Over the past several weeks, perhaps in response to having become more vocal on my various social media channels regarding my personal views on diet and nutrition, I’ve been getting a ton of questions about why I am no longer a vegan, and why I do not believe that veganism is a healthy or sustainable human diet.
Now, I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not here to argue with anyone or recommend that you switch your diet if it’s working for you. I’d like, however, to use this post to clarify my position and to introduce you to some of the resources that have led me to personally choose a Paleo/ancestral template for my own eating habits.
Even though what’s about to follow includes scientific/nutritional justification for why veganism may not be the most ideal choice for a diet that promotes optimal health, my number one reason for not being a vegan is incredibly unscientific, but the best possible reason I could ever, ever provide:
It made me feel like sh!t.
Plain and simple, when the glow wore off, I was bloated, depressed, covered in acne, and without a period. My anxiety was back in force, and my eating disorder was taking back over.
I knew there was something wrong in my gut (figuratively), and it wasn’t until long after I stopped being a vegan that I actually learned that there was literally something wrong in my gut. My decision was based on knowing that something was wrong; the blog post(s) that I’m about to provide you with are simply based on all of the research I’ve done since making the decision to stop being a vegan.
I’m writing it all here not to promote any kind of orthorexia or nutritionism or restrictive eating or dogma–I’m writing it here because there are people who want to understand the potential health implications of a low-fat plant-based diet.
I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist–just a girl who is sick and tired of being sick and tired–and sick and tired of watching so many people make decisions based on half-truths, emotional appeals, and ingrained biases that ultimately leave them sick and tired too.
What is Veganism?
Writ short, veganism is a diet in which no animal products are consumed (or worn or used) at all. It’s vegetarianism to the extreme, where even bee pollen is verboten. So, if you want to do it “right:” no dairy, no eggs, no fish, no honey, no leather wallets, no wool sweaters, no nothin’.
Veganism, as an actual practice, was officially given life in 1944 with the formation of The Vegan Society. It was formed for ethical reasons–in other words, in conscientious objection of the treatment of animals raised for food, clothing, or other exploitative use.
Let me repeat that: veganism is, at its core, an ethical practice. Not a health practice.
NOT a health practice.*
It wasn’t until the 1970s that veganism shifted from an ethical point of argument to a health movement. It was during this time that a ton of research was being done on the connections between heart disease, saturated fat, and other aspects of the standard American diet. It was during this time that Sen. George McGovern was first digging into the research (by Ancel Keys) that would lead the US government to start recommending low-fat diets. It was also during this time that respected physicians and scientists, such as T. Colin Campbell, John MacDougall, and Dean Ornish were beginning to look at veganism as a health panacea.
Vegan.org states that veganism is “the natural extension of vegetariansim” because it “provides numerous benefits to animals’ lives, to the environment, and to our own health–through a healthy diet and lifestyle.”
And, of course, with the ubiquity of the internet (and the adoption of the diet by many big celebrities in the film, television, and even political spheres), veganism morphed from a fringe movement into the industry we know it for today–complete with blogs, books, packaged foods, food trucks, gourmet restaurants, and endorsements from one of the largest health food markets in the world.
*The Vegan Society DID publish, in their first newsletter, this short section on feeling better on a vegan diet, however I’m going to address that in a different section. This was an entirely anecdotal recommendation, and not one based on scientific evidence as writ by the medical community at large: