I've unfortunately never been Vegan or really met a Vegan. The other day I was eating lunch with a cousin and was ear hustling the guy seated behind me talk about his recent conversion to Veganism and how he lost 30lbs in 3 months. He was talking about some nutrient calorie ratio and basically stating that by cutting meat he was cutting fat and therfore getting more vitamins and minerals per calorie. I wanted to turn around and lay the paleo smackdown on him, but I instead decided that I'd leave things be and let him go on his merry way. I then began to think of what it must be like to be Vegan? What's the worst part about it? How much does it suck to be that guy? Can any Vegan converts enlighten me on what it is like to be Vegan?
I wasn't vegan for a very long time- perhaps close to a year- but that was enough time for me to figure out it wasn't working for me at all.
It's hard to talk about to other vegans. Because veganism is supposed to 'work' - I think because you want it to, so badly - it can make you feel like anyone who fails on it was doing something wrong. Some vegans that I talked to believed anyone who ate meat simply didn't have the will-power and desire to change the world that a vegan does. I was prepared to go to the ends of the earth to make it work; for the poor, the animals and the planet. You feel like you're a superhero and that just by abstaining you are doing the absolute minimum that should be required of everyone to cure the world of all its ills. Ath the time I came across some great arguments online written by ex-vegans, who debunked a lot of the common reasons for going veg. It really helped me understand the nature of food politics, and to stop blaming others.
I also became increasingly disenfranchised with other vegans. While not the reason I gave it up, it's totally crazy how willing they are to lie to themselves and beat others about. Many of them don't see reason and wholeheartedly support all the evidence that tells them what they already believe (e.g. The China Study, despite the many flaws). Meat-eaters are automatically condemned as heartless, smelly, and equated to the typical 'SAD' eater. I remember hearing the phrase 'he was a meat and potatoes man' used as an insult. It's funny because nothing makes me feel more like a superstar nowadays :D
In the end I gave it up because it was hurting me. I was a grain-free, wholefoods vegan who knew about why legumes were less than ideal, but didn't see a way to exist without them (other than going raw- which I just knew had to be a death sentence for me). Seven months in I had developed an EDNOS, dropped to 55 kg at 5'10, lost virtually all muscle mass, addicted to sugar and often binged on terrible foods, suicidal, full of rage towards myself and my body. I lost sight of all the beautiful and important things in my life and became totally preoccupied with food. I began eating eggs because of the amazing way they made me feel (even though I knew what happens to the male chicks). I added canned salmon, for the omega 3 that I can't seem to get elsewhere, I told myself. And it was one night at a friend's place where I ravenously stole a crumbed beef fillet out of the oven in the middle of the night (LOL) that made me realise how stupid I was being. So, I educated myself. My studies led me to paleo.
I know there are vegans who do well. I don't meant to criticise the diet itself, but I really believe that it's not ideal. For some people like myself, it's not sustainsble even for a short amount of time before running into serious problems. I can also see how adopting veganism over your standard diet might feel like the right thing. When I started out I was addicted to pasta, almost overweight but not quite. I used to have bad digestive problems and anaemia even while eating meat pretty regularly. The doctors told me I was in perfect health, even though I was unfit, constipated and had terrible stomach pains. I told them I suspected I didn't deal well with pasta, and the doctor asked me if I was irish (I'm not) and said there was some interesting research being done that people of irish descent may be celiacs. I tested negative anyway, and she told me to go along my merry way. That's the extent of their professional knowledge!
I think it's important to respect that there are numerous ways to achieve good health. Just as I try not to judge people with different political or religious beliefs, I try not to judge people's dietary and health choices, presuming that they are achieving good quality of life through their methods.
I was never a vegan, but I really don't like meat very much (nor eggs, and I can't really tolerate a whole bunch of dairy), so was quasi vegetarian/vegan for years, though I definitely ate meats when it was convenient or sounded tasty in small doses.
For me, it's hard to do paleo, when I don't care for meat and don't tolerate fats well. My diet as a paleo person has a lot of overlap with my diet before hand. I ate a TON of veggies before, and I still do. I didn't eat grains or dairy then, still don't. Biggest differences are 1) meat has replaced legumes and 2) the emphasis on natural, non-processed foods.
I may be the closest thing to an ex vegan on this board, so I'm happy to try to answer questions.
It doesn't feel as good for me as eating meat, that's for sure. I was a vegetarian for a couple of months and felt all right (actually better than when I was eating junk food and doing other unhealthy things) but when I found Mark Sisson's site and got some grassfed bison. About 2 hours after eating it I had a surge of energy and libido, I felt like a different person, like before I was missing a part of myself and had regained it. I attribute this to the various semi-essential peptides in meat (creatine, carnitine, carnosine, beta-alanine, probably more out there), because I was taking B12 and Zinc supplements and had normal iron levels. I can't know for sure what it was, but meat is here to stay.
If you are the kind of person who thinks that fat is useless and we should radically limit it then you are going to have a drop in your testosterone levels http://www.mattmetzgar.com/matt_metzgar/files/testosterone_and_diet.pdf If you have talked to anyone who has ever supplemented with testosterone, you know that more testosterone produces a better quality of experience than less testosterone. It can make you cocky and douchebaggy if you're not careful to be modest about your new-found awesomeness, though. I prefer feeling better to feeling worse, personally.
Also isn't it a bit fallacious to say that if any of your calories don't contain certain micronutrients then they're useless? Blueberries have very few micronutrients but have a lot of benefit, and the same goes for animal fat with its CLA content that protects against various diseases. Stearic acid can inhibit biofilm formation, etc, there are a lot of reasons to get dietary fat etc.http://www.wellnessresources.com/studies/stearic_acid_helps_prevent_biofilm_formation/
The book that this philosophy is from is called Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman. There is a good critique of its central premise by Chris Masterjohn here http://www.westonaprice.org/thumbs-down-reviews/eat-to-live
What's the worst part about it? Let me see, was it living in hell or was it almost dying... I don't know!
I'm not exaggerating. That was my experience. I won't list everything that went wrong with me while being vegetarian/vegan for about 15 years, it's just too much. I don't believe anyone can do well on it, I just think the process of deteriorating health can be made slower, depending on what type of vegetarian/vegan you are. Besides, people may seem/believe they are healthy even when serious health problems are arising. That's what happened to me. I remember someone once looking at me and saying I was healthy when I was going to doctors all the time!
I had many problems and very early because besides eliminating all animal foods, my diet was mainly grains, soy and vegetables. Worse, everything wholegrain and never fermented soy. I also had a lot of greens, that is, too much of phytoestrogens, goitrogens, and probably many other toxic substances.
Also, from my experience I can say don't trust a vegetarian/vegan saying they feel "great" before they have gone paleo to compare...
It seems to be much like any other addiction. Fun at first, followed by a slow descent into hell. Check out the interviews here: http://letthemeatmeat.com/tagged/ExVegan_Interviews
I've been a vegan for about 6 years and a raw vegan for about 2 years and now experimenting with a raw fruitarian diet as of the past 30 days. I started out in veganism when I first read the China Study. I have since learned that although it has it's high points, it's not an entirely accurate picture and have since stopped recommending it as a reason to go vegan. I'm a dietary vegan, who got started mainly for the advertised health benefits and for a while became one of "those" crazy PETA vegans who felth that everyone and everything would benefit from doing the same. It didn't take long for me to see my error and I pulled back the reigns and started accepting that different diets work for different people and that eating meat doesn't make one less compassionate toward animals - afterall, we humans are animals too who need compassion as well. That said, due to some health issues, I moved toward a raw plant based diet that consisted of green juices, nuts, seeds, fruits and veg with some occasional cooked veggie soups thrown in. I do believe this helped me overcome my health issues but what many people who eat this way don't realize is that their diets are essentially cleanses/detoxes and that once that process is done (for whatever reasons) there needs to be a rebuilding phase and integration of other foods. As for my venture into fruitarianism, I started it about a month ago as a 3 month experiment at the same time as I started CrossFit. My bodyfat got quite high (for me) on my previous high fat raw vegan diet from eating a lot of nuts and avocados which was a huge part of my caloric intake. I researched raw vegan athletes and found the 80/10/10 diet which consists of 80% carbs from fruit, 10% fat and 10% protein. I had my body fat measured in a Bod Pod at the beginning and will do so again at the 3 month mark before moving on to phase 2 which will be a paleo diet that includes animal protein. My plan is to perform the exact same number of CrossFit workouts as well as a repeat of blood labs in addition to body fat measurements at the end. I want to find out the truth for myself rather than drive myself batty listening to all of the so called experts - what good is their "science" when it doesn't gel with reality. Scientifically for my experiment, I will have body fat percentages and blood labs to use but also subjective evidence comparisons having to do with energy levels, recovery times, sleep, skin, and inflammation reports for my blog. My guess? I have the feeling that I'll wind up settling in somewhere in the middle happily.
i was vegan for a few years but vegetarian before that. as a raw vegan, my health was okay for a little while but i was very constipated and chubby. i started 80/10/10 raw veganism and within a month, i had rectal bleeding. i was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after 5 months of symptoms but continued to follow the diet because i thought it was good for my health. huge mistake. i have destroyed my gut and i'm using paleo to gain back any resemblance of a healthy digestive system. i felt so much better after i had my first egg breakfast in about 5 years. my stomach was so much calmer. i then started craving crispy skin from roast chicken so i asked my mom to make a chicken. as soon as i tasted it, i was like "what the hell have i been missing this whole time??" i've never looked back and am so glad i found this diet.
Worst part about it?
I became moderately anemic and was really low on iron and B12. My red blood cells apparently became somewhat deformed, or something like that. My doc explained it to me, but the gist of it was that I was nearly fainting every time I moved because of the anemia.
That was the worst part of it.
I was a vegan eater for four solid, strict years.
By the end, several of these applied to me:
By the way, I supplemented and studied hard in order to "do it right." I just couldn't make it work.
I also gained 20 pounds during my veganhood, which I lost within 2 months of eating a paleo way.
Some people seem to thrive on veganism, I was not one of them. My reasoning was "I don't want to eat animals or use them as food in any way if I don't have to."
I was vegetarian for 2 years, then vegan for 1 year during which I on and off struggled with raw veganism. I had gone so far with it, but I was rapidly falling apart. I looked swollen, was tired, probably hypoglycemic, overweight and just all around awful everyday.
One day I tried to eat sweet fruit and I couldn't. My tongue/body just rejected it. Anything sweet was sickening (still is, to this day). Since high carb wasn't working, I went to high fat. I felt better in some ways with nuts/seeds, but they made me feel 'heavy' and broke out with acne. Being out of options, I ate boiled eggs, and to my surprise felt better than fine; I felt better than I had in a long time...
The truth was so obvious. I fell apart on veganism, nothing about it sustained me and eating animal products was saving me. I was no different than a lion eating an antelope or a bear eating a fish. It had nothing to do with morality or even choice. I had to eat animals to survive, there was nothing gluttonous or amoral about it. Kill or be killed. That's being in tuned with nature. It's not sweet rainbows and sunshine. It's life or death. I chose life and decided I would be a meat eater.
The next day I ate a chicken thigh for the first time in 3 years. I came back to life. It was almost a rush. Like waking up from a bad dream. After a month of meat I got my energy back, I looked younger, lost fat, gain muscle easily, skin has color, hair is thicker, shinier, and grows faster. I just get better everyday. I feel human again.
Now I'm cautious of carbs since I don't handle many sources of them too well anymore. Hopefully tapioca is tolerable. If not, I'll just keep experimenting (animal source of carbs?). Overall, the experience was a nightmare, but it lead me to Paleo so it was worth it. I'm just glad I got out in time.
When I was vegan, I had to eat constantly. The fruit gave me so much energy that I HAD to start running and riding a bike, but after 1 hour I would feel terribly depressed and angry.
Lack of fat-soluble vitamins made my skin really bad, even though I ate mostly raw vegan. My allergies got worse than they ever got in my life (at a certain moment I couldn't go in the city because the pollution made me dizzy, and I almost couldn't walk anymore because my sinuses hurt too much).
I lost my social life, my money and my muscles on veganism.