The benefits of switching to a vegan diet are undeniable—but there’s one downside that seems to come with the territory: bad gas. We’re not here to sugarcoat it—the truth stinks. Going from a meat-heavy diet to a new plant-based one can take some getting used to, especially if you make the switch all at once.
But don’t worry! Bad gas is completely normal for new vegans. We’re here to explain the reason behind it and 10 things you can do to get it under control.
First, The Good News
You might feel bummed out about your stomach issues now, but don’t worry–they won’t last forever!
The bad gas you’re experiencing now is just a temporary side effect and will subside after 6-8 weeks at the longest. And, it isn’t something to stress about! It’s actually a sign your body is adapting and healing itself!
If you stick with it, you will experience improved digestion and feel healthier overall.
Why New Vegans Get Such Bad Gas
So, if you’re a new vegan and have been experiencing some…we’ll just say “unusual” intestinal issues, there’s a good chance it’s because of one of these reasons:
Fibre = Flatulence
For many new vegans, the change in fibre intake is dramatic at first. Meat has no fibre, so when you stop eating meat and start eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the result can be… uncomfortable!
Here’s the thing though: fibre is very good for you. It helps keep your digestive system running smoothly and keeps you feeling full after a meal, but it also causes gas. That’s because when fibre comes into contact with water in your body, it produces gas as it breaks down. The more fibre you eat at one time, the more gas you’re going to have.
While it may seem like a bad thing at first, your body will quickly adjust to a high-fibre diet and the long-term benefits are well worth any temporary discomfort.
Plus, it isn’t just good for your digestion— a diet high in fibre can also help you live longer, and reduce cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, and more.
What’s the deal with FODMAPs? Well, they’re found in many foods that are considered healthy—like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains!
When you switch to a vegan diet, it may be difficult for your digestive system to cope with all the high FODMAP foods. Especially if you have irritable bowel syndrome or similar digestive problems, where FODMAPs are hard to digest. The result? You guessed it: bad gas!
It may take several weeks for your gut bacteria to adjust and start producing more of the right enzymes to handle FODMAPs. This can lead to uncomfortable side effects like bloating or bad gas until your body gets used to digesting new foods better!
Beans: The more you eat the more you…
…consume oligosaccharides, natural sugars that your body finds difficult to digest.
Since beans and legumes are a staple of the vegan diet, it again does mean more bad gas!
But before you cut these gas-inducing foods out of your diet for good, know that they are full of fibre and other nutrients that make you feel great. And, luckily, there is a way to reduce or eliminate this problem! Keep reading to find out how.
People who are new to veganism and are sensitive to histamine may experience more bad gas because of the high amount of histamine found in many vegan foods.
Histamine can be a good thing when it comes to digestion and immune function, but too much of it causes inflammation and irritation. This can cause symptoms like bad gas, bloating, nausea, or heartburn.
Nuts, seeds, and legumes are among the vegan foods highest in histamine. Bananas, avocados, tomatoes, and oranges also make the list.
10 Things You Can Do About It
Now that we’ve addressed the whys of bad gas as a new vegan, let’s talk about what you can do about it.
1. Introduce High-Fibre Foods Slowly
When you first make the decision to go vegan, you might be tempted to blast your body with all the healthy high-fibre foods it can handle, but this is not the best idea.
If you’re a new vegan and want to reduce the amount of gas you experience, try adding in high-fibre foods slowly and see how your body reacts. Some examples of high-fibre foods include whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and fruits with peels (like apples).
2. Take digestive enzymes
One of the best ways to reduce gas as a new vegan is by taking digestive enzymes with your meals. Digestive enzymes help break down food in your stomach and make it easier for your body to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. You can get digestive enzymes from taking vegan supplements or eating raw fruits and vegetables that contain them naturally (like papaya).
3. Prebiotics and probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are an important part of reducing gas. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed good bacteria in the colon; probiotics are live bacteria that can be taken as supplements or eaten in fermented foods like sauerkraut. These two things will help balance out any unhealthy bacteria in your digestive tract and encourage healthy gut flora, which helps keep everything running smoothly!
4. Prep your beans
Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, but they can be difficult to digest, especially if they’re not soaked and cooked properly. Soaking them overnight allows the enzymes in your digestive system to help break down some of the gas-producing oligosaccharides in beans that may be causing the problem.
Top Tip: Rinse your canned beans before eating them to get rid of excess starch.
5. Eat Slowly
This is good advice no matter what diet you follow! Eat slower and chew more carefully—it will help you digest your food more effectively and reduce gas production in your intestines! Try chewing each bite at least 15 times before swallowing it.
6. Eat smaller meals
If you eat large meals at every meal, there’s a good chance that some of those foods won’t be digested properly before they make their way through your intestines—which can lead to gas later on. Eating smaller meals is an easy way to cut down on this issue!
7. Drink more water (and less caffeine)
Water helps keep everything moving through your digestive tract—including gas—so make sure you’re drinking plenty of it! On top of that, caffeine stimulates your gastrointestinal system, which can also cause gas and bloating—so watch out for those lattes. Consider switching to decaf coffee or tea for a few days until your body adjusts to its new diet. Then slowly add back in a little caffeine every day until you find the amount that works best for you!
8. Eat more vegan protein
By adding vegan protein to every meal and avoiding excess fibre, you won’t increase your intake too quickly—which can make you gassy. Over time, gradually add less processed foods and more fibre-rich wholegrains and beans so that your body has time to adjust and reap the benefits of these changes.
Working out can reduce gas and bloating because it helps move things through your system faster. It also helps release endorphins, which improve your mood and reduce stress levels—stress being one of the major causes of bad gas and other digestive issues!
10. Keep a food journal
Keep track of what you’re eating during the day by writing it all down in a notepad or on a phone app like MyFitnessPal. This will help you identify any patterns that could be causing problems with your digestion. Once you figure out what’s causing your bad gas and bloating you make the necessary changes to your new vegan diet!
-If you’re a new vegan and have been experiencing bad gas, know that you’re in good company. And remember: it’s all worth the transition for the health benefits of being vegan. In the meantime, your friends and family will just have to deal with it!
-While these symptoms are temporary, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of gas you experience without going back to meat and dairy!
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the effects of a plant-based diet on your digestive system, and we wish you all good luck in your vegan journey.
If you have any questions or concerns about your transition to veganism, be sure to check out even more of our articles.
Thanks for reading!