Why I Stopped Being Vegan

Why I stopped being vegan

This topic is highly personal and very raw. I ask that you be gentle with my story and the experiences that others share in the comments of this post. My intention with this post is to highlight the connection between food control (in my case, a plant-based diet) and eating disorders. This is not an attack against the vegan lifestyle, but rather my experience in setting a positive and healthy relationship with my food. It just so happens that one of the steps I had to complete to get there meant giving up being vegan.

I have labeled myself as vegan, gluten-free, paleo, grain-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian… only to learn that I am none AND all of these things at the very same time.

I have been liberated by the idea of not sticking to any strict classification of my eating style. I go with the flow by choosing foods that are right for me. I release guilt, shame and celebrate my food choices.

Without this approach to my health, I would still be sick.

And it all started when I chose to stop being vegan.

From as far back as I can remember, meat was something I was afraid of eating because I thought it would make me fat. So, when I was a teenager, I swore off animal products.

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My vegan lifestyle was about control. I began losing weight, it fueled my unhealthy thoughts, and I stayed in this place for years.

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After my first year of being vegan, and while still trying to recover from my eating disorder, I started experiencing crazy bouts of bloating. The pains were so bad that I had to excuse myself from work on a weekly basis. No matter how much I ate, I was never full. The more I ate, the more my stomach hurt, and the more guilt I had that I was eating too much.

2 years in, I started experiencing meat cravings. They never stopped.

3 years in, I found myself sneaking to my car during work hours for quick 15-20 minute naps once or twice a day. I couldn’t get through the day without naps. When I got home from work, I would sleep for most of the afternoon.

The further I went down the path of being vegan, the cloudier my brain became. I couldn’t think straight. Almost as if the wires in my brain were somehow criss-crossed.

Part of me didn’t want to admit that all of these symptoms were because of the diet I had forced upon myself. I was sticking with it because I was afraid of eating the food that I thought would hurt me.

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The control that I felt I had over my food by being vegan was what was keeping me from relinquishing the stronghold that my eating disorder had on me.

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I knew, deep down, that I was loosing the battle against my eating disorder. The next step was to give up the control over my food… but I wasn’t sure how to do it.

Something had to change, and that something was when I signed up at CSNN. Studying holistic nutrition was the best thing I ever did for myself. I learned (and began to accept) that denying my cravings was what was holding me back from allowing my body to heal.

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It was obvious that I had been using my vegan diet as a way to continue to control my eating while lying to myself that I was “getting better”.

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In all reality? The vegan lifestyle was slowly killing me.

In 2008, 8 years since I went vegan, 6 years since I’d experienced my first meat craving, I mustered up the courage to eat animal protein again.

I began with seafood. 1 serving every 2 days for a 2 months (I took these enzymes – specifically created to breakdown proteins). Then I moved to eggs for 1 month, then chicken for almost a year, then to beef, and now I generally stick to wild game and darker meats.

Within days of adding animal proteins, my bloating dissipated, foggy brain lifted, I felt full after meals, and I was able to stay awake for a whole day. It was a dramatic change.

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The better I felt, the more I knew I was on the right path, the healthier I became, and the easier it was for me to work through my relationship with food.

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Some days I’m paleo, other days I’m vegan, and today? I’m somewhere in between.

Your turn!

How do you classify your eating style? Do you classify it? Or do you just let your body lead the way?

The response that you share in the comments below will be read by thousands of women who feel just like you do. Let’s create a positive, safe conversation about our struggles and learn from one another.

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. I appreciate your open and non-judging attitude. I’m 56 and I’ve been a vegetarian for years ~ which means carbs and sugar!! I have a family history of high blood pressure ~ I know my thoughts contribute but someone also suggested I try keto. It’s been a challenge because I don’t want to eat meat for ethical reasons. I don’t impose this on others. It’s just how I feel. I did do the last 30 days “keto” but probably more like cutting out carbs and sugar but not getting enough fat. I wanted to thank you for your loving and gentle approach. I have a brand “Wanda Petunia” who is a pig who shares self-care and self-love ~ so your importance on that touches me. I’m going to keep practicing what you’re sharing as an experiment. That can be hard when I don’t feel good. Your zest helps! Bless you!!

  2. Hi Leanne,

    Thanks for accepting me into your keto community! I have been doing keto now for about 12 days and the changes have been drastic. My mind is more at peace and I actually feel like I’m ‘in’ my body for the first time…probably ever! I am happier, my ‘dark thoughts’ have all but gone and I feel so CALM and relaxed, it’s amazing! I just walk around feeling good and feeling appreciative of my life. My energy is totally different and much more peaceful and I feel connected to myself now. This is very big for me as I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. It doesn’t feel real! I am loving it and my body became fat-adapted literally after a couple of days and was like “yes this is what we want, thank you!”

    One thing that I am struggling with on keto, is that I used to be Vegetarian and have been in and out of Veganism for the past 2.5 years. I found Veganism hard to stick to as my body has been craving things like chicken and fish pretty much the entire time. I went Pescetarian for the past year or so and was on and off when it came to dairy…weirdly I thought dairy was the enemy for me but it turns out I am not sensitive to it…it was actually the CARBS, like pasta and bread that would make me feel ill and sickly full – then hungry again an hour later. :( I have put on over 20 kilos in the past year basically just eating carbs and drinking wine. So my struggle is, and I’m sorry this isn’t physically health related, but I went Vegetarian / Vegan for ethical reasons. So while my body feels good eating natural fats and animal products…my brain judges me! I feel so bad for all the animals who suffer for my plate and still wonder if it is necessary. Why am I better than them? It hurts me and I have seen enough documentaries and done enough research that I can’t unsee. I know you went Vegan to not gain weight / health reasons, however I was wondering if you felt at all this way after switching back to meat?

    I love your channel and it has helped me no end get started on this style of eating, and I feel better than I pretty much EVER have. So thank you, you truly are an inspiration to women everywhere. :)

    With Love,

    Lauren

    • I’m in your same boat, Lauren!! I was veg for 15 years with some vegan and raw foodist in there at times. I quit eating meat at 12 and didn’t crave it until I was 28…and it was a weird, panicky feeling like I was going to die if I didn’t get bloody deer meat or something. I was so weirded out but my boss said I looked pale and sent me home. I went to the coop right after and bought a grassfed steak. A friend helped me cook it and I ate it. Felt better almost immediately and I ended up dropping 10 pounds just from animal protein (and it’s always been pretty hard for me to lose weight). I quit eating meat for ethical reasons, too, so I have a hard time eating it still. I thank the animal for its meat or product each time I eat it, but ultimately I feel guilty because I feel like if I can’t kill it I shouldn’t eat it. And I love animals too much to ever kill one. But my body is happy eating it. And I, too, have seen too much I can’t unsee. ❤️

  3. I hope someone can help! I went vegan for about 6 months. Long story short I knew I needed to added meat back in. Now my problem is that EVERYTHING I eat except some fruit, makes me bloated to the point I look 9 months pregnant. Pineapple before or with a meal has helped and it doesn’t happen EVERY time, but close enough. Sometimes it’s immediately and sometimes two hours later. Had anyone had those issue? and has anyone used Betain HCL supplements? Thanks!

  4. Hi Leanne, Thank you SO much for posting this. I’ve been HCLF vegan for about 2 months now…at first I felt great, loads of energy, great mood but as time went on I started to notice I’d need to eat more and more to feel full and I was extremely bloated, acne around my jaw and cheeks. I felt like I was carrying around soo much extra weight but I had it in my head this was just a part of the “healing” process. The last few weeks every time I’ve eaten rice about 30 minutes later I have sharp stabbing cramps and my mood’s been all over the place so I’m fully flipping to a high fat, low carb diet to see how I feel…wanted to ask if you experienced any cramping/pain when you were eating HCLF?

  5. Thank you for sharing this article. I am the same, most of the time I eat vegetarian but I find myself craving meats. I felt like I had to stick to a label but I don’t.

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