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What happened when I went back to eating meat?

It was January 2016. Out of absolute nowhere, I had started to crave for red meat by the time I had been a vegetarian (part of the time vegan) for the past many years. I tried to ignore my strange craving, but it seemed to not go away. Then one night we were eating out at a restaurant in Turku. While I was devouring into my piece of tofu, I felt such jealousy for my friends around me eating reindeer. A moment later, I found myself holding onto a fork with a piece of that Rudolf. I swallowed it down and couldn’t help but admit it was the TASTIEST piece of food I had enjoyed in years…

From then on, I decided to give another chance for meat and dairy. Many vegans or vegetarians never enjoyed the flavour of meat, but I have forever loved a good steak. The main reason for going vegetarian or vegan for me were the issues in animal agriculture. But after being a vegetarian for many years, I started to learn about the health benefits and decided to eventually go vegan.

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With having a complicated relationship with food to start with, letting go of restricting labels such as veganism earlier this January gave me more freedom of mind. I have still been eating mostly a plant-based diet, but with a notable amount of added greek yoghurt, eggs, feta cheese, beef, chicken & fish. At first, I got really excited about how easy it was to eat whatever I wanted and in some ways, it felt even easier to eat ‘healthy’. Eating this way helped me to cut down on processed carbs, sugar and wheat, which was a great benefit. But now, six months later I have come back to question my dietary choices.

Here’s what happened after 6 months of eating animal products again:

1.My skin got worse

I started to let go of the vegan label by adding cottage cheese as my daily snack. I have always loved cottage cheese for its flavour and for the fact that it is such an easy protein-filled snack to take on the go. After the first 2 weeks, the skin on my chin was covered in pimples and I felt disgusted looking in the mirror.

I figured it would just take time for my body to get used to dairy again, but I can ensure you that 6 months later – it has only gotten worse. My face has not adapted to dairy one bit. And the skin on my arms feels itchy at all times.

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2. Hormonal issues

Let’s talk about lady issues for a bit. During the time I was completely vegan, I had no menstrual pain what so ever. I had kind of already forgotten what it can be like! The second or third month of eating meat and dairy, I started to get monthly cramps and feel absolutely terrible for about 24 hours each month.

3. Strange stomach pain came back

All my life, or as long as I can remember, I have had this strange pain in my stomach that can just appear out of nowhere and completely paralyse me for hours. I have woken up to it at night wishing the pain could kill me. I’ve been to hospitals to figure it out but never got a proper diagnosis to what it is.

During the years of not eating meat or dairy, I managed to completely forget about this bizarre paralysing pain that would appear out of absolute nowhere. Then one day about two months ago I was walking to my friend’s place and felt the pain strike again. I could hardly walk and once I got to her place, I had to take strong painkillers and to fully rest for 3 hours to feel fine again. It happened again the next day, just after I had a steak with vegetables for dinner.

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4. I started to feel extremely sluggish

At first, going back to eating eggs and yoghurt gave me more energy than I had had in the past months. I felt really excited about it and thought I’d finally found the right way of eating. But only a few weeks on, I started to lack energy. After every meal, I felt like taking a nap, which never happened on a vegan diet.

5. Constant battle with moral consciences

One of the hardest parts of eating meat again was, or is, the battle with my moral conscience. Animal agriculture is one of the main reasons I ever decided to cut out animal products from my diet. I have worked on a pig farm for a week and seen the fear and pain in the animals eyes, which completely broke my spirit. I have been hanging out with a cow, enjoying a pretty sunset together while trying to get to know its charming personality. I have shared my lunch with a chicken. I have always been that kid who would get along with the animals and would see the value of life in all beings.

6. Nasal Congestion

As a kid, I was actually teased in school for always having a runny nose. It was like I had the flu that would never end all-year-around. It got a bit better as I grew older, but my nasal congestion completely vanished with a vegan diet – and has returned during this summer after adding meat and dairy back to my diet.

So, now what?

Honestly, I don’t know. My personal goal is to feel good and get back to a better shape, and eating less carbs was in a way an easy approach to it. But I do miss feeling vibrant like I did on a vegan diet. But at the same time, I fear labels. I guess I will go back to eating mainly a vegan diet, but to mainly focus on feeling my best – if it sometimes requires a piece of fish or a bowl of greek yogurt, so be it?

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Marsha
    July 25, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    I loved this post, so honest and as a passionate vegan I salute you for not going back to a “vegan” diet, but for listening to your body and seeing what works, and what doesn’t work. I think it is faaaar more important to have an honest and loving relationship with yourself and food than it is to dismiss what you’re feeling and eat what you feel like you “should” be eating! I think there are much more flexible vegans out there who would be able to relate to you. There are a lot of people who follow a plant-based diet also don’t like labelling themselves as “vegan” as all labels come to limitations and a level of accountability too.. Maybe do a cleanse before you start back on a plant-based flexi diet?

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      July 26, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Thank you so much Marsha, your words mean a lot! This has been a good experiment for me to know that a plant-based diet is the one that makes me thrive the most! But I like the idea of staying away from restricting labels when they cause stress. Just went to get my slow juicer from the mail and will get onto a a bit of a cleanse, so excited!

  • Reply
    Henar
    July 26, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Girl, forget labels. Eat what does you good and forget everything else. Labels are just in our heads. If you feel your best being a plant-based life form so be it, but if one day you feel like a steak or a creamy ice cream or simply yummy cheese, go for it. You lead your life the best way you can for yourself. It is the best you can do for you and everyone else 😊

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      July 26, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      I like the way you think, totally letting go of labels and going back to my mainly plant-based ways of eating! Just enjoying a green vegetable juice here on the side 😉 I’m all for yummy cheese a few times a year 😀

  • Reply
    Ashlea @ A Globe Well Travelled
    July 26, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    These are some really interesting results, Veera! And there’s definitely some that I can relate to.

    I’ve been vegetarian for 4 years, and I noticed that I stopped feeling sluggish when I cut out meat. These days I hover somewhere between vegetarian and vegan, though when I travel I tend to just go with vegetarian to make it easier to find food. I just got back from a 3 week trip through Europe, and now I’m noticing my nasal passages are all blocked up!

    A vegan diet is the best choice for both health and ethical reasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t feed our bodies what they crave on occasion. And as the others have said, forget about labels! There’s no reason that we should all have to be either a vegan, vegetarian, peskitarian, or omnivore. It’s totally okay to fit ourselves somewhere in the middle!

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      July 26, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      I thought so too! I figured if nothing else, this will be a good human experiment hey! I feel absolutely sluggish when I eat meat – i didn’t at first, I even felt better for a little while ! But you are right, while I feel my best on a vegan diet, it makes travel complicated and going to dinners etc – so following a mostly vegan diet is good enough – time of labels shall be over 😀

  • Reply
    Chris Lintner
    September 21, 2016 at 3:18 am

    I used to have bad stomach pains as well. Do you ever feel it across the middle of your back? It might be a gall stone?
    I had my whole gall bladder removed and now can mostly eat everything again

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      September 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Hey Chris! Actually had a check-up for that but it wasn’t it 🙂

  • Reply
    Alyson Austin
    January 7, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I don’t eat dairy – but meat, and only organic. You don’t have to be all or nothing.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:06 pm

      Thats the perfect way to do it! I think I’m slowly getting on a similar path! 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth
    April 12, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Thank you for being honest about your experience, Veera. I was a vegan for 10 years and went back to eating meat after some health complications. My thought is that you probably have a sensitivity to dairy and eggs (they are in the top 5 for allergies/sensitivities). Have you ever tried incorporating balanced amounts of meat protein without the dairy and egg allergens? That is what ended up working best for me.
    I was a very passionate vegan/vegetarian and it took a lot of emotion, internal struggle about life and death, and education to decide to eat some meat again. There was a huge element of me being afraid of judgment from others. I honor your thoughtfulness and listening to your body.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks for your tips! I am about to try completely cutting out dairy while still keeping some meat in my diet thats mostly plant based, who knows if this will be the way that makes me feel best! 🙂

      And I think what comes to meat consumption, we can at least make some better choices though you still can’t take away the fact someone dies when we eat animals.

  • Reply
    Beth
    April 12, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    ps local pasture raised/outdoor raised meat is the only way, to me… both for the treatment of the animals, and the health of the human.

  • Reply
    Bev
    May 18, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    Enjoyed reading this, i’ve been a vegetarian for 3 1/2 years now and in the last few weeks have been struggling with it. Having these strange cravings for assorted sub.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I feel you! 🙂 I think strict labels can be unhealthy, you can still be mostly vegetarian and have a steak once a month or whatever suits you!

  • Reply
    Gabe Perron
    June 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I hsve gone back to meat recently and i feel similar. I will go bsck vegan after my trip.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      I feel you! 🙂 For me I never went back to veganism again actually, but mostly eat plants with occasional animal products that are well sourced!

  • Reply
    Jamie Crisp
    July 11, 2018 at 4:34 am

    I been Plant Based for a few days. Today. I thought well I will have a Bar=z sausage dog. I got really sick after wards. Right now I am going through getting dentures anyways. And meat seems to hard to digest. This way is easier for me to do and on my stomach and digestive problems. I also feel a good change in that area. 🙂 Great article.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      Hope your plant based journey is going well Jamie! 🙂

  • Reply
    Brodie
    September 25, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Hi. I ttied being vegan for a couple months and got really weak and basically anemic. It took ne some time ti realize, but basically it seems I do well on good quality meat but minimal dairy. I make sure to buy omega 3 rich grass fed beef and its made an great difference in how I feel. Try it out, if you feel inclined. It was the refined carbs and sugars that seemed to mess me up before.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      That can happen to some people more easily, and including at least a little meat can go along way! I don’t think we have to be strict with our diets, eating less animal products is what the world needs for millions of reasons, but it never needs to be all or nothing! Hope you are doing well! 🙂

  • Reply
    Pandora
    October 16, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Screw labels. Do you. I’m a vegetarian that eats crawfish and oyster several times a year. Found your post after getting REALLY sick after eating my seafood (currently sick). Sooo hoping it passes quickly.

    • Reply
      Veera Bianca
      December 6, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Right! Screw labels is what it’s all about! Hope you get well soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kristy
    May 3, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    So glad I found this. I currently eat all vegan with the exception of one meal a week that’s a meat meal. I notice that I can’t eat as much food as I used to and if I do push, the next day I start having really bad stomach pain like something is trying to rip out of my stomach. I can feel my back aches a bit more and I have no energy after that for 2-5 days after.

  • Reply
    Paloma Reyes
    July 19, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Im there right now and I hate myself for eating that Paella with chorizo and chicken uggg the worst stomach pain ever
    !!!

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