I have hesitated for some time to submit my story. I think in part because I began a very low-carb diet in May 2017, prior to hearing about the Carnivore Diet challenge. I was aware of Amber O’Hearn and others avoiding plant foods. My husband and I had been vegan for just over 5 years prior to adding animal foods back in our diet in March 2017. By May, our plant food consumption had greatly diminished. This was quite a switch for me, as I have long been an advocate of ‘eating your dark leafy greens’ and always promoted eating lots of veggies.
So that is where this story begins!
I think what most people don’t realize is that nearly every single person in the Western countries is eating a plant-based diet. The average protein consumption is only about 12-15%.
Since age 4, I developed pretty bad allergies. While still young, I had an episode of my knees buckling in while getting off the couch. We did eat meat (and potatoes) growing up, yet I was diagnosed anemic, and given iron pills.
I think I long had a sugar addiction, something I thought I had gotten over years back. Funnily enough, as a vegan, I ultimately was consuming an entirely sugar-laden diet, even if I avoided refined sugars. However, I was long led to believe the ‘complex carbs’ – whole grains and beans – were good for balancing blood sugar. Fibre too.
Needless to say, I have had pretty severe hypoglycemic blood sugar swings, which of course worsened while on an entirely ‘whole foods, plant-based’ diet – despite all that fibre. My blood pressure is low. I would have orthostatic hypotensive super dizzy spells when I would stand up from sitting. Quite often, I would have to put myself down on the ground, as I could feel the lights going out. Even then, I still had that horrid feeling of falling. I would have mini seizures right after. This occurred more and more frequently while trying to make the vegan diet work. I did it all, from high raw, fruit-based, low-fat, low-protein, low-sodium to grain and bean based, macrobiotic style. I ate tons of greens, sea veggies, and all ‘the right stuff’ (vegans still try to tell me “I didn’t do it right”).
Needless to say, I watched myself age dramatically on a vegan diet. My skin became grey ashen looking. I felt like wrinkles were showing up pretty regularly! I often looked haggard when waking up.
My hair was falling out each time I brushed. My vision was worsening. My memory, recall, and retention were not up to par and I was increasingly feeling more and more fatigued. It was very hard to get motivated in the morning.
All this was happening while being in the ‘holistic/alternative’ health care, trying to do health coaching. What a joke! I even wrote 4 books on eating a whole foods, plant-based, or macrobiotic diet, all of which I have since unpublished.
My husband and I were doing plenty of training. Meanwhile, our progress was seeming to stall. I had constant tendonitis somewhere or another. Elbows, wrists. Knee issues. In fact, I just really had stiffness and pain all the time. It really took a lot of work to loosen up, and feel okay and ready for my day.
While plant based, I ate bowls full of cooked porridge. My husband and I were clearly craving protein more and more as time went on. We were adding beans and nuts to the porridge. I kept feeling like I needed more, yet I was full. By the day’s end, I had that lovely ‘lower belly kangaroo pouch’ ~ my not so endearing term. Bloating, constipation and low moods became more constant as time went on while eating plant based.
Then there were the major sicknesses every single winter. We do treat many people who get sick with acupuncture in our clinic. Sure enough, we each would take turns getting sick as well. One year, while eating mostly raw, I actually had what looked like adult chicken pox. Major chills and fever. Major! I had chicken pox as a kid too. Another year, I had laryngitis so bad, I thought I really damaged my vocal cords. Not a sound could be made! These illnesses lingered for weeks. Once upon a time I worked in a busy tourist restaurant, in Aspen, CO, and I was the one that picked up everyone else’s shifts when they were sick!
By the time the winter illness would finally subside, I was hit with allergies that dragged on for well over another month. I basically began each year sick. I had phlegm that never went away. Sinus problems. Difficulty breathing well. (But I believed dairy caused these problems. Not sure why things were not clicking in my mind, as I had not had dairy in years!)
People may wonder why we lingered so long. It is difficult to break these mental associations, and marketers and pushers of these plant-based diets know this.
The signs were certainly adding up. But, we had watched all the propaganda films (Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, et al.) and read all the plant-based doctor books, and believed these guys. I even took T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition certification course!
The reason we actually switched from a paleo diet prior to vegan to begin with was because Don’s first wife developed breast cancer. She and he had been paleo for 10 years, the length of time it takes for cancer cells to multiply enough to be palpable. She passed away just shy of turning 50.
I developed excruciatingly tender, fatty, and uneven sized breasts shortly after her diagnosis. This put the fear in me. Don also had prostate issues. His dad has prostate cancer. We were sure that the only thing that could be a problem was the meat and saturated fat. Of course, that is what is pushed, especially by those plant-based doctors. The fact that eating grains and beans again, including soy, after a year or more of abstaining helped my condition to totally subside caused me to be certain we were on the right path once we were vegan. His prostate symptoms also cleared.
Interestingly, while high raw, fruit-based, my fibrocystic tenderness returned, albeit without the enlarged, clearly fatty and unevenness as they were prior. That ended that way of eating.
In addition to the fibrocystic breast condition, I had also reached my lifetime highest weight at 127#. I am only 5 feet tall! We also attributed that to the paleo diet, esp. meat + fat. I mean, how could it be the vegetables and berries, after all! (I get it now, just didn’t then. Carbs + fat = big insulin problem!)
It takes some time to experience the deficiencies, depending on previous diet. So much of these symptoms I had either always had, and hoped to see an improvement, or just kept thinking required more time to resolve.
Despite all the fiber, I also had constipation. Irritable bowel is probably better description. I was actually beginning to develop hemorrhoids as well.
I am sure once I submit this, I’ll think of even more issues experienced while plant-based, but this was probably excruciating enough to read!
The good news? Since eating a high protein, nearly carnivorous diet, I have regained a sense of myself again. I regained lost vitality. I am developing lean muscle and strength while training, whereas progress seemed hard to notice previously.
I immediately had clients tell me how much better I looked. My skin brightened up. My hair no longer falls out. I don’t have constipation, although I do take magnesium, nearly my only supplement, other than getting adequate sodium. My body composition has definitely changed. I feel like a new person. I now steadily weigh 102#. I essentially lost 1/5 of my body weight. Nobody believes me tho! My excess fat has always been in my lower body.
I have regained my confidence, lost while feeling so bad about myself for feeling so bad, especially when I’m supposed to be reflecting health as part of my profession. I no longer have cravings, mood swings, or lack of focus. My entire outlook and ability to function as a human has so greatly improved, it is truly like getting my life back. The life I was meant to live.
I am regretful for sure of lost vitality. I get nasty comments from vegans on my YT channel. This has all been quite a journey. I now have a new book out, and I know with 100% certainty having been there, done that, that meat + fat is where it is at. I am now bullet-proof to the misleading information and propaganda.
If you’ve read this far, all I can say is don’t go vegan! As we age, we need all the more protein. It’s not as easy to recover either. But, the body is super resilient. I began to feel so much better immediately upon eating meat again. It has only gotten better since. I would say I am still wanting to see certain areas improve, but there are other factors impacting our health besides diet. I trust this process, and I am in it for the long haul. Animal foods are nutrient dense, and there is no doubt that my symptoms were from major micro and macronutrient deficiencies.
Thank the Gods for people like Dr. Shawn Baker who calls it as it is, despite this crazy PC world we live in with a seemingly clear agenda to push veganism. Nearly every one of our clients believes that eating plant foods is healthy. We did too once. It’s a hard belief to break.