**Update: As of May 2017 I’ve been able to migrate back to a mostly plant based diet**
Alternatively titled why I’ve chosen to no longer feel like a bag of ass everyday.
This post was hard to write. I’ve been in denial for over a year now, and the only benefit of resisting the change that I knew I needed in order to heal my body is that I can honestly say I’ve tried it all. I tried with every fiber of my body to make a plant based diet work despite the growing list of health problems I have. With this, I have confidence in my decision should anyone try to argue with me about my dietary choices. Not that this should matter, it’s my personal choice just like any diet, lifestyle, hair color, or political position – we’re entitled to our own choice. BUT, I tried it all. Literally all of it. Perhaps it’s more for my own peace of mind knowing I gave it all I had.
I’m going to include photos from a hike I went on yesterday in this post because the mountains are the only place that has brought me complete clarity this past year.
I didn’t struggle to write this post because I cared what other people thought, but rather because it meant I had accepted the change. Writing this post means I’m ready for the change, but getting to this point was a long and bumpy process. Change is hard, especially when you’re changing something you never thought you’d have to.
Before I continue I want to make one thing clear. I do not by any means think a plant based diet is unhealthy, nor do I think there is a one size fits all way of eating. This post is based around my experience, my health issues, and my decisions to add animal products back into my diet. Albeit as I mentioned above, this was not easy. I’m writing this post because I want to be honest with my choices, and because reading articles about others that have had similar experiences has been immensely helpful for me.
Let’s start at the beginning shall we? When I was 17 I went vegetarian. I watched 20 seconds of one factory farming video and that was it for me. I plunged into meat free life with ease and never looked back. I never felt a strong pull towards meat anyway, so the change wasn’t hard. I enjoyed this meat free diet for a handful of years before experimenting with veganism at age 23, a diet I thought I’d continue for life.
My first year on a fully plant based diet was amazing. I thrived. I was enjoying foods in a way I never had before and I felt truly at peace with the way I was eating. I thank this time of my life for showing me a side of vegetables I hadn’t seen before. I am now beyond obsessed with these earthly foods and cannot imagine a world without leafy greens and broccoli. My diet became my lifestyle, and my lifestyle became my identity.
Beet still my heart.
I’m not exactly sure where shit started to hit the fan for me, but despite the abundance of greens my diet was very grain heavy. I also consumed a good amount of sugar, which only progressed as time went on. My favorite way to celebrate after running a race was with a fat donut. Ohh the memories. I briefly talked about the beginning of some of my health issues in this post about stress, and after about two years on a plant based diet my health took a turn for the worse.
I will never know if it was completely my dietary intake, or the outside factors such as chronic stress that affected me so poorly, but the end result remains the same. I have an autoimmune disorder that has forced me to change my eating habits. I physically cannot eat a plant based diet successfully anymore unless I want to survive on leafy greens and broccoli. Most everything else sends me into a state of blood sugar crashes (including fruit) that leaves me foggy, tired, inflamed, bloated, and moody. Grains, fruits, even my beloved potatoes give me a headache, dry eyes, and such intense sugar cravings I’d sell my kidneys for a box of cookies.
It’s truly both a blessing and a curse to be so in tune with my physical body.
As I mentioned above I’ve been in denial. That means I’ve continued to try to make this square lifestyle fit into a circle shaped hole for over a year. That means I’ve been feeling God awful most days for over a year. I am what I eat, and I’ve reached the point where I can no longer bear the physical discomfort that has come with my denial. I’ve been living in the past thinking, “I used to feel so great eating this way, there has to be a way to make it work,” but as with all things in life this too has changed.
So why has this been so hard for me? It should be easy eating a way that makes me feel good. It’s true, adding animal protein back into my diet (while also avoiding grains, basically paleo style eating) eases my symptoms and leaves my body praising with relief, like a cold damp cloth over an internal fire, but mentally I’ve struggled to get over the personal decisions to avoid meat which stem back to 17 year old Brittany watching those factory farming videos for the first time. I felt so passionately about my lifestyle that it became part of me, and I have mourned the loss of this part of me.
I’ve mainly stuck to fish, but last week I bought a chicken. I’d eaten chicken before this last year, but this time I bought the entire body. I decided if I’m going to eat this “once living being” I need to be more connected to the source of it.
As I was removing the meat from the bones I began sobbing. I cried such ugly tears as I verbally thanked the chicken for its meat (I didn’t know what else to do), and I later prayed that there has to be another way. This was an emotionally draining experience that haunted me the remainder of the week. To some this might seem silly, but think about something you feel a strong ethical pull towards and try to understand when you fight against this pull it’s no easy feat for the mind.
Truth be told there is no other way. I go back and forth between a week of eating paleo and then I feel better, get ambitious and start eating vegan again and spiral right back to feeling like hell. I’m not talking cakes and cookies vegan, I’m talking basic whole grains and even fruits.
I’ve been in a state of limbo for so long I’m exhausted. I still stand by my ethical beliefs, but eating a plant based diet is simply no longer an option for me and my health. However this doesn’t mean I have to support factory farming. I’ve begun searching for local vendors that sell locally raised meats and fish. If I’m going to eat it I must do it right, the way God intended us to eat meat. None of this processed bull shit that we call food today, and none of the horror that comes from the torture of factory farming.
It’s been hard, but as with all things in life it will get easier. I’ve tried to keep this post basic and straight to the point, but I assure you there have been so many more emotions and thoughts associated with this. I’ve been leaning heavily on my faith as I do in most times of struggle, and I verbally thank the animals (yes fish is meat, and an animal just like a chicken) I consume. If any of you have specific questions or concerns that you’d like to discuss please feel free to email me and I’m happy to elaborate.
I’m still finding my footing on eating habits, and I’m aware this journey will forever be a learning process. My goal is to continue to fine tune my body and fuel it with whatever makes me feel best. I’m mostly consuming fish, as it’s the one animal product that makes me feel best. I’ll probably slip here and there, but my footing is already more sturdy today than it was yesterday.
To end this post I just want to say I’m good. I’m writing this from a place of peace, trusting that my body knows best (spoiler: it does know best.) To all my plant based readers I hope you’ll stick with me for my mountain adventures, but if you choose to no longer read I completely understand. I won’t be blogging about meat, and the only food photos I’ll share if any will continue to be of plants, but just know for complete transparency I will be eating animal proteins (mostly fish.) I’ll do an update post as time goes on.
Mad love to all of you that have stuck with me on my journey the past while. And to my real life friends, thank you for dealing with my wishy washy back and forth decisions, and for putting up with my crazy. I realize how privileged I am to have this kind of decision in the world we live in and I assure you I don’t take it for granted.
You do you, and I’ll do me. 🙂
Q: What was a tough decisions you had to make?