Many believe that the switch to a plant-based diet is simple. We can just switch out beef burgers for veggie burgers and regular processed foods for vegan processed foods. There is no need to record what we consume or pay attention to the nutrients or learn about how plant-based meat can affect our gut. Right?
When not fully understood, plant-based meats (and a plant-based diet) can cause vegan diarrhea. Often occurring in newly minted vegans, vegan diarrhea can be caused by startling changes in diet and consumption patterns.
However, when carefully researched and cooked, plant-based meats and plant-based diets can be better for your stomach and intestines than regular diets.
If you are preparing to transition to a vegan lifestyle or currently facing vegan diarrhea, you need to learn about specific foods and nutrients in your diet that could cause diarrhea and how to approach them without fear. In doing so, you will be able to increase your gut health as well as continue with a vegan lifestyle without being tempted to return to a “normal” diet.
Understanding your diet and gut health will ultimately help you develop a better relationship between food and health and enjoy your vegan experience.
Can Beyond Meat Cause Stomach Issues
Many different foods can cause stomach issues depending on the individual. While you may have stomach issues with Beyond Meat, others might not and vice versa.
However, there are a few things to mention when it comes to Beyond Meat and ingredients in it that may cause stomach problems for a larger number of people. Therefore, depending on the individual, Beyond Meat can cause stomach problems.
There are two ingredients in Beyond Burgers that could be the source of the issue. The oils used and methylcellulose. Beyond Burgers use expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, and sunflower oil. Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. They provide our bodies with nutrients such as unsaturated fats and vitamin E. However, tropical oils such as coconut oils contain higher levels of saturated fats which can be harmful if consumed in large amounts.
Canola oil, due to its processing procedure, can also contain trans fats, another harmful substance. Oil in small amounts is okay but consuming lots of fat in a short period of time can cause digestive issues. For example, one Beyond Burger contains 18g of fat which can be a lot for those who don’t usually eat too much fat.
The second ingredient in Beyond Burgers that could be causing an issue is Methyl Cellulose. Methylcellulose is a chemical compound that looks like a colorless powder. Its chemical composition allows it to be commonly used as a binding agent in many foods, but also in plant-based meats.
However, methylcellulose is also used as an over-the-counter laxative as it aids absorption of water into the intestines, softening stools. Methylcellulose is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so it is safe. However, the amount of methylcellulose present in Beyond Meat is not publicly available and it could result in loose stool and stomach irritation after consumption of Beyond Meat.
Is It Normal to Have Diarrhea After Going Vegetarian
Due to the sudden change in your diet, it is normal to have diarrhea and slight stomach problems as your body adjusts to new consumption patterns. This is often dubbed vegan diarrhea. However, if your stool is painful and your stomach problems persist for long periods of time, see your physician to explore other possible causes of irritation.
A major factor in vegan diarrhea is the dramatic increase in fiber when switching to a plant-based diet. Foods such as beans, lentils, peas, hummus, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, artichokes, spicy seasonings, high fiber cereals, whole grain, garlic, onion, coffee, artificial sweeteners, and other items more personal to you are often contributors to this dramatic fiber increase. Whole grains and fruit contain a lot of fiber that can soften up your stool.
Lots of fiber is generally a good thing but your gut can get out of balance when things are switched up quickly. A fiber imbalance can result in a lack of protein absorption in your stomach too.
Vegan diarrhea can also be caused by a zinc deficiency. Foods such as tofu, cashews, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, many other nuts and seeds, tahini, quinoa, and oatmeal are high in zinc and can help reduce the deficiency.
Remember diarrhea after changing your diet is normal but with proper care, your body will get used to the good change!
Does a Plant-Based Diet Make You Poop More
A plant-based diet does not make you poop more than normal.
For those who may have struggled with harder or less frequent stools, a change to a plant-based diet may seem as though you have to go to the bathroom more often but that is not the case.
A rich plant-based diet results in people passing “well-formed” poop as foods that are rich in fiber help to keep the intestinal system working more efficiently than meat and dairy.
How to Approach a Vegan Lifestyle to Avoid Diarrhea
While diarrhea at the beginning of your vegan journey is normal, there are steps you can take to approach a vegan lifestyle without fear of diarrhea.
Keeping a food journal is one of the best ways to properly track your consumption.
Watch your legume intake (such as beans) and opt for foods low in fiber as your body begins to get used to higher fiber content overall. These foods include cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes with no skins, juiced fruits and vegetables, melons, nectarines, papayas, peaches, plums, carrots, beets, asparagus tips, tomato sauce, acorn squash (no seeds), tofu, seitan, and dark chocolate.
Opt for more natural foods instead of vegan processed foods and increase your leafy green intake. While vegan options are better than regular foods, vegan processed foods can still contain extra chemicals that can contribute to stomach problems. Aim to cook your own food and buy fresh!
To help aid the digestive process try drinking herbal teas and/or take digestive enzymes. Vegan Bean-Zyme (Amazon Link) contains the active ingredient of alpha-galactosidase, an enzyme that helps break down fiber in foods making it easier to digest.