Ex-Vegans Speak Out
Filed under Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition by Frederic Patenaude
The following is an excerpt of my Raw Vegan Mentor Club newsletter. Every month, I write an in-depth newsletter that is printed and mailed to all of my Mentor Club members all over the world. The newsletter covers important raw vegan topics that you need to know about. The Raw Vegan Mentor Club also includes monthly recipe planners, a ton of recipe books, videos, and more! Sign up now and get over $1200 worth of bonus gifts, yours to keep. You’ll also get to download the full issue I did on the Vegan Debate, which is quoted below.
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Ex-Vegans Speak Out
One phenomenon we’ve been noticing lately, probably more notably due to social media technologies like blogs and Facebook, is how many ex-vegans are coming out to share their experience on why they stopped being vegan after many years, often due to health problems that occurred on a vegan diet that were quickly resolved with the re-introduction of animal foods.
There’s even a website, www.letthemeatmeat.com, that interviews these ex-vegans.
In addition to the casual experience of these ex-vegans, we also have many raw food authors who used to be vegan for a number of years, but now include some animal products in their diet.
By reviewing the stories of ex-vegans, I have identified a few common problems that some people have run into.
Sometimes, they were able to solve these problems with proper supplementation or a chance for another raw vegan diet (such as a low-fat one), but the problems I will list below are strictly limited to the people who did not find any improvement in supplementation or (for some who have tried it) low fat veganism.
Of course, this is purely anecdotal and it’s impossible to accurately decide what actually happened in every case (versus what they said happened). However, I believe it would be a little close-minded to totally dismiss these stories as arising from “anorexic” people who “didn’t do the diet properly.”
This is mostly common in raw-foodists, who tend to have more dental problems than the general population. I discussed the reasons in my book Raw Food Controversies.
Essentially, the low-caloric density of the diet encourages frequent snacking on sugary foods (like fruit), which promotes decay. Eliminating snacking and eating actual meals is a key element in preventing dental problems on a raw food diet. Strict dental hygiene is required as well.
Some vegans report an increase in dental decay on a vegan diet, but I suspect that’s simply because they’re eating more refined carbohydrates like flour, cookies and vegan junk foods.
Low Sex Drive
This symptom is not common, but happens to some men who go raw. Most vegan men don’t complain about low sex drive. In my opinion, that’s mostly limited to men who follow a fat-free diet (with no overt fats), undereat calories, and exercise too much and too often. This is completely preventable.
Lack of Energy
I’ve met a lot of “tired vegans,” and I used to be one of them, although I experienced this symptom on a high-fat, raw vegan diet. People complained about feeling exhausted and needing to have frequent naps to recover.
In vegans, I attribute this mostly to the overconsumption of grains (especially refined grains and flower-based products) and oils, under consumption of fruit and underconsumption of total calories.
In raw vegans, it’s caused by a high-fat diet and the underconsumption of fruit or a calorie restrictive diet.
Lack of Stamina
Many ex-vegans report that when they were on a vegan diet, often after a few years, they lost stamina to exercise. For example, in the past they could work out for 60 minutes on the treadmill, and before they broke their vegan diet, they were finding it hard to do more than 20 minutes, and often needed all day to recover.
I would attribute this in most cases to the same causes for lack of energy, but also possibly to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
This symptom is common in vegans but even worse in raw foodists. It’s easily explained by the fact that plant foods are not as calorie-dense as animal foods, and also carbohydrates don’t satiate as much as protein-based foods.
Vegans and raw foodists need to eat more, but also fill their sweet tooth with fruit, which tends to eliminate most of the cravings by providing the simple carbohydrates the body desperately needs.
Hair Falling Out
This is a symptom that tends to happen mostly to raw vegan women who go on a very low fat diet or tend to drop weight rapidly. To avoid this issue, I would encourage an increased consumption of omega-3 rich foods such as flax, walnuts and hemp seeds, even if this brings you above 15% fat. Lower the fat content in the diet progressively, not overnight.
This is probably the most common extreme symptom that vegans experience that lead them to change their diets. As we’ll see below, it could simply be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Ice Cold Extremities
Some vegans and many raw foodists experience cold feet and end and often attribute it to poorer circulation on this diet. I don’t know that it’s the case, but I’ve found that as long as I exercise daily, my body stays very warm.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
This deficiency is common in long-term vegans, but also common in the meat-eating population.
Besides severe nervous system degeneration problems, a B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, depression and “brain fog,” which could explain many of the failures of the ex-vegans who tend to feel instantly better when they start eating meat again.
A good supplement is the best way to prevent a B12 deficiency, but perhaps some individuals cannot absorb the supplement optimally and therefore feel the best results when they get their B12 from animal foods.
Eggs and dairy products are generally a poor source of B12, which would explain why the ex-vegans feel so much better when they start eating meat or fish again (just a few ounces of fish provides enough B12 for about two days). (NOTE: I recommend the B12 supplement over animal-source B12).
This is a more rare symptom that could be caused by a diet rich in raw cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, broccoli, etc.) that contain thyroid inhibitors known as goitrogens. In some sensitive individuals, consuming a lot of these vegetables can cause thyroid problems.
The simple solution for those with a pre-existing hypothyroid condition is to avoid these raw cruciferous vegetables, or steaming them instead.
This was just a short excerpt of the March issue of the Raw Vegan Mentor Club Newsletter! I’m looking forward to hearing from you on this!
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