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Going Vegan Gradually vs. Suddenly

Questions to Think About:

Is a gradual diet change actually helpful compared to a sudden diet change? How helpful or necessary, is it? As a vegan, who wants the world to go vegan NOW, should we consider eliminating the now and just stick to “go vegan”? Is there a significant difference in each individual’s ability to adapt to dietary changes based on our genetics?

My Experience
When switching dog food kibbles at the pet store, I was told to mix the kibbles from each before completely switching foods. I was told this would aid in the digestion process during the change. For more information about this method of feeding your pet when switching dog food types check out Pet MD. When I started changing to a plant-based diet, I did it gradually. I did not have any prior experience with being a vegetarian or vegan. I didn’t even know much about what a vegan was. This required me to dedicate more time to teaching myself how to adopt the lifestyle.

As I continued to make small changes, such as removing dairy from my diet, I started to feel improvements in my physical health. If you’re interested in different types of health benefits from a plant-based diet check out Forks Over Knives for some incredible stories. The whole process took me about 3 years until I was vegan. It was a huge learning experience and accomplishment. I increased my knowledge of the foods and ingredients in processed or packaged foods, such as gelatin. Want to see how gelatin (the popular ingredient in gummy treats) is made? Check out this clip from Supersize vs. Superskinny S05 E04 Section 0:45 – 3:40.

How Gelatin is Made.

Not everyone thinks they have the time, patience, or willingness to change their lifestyle. Suddenly changing from a carnivore to a vegan seems like a huge physical and mental change for a body to adapt to.

Genetic Attributes
There has been evidence to recognize genetic factors that are involved in changing from a carnivore to a herbivore. BMC Genomics performed a study using fish to distinguish these changes in 2015. Carp fish were used to study before and after food habit transition from a carnivore to a herbivore diet. Significant changes observed from this study include alteration of gene expression associated with cell reproduction and variation, appetite control, circadian rhythm (biological 24-hour cycle intervals), digestion, and metabolism [1]. This gives me a reason to believe that if veganism were to happen within a culture, it would take time for bodies to adjust or evolve into the dietary change. It is important to recognize that when changing your diet, it takes time for your body to gain stability with this change.

The gene for lactose intolerance was only helpful for cultures that relied on domestic animals for food and milk. For instance, Berkeley has reported that about 10% of Americans are lactose intolerant, compared to 99% of the Chinese being lactose intolerant. This is known as a diet-based mutation that has evolved due to our environmental attributes. In Europe, roughly 3 mutations randomly arose (like they always do), and these happened to have the effect of keeping the lactase gene switched on. These mutations were favored by natural selection and quickly spread through dairy-dependent populations. “Regardless of skin color or geography — whether dealing with Stone Age Europeans, Swiss milk maids, Maasai warriors, or modern hunter-gatherers — evolution plays by the same rules.” [2]

Biological Diet Change

If you could ask your genes to say what kinds of foods are best for your health, they would have a simple answer: one-third protein, one-third fat, and one-third carbohydrates. That’s what recent genetic research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) shows is the best recipe to limit your risk of most lifestyle-related diseases [3].

The US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health published an article from Cell Host Microbe. Basically, they say we have these microbial strains and species living in our stomach that we call our microbial gut community. This community contains polygenic traits: “any of a group of genes that each produce a small quantitative effect on a particular characteristic of the phenotype, such as height” [4]. The specific traits in our gut community are formed from our environmental and genetic attributes. This article’s study explains that it took an average of 3.5 days for diet-responsive bacteria (in the gut community) to obtain a steady state following the diet change. Most changes to the gut community are even reversible. Some of the bacteria in the gut community strive based on the previous ingestion [5]. Bacteria is able to reproduce very rapidly–they simply split into two every few minutes or hours, with both offspring continuing to divide and multiply [6].

Environmental Attributes
Changing from an animal-based diet to a plant-based diet can require an investment in your education. Instead of getting nutrients from an animal-based diet, you would have to learn alternate resources to optimize the health benefits. Depending on how much time you invest into learning and how much you want to learn, this will affect the quality of health you are able to reach. I taught myself how to change my diet. I believe this is why it took me so long to finally reach veganism. This could also depend on where you are from and how vegan-friendly your community is. The main question I ask is, can you grow your own food locally? Or are the foods you need available to you? If necessary, are you able to preserve essential foods during season changes?

Comparing humans to fish seems incredibly different, but the information obtained should not go unrecognized. Please acknowledge that animals deserve non-invasive and respectful interaction or observation when studying them.

Go Vegan When?
If you want the best for your body I suggest gradually adopting the diet rather than instantly. Going vegan is a major life change and while I encourage others to try it, I would want them to do it safely and at a high quality so as to achieve stable and lasting results from the experience. However, animals need serious liberation and basic rights as soon as possible. Going vegan, for the animals, is a selfless act. If you are able to go vegan now, for the animal’s sake, that would be the most incredible option for them. I feel that as veganism is happening and growing, it will make for a stronger planet, happier animals, and healthy peaceful living. As much as I would love it if the world could just go vegan now… adopting the change gradually seems like a realistic method that humans could achieve. Animal rights will always hold a special place in my heart. If you don’t have a vegan lifestyle (and are interested) maybe this post will make you feel less intimidated and try it out. Go at your own pace and listen to your body’s needs. Every bit of effort counts. As an animal rights activist, I would say go vegan right freakin’ now!!!! *Sigh* …but as long as you are going vegan, I am thankful 🙂


[1] He, S., Liang, X.-F., Li, L., Sun, J., Wen, Z.-Y., Cheng, X.-Y., … Yuan, X.-C. (2015). Transcriptome analysis of food habit transition from carnivory to herbivory in a typical vertebrate herbivore, grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella. BMC Genomics, 16(1), 15.

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[4] Polygenic. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved December 25, 2016 from website. Direct Source: 

[5] Carmody, R. N., Gerber, G. K., Luevano, J. M., Gatti, D. M., Somes, L., Svenson, K. L.,    & Turnbaugh, P. J. (2015). Diet dominates host genotype in shaping the murine gut microbiota. Cell Host & Microbe, 17(1), 72–84. Direct Source:



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    December 28, 2022

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    December 18, 2022

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