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!