I was vegan for 6 months. It worked out great- I lost a lot of weight and I was looking very healthy in the mirror. I’d steer anyone looking to lose serious weight onto a diet somewhat resembling how I ate during that period. However, that all being said, being vegan wasn’t the best I’ve felt eating-wise on my wellness journey. It all changed when I started eating meat again.
Why would a dedicated vegan attempt a drastic change? Well, my wellness teacher, RJ, had made the shift not long before talking to me about it and I trust his guidance, so I decided to give it a chance. The effect on me was startling when I did take the plunge.
First off was the mental clarity increase I experienced. It was unlike anything else I’d tried since beginning on my weight-loss quest and I was thrilled with how much sharper I was. In addition, I wasn’t hungry as often throughout the day, which was nice. I still ate sparingly with an avocado and tomato for breakfast, but come lunchtime, I had a vegetable-beef stew prepared the night before. The food tasted great and I functioned at a higher level throughout the day. Sure, it cost a bit more, but because of my small serving sizes, it didn’t bother me much at all.
Last was the natural increase in muscle on my body. Whereas before I was becoming leaner, now I was filling in muscle as I dropped weight. Meat had some great mood boosting properties as well with what I can assume as increased testosterone levels. I feel more like an animal, which is always a plus.
How Vegans Mess it Up
Without pointing fingers, I have met some vegans who eat poorly and end up obese. This may seem counterintuitive, but vegans define themselves by what they don’t eat rather than what they do consume. By saying “no dairy and no meat”, they inherently lock themselves onto a few food groups. They have fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and processed foods to choose from.
Processed foods and grains are particularly bad. For example, a vegan can eat two Pop Tarts in the morning, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a Coke for lunch, and spaghetti with marinara sauce and a beer for dinner. All of this can be eaten from processed sources and still considered vegan, whereas the purpose of eating vegan in the first place is forgotten. Grains are turned into sugar in the digestive system over an extended time and processed foods are often heavy in sugar, unhealthy fats, and preservatives.
I have seen heavy grain-eating vegans who don’t realize their mistake. And that mistake is a costly one- people end up feeling like victims because they can’t lose weight on a vegan diet and often decide to give up.
Some may say I’m being cruel and it’s simply a moral decision, that they feel for the animals being treated horribly by our food system. I will say that I admire people who take a personal stance in the food they eat to support moral values. However, I don’t like it when they compare themselves to me from a wellness perspective and they have a doughnut in front of them at breakfast. Pick a side a stick to it, but don’t claim you’re vegan for health reasons while eating poorly.
Vegans who do eat incredibly healthy- the salads, vegetables, and lack of sugar or processed foods in their diets- are admirable and only a small step removed from how I eat. I just add in some healthy meat every day and otherwise we’re the same. I’d challenge those vegans who eat for wellness purposes to try some healthy meat, as described in the next section.
How SAD (Standard American Diet) Practitioners Mess it Up
This one is easy to pick apart; a cow is not a cow is not a cow. In other words, not every cow is the same, especially when it is caged, doesn’t see sunlight, eats sugared-up corn feed, and lives a miserable sick life. Eating meat from sick animals raised by industrial food production is just as bad as eating pop tarts as a vegan, seeing as it goes against the spirit of the food itself.
Most people place blind faith in our food system or, if they are educated on it, believe there are no alternatives to getting meat from the grocery store. The atrocities committed by U.S. food producers as they kill 10 billion animals each year are on a scale almost unimaginable. This is why I choose local farmers markets as an alternative. I source all my meat from a local farm in Raleigh, NC which allows its cows to graze upon the land. The difference in quality is staggering, both from a taste perspective and from a wellness one. This particular farm has had 1 sick cow in the last 27 years, which they promptly offloaded to the industrial food system.
Grass fed cows do not get sick the way cows do from eating corn. Cows are not meant to eat corn and will not under normal circumstances, so in reference to my comment above, food producers actually add sugar to the grain so cows will eat it. The result is sick cows that we then eat and become unhealthy.
Beef is not the only meat either. Chickens raised in cages or oven-like huts never see sunlight and they end up sickly as well. Chicken breasts can end up as large as human breasts and antibiotic use is staggering. Fish raised in farms can swim in their own feces and live in overcrowded conditions. Pigs live in crowded pens and even eat other pig carcasses.
What I’m drawing to attention is simply the need to ask questions about where you get your food every week. There is a major difference to be had and I encourage all of you to start thinking about getting healthier ingredients. Not to mention the moral issue facing the industrial food production currently taking place nationwide. It’s disgusting and very upsetting.
What this ultimately leads me to, for those of you trying to slap a label on it, is something similar to the Paleo diet. Everyone loves labels and simplification for its own sake, but I will stand firm on finding the highest quality ingredients and eating sparingly throughout the day, as the calorie restriction is good for the body and keeps the mind alert. The more food you shovel into your stomach, the more energy is drained from your body for digestive purposes. Lastly, sticking to vegan principles with heavy focus on vegetables hasn’t gone out the window. I just eat some healthy meat mixed in now.