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My sister is transitioning to vegan and is ALWAYS hungry...

jakkrabbitjakkrabbit Raw Newbie

My 16 yr old sister is huge into animal rights and wants to become a vegan. Whereas I became vegan cold turkey in literally one day, I told her it might be a little smarter for her to do it gradually to allow her body time to adjust. I thought we could just follow a progression of flexitarian to ovo to lacto-ovo to vegan, and then to raw if she wants. So basically cut out red meat first, then poultry and fish, then eggs, then dairy products.

She naturally eats a lot of raw fruits and vegetables because she just likes them. We've been working on making suppers that use healthier carbs like quinoa or whole wheat pasta, and instead of using milk/cheese sauce, use olive oil with herbs and spices, and replace meat with chopped nuts or crumbled tofu for protein, and then of course add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, cucumber, bell pepper, etc. So I'm trying to help her incorporate at least one vegetarian or completely vegan meal into her day.

The problem is, she's finding that she's constantly hungry, even though we're making sure to include lots of fiber, protein, and good fats. She'll eat something and feel satisfied and ten minutes later be ravenous again. She's super hungry at night too and it annoys her because she's constantly having to get up to make herself more to eat.

So today she broke down and had sliced steak in her pasta because she finds steak more satisfying to her hunger. She doesn't know what to do because she wants to become vegan but without meat she's hungry all the time no matter how much she eats. I don't know how much she's ACTUALLY eating; maybe it's just not really enough. Maybe we need to keep a food log. I also told her she needs to look at incorporating beans into her diet, whether in the form of bean stews or beans and rice or hummus or whatever, because I know they can help make things more filling.

But does anyone have any tips? I'm not sure what we're doing wrong - it's not like she's just eating carrot sticks and lettuce leaves. She's eating raw veggies, fruits, cooked grains, cereals, and starches, nuts, tofu, and since she's just transitioning at this point, she's still incorporating dairy in the form of milk and plain yogurt. Why is she so hungry without meat?


  • ktkt Raw Newbie

    From memory when i stopped eating meat i ate alot of tvp and soy based fake meat as a substitute and i never felt hungry. these products are filling and cheap-i use to find the type that needed to be rehydrated at the asian store.

    whist i never felt hungry giving up meat i did feel perpetually hungry when i gave up pasta and bread-as a junk food vegetarian for many years i became dependent on these and really believed that i would never be able to live without them, but this passed-firstly it was a case of a day with and day without and gradually weening off.

  • joannabananajoannabanana Raw Newbie

    maybe she could add an avocado to her salad. they are filling and very satisfying. as for milk, nut mylks are more filling than just regular milk since they are made with nuts/seeds. i like them better than any regular milk i've had.

    i think that she only believes she's hungry after a meal because she thinks meals have to consist of meat. she just has to change her way of thinking. i used to be like that, too. i'm sure we all were at one point (having a meat sandwich for lunch and then a lean meat for dinner). she just has to start replacing one meat meal at a time if that suits her better. the beans idea is good but remember that they cause a lot of irritation in the colon.

  • She could be just rebalancing her metabolism, doing some "catching up", and besides that meat is very heavy so her system is most likely used to dealing with that. My approach for something like that would be to stick with the vegan diet but eat heavy stuff like lentil burgers or nut loaf for a while. Tell her to keep in mind that she's still rapidly developing at that age, so to pay good attention to getting enough calories and a wide enough variety of nutrients.

  • veghealthcoachveghealthcoach Raw Newbie

    There could be a few things going on here.

    I'd like to first suggest that she keep a food diary for a week. With a food diary, you're not just writing down what you eat, but when you eat it (breakfast, snack) and at what time, why you're eating it (hungry, bored, what's available) and how you were feeling (tired, sad).

    Quantity-wise, it may look like she's eating "a lot", but calorie and nutrient wise, it could be that she's not getting sufficient calories to remain sated.

    How much water is she drinking?

    How many fiber rich foods does she consume?

    Has she noticed how her body responds when she eats more protein vs more carbs vs more fat?

    After each meal, does she feel sluggish or energized?

    How many bowel movements does she have a day?

    You don't have to answer these here - these are just questions to think about as you figure out what's causing the hunger.

    I'd also like to suggest care when choosing meat substitutes. It is easy to become stuck in a "junk food" stage when we rely on them to satisfy our nutrition and hunger needs. They are highly processed foods and often contain very "suspicious" ingredients, including MSG. Unless it's organic, any soy product you consume could be genetically modified and if that's a concern for you, you might want to avoid it.

    Meat substitutes made in other countries may contain animal-derived ingredients, because consumers in those countries may not be concerned with being vegan and ingredient labels are not always translated over in its entirety or by someone who is fluent in English.

    Is your sister clear on her reasons for becoming vegan?

    Food is more than just about what we eat - it's connected to memory, emotion, family, culture, religion, place, time, etc. When we make a dramatic change from one belief system to another, we're confronting all those things and more head on. The mind-body connection to food can really do a number on our emotional well-being.

    It's important to take this one day, one meal at a time.

    If you have the resources, consider meeting with a nutritionist who specializes in plant-based diets. They can run tests to find out what your specific nutrient needs are.

  • superfood2superfood2 Raw Newbie

    It sounds like she is making the fatal mistake that most people do - undereating on fruit and then she gets hungry and goes for grain carbs, whereas her body needs the simple carbs and nutrition from fruit.

  • greeniegreenie Raw Newbie

    I'm hungry when I go raw when I don't eat enough sweet ripe fruits, specifically in fruit salads. Here's something that always keeps me satisfied for hours, without any heaviness - a fruit salad with:

    3-4 pieces of sweet fruit (peaches, nectarines, some pineapple, mango, pears, banana, etc.)

    5-6 or more dates

    If I'm REALLY hungry, I add avocado and/or some nuts or coconut

    I realize this doesn't sound as filling as a raw veggie burrito or some of the other nut-heavy dishes, but it really does it for me like nothing else. By the way, I have absolutely no idea why this is true but for some reason eating a salad made up of these things fills me up but eating the items separately doesn't.


  • I was nearly incessently hungry my first month of goin vegan, this was after being lacto-vegetarian (only occasionally eating cheese & icecream) for over 12 years. Carry around a bag of chopped veggies, and a tupper of nuts or seeds to snack at first signs of hunger. My body has since adapted to its new menu and schedule to eating...I now know when I'll be hungry and for what...

    Everyone I know that has transitioned to vegan reports a sense of EMPTYNESS in their mouth the first month or so. A Craving of who knows what ,but most likely something fatty / salty / heavy...my boyfriend and nephew BOTH reported this after I went vegan and I noticed it too. This is a great time to distract your tastebuds by introducing NEW foods such as stuffed grape leaves, a new vegan cookie recipe, ANYTHING new to expand your tastebuds.

  • sv3sv3 Raw Newbie

    When I first went high raw/vegan, I felt like I was eating all day long. I was eating every few hours which actually suits me best. It does take time for your body to adjust and although I still eat quite a bit, it's not the same as the initial period I went through. I used to suffer from blood sugar issues and had major crashes if I skipped a meal. Now, I've stablised and don't suffer the same problems which I know is down to this way of eating.

    I think keeping a food diary is a good way forwards and as long as she's choosing the right kind of food, it's fine for to eat as much as she wants if she is genuinely hungry.

  • swayzeswayze Raw Newbie

    "It sounds like she is making the fatal mistake that most people do - undereating on fruit and then she gets hungry and goes for grain carbs, whereas her body needs the simple carbs and nutrition from fruit."

    I second this. Your sister is likely undereating on fruit and she simply needs more calories.

    A good place to start is to simply eat as much fruit as she cares for for breakfast. Once she's comfortable with that, she can do the same for lunch and then move to dinner and include some greens, non-sweet fruits, and some overt fats (avocado, nuts and seeds) if desired. This way she can continue to eat her favorite foods for as long as she's comfortable until she is ready to move onto the next step. :)



  • jakkrabbitjakkrabbit Raw Newbie

    Swayze, thanks for all your suggestions on our different questions so far and thanks everyone who has replied to this post.

    It seems like she's simply not eating enough, and not eating often enough. I'll try to help her rectify that situation, as well as see if she can rely on more fruits instead of carbs - so we're doing up a grocery budget so we can make sure the house is well stocked with tons of fruit!

  • swayzeswayze Raw Newbie

    Awesome, jakkrabbit! Please keep us up to date on her progress. :)



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