I kindly ask that you read this entire post before leaving any comments. While I am no longer vegan, the recipes on this blog will always be vegan friendly and cater to all types of eaters. Thank you for your continued support.
I have been putting this post off for a while because I’ve been really nervous about how it would be received. On one end, I was worried that friends and family who were skeptical of a plant based diet to begin with would have an “I told you so” mentality.
On the other hand, I worried that those who believe a plant-based diet is the only healthful way of eating would be critical and not understand my choice.
The bottom line is, I won’t ever be able to please everyone. This is the best decision for me and I am here to share my story in hopes it helps anyone who is in a similar position as I was.
I first went vegan in the Fall of 2015 and I felt really good. I had been pescatarian for a few months prior to that, and decided to cut out all dairy to help my hormones, digestion, and skin. Eventually, eggs were the only animal products remaining, so I figured why not try veganism?
Initially, it was a change I made for my health. However, it quickly became a deeply ethical stance after learning about factory farming and how animals end up on our plates. To me, veganism wasn’t a diet, it was a lifestyle, and I was in it for the long haul. For myself, the planet, and the animals.
My skin was the clearest it had ever been, my energy was high, my sleep and mood improved, my periods were easy, my running got better, the benefits were seemingly endless.
I was so excited about sharing my cruelty-free lifestyle with others, so eventually Eat With Clarity was born. I was passionate about sharing recipes with others and was excited to see the vegan movement grow.
I like to think I was a really responsible vegan. I always took my important supplements (vitamins D, B12, and even a multivitamin for good measure), didn’t try extreme fruit only diets, month long water fasts, or any of the other ridiculous trends I’d seen others doing.
Where things went wrong
About a year and a half ago (early 2018) I started to lose extreme amounts of hair in the shower. I’m not talking about a few extra hairs in my brush or on my pillow. I mean huge handfuls that would require me to clean the shower drain at least 3 times over the course of a 5-10 minute shower or else I would end up taking a bath instead.
I hate to sound superficial, but hair loss as a young woman is terrifying. It’s scary to feel like your body is going against you and scarier when you don’t know how to stop it or how bad it’s going to get.
I didn’t share any of this until now because it’s hard dealing with health issues and broadcasting them publicly. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t do, so I kept this to myself for the most part.
Frankly, I don’t love sharing this now. But I think it’s important to include these details and share my story because what I went through is incredibly common. So, if you too are dealing with hair loss or other health issues, please know you aren’t alone.
I knew I needed a change
In addition to the hair loss, I lost my periods, had extreme fatigue yet horrible insomnia, shortness of breath, shin rashes, digestive discomfort and acne so severe I could hardly sleep.
No matter what I ate, right after dinner I was always bloated, gassy, and felt painfully inflamed. Most of the time after I ate I looked pregnant. I was in so much physical and emotional pain that I became a very unpleasant person to be around.
I played around with different foods, macronutrient breakdowns, and a host of other things while still maintaining a vegan diet, but nothing seemed to help.
No matter what food I cut out or added back, it stayed the same. My skin was terrible, my energy was low, and it was really hard finding foods that didn’t irritate my body.
I saw countless doctors and specialists. Eventually, after getting multiple rounds of blood work done, I learned I had severe hormonal imbalances, anemia, leaky gut, celiac disease and several nutrient deficiencies despite my diligent supplementation and varied plant-based diet.
My iron, B12, and vitamin D were extremely low, as well as iodine, selenium, zinc, copper, and a few others.
My body was unable to absorb iron and other nutrients in my food and supplements. In order to absorb nutrients, I needed to heal my gut. There were many foods I had to eliminate to heal my gut such as certain nuts, grains, and legumes. Continuing on a vegan diet without these foods would only lead to further deficiencies.
I contemplated making the change for months before I actually did, despite having very strong cravings for things like eggs and salmon.
Veganism had become a huge part of my identity over the years and I didn’t want to let it go. I love animals and didn’t want to contribute to any suffering, but I also didn’t want my own health to suffer.
While I was not dealing with any life threatening conditions (though they very much so affected my ability to function on a daily basis), the symptoms I had served as very stark warning signs that something was wrong and needed my attention. If I continued to ignore them now, they would merely lead to more severe health issues down the road.
I tried EVERYTHING
In the past year and half I have seen more doctors and specialists than I care to count. I’ve seen conventional doctors, naturopathic doctors, homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, dietitians. You name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve had countless tests done, from hormone panels, to thyroid, iron, vitamin A, D, B12, iodine, and more.
I tried DOZENS of supplements (at one point I was taking upwards of 50 supplements a day just to feel normal). A lot of progress was made thanks to certain supplements, but not enough to get my health back to normal.
I love animals, I care about the planet, I don’t want to contribute to the suffering of any living being. But I couldn’t ignore the fact that my health was getting worse.
Your body speaks to you. Your job is to listen.
In January of this year, I decided to add collagen and bone broth into my diet to help my gut. I was scared to take the first sip of bone broth, maybe even a little grossed out, but as soon as I did, I could hear my body saying ahhh, yes, this is what I need. I drank it a few times a week, and added collagen to my golden milk lattes and slowly started to feel better.
Eventually, I added in eggs, wild caught fish, and organic chicken a few times a week. I soon noticed I no longer had the gassy and bloated feeling after I ate. Changes certainly did not occur overnight, but over time I started to feel much better, and my blood work reflected that.
To me, veganism was always about compassion. Compassion for others, the animals, the planet, but also for myself. Despite my morals screaming at me to keep eating a fully plant-based diet, my body was screaming for something different.
I couldn’t continue eating in a way that was not contributing to my health. Is eating an entirely plant-based diet a kinder way to treat the animals? Yes. But I needed to find a happy medium and treat myself kindly.
I wanted to be in a good place both physically and mentally before I shared this change. I have no ulterior or financial motive for changing my diet. The sole reason I changed my diet was because it was necessary for my health.
My experience adding in animal products
After many years and many thousands of dollars, I am very happy to report that my hair loss has stopped and is (slowly but surely!) growing back. My energy is higher, I’m able to sleep through the night, my digestion is better, my skin has cleared, I got my period back, and my blood work is much better.
My health issues didn’t vanish overnight and my dietary change hasn’t healed everything. Diet is only one piece of the health puzzle, albeit a very important one. This is my story and experience, and I do not want to give the vegan movement a bad rap.
I understand my decision may be confusing or upsetting. However, I want to be clear that a fully plant-based diet is a healthful and nutritious way of eating. It can work for a lot of people. However, I had to honor the fact that it was no longer working for me and probably won’t work for everyone. Humans are natural omnivores after all, and as much as I wanted it to, a fully plant based diet did not agree with my body. Veganism is inherently about compassion, but it’s important to remember to extend this compassion to ourself and fellow humans who simply cannot eat this way. Whether for health, financial or other reasons.
There is no one perfect human diet. We are all unique beings with different needs, ancestral backgrounds, and physical chemistries. I used to believe that some variation of veganism could work for everyone. But over the past year of dealing with my health issues, I realize this is not the case.
Being a compassionate, ethical, environmentally conscious person does not have to be black or white. Small changes go a long way and I think it’s important for us to do the best we can when we can. I do my best to be as environmentally and ethically conscious as possible while still maintaining my health.
When I heard stories of other people turning their backs on the vegan diet for health reasons, I would roll my eyes. I didn’t think there was any possible way animal products would promote health.
I always thought said person couldn’t have been in it for the right reasons. My sincere apologies to any ex-vegan I ever judged along the way. I can now understand where you are coming from.
What this means going forward
The recipes on this blog will continue to be 80% plant based and always gluten and dairy free. The recipes that are not vegan will have vegan options or alternatives whenever possible.
Certain recipes will contain eggs, fish, or chicken from time to time. However, I want this to be a place where ALL types of eaters are welcome, no questions or judgment.
My ultimate goal will always be to inspire others to bring MORE plants into the picture. For the sake of our health, the animals, and the planet, more plants is an excellent goal.
I feel amazing eating mostly plant based, but feel extra amazing with the addition of animal products. I hope you can respect my decision and I appreciate all of your continued love and support! ♡