Why I'm Not Vegan. As a physician and health and wellness blogger I often get asked why I'm not vegan since for many people it can lead to health benefits. Unfortunately for me a vegan diet did not work well and lead to many health problems.
Why I'm Not Vegan: Introduction
Why I'm Not Vegan. I've been really nervous to post this. I've actually been holding onto these thoughts for weeks, too scared to hit the publish button because I know I am going to receive a number of negative comments for sharing this. But I know this is important and that other people need to hear this. So before you get angry with me or pass judgement, please hear me out.
First of all I am not trying to tell you how to eat or not eat. You need to do what's best for you and your health, and if you are vegan and it's working well for you please please please continue eating that way. I am also absolutely not encouraging you to eat a typical North American style diet. There is overwhelming evidence that it is not good for your health.
Whatever healing diet you do choose to follow, my one piece of advice is to eat real food. Food that is as natural and as unprocessed as possible. Because there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do every type of diet, and eating processed, refined food, even if it is "allowed" on whatever diet you are following is not good for you.
I also want to say that from an ethical perspective I 100% support a vegan diet. I think that what is happening in modern day factory farms is horrific and it breaks my heart. It's not only cruel to the animals involved but also leads to really unhealthy meat that is not good for our health and can lead to a number of health problems (which has been demonstrated time and time again in multiple studies). I have written about this before in my post: The Biggest Mistake You Can Make on the Paleo Diet.
That is why I only buy meat from local farmers who I know treat their animals with respect and feed them properly, hence producing meat that is anti-inflammatory in nature with optimal vitamin and mineral contents (which studies show can actually improve your health).
However, when it comes to nutrition, it needs to be individualized and unfortunately the vegan diet does not work for everyone, and in fact, for some people (including myself) it can be disastrous.
Why I'm Not Vegan: Why I wrote this post
What spurred me to write this post was after I saw a very prominent vegan physician who has hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram post that "it's false that you can lose your period on a vegan diet if are doing it properly." But here's the thing: I did lose my period when I was on the vegan diet, and I was doing it properly.
Her words left me feeling hurt, frustrated and dismissed. It was like being told I was a liar.
Why I'm Not Vegan: My health suffered when I tried it
Years ago I tried going vegan for 6 months and it was the worst thing I could do for my health. I was getting enough calories, balancing my proteins properly, and still my health suffered like it never has before. Besides losing my period I also experience a number of other health problems including:
- I had horrible GI symptoms (gas, bloating and diarrhea)
- I became iron deficient and anemic
- My acne flared
- My KP (keratosis pilaris) flared
- My hair stopped growing and became really thin and dry
- My nails became thin and brittle
- My Hashimotos (thyroid) numbers were worse than they have ever been (which I think was a secondary effect from all the GI problems and vitamin deficiencies it caused)
For me a vegan diet is not what my body needs. I cannot tolerate all the legumes, grains, nuts and seeds that are eaten on a vegan diet. I also do very poorly with a lot of raw vegetables and many raw fruits.
I also know that I am not the only one who's health has suffered on a vegan diet. It's not ideal for everyone because we are all unique.
Unfortunately, I have seen a trend in the online world lately where people (including myself) are being shamed for not promoting a vegan diet. I have received numerous hurtful messages implying that I am a horrible person for eating meat. And this is not okay. I should not have to feel ashamed for the choices I need to make in order to improve my health and neither should you.
We are all individuals with different genetic backgrounds, health issues, and gut microbiomes and when it comes to food, what works well for one person can be disastrous for someone else. Please don't let someone make you feel lesser than for doing what you need to do for your health. We should all be working towards one common goal: improving our health. So instead of shaming and blaming each other for our nutrition choices, let's instead work on supporting each others health journeys, no matter what those journeys may look like.
I hope you found this helpful. Again, I am not trying to offer nutrition advice but simply trying to share my experience and the fact that diets need to be individualized. Just because something is popular or trendy does not mean that it's right for you.
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