan or vegetarian diets.
  • Reduced levels of inflammation: A vegetarian diet has been shown to lower inflammation in the body, which can be especially useful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases.

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