January 10, 2012

Vegan Turbulence.

Elephant Journal’s Waylon Lewis and Kate Bartolotta just got on the vegan train as part of their New Year’s resolutions. But like any big change, especially when it comes to what you put in your body, it usually gets worse before it gets better. There is a transition period that lasts from one to three months; during which your body gets rid of the old and used to the new.

For most people, the first 30 days are the hardest, as they undergo the worst part of the dairy detox, not quite welcomed by the intestinal underworld. If you’re flirting with the idea or have just gotten started on your path to veganism and/or healthier food choices; or you’d like to recall your first days into the journey, you might find this helpful.


Symptoms of turbulence one should expect when flying over to the Vegan continent

1. Flatulence.
This is what I really mean by turbulence. If you’re not into regular detox activities such as fasting, juice fasting, enemas, colonics and all that cleansing jazz; or if you don’t do leafy greens on a regular basis – the number one detox companion; or if you’ve been hooked on dairy for a long time and are in love with cheese, your guts will be the first to protest the change of air.

The quantity and quality of gases you’ll be experiencing may vary, depending on how much dairy you used to eat or other individual factors particular to your body, blood type, metabolism, lifestyle, diet, etc.

Please don’t be frightened when (or if) it gets to a point where you literally cannot be in the same room with yourself. Your gut army will be replacing soldiers and getting used to the new and nicer flora.

This also implies eliminating a bunch of unfriendly bacteria accumulated from years of scented cow fluids that – if you’ve never given your body a break, it hasn’t been able to do… until now. This is where the exotic smells will be coming from. And this is why you should stock up on incense.

2. Toilet love. If you’re already regular, during your first 30 days, your conversations with the toilet should multiply by three. Keep in mind this is estimate data. The frequency and aromas are relative and they can be affected by other particular factors, such as the type of vegan food you’re eating or should be eating and aren’t.

However intense your affair with the toilet, you will most likely be nauseated by what you see and you may also experience intestinal wars on certain days. Don’t worry, you’ll survive through all of them.

3. Psych ward. It’s where you’ll think you belong. Don’t just expect mood swings. Welcome them! Dairy products contain opiates, substances similar to the natural morphine our body produces in certain circumstances.

Milk is the baby mammal’s main source of energy and nutrients during the first months (or years) of its life; so the opiates are really nature’s smart way to keep the baby grounded, put it to sleep and bring it closer to the mother so that it really enjoys its only meal.

But if you’re a grown human, these opiates don’t pull you close to your mother’s breast anymore, but to your pillow. They make your body sleepy and your mind clouded; and they are also highly addictive.

This is why when you quit – especially if you used to eat a substantial amount of dairy – you literally go through withdrawal symptoms. Some of the most visible ones being your crazy mood swings, with an added shade of psycho, at least during the first month.

Sometimes you might want to kill yourself, others just cry, others kick someone in the face and others, maybe watch romantic comedies from the eighties. It really depends on the person, rest of other factors and/or personal circumstances.

Just remember that the mind is also a part of the body, so when one thing changes, everything changes. At least a bit of wild behavior is to be expected.

You can also keep a straitjacket at hand or hold up an “emotional creature” sign whenever you feel like biting, so that others are mindful enough to stay away from you.

4. Body hysteria – This goes hand in hand with the craziness. Body and emotions are together in this. Just as the heart itches, so the body might itch at a certain point. Don’t worry, it’s not contagious.

The skin is the largest organ in our body and another portal through which we eliminate waste. If it itches, it means the pores are working. You can help remove toxic waste off your skin by dry brushing your naked self every morning.

Along with the itchiness, you might experience other strange scents that do not exactly come from the “toilet area” of your body, but more like the mouth, the armpits and other interesting places. Your body is ventilating the mansion. As for your mouth, a tongue cleaner would help. Better breath, more sensitivity and enhanced kissing (yes, you can kiss during a detox).

And when it comes to the underarms, use only soft deodorants – don’t forget to check the ingredients for anything that says “aluminum” and if this poison is floating in there, stay away! It clogs your pores and it’s a dangerous carcinogen. You don’t want that kind of death settling in your lymph nodes, located precisely in the armpit area.

Don’t use antiperspirants, as good as they might be at keeping the sweat away. Sweat means toxins trying to leave your body. Why would you want to close the doors and lock them up inside? Let it flow. Don’t mess with nature. Once they’re out, you’ll stop stinking.

But perhaps the worst devil in the detox hell (after gases) is that nasty thing that accumulates in your throat and you have to cough and then spit out at the most inconvenient moments – hopefully not while you’re doing the kissing – called (drum roll) mucus! Yes, really unhot of you. Unless you’re a really lucky human or a robot from the future, you will probably experience some kind of mucus leakage during the first weeks of detox.

Dairy products increase your mucus production up to an 80%. Good thing you can’t see inside your lungs. If you have problems with asthma or get sick often, quitting dairy is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

So why are you coughing up mucus even more now that you’ve quit dairy than before, when you were high on it? Well, because up until now the nasty stuff hasn’t had the chance to come out yet. Your body was busy keeping your organs rolling and you weren’t really letting it take out the trash, were you? This is what the detox is really about: Dear Body finally being able to clean the house.

5. Wild cravings – When you quit something that is highly addictive, guess what you’ll want to eat all the time: either the stuff that you’re quitting or other complimentary food.

In this case, when you quit dairy, you may not only feel terrible urges to eat an entire cheese ball at each meal, but most people will also be irresistibly attracted to gluten and sugar, other two big Western comforters and junkie material.

Unless you were already avoiding gluten before going vegan, you will literally dream of bread and cheese (and cake). So, you know what they say… if you don’t want to dream, stay awake!

At least during the first 30 days, don’t travel to Switzerland or go to a cheese-themed party or milk a cow. It goes without saying, but don’t buy dairy if you’re trying to avoid it. When you get the wild urges, it’ll be hard not to open that fridge and sin.

Always keep some other healthy snack or transition at hand and don’t wait to eat until you’re starving; because when you’re still not fluent in a new language, you tend to go back to the old one in case of emergency.

If you live with dairy lovers, try to get their sympathy (not by preaching to them but by kindly explaining what you’re up to and asking for help). They don’t have to join your cause in order to be good friends or loving family; but if they appreciate you and respect your decision, they should be as supportive as they can. Otherwise, why are you even sharing your life with them?


Stuff you should carry in your suitcase

Water. Drink like your life depended on it. Because, come to think of it, it does. We’re 60% water – our brain going up to 70% water and our lungs almost entirely liquid: 90%! We are healed, hydrated and cleansed by water.

Try to get it as free of chemicals as possible. You don’t have to turn into a river but do drink at least 3 liters of filtered water a day, if not more. It’ll help the toxins rush out of your body.

Leafy greens. The number one detox food. The main reason? Chlorophyll. It oxygenizes and purifies your blood, as well as strengthens your immune system.

Leafy greens are also high in most of the nutrients our body needs to thrive — including protein — and very low in sugar. This means increased energy and vitality; increased strength and power to deal with the detox and increased cleansing ability.

Let half of your lunch be a big, green salad every day and either half your breakfast or dinner (or both), a huge glass of green juice or green smoothie.

Supplements. Recommending a general detox supplement can be misleading, because this really depends on each person’s needs. The only exception to this rule would be, perhaps, chlorella. Green algae are the highest sources of chlorophyll in the plant world and chlorella has been found to contain more of this green gold than any other. Your liver will fall in love with you again.

Exercise. It’s really that simple. The more oxygen in your blood, the faster you’ll get rid of toxins and assimilate essential nutrients. On the other hand, the better your lymph nodes work, the higher your immune system will jump and the more efficient your intestines will be. Exercise rocks every part of your body.

But neither the blood nor the lymph fluid will circulate properly, unless you move. Sunshine is a bonus because if say, exercise was a door to your health, then Vitamin D would be the key to unlock it. Get out of the cave, yo bat!

Sleep. It restores the balance between your human days and your vampire nights. It’s the yoga of detox. It’s when your body regenerates and your cells rejuvenate. Getting through a detox without proper sleep will not only be less efficient but it’ll make all of the above symptoms worse. So don’t you weep, get some sleep.

Overall, stay focused. You need your mind now more than ever to help you convince the rest of your body that you made the right choice. And if the mind is not yet on board, then the body will probably give up at some point.

But if despite being determined to veganize your life, you end up cheating on yourself with cheese or other lovers, know that the Vegan God forgives you. Don’t beat yourself up about it and keep moving.

Each person is different. For some the change is more gradual and for others, sudden and unyielding. You may have to be a bad boy or girl several times before your body fully converts to Veganism. When you fall, just get up and walk again.

For more vegan mind juice, check out the most commented article on Elephant.

If you have any other advice for Waylon and Kate, as well as other travelers flying or planning to fly to Veganlandia, please leave your drop of wisdom below. They need a hug.

Have a safe trip and keep your seatbelt fastened!


[Photos: 1- Chema Madoz; 2-Freewebs; 3-Greg Gossel; 4-Cheese craze; 5-Fantomatik]

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