My husband—the lucky guy—has a colonoscopy scheduled for this week. In case you’ve never had the pleasure, prepping for a colonoscopy involves several days of a very low fiber diet (delightful vegan meals like white rice with tofu, canned carrots and white bread) followed by industrial strength laxatives. The idea is to empty the colon and get it squeaky clean so that the little camera can see everything.
It’s the ultimate cleansing regimen and no one in their right mind would want to do it. But it’s the only way to thoroughly clean out your intestines. As far as cleansing or “detoxifying” the rest of your body—well, you already have a highly sophisticated system for that, which includes the liver, lungs, and kidneys.
There is no diet or regimen that will detoxify your body. You can eat all the raw foods and juices you want and your body will still produce toxins (because that’s the nature of normal metabolism) and will still do its usual work to neutralize or eliminate those toxins.
Eating a healthful diet that is rich in whole plant foods will certainly go a long way toward supporting those systems and promoting health. But that’s different from expecting that a week or two of some special diet will actually cleanse your body of harmful substances.
Adopting a vegan diet doesn’t cause your body to detox, either. Which is a good thing, since the last thing we want to tell people is that they are going to feel unwell when they first go vegan. Some new vegans might experience discomfort if their diet is suddenly higher in fiber or beans. But that can be handled pretty easily by consuming some refined grains, more cooked foods, and more lentils (they’re less gas-y than other beans), and transitioning gradually to a higher fiber intake.
Going vegan should feel good. For many, there is a distinct sense of psychological relief when diet and lifestyle choices start to reflect actual feelings and beliefs about animals. Let’s not ruin that with made-up claims about some transition period of “detoxification” and discomfort.