The Unexpected Side Effects of the Vegan Diet

I would have never imagined.

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I adopted a plant-based lifestyle earlier this year and I could not be happier with my choice. Yet, the journey is not smooth sailing. I have experienced some unexpected side effects of the vegan diet, that I believe are worth sharing.

The main side effects of the vegan diet are social and emotional.

I am vegan and my family is not. My wife recently shared her journey living with a vegan spouse. Most of her experience naturally reflects mine. Being on the other side of the issue, I can attest that I grossly underestimated the impact that my lifestyle would have on my family, especially on my marriage. In retrospect, I wonder how couldn’t it be? Food has always been an important part of our bonding experience. We have always been foodies. I worked around fine food and wine most of my professional life and food has been at the center of our relationship from the very first day. I would have never thought that my wife would experience sadness because we are no longer eating the same thing, or attending a cheese event. It goes to show the power of food as a social connector. The vegan diet can be socially isolating and I was prepared for it, but I underestimated its impact on my spouse.

The nostalgia of food memories.

The isolating nature of the lifestyle is one of the well-covered emotional side effects of the vegan diet. However I was not expecting food memories to be such a challenge. When I think about my mom’s cooking from my childhood, christmas dinners and past family gatherings around the dinner table, I often get emotional. I do not miss food itself, but I do miss the pleasure of sharing the same meal. During my last visit in France, while I am lucky enough to have an amazing mother who cooked vegan meals, I did feel uncomfortable at times eating differently than anyone else. I felt isolated. Strangely enough, the kind of nostalgia I get around food also comes when I watch French movies. Most of them are feast filled with cheese and celebrations which makes me crave food reunions I no longer attend. The upcoming christmas will be my first as a vegan and I can safely say that it will be my first real test.

Yes. My main plant-based lifestyle challenge is not B12 deficiency, fatigue or low energy. Memories of food and social isolation are my main side effects of the vegan diet. Unfortunately, I have not found a long-lasting cure yet.

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