When I went vegan the first time, it was simply a test to see how I felt for a few weeks on a totally animal product-free diet. I didn’t expect miraculous results, but I certainly noticed some changes. My skin was clearer, I felt more energized, and I told myself I’d never go back to my ice cream- and chicken finger-eating ways. Like so many others who’ve watched documentaries regarding the food industry, I was truly converted.
After a few months, however, my feelings changed. Here are the reasons why I stopped my vegan ways, including the most startling of them all.
1. The lifestyle was too costly
Yes, there are plenty of cost-effective ways to be vegan. And a huge steak costs a lot more than a can of beans and a package of tofu. But you might get caught up in the downward spiral of health food stores, co-ops, and expensive vegan substitutes that will have you spending your paycheck a lot faster than usual.
Also, while I was eating the same number of calories during my vegan days as I was when I consumed animal products, I ate a larger quantity of food as a vegan. That means more bags of spinach, frozen fruits and veggies, and (costly) tempeh than I would be eating otherwise. And we all know these groceries can really add up.
Next: Here’s what happened to my energy as a vegan.
2. My energy levels completely crashed
When I first transitioned to veganism, I was amazed by how much more energy I had. I was waking up earlier without brain fog, and I certainly needed less coffee in the mornings before the workday. I even felt stronger at the gym, and both my cardio and lifts improved.
The higher energy levels were short-lived, however. SFGate explains over time, many vegans don’t get the nutrients they need, and their energy suffers. I lacked enough iodine, zinc, and iron, which heavily affected me.
Next: This aspect of being vegan was much too time consuming for my lifestyle.
3. Meal prepping became a necessity — and I couldn’t adjust
Gone were the days when easy takeout was an option and turkey sandwiches were the quick go-to for lunch. I found being vegan required a lot of prep work if I wanted to have my meals at the ready. And while there are plenty of hacks designed to make meal prepping easy, taking five hours out of my Sunday afternoon to prepare meals for the following week just wasn’t something I could commit to.
Since I didn’t do much meal prepping, I ended up eating way more peanuts, fruit, and tofu tacos on the go than I ever had in my entire life. Not necessarily a bad thing — but it certainly got old, fast.
Next: Getting enough of this nutrient was harder than I thought it’d be.
4. My protein intake was far too low for my activity level
Though my job is completely sedentary, I attempt to make up for it with acrobat training, lifting, and plenty of cardio. Eating an adequate amount of protein with fish and meats in your diet is easy. But getting enough on just beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, and grains proved to be quite a challenge. And vegan protein powders are another hefty expense.
The average person around my size might only need 50 grams of protein or so daily — but if you’re trying to build muscle, that number increases quite a bit. I need about 80 to 100 grams of protein daily, which was quite a chore without protein powder.
Next: This is the biggest reason I gave up a vegan diet.
5. The 1 reason: I stopped taking in vitamin B12, causing major brain fog
Your body doesn’t make this vitamin on its own, WebMD notes. Because of this, it’s important to consume it for healthy blood cells and nerves. The problem for vegans, however, is that this vitamin is almost exclusively found in animal products.
After a few months of being vegan, I felt like I was in a constant haze that even my usual six cups of coffee couldn’t aid. My short-term memory also felt fuzzy, and I was tired all the time. I could have taken a supplement, of course, but since nutrients are better absorbed through food, I began adding eggs back into my meals for the nutrients.
Next: This is the one animal product I still won’t eat.
6. I still refuse to eat dairy — and here’s why
While I added eggs, fish, and poultry back into my diet, I still stay far away from dairy. While I love the taste of real cheese and ice cream, the bloating and digestive issues that followed were incredibly bothersome. And my skin is much brighter and clearer since cutting this cow product out of my diet completely.
Thanks to alternatives like coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk, I get to eat my favorite dairy products without the added hormones and negative side effects, too.
Next: This is the type of diet I follow today.
7. Eating intuitively makes me a lot happier (and healthier) than strict veganism
I primarily eat a plant-based diet now, but with the addition of some animal proteins, like eggs and fish. This gives me the nutrients and protein I need while also keeping my grocery costs reasonable. And, I’m not denying myself of any foods I love, which is better for my mental health.
There are several principles to intuitive eating, many of which are easy for anyone to follow. As for me, I pay attention to what my body is craving and understand that foods are not inherently “good” or “bad” depending on their calorie or fat content. Having a healthy relationship with my meals is more important than following strict guidelines.
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