I Went Meat and Dairy Free and This Is What It Did to My Skin

By September 7, 2017

Your diet has a huge impact on your skin. But does going vegan give you better skin? Find out what happened to Charlotte when she decided to introduce big changes to her diet.

After a marathon of health documentaries like What the Health and animal rights films like Okja, I decided to radically change my diet and go meat and dairy free for two weeks. Up until that point, I’ve always been a heavy meat eater, and I rarely added veggies into my diet. Needless to say, I was not a vegan of any sort.

Embarking on my newfound diet, I surprisingly found it to be easier than I anticipated! Living in New York City certainly helped, since there are so many yummy vegan eateries like By Chloe around where I lived. Also, my husband Dave joined in on my quest to nix meat and dairy from my diet, so it helped that we could keep each other accountable and also eat our meals together.

After a week, I noticed some immediate changes. I felt lighter, I had more frequent bowel movements (sorry, TMI), and I felt less sluggish, especially in the afternoon. But I was also hungrier faster, so I was always in search of snacks throughout the day, which was interesting since I’m not typically a snacker.

What was most surprising to me was the changes in my skin at the two week mark, and it wasn’t for the better! It had crossed my mind that a new diet could bring about changes to my skin, but I thought that those changes, if any, would be positive ones.

Instead, it was the opposite. I started to get small, tiny breakouts in areas of my face that are usually blemish-free, such as my forehead and upper lip. I do deal with hormonal acne from time to time but it’s usually cystic and along my jawline. The pimples themselves looked and felt different from my usual breakouts.

When I posted about my new diet on Instagram, several of you communicated to me to be careful, because I would actually experience some breakouts. I do know that diet does play a role in skin, but I was surprised that going vegetarian and dairy free would specifically cause acne.

Since I’m not a nutritionist, I decided to reach out to Brooke Alpert, a nationally recognized nutrition expert and author, to get some answers about how going meat and dairy free has triggered my breakouts. Here’s what I learned.

Your skin is greatly affected by your diet

Alpert says, “Your skin is often a sneak peek into your health, so it will show if you’ve been eating well or not. Whenever you make drastic dietary changes, both good and bad, you can expect to see some changes in your skin. Anything from bloating and puffiness can be brought on or removed by changes. Acne or breakouts or even redness can all be influenced by what you eat.”

It’s not necessarily the meat that causes breakouts but what you replaced the meat with that matters.

“Chances are, you replaced meat from your diet with more sugar or refined carbohydrates. Eating more carbohydrates and sugar can directly influence acne production!” explains Alpert.

Process of elimination will help you figure out what are the acne triggers.

“It’s different for everyone. Foods high in sugar content often trigger breakouts in some people, while others react to dairy. Everything is on a case-by-case basis. I have some clients for whom spicy foods of any kind lead to major breakouts. The trick is to know your skin and if you think something is bothering it, try an elimination diet!” shares Alpert.

While I may now incorporate meat into my diet, I have definitely cut down on it and substituted it with more greens instead of carbs and sugar. Now I feel with a more balanced diet, I am reaping the benefits of a healthier body and healthier skin!

+ Have you gone vegan or vegetarian and noticed big changes in your skin? Tell us below!