You’ve probably seen countless videos on YouTube with the title ”Why I’m no longer vegan” or some variety of that title. I’m here to unpack the reasoning for this sudden “ex-vegan” train and why so many people are hopping on it!
Author: El Lascelles
Before anything, we need to understand that there is, for the most part, one common reason they’re leaving their veganism behind, and aside from those who decide to stop being vegan because they just don’t feel like it anymore, that common reason is health. There is an obvious link between them and even similarities in some symptoms they experience. But before you panic and start to doubt your vegan journey, even though it’s incredibly easy to believe that the cause of their rashes, brain fog, fatigue, and poor digestion was veganism, that is not the case.
So, if not veganism, what is the cause of the health issues they experience, and why is it important to understand the real reasoning behind it?
Well, if you watch enough of these “Why I’m no longer vegan” videos. You’ll find a very common thread. Some in obvious ways and some not so much.
Most, if not all, of the people sharing their experience followed an extremely restrictive vegan diet for months if not years. Some even followed a diet based on only fruit.
Think about someone who survived on fruit for years, suddenly eats an egg, and claims to be healed. It makes sense that they felt better introducing fat and protein in adequate amounts (of course, not all followed a diet as restrictive as only eating fruit, but those who didn’t still followed a very restrictive diet).
It’s very important to keep in mind that any diet can be restrictive. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a meat eater, you can have a restrictive diet that will lead to malnourishment and cause a wide variety of health issues. It’s only easier to miss nutrients when you are vegan because most people have grown up eating animal products and have never been taught what the wide variety of plant foods can do for us. Because let’s face it, most people that consume animal products aren’t turning to chia and flaxseeds for their omega-3s. So when they go vegan and stop eating fish without the knowledge that they need omega 3s and where to get them, they are going to become deficient. This same concept applies to any other nutrient, like vitamin D or B12.
Imagine if we turned the tables and someone who went full carnivore (only eating animal products), which unfortunately happens, puts out a video explaining why they are no longer on a carnivore diet and talking about how it ruined their health. Everyone would say “well yeah, if you only eat meat for a long time you’re going to be malnourished” but when an ex-vegan who we know has lived off only fruit for years claims veganism destroyed their health, people are very quick to say “See, veganism is bad for you!” and not “Well yeah, if you only eat fruit and don’t include fats and proteins like nuts, seeds, and legumes you’re going to be malnourished”.
I want to point out that this is coming from someone who has an eating disorder past and once did hop on the “ex-vegan” train due to the same health issues. To eventually realise that veganism was never the issue. Once I started introducing a wide variety of nutrients and understanding my health, I felt a million times better. You just need to get your information from the right sources.
So, why is it important to understand the real reason some people face health issues after going vegan?
The key point here is that most people aren’t educated on nutrition and have grown up being taught we need dairy for calcium and meat for protein. So when they come across these videos, they will believe that veganism is the cause. they will think to themselves, “Well yeah, you can’t get protein when you’re vegan!” or “Of course, they weren’t eating dairy, so there’s no way they could get calcium.”
The problem is that many who watch these videos are very impressionable young people who watch someone’s incredibly restrictive “what I eat in a day,” following people sharing their diets on the internet without the right knowledge, openness, and honesty.
They become influenced by thinking veganism is going to give them the body they want and follow what the person they’re watching does. After a while, they get the same health issues and see that their favourite YouTuber stopped being vegan because of listing the same health issues. They will also believe veganism was the cause and also leave their vegan diet behind.
All these are extremely common misconceptions about veganism. The truth is that we can get every single nutrient that we need from plants, and there is no need for animal products in a human being’s diet. All the leading health organisations recognize that a vegan diet is suitable for anyone at any stage of life.
How do I make sure to get all the nutrients I need while on a vegan diet?
Simple research! There is plenty of information to read out there, and as long as you find out what you need and how to get it and you’re good to go! It can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s incredibly easy once you start and understand where to get the information!
Make sure to watch vegan YouTubers who are educated in nutrition if you’re looking for genuine information and nutrition advice, and never follow anyone’s exact way of eating. I suggest watching “Peeled”, the first Vegan cooking competition for inspiration. We are all extremely different in our nutritional needs depending on our health, hormones, lifestyle, activity, and body composition. It’s important to find what works for you.
Some of my favourite vegan YouTubers who are extremely educated in nutrition are Amanda Sevilla, Gojiman, Mic the vegan Sadia Badiei from “Pick up Limes,” and Miles from “healthy crazy cool.”
The bottom line
It’s very easy to be influenced into believing vegan diets are inherently restrictive and come to the conclusion that all vegans will become malnourished. This is why it’s also easy to be overwhelmed or doubtful when becoming vegan. Always be guided by professionals to seek out the information you need and learn to understand your own health needs.
Stay healthy and Vkind!
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