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Common Vegan Problems

By reviewing the stories of ex-vegans (people who used to be vegans but have publicly admitted to now eating meat), I have identified a few common problems that are easy to fix.

Often, you can solve these problems with proper supplementation or simple diet changes. Of course, this is purely anecdotal, and it’s impossible to accurately decide what happened in every case (versus what they said happened).

I will cover dental problems in a separate ezine.

Low Libido

Usually, this problem is mostly limited to men who follow a fat-free diet (with no overt fats), don’t consume enough calories, and exercise too much and too often. The solution is to eat more nuts, seeds and avocado, and more calories in general.

Lack of Energy

The cause is usually a low-carbohydrate diet. This is more commons with raw vegans who eat mostly vegetables and fats. To have energy, you also need healthy carbohydrates. They include fruit, potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes, squashes, pasta, rice, etc.

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 can also be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Constant Hunger

This is a problem in raw vegans and some low-fat vegans. Eating more cooked foods and some nuts, seeds, avocados and whole coconut will eliminate this feeling of constant hunger.

Hair Falling Out

This is a symptom that tends to happen mostly to raw vegan women who go on a deficient low-fat diet or tend to drop weight rapidly. To avoid this issue, I would encourage increased consumption of omega-3 foods such as flax, walnuts and hemp seeds, even if this brings you above 20% fat.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

This deficiency is common in long-term vegans.

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 it, so they should get shots or use B12 patches (we still have some available here:

Eggs and dairy products are 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).


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 to steam them instead.

Complex Interactions

I think that’s why it’s best not to be closed minded and 100% sold on one way of life as being ideal for everybody, since specific genetic or other weaknesses can affect our absorption of particular nutrients.

It may be possible that some people will experience better health with some animal products, due to their particular genetics and possibly some individual weaknesses, but that doesn’t mean we’re meant to live on a diet full of animal fats, such as the one promoted by the Weston-Price Foundation.


Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets.