Why I quit being vegan

Couldn't think of what kind of picture to put with this post. Behold, a random cow from a farm nearby!

Couldn’t think of what kind of picture to put with this post? Behold, a random cow from a farm nearby!

I was asked recently by a friend to do a post on why I decided to stop being vegan. I realized that I had never brought that up in this space. Did any of you actually know that I was vegan, haha? It would be hard to tell now, what with my bacon and steak eating ways. But I know that eating meat is something a lot of people struggle with for different reasons, so I thought I’d let all of you know why I’ve done what I’ve done, and maybe help a few people make a more informed decision.

Why I became vegan in the first place

I was vegan for a full year. There were two main reasons that I became vegan: 1. I didn’t believe in cruelty to animals and 2. I read “The China Study” and learned that animal products cause cancer and heart disease. Those seem to be the main reasons most people turn vegan these days. They want to remain healthy and also protect animals AND the environment. In my opinion, all vegans deserve a pat on the back for wanting to be so proactive.

When it came to animal cruelty, I was sold on being vegan the first time I watched a video on the industrial food system. I learned that most of the meat we eat comes from animals in unsanitary conditions that are never given a chance to live their lives. They are given foods that are unnatural to their species’ diet, forced to live in tiny spaces for most of their lives, and are rarely ever given a chance to bond with (or even see) their babies. Many also never see any sunlight their whole lives. I decided there was no way I could support a system like that. I loved animals, so I would not eat them.

Then came, “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. That book changed my life. In it he discusses his decades long research in China that shows that the introduction of animal products (specifically dairy) has an adverse effect on people’s health and can cause cancer. In fact, he was able to turn cancer on and back off again in lab rats when he introduced, and then took away, animal products. Amazing right? So I was convinced, a plant based vegan diet was the way to go for me and my family. I would be keeping us healthy and free of disease, while also not supporting the industrial animal farming business. Life was good.

Why I stopped being vegan

Fast forward a year and I was a few months post partum with my twins. Ever since I’d given birth to them, I’d felt really weird. BEYOND postpartum weird. I felt like my whole body was shutting down on me. I was swelling in my legs, couldn’t poo, was overly tired, and was losing my eyebrow hair. After a long series of tests over a number of months, I found out that my thyroid was shot and i had Hashimotos. When the doc first told me what was wrong I knew immediately what to do: Be an even harder core vegan! Because I thought that if I kept my diet clean and balanced enough, my body could heal itself of anything!

However at the same time I noticed something severely disturbing to me: I was craving meat! Oh man, did I want some bacon. And a steak. I would dream about sneaking out and eating a big mac. It got to the point where I decided to (secretly) question my diet and do some research (Along the way I did get some help from an ND and an awesome holistic health counselor too). Here’s what I came across…

1. No society in  history was ever vegan. Never happened. I learned this through the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, who seriously saved my life. He was a dentist in the early 1900′s that was puzzled by our nation’s deteriorating dental health. So, he decided to go on a world wide expedition to find out what primitive isolated societies ate (These villages were so isolated they didn’t even have roads that connected to them) and record their dental health. In every country he went to (Isolated parts of: Switzerland, Ireland, Africa, the Pacific Islands, Australia, Alaska, and many more) he noticed the same thing: The natives all had excellent teeth with barely any cavities, despite not even having access to toothbrushes! So, his next question was, “What do they eat?” His great hope was to find a society that was primarily vegetarian or vegan. He found none. Each society consumed animal products to survive, since they had no help from the outside. Some ate mostly fish. Some ate mostly raw dairy. Some ate mostly animals (and their blood). Some ate a combination. But they all ate animal products to survive. He did find one almost vegetarian society, but it turned out they only ate this way because there was very little access to meat or fish. They ate bugs for their protein. And it turned out that society was the most unhealthy of them all, with several missing teeth and having cavities. He also found out that these societies prized the organ meats more than the muscle meats, because they were so high in vitamins. In fact, because these societies didn’t have things like prenatal vitamins, the women and the men were made to go on a pre pregnancy diet an average of 6 months before they conceived. That diet was extremely high in vitamins and consisted heavily on “sacred foods” high in vitamins D3 and K2 like: Liver, fish roe, and grass fed butter from the milk of cows grazing on lush spring grass. For more on this, watch this amazing video here.

2. I learned that animal foods are ESSENTIAL for disease prevention. Ok, so here’s the deal. The whole medical community recognizes that high levels of vitamin D in your blood protects you from most all cancers, auto-immune diseases, and heart disease. We’ve all heard that before. So what do they tell us? Get more sun! Which is true…to a degree. See, your body CANNOT absorb vitamin D through your skin without dietary cholesterol. Did you know that? If you do not eat enough cholesterol containing foods (like LARD!), your body cannot synthesize the vitamin D from the sunlight. In that case, no matter how much time you spend outside, your vitamin D levels will still be low. So what diet will help us absorb more vitamin D? The answer is a diet high in eggs (especially the yolks), raw whole milk, meat, organ meats, coconut oil, and pretty much all whole grass fed dairy products. The very stuff that books like, “The China Study” tells us to avoid, are the very foods we need to keep our vitamin D levels up and prevent cancer. Also, eating these foods, especially liver, is super preventative for heart disease. Why? Because liver is extremely high in Vitamin D, CoQ10, and all the B vitamins. These are the exact vitamins that doctors recommend in a multi-vitamin to prevent heart disease in the first place.
In my opinion, It is no coincidence that heart disease was rare before the 1920′s. It was so rare even that researches couldn’t even get funded because they were told it would never become a serious problem! And what did we eat before then? Whole animal foods. No fear of fats. (And also less sugar and more whole organic vegetables). Go figure!

3. I learned that just because I do not support industrial animal farming doesn’t mean I can’t eat meat. These days, we buy most all of our meat from a local farm who raises their animals in the most caring, respectful way. Those animals are outside every day grazing on green grass and enjoying the sunlight. You can watch the mothers feed their babies and see them playing together out on the pasture. These are organic, pasture raised animals y’all. They get to live out long, happy lives in a safe environment. My kids can even watch them grow. And when the animals are butchered, no part of them goes to waste. You can  buy the bones for broth, the liver and muscle meat for eating, and the fat for cooking with. That, in my opinion, is the way things are supposed to be. I don’t think we need to be eating off of a different animal every night. Instead, you can have a whole roasted chicken one day, leftover chicken meat for the next two days in another dish, and then homemade soup from the chicken’s bones (bone broth is actually a complete protein!) for the next couple days. In my religion they say to eat meat sparingly, and I truly believe this is what they meant. It also shows that you respect that animal and its sacrifice, I believe.

4. Without animal products, your thyroid cannot function correctly. For optimal thyroid function, your body needs lots of vitamins: A, D3, and K2. When I was vegan I was told that you can get all of these vitamins from plants. And that is PARTLY true. Plants do have a form of all of these vitamins. However, you can only absorb a portion of these vitamins the plants have to offer without fats. And even when you use fats, like olive oil on a salad, it is still not as readily useable as animal foods. You can get all three of those important vitamins in abundance from eating animal products regularly. I believe this is a big reason why my thyroid stopped working properly while I was vegan. It is also the reason why, according to my lab work, I am now almost cured of Hashimoto’s! My body truly cannot work properly on a heavily plant based diet alone, I need meat and fats too.

5. I learned that humans are natural born omnivores, and that every part of our physiology confirms that. When I was vegan, one of the big arguments for humans being natural herbivores was that our digestive tracts and our teeth more closely resemble a plant eating animal’s. But really, this is not the case. We do have canines. Herbivores do not. Many herbivores have a longer intestinal tract like ours, but they also have two stomachs so that they can ferment the mass amounts of plant foods before passing it along. The fermentation turns the plants into useable forms of vitamins. Our (one) stomach does not do this. And lastly, all meat eating animals have eyes in the front of their faces to signify that they are the predators. All of the animals that are meant to be eaten (sparingly, of course) are wall-eyed, with eyes on the sides of their heads, making them easy prey.

I realize this post will not turn every vegan into a meat eater, and that is perfectly fine. My intention was just to let you know why I made the choice to go back to eating meat. In my opinion, here’s what I think a healthy diet looks like:

1. Grass fed, pasture raised meat and eggs.

2. Tons of organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs

3. Raw, pasture raised milk products

4. Healthy, traditional fats like: Coconut oil, olive oil, tallow, lard, and butter.

5. A moderate amount of grains, beans, and lentils.

6. Plenty of seafood

7. Traditional sweeteners like raw honey and pure maple syrup.

If you are interested in hearing other people’s points of view about why they quit being vegan as well, check out these celebrities who have spoken out about it: The girlfriend from “Supersize Me”, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Ellen.

Till next time!

Mindy

  • Valerie VanderLinden

    Hahah you are funny! Now I may sound like a hypocrite since I don’t eat red meat but its only because I am crazy and have so many mind issues and not because I think it’s bad ect. But when I hear people take things to such an extreme, especially homeopathic doctors etc (I am really not meaning you) I always find it interesting that they say to stop doing this or that or to not eat this or that but God put certain things on earth for a reason. That should be enough reason to eat or use something. Animals were put on earth for meat. That is all my thoughts. As if anyone cares. Hahha I just like to ramble!

    • mindy

      I care about your thoughts, haha! And I agree, its bad when people take it to ANY extreme. Better to eat a varied diet :)

  • Kristen Smith

    This is so informative- thanks for taking the time to write this all out. Definitely helps me think a little more critically about my choice to be vegan!

  • Tari McDonald

    Such a great article Mindy! I’ve been doing a lot of research on the different “healthy” diets (i.e. Vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, etc.) and I have been having a hard time feeling like I should commit to one because it seems like there isn’t a balance of things God has given us to use for food (according to the WOW). I really appreciate your insight here and it’s nice to hear that your diet has been helping with your Hashimotos (which I coincidentally also have… small world! :) Thanks for sharing!

    • mindy

      I had no idea Tari, it is a small world :) If you are interested on how to get rid of the Hashimotos (its taken me a full year, and I should test negative by fallish) check out my article on it here: http://wonderfullybalanced.com/?p=29 . Good luck! And I’m glad the article helped you!

  • Kristen Smith

    Mindy, I’ve been looking into this further and found an article on Vegsource.com (so it’s obviously heavily biased toward vegetarianism/veganism) that brought up some questions. Here’s a quote from it and then the link to the whole article at the bottom. Could you help answer the discrepancies that the author brings up? I hope this doesn’t seem like I’m being confrontational… I really am interested in figuring this out- while I love being a vegan I question the overall healthiness of it, especially for my kids.

    “…Price discovered many native cultures that were extremely healthy while eating lacto-vegetarian or pisco-vegan diets. Describing one lacto-vegetarian people, for example, he called them, “The most physically perfect people in northern India… the people are very tall and are free of tooth decay.” Yet the foundation that operates under his name is strikingly hostile to vegetarians….

    In 1934, Price wrote a moving letter to his nieces and nephews, instructing them in the diet he hoped they would eat. “The basic foods should be the entire grains such as whole wheat, rye or oats, whole wheat and rye breads, wheat and oat cereals, oat-cake, dairy products, including milk and cheese, which should be used liberally, and marine foods.” Yet the Weston A. Price Foundation aggressively promotes the consumption of beef, pork and other high-fat meats, while condemning people who base their diets on whole grains.”

    http://www.vegsource.com/news/2009/11/reflections-on-the-weston-a-price-foundation.html

    • mindy

      No, I love this! The swiss village that Dr. Price visited only ate meat once a month (if i remember correctly) and the rest of their diet was very heavily dairy based. They also did eat lots of grains! In fact, many of the societies he visited ate tons of grains! But what they left out in that article is that all of the societies soaked or fermented their grains to get rid of the phytates and make them more digestable.
      Also, Dr. Price said the people with the absolute best health, bone structure, and teeth were the pacific islanders who’s main protein source was seafood. They also ate lots of carbohydrates and coconut products. Fermented shark parts (I believe) were their sacred fertility food. haha!
      On the other spectrum, there were the Masai warriors of Africa who were extremely tall and lean who lives primarily off of milk, cows meat, and cows blood.
      That’s why I love his research. It proves that people can live a healthy, long life on a variety of diets. Just as long as they eat whole foods (grains included if you can handle them…I cannot) and stay away from processed junk and sugar. However, the point I was trying to make is that none of the societies were vegan. They all ate animal products.
      I think maybe a good way to decide which of these diets is best for you is to look at your ancestry. Did the people come from a place that got most of their protein from seafood? Maybe dairy? Or did they eat lots of meat? That might help. Or maybe just experiment (guilt free!) with all of these different foods and see what you and your children thrive on best.
      I know how hard it is to find a diet you feel good about, and that suits your family! It will probably take a whole lot of soul searching and prayer. Maybe the end result will be to stay vegan? Either way, at least you are thinking about what you’re eating..so you are already so much better off!

      • mindy

        Oh, and Dr. Price never actually went to India. I forgot to mention that, haha. So technically, he never observed a primitive vegetarian diet himself (Though the swiss were close). He did remark on another man’s studies though:

        “Although Price didn’t study the Pathans of India himself, he had the following to say about them (p. 291):

        The most physically perfect people in northern India are probably the Pathans who live on dairy products largely in the form of soured curd, together with wheat and vegetables. The people are very tall and are free of tooth decay.

        Although Price never reported traveling to India, he was familiar with the work of Sir Robert McCarrison (see p. 479), who studied several groups in that land that thrived on wheat-inclusive diets.

        While none of these observations should have the final word in a debate about the health value of grains, they are important to keep in mind so that when Price’s work is brought up in such a debate, it is presented accurately.”

        • Kristen Smith

          Thank you for this! I totally agree with you that people can be healthy on a variety of diets. For me, I feel like eating vegan most of the time is my health “sweet spot”- that place where I feel vibrant and in control of my health. That was obviously not the case for you, so I’m glad you found Dr. Price’s research!

          • mindy

            :) All that matters is that you feel well and are healthy. Glad you found what works for you!

  • http://sheislookingformagic.blogspot.com Amber

    I am going to print this off Mindy! Such a wonderful summary :) I loved reading your experience. It certainly helps me as I decide what is the best diet for my family!