The effect of an abrupt change to a four-week vegan diet on the body composition, mental health and gut microbiome

2 minute read

Visualizing the effect of veganism on the human body

In my master Data Science for Life sciences I worked on a personal health project with Behzad Barati, Kylie Keijzer, André de la Rambelje and Henrike Vaartstra. In this project we looked at the effect of a sudden change in diet to a fully plant-based diet

This project was used as a way to improve in our data visualization skills. We created a Dashboard in Python with Panel and used the Bokeh visualization library for scientific plots.

All of the code can be found here


Veganism is an increasingly popular phenomenon in the western world since the 2010s (Burt, 2012; Pendergrast, 2015; Talia, 2015). It was kickstarted by the vegetarian food movement of the counterculture of the 1960s in the United States, whose members were concerned about their diet and the effect of mass production of meat on the environment (Iacobbo & Iacobbo, 2004; Smith, 2011). Even though veganism is a drastic change in diet, there has been only limited study into the effect of veganism on body composition, mental health and gut microbiome (David et al., 2013; Iguacel et al., 2020; Le & Sabaté, 2014; Zimmer et al., 2012). There has been plenty of research done on longterm diet influencing the gut microbiome composition but there is substantially less research on the effect of short-term diet on the gut microbiome composition (Muegge et al., 2011; Wu et al., 2011). Here we show the effects of an abrupt change from an omnivore diet to a vegan diet on the human mental state, body composition and gut microbiome. We found that a short-time vegan diet does not significantly influence the mental health nor the body composition. Furthermore, we could not find significant evidence for a shift in the gut microbiome composition which subverted our expectations. There was expected that following a vegan diet for four weeks would be enough time to see a significant change in the gut microbiome, based on previous studies (David et al., 2014; Turnbaugh et al., 2009; Zimmer et al., 2012). Our results represent the outcomes of the collected measurement data compared between the omnivore diet and the vegan diet. There are several data visualizations created in an interactive dashboard. We anticipate our study to be a starting point to more research on the short-term effects of a vegan diet on the gut microbiome, using alternative techniques for wetand dry laboratory work.

The scientific report can be downloaded here

And a presentation of results can be found here