Coming Out – I’m No Longer A Vegan
Note: I wrote this post 8 years ago.
Please see an outline of my current diet at the end of this post.
It's time for a personal post - one I never expected to share let alone go through. My intention is to be honest and real with my experience and healing journey, even if it goes against many of my friends/readers beliefs - heck, my new ways went against my own belief system recently too!
For the past 5 months or so I've been having a really rough time - mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I've felt depleted. In the moment I couldn't see it, but standing back, I realize that I should have sought help much earlier on. Symptoms started appearing, and even though I knew something was wrong, I overlooked the imbalances, figuring I was going through a "low period" that would pass on it's own. At first I was sure it was emotional crap that I was clearing out and thought "better out than in"!
By August I went downhill even more, to the point where I would wake up in the morning and feel fine for up to an hour before hitting a low point which sent me into a crying, depressed spell, and back to bed. It was pretty awful.
On the upside, I've had amazing support from friends and family along the way. All too often I would phone my best friends, feeling upset and in tears. Thank you guys (you know who you are;). Your love has helped me more than you could imagine.
Here are the symptoms I was (and to a lesser extent, still am) experiencing:
Fatigue - I was tired all the time, like I couldn't get going properly.
Headaches - they started slowly, around April and appeared more and more frequently (to a few times a week).
Constipation - I've tried all the natural herbal laxatives/teas on the market, and while I've found some good ones, they never got to the root of the problem. I got into enemas and for a while was doing them multiple times a week because it was the only thing to give me relief.
Acne - My skin broke out in little bumps all over my forehead at one point in August (right before having to be part of my friend's wedding party!), but for a while I've had acne my shoulders.
Extreme irritability - Mood swings, and outbursts of anger that I never knew I was capable of.
Depression - I was crying every day, not seeing any point to my life, and had no motivation.
Anxiety - I felt overwhelmed and jittery.
Abdominal pains - My stomach often felt bloated with a lot of intestinal cramping - both before and after eating. I found that the enemas actually made this worse.
Weak muscles - I'm normally quite strong but I became so weak that even a short walk was a challenge. I did an exercise class with a friend - a weight class I used to do regularly but I couldn't even make it through the class.
Major brain fog - I felt spacey and really ungrounded.
VERY fortunately my dear friend, homeopathic doctor, and medical intuitive, Denyse Appelmans, was visiting for a few days in the midst of it all. She witnessed what I was going through and said I was showing signs of low thyroid and adrenal fatigue. She put me on homeopathic remedies immediately, and strongly suggested I make some dietary changes.
Soon after that I got some blood tests done. Denyse wanted a number of tests done on me, but they would only perform the base line tests. The tests came back indicating that my thyroid is on the low end of normal, I have low levels of iron, B6, and B12, in addition to some adrenal fatigue.
Denyse put me on a very specific healing protocol immediately afterwards. While some aspects might appear shocking to you, I am confident that what I am doing will heal me. Not just because I've been told to, but I feel in my heart that some major changes are essential for this period - plus, I trust Denyse with my whole heart and soul. In addition, I believe that the divine powers of the universe have supplied me with many confirmations along this particular path.
I'll also take a second to mention that if this doesn't resonate with you, that's cool, I understand, but please refrain from leaving messages or links containing information that is contrary to this approach. This is the path I'm choosing to take right now. Thanks.
After 13 years of vegetarianism I'm eating meat. The people who know me well almost fell over when I told them about my new "carnivorous" ways. I became vegetarian right upon turning 14, and, just 2 weeks before turning 27, I bit into a piece of meat. You might wonder how my body responded after such a long time of going without it. I wondered what would happen too! My body digested it so easily. Let me tell you though - it was a challenge at first to shift toward this new way of eating! For days I cried and cried at the thought of eating meat - I think that was more challenging than not being allowed to eat chocolate and dessert!
I'm eating delicious things like THIS. Wild salmon with wild blueberry salsa and roasted veggies, prepared by Chef Franky.
Dr. Appelman's Healing Protocol for Heathy!
This is temporary, but Denyse said it will take a good few months for the turn around, and to change my blood. She has assured me that l will indeed be back on my feet, enjoying the foods I love again.
She explained that my condition is affecting me on a biochemical level, and there is no amount of fasting and/or bowel cleansing will help at this point (in fact she said it would worsen the condition).
We are working to heal me on a cellular level.
-homeopathic remedies (which are extremely potent herbal formulas)
-high quality vitamin supplementation: B complex vitamin, multivitamin, omegas
-cooked red meat - 4 oz, twice daily. At home I eat the wild moose/deer that my dad hunts. When I was traveling recently, I ate free range/organic meat. The wild or free range factor is crucial because any grain fed animal is toxic.
-fish - cooked and raw. Fortunately my dad catches fresh fish! I prefer eating it as ceviche - raw fish marinated for hours in fresh citrus juice and salt, which basically cooks the fish lightly.
-raw dairy - yogurt, cheese, butter
-lots of veggies: raw and cooked with an emphasis on greens, yams, and squash.
-lots of spring water daily
-some fruit, but minimal
-daily walks/light yoga
-I'm also taking a lot of therapeutic herbal teas (chaga, reishi, sarsaparilla, golden thread, pau d'arco, cats claw.... many more)
These foods are NOT allowed on my plan:
-cacao, any any other stimulating super foods
-sugar, except for some low sugar fruits
-grains (this was easy because to this point, the only grain I eat is raw oats occasionally)
-soy (which I don't consume except for some lecithin, and miso)
Say what?! The raw dessert queen can't eat her beloved chocolate and desserts?! You've gotta be kidding! I was soooo upset with the news. I felt like my whole identity had been taken away from me. How could I prepare desserts for other people if I couldn't taste it???
Angels Along The Way...
Thanks to the following people, I've had motivation to stick with my new plan!
I was extremely fortunate to visit friends near where my aunt and uncle live. Ali Schuler, Franky Giglio, and Camille Giglio were raw vegans for a long time, and started experiencing health problems too (some of the same ones I had). They follow the teachings of Daniel Vitalis (Ali's partner), who now advocates eating animal products. They healed themselves by eating this way, and hanging out with them was such a confirmation that my new plan can heal me too!
In California I was fortunate to see Debbie Young, and do some sharing with her. She's another friend who went from raw vegan to eating animal products to save her health. Check out her new blog Grass Fed Momma and read her story about why she's moved away from an all vegan diet! She's been a huge support to me during my transition, and I'm super grateful!
My friend Angie tried really hard to eat all raw vegan, but her health declined, and she ended up with a lot of the same symptoms as me. Adding meat back into her diet brought her health back quickly.
Heidi and Justin Ohlander of Raw Food Right Now, are two other raw vegans who are now eating animals products for optimal health too!
I've had a lot of other confirmations along the way from other people too.
In fact, daily now, I hear about raw vegans turning back to animal products. It's actually quite astounding. There are MANY more "raw vegans" than you may realize who are eating animal products, but who feel the need to remain anonymous about their new ways to avoid a tarnished reputation.
This journey has changed me on all levels. For years I have lived the vegan and then raw vegan lifestyle, been extremely passionate about it, and promoted it. Never in a million years did I think that I would be eating meat, dairy, or eggs again - and for years I didn't think it was necessary for anyone else to be eating these foods either.
I've come to realize more than ever that we are all different. What works for one person may not work for another, and vice versa.
As a result, I've released many labels and beliefs attached to my narrow views around what the "ideal diet" actually is. Of course there are universal foods that I will always think are healthy and important for everyone to eat, but who am I to know what another person truly needs for their nourishment?
It also changes my views on the kind of partner I to settle with, and raising kids when that day rolls around.
I've shifted from a place of thinking that it's evil to kill animals, to a place of thanking the animal's spirit for feeding me and healing me. The big beautiful moose ate the wild greens, utilized them, and provided me with a highly nutritious food!
I don't know what the future holds for me... will I ever go back to raw vegan? Maybe - who knows. That's not even for me to decide right now. But I do know that a good part of my heart will always be with the raw vegan lifestyle. Raw desserts are still my favorite thing to prepare and to dream about - in fact, I was in the middle of 2 new raw dessert books when I had to make changes.
Riding The Waves
When I first started on this plan, Denyse told me to eat meat with veggies for breakfast every morning to get a protein boost, raise my metabolism, and get a tryptophan hit which would help calm my mood. I started eating plain cooked moose or deer meat in my salad, and sure enough it helped so much. It calmed my mood and kicked things into gear. The most interesting thing is that meals with animal protein really satisfy me.
Discovery: I digest a meat and veggie meal way better than a nut/seed based raw vegan meal!!!
I feel like things have happened in waves. For the first 10 days, I was adjusting to the major changes. I started eating a moose/deer meat or fish meal every day - no dairy or eggs yet. I was doing lots of salad, veggies, squash, and was still eating more fruit than I should have been eating, but was trying to figure it all out.
When I traveled to Maine, near the end of August, I stuck to the protocol 100% . There, I ate my very first steak. My uncle cooked me free range beef every day - I was so grateful not to have to cook it. I also got my hands on a bunch of raw dairy: yogurt, butter, and cheese. My body responded happily to this way of eating!
I rested a lot - in bed, and on the beach, with daily walks by the ocean. By the end of the week I had regained a good amount of energy and strength.
My next journey took me to LA for 2 weeks of fun, and let's just say my new plan went right out the window. I started off by deciding to indulge in cacao and desserts for my birthDAY... which turned into my "birthday weekend", which turned into my entire trip (if you've seen my recent posts, you know exactly what I'm talking about). How could I not?! There I was, in the raw restaurant capital of the world - temptation around every corner. I enjoyed every bite, but my body sure wasn't happy. The fatigue and bowel pains came flooding back in a hurry.
A funny memory: one night after visiting a raw restaurant for dinner, my gut was in such pain that I was doubled over in the parking lot trying to fart for some relief, while moaning to Alex, and strategizing on how we were going to "do better tomorrow".
I did, however enjoy even more raw dairy in California. Fresh raw colostrum, cream, and goat's milk. Mmm! I whipped up some cool REAL milkshakes too for Philip and I using raw cream, milk, cacao powder, lucuma, banana, maca, stevia, and ice.
Upon returning home, I felt like I was starting all over again. I was so drained from the trip that I started sleeping 11-12 hours a night, with more rest during the day. I cut out the "avoid" foods again, started up with my meat eating (I'd eaten a few meals of in LA). My poor system was so screwed up from the trip that I was having major digestive problems once again - just as they had started clearing! Damn! My belly looked like a beach ball, and I was back to feeling extremely irritable/tired/headachy. My gut was still in such pain that I didn't know what the heck to eat. Fresh celery/apple juice just made it worse one morning. I frantically contacted Debbie to see what helped when she dealt with the same issue, and she said eggs were an easy thing for her to digest. I was sold. That day (about a week ago) I started eating eggies with a bit of veggies for breaky, and am still doing that. My dad brought a bunch of fresh eggs from his friend's farm, and they're amazing. That egg meal ended my gut pains!
While I looked "fine" and healthy in my recent travels, I was tired and in gut pain most of the time. I mention this because I often hear "Heather, you are such a picture of health and a testimony that the raw vegan diet is the way to go!". I cringe when I hear it because I've felt so crappy for a while. Maybe these people see the essence of my being... but don't be fooled be appearance.
My TEMPORARY Diet
Here are typical daily meals and foods I eat regularly on this plan:
- Scrambled eggs cooked in a little raw butter, with kale, tomato, and/or zucchini
- *Salad #1 with 4 oz ground moose meat
- *Salad # 2 with 4 oz ground moose meat
- *Salad with ceviche or cooked fish (sometimes)
- Fruit: Apples, dried figs, goji berries
- Squash or yams - baked
- Coconut (lots!)- fresh thai coconut, dried shredded coconut, coconut butter (my fave and I eat it by the spoonful), coconut oil, coconut nectar/crystals (small amounts now that I'm allowed to eat a bit of sweetener)
- Macadamia nuts
-Raw butter, raw cheese, raw yogurt
* A combo of: romaine, tomato, celery, cucumber, red pepper, wakame, arame, nori, dulse, kale, zucchini, chard, avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, himalayan salt, black pepper
As you can see, I'm still eating a high raw diet - greens and veggies 3-4 times a day. I've started cooking my kale/chard, and find I digest them far easier this way. I'm eating about 5 small/medium sized meals a day, with the goal of eating 6x daily (at least to see how it works for raising my metabolism), but sheesh, it takes a lot of work to eat so much!
I admit, I'm still eating more dried figs than I should be (sometimes 5 in day)... darn sweet tooth.
In sticking with this plan, I continue to feel better each day. My bowls are finally regulating on their own and I've eliminated the pain/bloating from my gut. My mood is stabilizing, and I feel much more grounded. Yippeee!!!
10 days ago I ate cacao and felt HORRIBLE for the rest of the day and the entire following day. Good lesson for me to stick with this plan until my body heals.
On that note, I'll wrap up this very lengthy post. I'll continue to share my journey as things develop, and I'll be sure to post all my interesting meat creations too! Just kidding! I have no desire to do that - besides, I'm a boring eater these days. I disguise the meat in my salads. But seriously, my love for the sweet stuff will always be present, and I've started experimenting with desserts using "acceptable" ingredients, which I plan on sharing with you. Some are all raw vegan, some raw but not vegan, some vegan but cooked ... a mix of everything, and something for everyone.
In Love and Peace...
Fast forward 8 years.
A lot has changed over time. Currently my diet is clean yet flexible, and has been for the past several years. I still eat meat and find that I need it to feel my most balanced self (organic/grass fed). This happens anywhere from 0-4 times a week, in a small quantity. I was eating eggs regularly until several months ago when I developed a severe intolerance to them. I eat occasional cheese and feel fine with it (more of a social thing). I also eat grains sometimes such as rice, quinoa, and even wheat. The bulk of my diet is made up of veggies (mostly cooked for easier digestion), fruit (a lot of berries and coconut), nuts/seeds, and also tofu. I enjoy chocolate and desserts daily but do try to focus on more low sugar treats regularly (and low sugar smoothies).