February 18 2018

Stories from People Who Have Given up Vegan Diets

Sustainable Living

32  comments

This is as much a bookmark page for my own reference as anything else. It will help to counter the frequent claim that “Everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.” My intention is not to bash anyone for their life choice, but to show up that universal claim as untrue.

I’m sure that some people do okay on a whole plant-based diet, at least for a while. Some may even thrive! But I’ve been coming across too many testimonies from people who’ve felt literally driven by their own bodies to go back to a more natural omnivore diet that they cannot all be dismissed as just being bad or failed vegans.

After all, if a vegan diet were natural for homo sapiens, it ought to be really difficult to mess it up, even in the long term!

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Ben Hunt

My job is to look at the world and wonder... "How should we live?"

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  1. I was vegan for five years and I thought I was doing everything right. All I ate was vegies, fruit, legumes, rice etc.. no processed foods and I used to eat raw cacao, spirulina and all that stuff every day.
    At the end of last year I got tonsillitis followed by glandular fever two weeks later. My doctor immediately did blood tests after I told her I was vegan.
    The blood test results reveales extremely low levels of iron and vitamin D, which was causing my immune system to fail. She then suggested a pap smear test.
    The pap smear test came back with abnormalities and an HPV positive reading. I was terrified. I had to have a colposcopy and a biopsy taken of my cervix to test for cervical cancer.
    Basicly, because of my vegan diet my body was not able to fight off the HPV and it had persisted, which caused cell changes in my cervical cells. Biopsy results were good- no cancer but I have to have regular check ups until the HPV is gone.
    I had a big fillet steak when I got home and have been eating meat since. It’s now four months later and another blood test last week showed my iron levels are almost normal now and my body is able to fight infections again.
    Being vegan literally almost gave me cancer.

    1. Wow, glad you caught it in time. Thank you for sharing Elizabeth. I wonder what response you got from other vegans?

      1. Yeah, except there is no science that shows veganism cures cancer, it’s just an urban legend that has too many people brainwashed.

        1. Indeed, in fact if vegans get more of the energy they need from carbohydrates (which are converted into glucose in the bloodstream), that creates a better environment for cancer cells, which are obligate glucovores. If you get your energy from fats, cancer cells cannot use that.

      2. When I first heard this nonsense about cancer from a coworker, I was a vegan and he too. It pissed me off a lot. He said if my friend was smarter, she would just become a vegan to avoid her cancer. This shit shocked me. After many years, I stopped being a vegan. Even though I was a “proper vegan”, my teeth deteriorated.

        In Russia there are fewer myths and the vegan community is not so big or strong. I learned a lot of dumb vegan myths when I was searching for stories from other ex-vegans in 2021.

    2. All I gathered from this reply is that you failed to eat a healthy diet. Don’t blame veganism because you’re an idiot.

      1. Ahh, the other classic victim-blaming argument, “You did it wrong”. Priceless. Here’s the reality: your natural human diet should not be something you can fail at! i.e. You’re the one doing it wrong 😀

        1. So, because these people are stupid and can’t eat what they need, it’s a problem with the food? Hahaha entitled much?? Just because people are ignorant and misinformed doesn’t mean veganism is bad, it just means you can’t process information correctly ‍♂️ keep being pathetic.

          1. I’m constantly amazed at how vicious the vegan community can be against its own. The misanthropy runs so deep. It should no be — and it isn’t — hard to figure out what to eat, although for many it has been made complicated by corrupt, corporate-sponsored dietary guidelines. We can look at our natural, ancestral diet, which is the best place to start. Or figure it out from first principles using direct experience, the N=1 method. So many hordes have tried to survive on plants and fungi alone and suffered terrible consequences. I’ll continue to focus on helping them to recover, you can keep insulting them and putting them down if it makes you feel better.

  2. Elizabeth, is there a chance you could have gotten more sunlight, and also focused on getting more iron-rich plant foods into your diet? Beside providing iron, are there any other advantages to eating fish and meat? Have you checked your cholesterol levels and kidney function now that you are back on animal protein?

      1. B12, carnosine, taurine, DHA, creatine all thought to be brain protective. D3 is more easily absorbed than D2. Plant sources of ALA are poorly converted to DHA. Cholesterol isn’t the enemy, and recent research has shown that it has been vulcanized needlessly. Chronic kidney disease patients actually need to avoid certain plants, and not meat.

      2. Isac, is there a chance that Elizabeth might have had the foresight to doubt that her body might be able to fight off cancer with her well-planned vegan diet on which she felt fine for 5 years, and get out more in the sun and lick a few vegan nails for iron? Is there any chance that she might have taken the diagnosis more calmly and just modified her diet? What would you do?
        Isac, is it possible that fish and meat might provide other valuable nutrients, like choline so that you don’t have brain fog or get a stroke? And is it possible that dietary guidelines about cholesterol might have changed and it is no longer considered a health threat?

        Elizabeth, I hope you are completely well now.

  3. Thought I’d share a snippet of my adventures with plant based diets. After getting swept up by all the marketing and hype around plant based diets, being a health conscious individual, I jumped in 100%. I went from eating significant amounts of meat and veggies to nothing but the oft touted whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. After hearing so many stories of others doing the same thing and experiencing incredible energy, transformed health, clear thinking, and many other benefits, I figured it was only a matter of time until they all started kicking in for me. Sadly, I never felt any of the so called benefits.

    What I did get to experience was: never ending hunger despite eating massive amounts of food, weight gain to the tune of thirty pounds from said massive amounts of food, drastically lowered energy due to at least in part worse sleep from the hunger and weight gain, thin hair, a stomach so constantly bloated that I looked like a pregnant man, at the risk of TMI, insane bathroom trips (I’m talking going through half a roll of TP in one go), and other deleterious side effects.

    Despite all that, I continued to try to make it work, and things only got worse. It took a few different Registered Dietitians to bring me back to sanity: that lean meats are not dangerous foods and in fact play an important role in most diets. It’s also through RDs that I learned not everyone can do well eating loads of plants foods due to FODMAPS, which basically means one has trouble digesting many kinds of legumes, vegetables, and some grains. Now that I’ve been back to eating lean meats and grains and legumes in smaller portions, everything is back to normal. I can now go several hours without feeling intense hunger, my energy is back up, my weight dropped back down and all is right with the world.

    I hope other can find this helpful.

    1. Thanks Zach. It’s not an uncommon story. I would suggest that fatty meat will be even better than eating lean. Animal fat can provide all your energy and in a far more steady flow than you’ll get from carbs. Also, eating a high amount of fatty meat does not contribute to atherosclerosis, heart disease, or cancer.

  4. Everyone CAN be vegan, but not everyone WANTS to be – to put in the sacrifice to stick with it long-term. Giving up some elements of convenience is a sacrifice and humans can be more than a little bit inherently selfish. Animal products are addictive (habitually more than anything) and it’s hard to give that up and stick with it if you were raised eating them 3 times a day for most of your life.

    Unfortunately a lot of people get sucked up into the hype and marketing of plant-based diets rather than focusing on the animals themselves and the inherent suffering that is involved in making their bodies into lifeless products to be consumed. If people focused more on the victims and less on petty shit like their taste preferences and convenience then we would have less ‘vegans’ doing a 180. Veganism is an ethical philosophy which which hopes to alleviate animal suffering through consistent action. What veganism is not: a popularity contest, a weightloss diet, Instagramable food pics or way to virtue signal etc. – but unfortunately it seems like many people treat it this way.

    1. Yes, everyone CAN be vegan, but not long-term. It eventually destroys your health. I have seen enough people come out the other side to be 100% convinced of this.

      Your diet and your health should not be sacrifices.

      1. Have you watched the suffering of prey animals in wildlife documentaries? It’s horrible, but it doesn’t make it wrong for the predators to kill them. Once you accept that humans need animal based food for health, ethics becomes a matter of minimising suffering and only taking what you need. If you don’t yet accept that (some? all?) humans need animal based food, then you believe that people who lost their health as vegans are telling lies. That is a lot of people telling lies, for no obvious reason as most of them wanted to be vegan, many loved the lifestyle.

    2. I can see you are coming from a good place, bambi. But alleviating animal suffering doesn’t have to mean causing your own suffering.
      I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life (22 years) and a vegan for a couple of years. Despite being conscious on my diet and dedicating a lot of time, my health is deteriorating now

      1. It happens. The simple bottom line is that sourcing your whole diet from the plant & fungi kingdoms cannot provide all the nutrients your body needs, in the right proportions. You are a facultative carnivore, identifying as a herbivore doesn’t change that fact. If a plant-based diet was better for my health, better for animals, and better for the Earth, I too would still follow it… but it just isn’t. It actually fails on all three counts. Eating grass-fed beef is more vegan than anything that comes out of the industrial ag machine.

  5. Hahahaha anyone that gAvE uP vEgAnIsM wasn’t a vegan..and they are fucking morons that don’t science well..or cook well. Bunch of pathetic little pussies.

    1. Yeah I’ve heard that argument plenty. The truth is, the majority of vegans (yes, true ones) are forced to abandon it due to health issues. I literally know hundreds. And then they have to put up with abuse from the likes of you. The cult is strong, until you break free.

  6. I have tried many times over the years to thrive as a 100% vegan but my body just wouldn’t absorb the non-Heme iron. My hair feel out, my skin was grey and I couldn’t make decisions properly in work. I followed all the guidelines and tracked all macro and micro nutrients to ensure I wasn’t lacking but in the end after months on iron supplements to no avail I went back to my omnivore lifestyle. I am extremely in awe of those true vegans whose bodies thrive on this way of life but I’m just not one of them. I made a difficult decision the last time not to try and transition – instead I’m eating much less meat and fish than I would have before this and twice as much vege and legumes.

    1. I’m not sure there are “true” vegans. I have it on good authority that many high-profile “vegan” YouTube personalities cheat. The bottom line is that human beings are facultative carnivores. We can eat some plants, but we cannot get everything we need, in the appropriate amounts, from the kingdoms of plants/fungi. The more I learn, the more I am convinced this is a hard fact.

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