6 Reasons I Chose to Stop a Vegan Diet
Updated: Jun 1
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Disclaimer: This post reflects my own PERSONAL experience and journey with eating.
To be fair, I was never completely vegan. I always struggled to stay away from animal products. Back when I was attempting to eat a vegan diet, I would meal-prep, work really hard to meet my macro-requirements, and STILL crave animal products! I would go weeks eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet and just feel tired and un-satiated. I struggled to maintain steady blood sugar levels, eating enough or too many calories and staying away from processed foods. I would often crash during the day and grab something processed because that’s what was available and easy.
For 3 years, I attempted to eat a plant-based diet (emphasis on attempted), and since incorporating animal products freely back into my diet, the world of healthy eating has EXPANDED, and food has become ENJOYABLE again! I don’t necessarily think a vegan or vegetarian diet is unhealthy, but it’s so much harder to get all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. I was even having a hard time getting my macronutrients right! Several nutrients are actually completely impossible to get on a plant-based diet, such as B12, while a few other micronutrients are just incredibly difficult to get. Supplementing will suffice, but is not ideal.
Getting your vitamins and minerals from whole foods is the way to go.
Oftentimes, our body can’t absorb all the nutrients from a supplement, but it can absorb the same nutrients in a whole food source! The difficulty of staying on a plant-based diet, combined with the knowledge that many minerals and vitamins were so much more bioavailable in animal products pushed me over the edge to freely eating animal products again. It’s been incredibly freeing!
Here are the FIVE reasons I chose to ditch a vegan diet:
The conclusion I came to when choosing what to eat is that it is possible to get everything you need from a plant-based diet (if you supplement), BUT you have to WORK hard to fit everything in! It’s not easy to get what you need just by eating plants! Maybe for some people, but I’m guessing I’m not the only one who had this experience.
Did you know that over 80% of vegans go back to eating meat?
Many nutrients and minerals are much more bioavailable in animal foods than in plant foods, meaning, it’s easier for humans to absorb the needed nutrients in animal foods than plant foods. Some vitamins (B12) are ONLY available in animal foods! Iron and Zinc are also much more available in animal foods than in plant foods. Protein is much easier to digest in animal products than in plant foods.
Amino acids are much more available in animal protein than plant proteins, making it much easier for humans to absorb the needed protein. This means that if the nutrition label on a plant-based food shows 10g of protein, you’re not guaranteed to be able to absorb all 10 grams. You may only get 4/10 grams. On a diet where protein is not as available, to begin with, this could (and did for me) cause a problem.
The reason for this is humans have a shorter digestion track. Ruminants, like cows, sheep, and goats eat only plants, but they have a LONG digestion track to deal with the raw plant matter. Heck, all of these animals have FOUR stomachs to help them properly digest and absorb the nutrients from grass. Humans, on the other hand, have a short digestion track, meaning we need food that contains high nutrients that do not take a long time to absorb.
Simply said, human beings digestion is not designed to only consume plants, ESPECIALLY only raw plants!
Learning about the bioavailability of foods, it’s not at all surprising that I was struggling with satiety. Nearly every day, I would eat a full meal, and be full, but still want something else. Even when I worked really hard to try and include protein, fat, and a high-quality carbohydrate, I was often left still feeling like I needed something else. Most days, this led me to find something sugary after a meal. Today, eating plenty of plants and animal products, I don’t crave sugar like I used to after a meal. After over 2 years of attempting veganism, it’s shocked me how satisfied I am after almost every meal!
3. Balance hormones
Trying to balance my hormones is actually what led me to explore eating animal products. I went off birth control in 2021 and began trying to use the Fertility Awareness Method to prevent pregnancy. This method depends on tracking your monthly cycle. Here's how to do it. My monthly cycle was all over the place! See my post here on how to balance your hormones. Digging into the information on how to balance my hormones eventually led me to eat animal products. Simply said, I was not getting the nutrients I needed for my hormones to function properly.
4. Blood sugar
Blood sugar is actually the first thing you need to focus on when you’re looking to balance your hormones. The basics of healthy blood sugar are to eat good carbohydrate and protein every 2-4 hours. Simply said, it's hard to get quality protein in when eating a vegan diet. I struggled so much with blood sugar when I was eating vegan foods. Oftentimes, I would only be eating carbs, and no protein at all, or very little protein. The result was a blood sugar rollercoaster! I was always fatigued for this reason, and often I would reach for something quick to eat, which was usually something processed.
At the end of the day, a vegan diet is a diet. It’s very restrictive as it cuts out all meats, dairy, eggs, honey, and any other animal products. It was hard to go out to eat. It was hard to go to any social event where food was served. It was hard to enjoy foods of another culture. It was hard to pack food for a camping trip. It was even hard to think of easy lunch ideas to bring to work. Sure, there are plenty of vegan options now, in restaurants and in grocery stores, but they’re not nearly as available and affordable as the real thing. Also, reading the ingredients list on any meat or dairy substitute made me hesitant to purchase and eat meat substitutes. These items are full of preservatives, seed oils, colorings, and a whole host of ingredients that can’t be considered by anyone to be healthy!
6. The Environment
Where I live, and in most parts of the world, there are winter months. At least 4 months where nearly nothing will grow. Sure, I can grow and store a lot of potatoes, carrots, onions, and other veggies, BUT if I was to only rely on what I can produce or buy from local growers, I would be HIGHLY deficient in MANY nutrients!
A plant-based diet absolutely relies on a global food system!
I don't think anyone would argue that a global food system is better than a local food system for the environment. If you're striving (like myself) to eat locally, and not rely on the global food system, animal products are a necessity! I would argue that eating animals is better for the body AND the environment! Commercially raised animals are NOT good for the environment, but free-range chickens, pork, cattle, and sheep give back to the land in a way that artificial fertilizers just can't. My garden is better because I have chickens, and when I clean out their bedding, I shovel it into my garden beds. Chicken food is a gardening GOLD! The book Sacred Cow is an excellent overview of this! I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone interested!
I’m not saying, “Go all out! Eat anything you want to!” No, I’d encourage you to dig into the research yourself. Ask yourself what makes you feel the healthiest.
I personally try and eat an "ancestral diet". To learn more about an ancestral diet, read more here. Today, I try to eat a whole foods diet, incorporating plenty of organic, quality animal products, including plenty of organ meats, bone broth, raw milk, and organic free-range eggs. I try to avoid processed foods, especially seed oils, artificial coloring and preservatives, and GMOs. BUT, if I occasionally indulge in a pizza, it’s ok! For me, health is enjoying all kinds of foods! I focus on crowding out low-quality foods with high-quality foods. If you’re interested in learning more, here is a list of 5 books that changed the way I eat! And my post What is Ancestral Eating?
Have you tried a vegan/plant-based diet before? Are you still eating vegan? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!