• emilymichellebitz

Why I'm no longer vegan

Updated: May 27

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people re-evaluated their lifestyles. People were breaking up, changing jobs, or moving out of the city (I did!). The threat of instability forced us to examine how we had been living.


Most people don't know where their food even comes from, so when things started flying off the shelves and the basics weren't accessible anymore, this caused a significant shift. At one point, it even seemed like everyone on Instagram was learning how to bake sourdough together!



I realized how unsustainable it was to ship products worldwide to support a "healthy" vegan diet. (Canada is definitely not a producer of tropical fruit!) I started following many people on Instagram who emphasized how much less impact getting your dairy and meat from a farmer in your area was than importing mangos from a tropical country. It clicked immediately for me. We had learned about eating locally and seasonally in nutrition school, and somehow I wasn't doing that at all.

84% of people who go vegan or vegetarian will go back to eating meat within the first five years, many citing health issues as a reason for quitting.


I did everything "right," and it just DID NOT work. The diet is made out to be perfect - unprocessed, whole foods. But many vegans are surviving on Beyond Burgers and chips. Often, being vegan is just a disguise for an eating disorder. It can be obsessive and controlling. The diet molded my food choices and vacations and took up too much mental space to be considered healthy.


So how did I become vegan in the first place?


Since I was around 7 or 8, I had been vegetarian when I discovered where the burger I was eating came from. I've always been empathetic (more about that another time), and I felt immediate empathy for the animals when I made that connection. After that day, I am sure I basically lived on grilled cheese.

When I was in my 20s, I decided to try being vegan for a while. I was almost there anyway; I just needed to stop eating cheese and eggs. I watched Youtube influencers talk about how amazing and healthy they felt. They lived my dream life, ate tropical fruit, traveled, and earned money remotely. They hadn't been vegan for that long, and most people end up eating meat again due to health issues. I followed their recipes and really got into cooking around this time. I was making hummus from scratch, cashew pasta sauces, vegan lasagna, cookies made from oats, and anything else I saw on Instagram.


It was also when my period cramps ended up getting even worse, and I was in debilitating pain. Other factors were involved, included living abroad and working at a stressful job, drinking too much, and having a bad relationship, so I didn't know where to pinpoint my issues. I woke up dreading each day, and for a week out of the month, I was basically immobile. I went to the doctor in agony many times, and he sent me to the gynaecologist, and then she sent me right back to the doctor, neither knowing how nor want to deal with my pain.


I was eating what I thought was the *healthiest* diet ever, yet I was suffering each month immensely. Green smoothies, salads, superfoods like spirulina, tons of supplements, 2 litres of water daily... all the things that we are told are healthy. Yet I was suffering still - why?

My periods were unbearable - I was tired, weak, anxious, and irritable. At one point, my tooth even chipped. I was always skinny, but it was to the point that people asked if I was anorexic. I could not put on any weight. My life felt like a rollercoaster.

I tried everything to fix my health: blood tests, every expensive supplement I could get my hands on, herbs, acupuncture, seed cycling, not drinking alcohol, castor oil packs, etc. I would feel a bit better for a minute but never found an answer to my problems.

I decided I needed to get a career; I was tired of hating each day at my low-paying job. I moved back to Canada and went to a holistic nutrition school. I ended up getting my Bachelor's degree in Psychology after. I wonder if I didn't have health issues if these were fields I would have had any interest in. When the doctor didn't take me seriously, I knew I had to take it into my own hands. The pain didn't go away no matter what I did. I was starting to miss tons of work, feeling tired and frustrated constantly, and dreading that week each month.


When did I decide to start eating meat again?

During *the virus* I realized that being vegan was becoming really mainstream and being pushed by the media - causing me to question it. (Somewhat of a contrarian over here). When things get mainstream, I get suspicious. After a ton of research and following people who had nutritional philosophies that were completely different than mine to challenge my beliefs, I had a change of heart. This wasn't an easy decision, and I literally cried as I tried salmon on Facetime for the first time with my best friend.



Now that I've been consuming more animal products for almost a year, I can say that my periods are getting better and better. I have more energy. I am not irritable or anxious. I can feel my health improving. I don't eat meat daily and can still only stomach some things. It's a mental struggle to start consuming something that I haven't for most of my life. The stomach acid required to digest meat that I lost over the years of not eating it will also take time to start coming back.


There are other factors, including my nervous system finally feeling safe, living in a much sunnier environment,

and slowing down A LOT. So I can't precisely say this diet change *alone* healed me, but it has definitely shown improvement.


I was living in constant fight or flight for many years. I never felt safe in any aspect. I spent time in unhealthy relationships where I waited for the next thing to go wrong. I was anxious and uncomfortable being myself. I gave too much to others and didn't give enough love to myself. After breaking free from these self-destructive patterns, my body started to feel much better. (I don't mean to downplay this at all, I could write a whole book on this part).

Now I focus on eating nourishing foods that work well for my body. This looks like eggs, sourdough bread, butter, bone broth, root veggies (butternut squash, potatoes), cheese, some red meat, honey, lots of herbal teas, gelatin gummies, adrenal cocktails, cream with my coffee (and only after breakfast!), raw carrots, collagen, greek yogurt, and of course restful sleep, and managing stress.


Not only did it help my health issues, but it also allowed me MUCH more flexibility in social situations, traveling, and at the grocery store. It only takes a few minutes to cook some eggs and fruit for breakfast, rather than spend half an hour trying to make something look like an egg that is not nearly as satisfying.


Let me know if you have any questions about my diet change or if you have gone through something similar. My next post will follow how I made the transition and what I eat now for optimal health.




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