Updated: Mar 7, 2020
I get it, the bulk of the population is being sold on the delusion that plant-based is THE healthiest possible diet for everyone; so how could a vegan lifestyle possibly cause an adverse reaction for anyone? I mean, if Beyonce does it, it must be the best thing ever, right?!
Now, before the vegans grab their pitchforks and start with the hate comments, I would like to say that no ONE diet is uniformly beneficial for every human. And, just because a plant-based diet nearly destroyed me, doesn't mean that it's as detrimental for everyone else. This is just my journey through the world of bullshit nutrition information.
Let's start my vegan story from the beginning...
I'm 17, I just graduated high school, and my diet is dog shit. The usual breakfast for me was a messy ass Nature Valley bar, which was my only meal leading up to the saddest lunch ever.... cheap French fries from Jack in the Box and dollar tacos. Lucky for me, Mom was all about big dinners and that was probably the only time as a teen I'd actually eat real food. I was struggling with horrible cystic acne going on 2 years at this point and was always just told it was teen hormones; because there's no possible way the factor could've been a diet filled with food so processed that I wouldn't even feed it to my dog.
Someone had recommended a book called Skinny Bitch to me and out of mild curiosity over the fun title, I decided to read it. The whole book is dedicated to explaining the nightmare that is factory farming, the horrible chemicals pumped into animal products, and the glory that is the vegan diet. That sent me down a rabbit hole of research on factory farming and vegan living. After 2 more books and a graphic ass documentary, a vegan was born. A lot of people warned me not to follow a vegan diet, but I was 17 so of course, I already knew fuckin' everything there is to know about life.
That first year of strict veganism was great. My acne cleared up, I had all of this energy that I didn't even know what to do with, and I was looking skinny as hell (which was an idiotic top priority at age 18). I exercised every single day and even trained for and ran a half marathon. I was crushing life.
Year 2 of vegan living hit a little differently. My energy levels dropped significantly, I was getting sick a lot throughout winter, and my skin started breaking out again. After finishing 2 full years of a strict vegan diet, I determined that I just needed to eat MORE veggies and take more of my vegan supplements.
3 years into vegan life and I am a miserable, scrawny, tired, and just an overall sick human being. My stomach hurts every time I eat, my back pain from a high school volleyball disc injury is excruciating, my skin looks like shit, and I'm so skinny that my collar bones could take someone's eye out. I also could not function without taking at least one nap a day. You know what it is... I'm not being as strict on this vegan diet as I should be. I need to go full on raw vegan!
Oh hey, year 4 of vegan living (and 1 year into eating raw vegan); AKA the worst fucking time of my entire life. My spine is so inflamed that I can't even bend over to touch my toes without feeling like I'm going to die, I can barely walk a half-mile without needing to sit down, I'm having random fainting spells at school (what in the actual fuck?!), and literally everything makes me cry. My mom keeps telling me it's my diet, but that can't be the case because a plant-based diet is the best possible diet in the world..... isn't it?! Even though my blood work is atrocious, I'm highly anemic, vitamin D and calcium deficient, and my skin is pasty white even though I'm Latin and Native American, it doesn't mean the vegan diet is bad for me!
........my body was over my bullshit.
After 4 years of vegan living, I was still so adamant about living this animal-cruelty-free life despite being sick as fuck. But my body went into overdrive and one day every cell inside me was screaming "bacon burger!". My dad was in town visiting me and asked me where I wanted to go to dinner, knowing that it was going to be some shitty vegan place he wasn't going to love. To his surprise, I suggested a burger joint. He obliged and as soon as we sat down, I knew what I wanted. A double bacon cheeseburger; my brain was seriously on autopilot at this point. That bacon burger was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life and I ate the whole damn thing, plus the fries. I felt no guilt whatsoever because I immediately felt incredible. Dad and I went for a long ass walk right after dinner, which was the most exercise I had gotten in a year. The next day we went to a steakhouse AND a seafood restaurant where I went to town on all the meat I could fit in my belly. A meat eater was reborn.
That is also where my curiosity for proper nutrition was born. Obviously, I learned that books and documentaries have no clue about MY body's needs and that was on me to figure out for myself. Also, going back to school for nutrition definitely helped me perfect my dietary requirements and become an expert on other people's individual needs.
What I know about my body now....
Grass-fed red meat makes me feel great and I can eat it every day.
My gut loves raw dairy products.
Legumes, cruciferous vegetables, and many fruits absolutely destroy my digestive system and make me bloat to a level of looking 6 months prego.
Animal products contain vital nutrients that my body absolutely cannot live without and I feel like shit when I don't eat them.
I do not have to be "this" or "that". Vegan, carnivore, vegetarian, paleo... who cares?! I eat meat and some fruits and vegetables....and I occasionally drink tequila and eat homemade cake. It's all about finding YOUR balance.
Of course I felt great being vegan that first year. When you give up processed foods and start eating more fruits and veggies, you're going to feel significantly better. Duh! Going from eating like a dickhead teenager to eating vegan is an obvious step up; temporarily.
It took me almost 3 years post-vegan to get my body back to normal. My gut chemistry was jacked and it still showed in my skin. The cystic acne finally started clearing up after I consistently incorporated more grass-fed red meat into my diet along with some good probiotics. My iron saturation levels were still garbage for nearly 2 years after giving up the vegan life despite supplementation and eating meat, but I eventually started to feel normal again and my bloodwork is now amaze-ballz!
It's hard looking back at my vegan years. I was chronically in pain, couldn't exercise for longer than 20 minutes without needing a nap, and my moods were constantly up and down.
Now, I do Crossfit 5-6 days a week, have the energy to successfully maintain 2 jobs and a food blog, and as far as my mood goes, I am consistently upbeat and happy ALL the time. I mean ALL the time. Yes, life still happens and I deal with tragedy and hard times, as we all have to do, but I can handle it all very well. Shocking how much our diets play a roll in our mood, eh?
And now for the harsh (mildly arrogant) part....
I will always have a biased opinion about the vegan diet. I have (respectfully) turned many nutrition clients away who practice a vegan diet because I honestly do think it's one of the worst things you could do to your body; which makes me not the right nutrition coach for a vegan. We can argue environmental sustainability all day and you can tell me what the movie Game Changers taught you..... and I am still not going to give a flying fuck about your pro-vegan argument. Because I've lived that vegan lifestyle and thankfully have done enough research over the years to know that fear mongering documentaries tell people dangerous half truths that the producers of said documentaries should honestly be ashamed of themselves for.
And know this, if it comes down to me being in pain/feeling like shit or Wilbur being taken out, I'm choosing me over the pig every damn time.
I mean, I have a job and contribute to society. Wilbur don't do shit!