What I Discovered When I Went Vegan for 30 Days

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Author’s note: As some readers have rightfully pointed out, “going vegan” is not just a matter of diet. This post, and the experiment it describes, pertains only to animal use as it relates to food.

This is the second experiment in two months that has made a dramatic difference in how I live and how I feel on a day-to-day basis. Last time I stripped my life of unnecessary and unused possessions, and this time I stripped it of animal foods.

I ate 100% vegan for 30 days, primarily to see what effects it had on my health and my self-discipline when it comes to eating. I found I took to it very easily, and my body felt like it had been waiting for me to make this change for a long time.

What I discovered

It wasn’t hard.

I listed my seven main reasons for never considering veganism before, and the main one is that I thought it would be too hard. I’m not sure what I thought would be hard about it: craving foods I couldn’t eat, finding something interesting to eat, having to read labels… none of it presented any real difficulty. Once I found how well my body fared without cheese and meat it really didn’t appeal anymore.

The hard part was finding stuff to eat in social situations. Most restaurants will offer the token veggie meal and not put much thought into it. Usually is just one of their other dishes, with tofu or veggies replacing the meat. It wouldn’t take much effort to add one inspired vegan dish to a menu. Not enough of a market for it yet I guess.

There is a great support network of restaurant reviews and forums set up to make this part of it easier for fellow vegans. That was a particularly cool part of this experiment — discovering that there’s a super-helpful vegan subculture out there making life easier for others.

I ended up expanding the palette of foods I ate, rather than restricting it.

The thought of removing several broad categories of foods from the picture made me expect to feel restricted to a few familiar dishes, and I’d already been feeling a bit of a lack of variety.

The opposite happened. I ended up experimenting with new recipes a lot more and eating foods I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. I learned quite a few new recipes and my culinary life is more vivid and interesting than ever. Food is more exciting to me now, and I honestly expected it would have to become a less gratifying part of my life.

I did spend more time cooking, trying a few new recipes a week. I love cooking so I didn’t worry too much about trimming my cooking time but I definitely could streamline it pretty easily if I had to.

I felt awesome physically, and right away.

Within a few days, I began to feel unusually light and alert. Everything seemed to require less effort and I had very little mental resistance to the prospect of doing things. Simple tasks like getting out of a chair or clearing up my dishes seemed to lose some vague character of annoyingness I didn’t realize they used to have.

Psyching myself up to exercise was much easier. There was no heaviness after I ate, no recovery period. My morning grogginess went away much quicker. There was no 3 o’clock wall. I didn’t get tired until bedtime.

I guess I had always been living with a persistent, mild tiredness, and it really seems like meat and dairy were keeping it in place. I can’t think of anything else in my life that changed that could account for it.

Reactions from others vary.

I didn’t go around announcing my new diet, but food is such a prominent part of human life that it does come up. Reactions were mixed. Most wanted to know why, some asking as if they’re just curious, and others asking as if I’ve violated them in some way.

In light of my immediate physical benefits, my new diet felt pretty damn sensible once I started, so it kept surprising me that the majority of the world still regards veganism as some vaguely menacing fringe thing akin to Scientology or Communism.

Many people seemed to assume I was secretly dying of cravings for steak and cheeseburgers, and that it takes some sort of enormous ethical strength to eat vegan. I wasn’t, and it doesn’t.

When asked “Why?” my go-to answer was that it makes me feel physically good, which is true and is probably the main reason. I didn’t want to get involved in an ethical debate, because once a conversation becomes a debate, communication ceases. But the ethical issue does enter the picture for me, which I’ll get to a little further down.

Overall, food didn’t cost any more, but spending more on food is a good thing anyway.

I thought I’d have to double my food budget, buying tons of perishables, specialty foods and vegan substitutes, but it didn’t end up that way. I did spend more on groceries, but not by as big a margin as I thought. Many vegan staples can be had in bulk for dirt cheap: lentils, rice, beans, tofu, couscous etc; there is also no meat in the budget, which is the most expensive part of most people’s grocery list.

But what extra I did spend on groceries, I saved on casual, off-the-cuff meals out. There were no greasy diner breakfasts at work, no grocery-store deli sandwiches and no fast food. I was never a fast food junkie but I did lean on the enormous convenience-food infrastructure in my culture, and health consequences aside, that’s always a poor way to spend money.

So I didn’t really end up devoting much more of my budget to food, but I don’t think expanding your food budget could possibly be a bad thing. It’s a common point of complaint (in the US especially) that healthy food is way more expensive than unhealthy food, and while I’m not sure if that’s true, that’s no reason at all not to buy it.

The typical American household spends less than 10% of its income on food, less than half of which is prepared in the home. There has never been a culture in history that spends less of its income on food. Healthy food is not expensive, we’re just used to committing a pitifully small proportion of our resources to our health. The positive effects of eating clean are worth a fortune.

To limit healthy foods because of concerns about how much more money it will cost is totally backwards. Other than whatever it costs to live in a decent home, what expense could be more non-negotiable than whatever it costs to eat good food? This decision is what determines what our bodies are made of, how long we live, and what the quality of that life will be. To not eat healthy food because it’s “too expensive” is like not sleeping much because it’s too time consuming — yet that’s how some people operate.

Vegans are generally not considered at all in the designing of menus, public and private

I learned quickly that the world assumes you will consume animal products freely. Restaurants generally have two vegetarian options, and no vegan options unless you make a special request. Sometimes there are side orders that are accidentally vegan, but in general the message you get is that it’s unreasonable to want food without animal products in it.

This marginalization was a new experience for me, being a young, white, non-religious, non-disabled English-speaking male, and maybe it’s good for my character to get a hint of what it feels like to live in a world that wants you be different than you are.

Revisiting animal foods

Part of the experiment was to try a few animal foods when my 30 days was up to see how my body and feelings would respond.

My first day after the experiment, I ate all vegan except instead of my usual soy latte I had one with cow’s milk. My first impression was that it tasted kind of dirty. It felt like it was something I wasn’t supposed to have in my mouth. I felt a bit of guilt — not that I felt my purchase was overtly harmful, but that I knew my body didn’t really want that. Wanting to see the effects of a whole beverage, I drank the whole thing. Within an hour I felt really awful  and went home sick from work.

The next day my mission was to test out cheese. I had a vegetarian sandwich which was vegan except for a slice of cheese. I again felt the same dirtiness and hint of guilt when I detected the cheese, but it was milder this time. I didn’t get sick, I just felt that heavy, draining feeling I used to get.

I’ve tried a few others since then. I had no desire to eat any meat but ended up having a chicken wrap on the plane to Kona because the meal situation was purchase-only, and they had already sold the only two vegetarian wraps they had. It was unpleasant but I needed sustenance and I didn’t want to subsist only on the pound of nuts I had in my bag.

I had a piece of fish in my lunch today and wish I’d gotten something else. It was okay but totally unnecessary and left me sluggish and cranky. My meat experiment is over.

Right now I’m still in full-on vacation mode so we’re eating out a lot, and I’m having a bit of dairy now and then. I don’t find it as violently repulsive as that first latte was, but I’m definitely going back to 100% vegan when I get home on Sunday.

“I would do it but I could never give up cheese.”

There’s an interesting phenomenon I noticed that I think is worth bringing up. I encountered this a lot: people who have an interest in going vegan for health or ethical reasons, but claim they couldn’t give up cheese.

I used to say that too, that exact phrase: I could never give up cheese. It’s such a typical response that it’s a perennial joke in vegan forums. What’s fascinating to me is that no non-vegan with vegan sympathies wants to just say they won’t give up cheese, it’s always can’t. The implication is that they are different than me in that they have no real choice as to whether they eat cheese or not, while I am lucky to have such a choice.

Of course, in the developed world we adults all choose what we eat. There’s nobody who can’t give up cheese. I mention this because I know I used the word “couldn’t” when I meant “wouldn’t” as a way of exempting myself from any expectation on my part to attempt to live my values when it comes to food. It was a convenient disqualifier: “well maybe I should be vegan, but clearly that’s not an option because I’m not one of those people who could give up cheese.”

This is a classic example of rationalizing behaviors we have that don’t jive with our values, which I get into below.

And the ethical issue, which I didn’t touch until now

I won’t dwell on this here because it’s an enormous topic, but I can’t really ignore it. In my initial post I didn’t really get into the real reason veganism even exists as a lifestyle, which is the question of whether it’s ethical to use animals for food.

I won’t get into the specifics because it isn’t really necessary. If you want to know where your food comes from, it’s easier than ever to find out.

The main moral objection I always had was not that it’s flatly wrong to kill animals for food, but that the way we produce meat and dairy food is atrocious. There’s plenty of information on this out there for anyone who really doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

I was never very responsive to the typical emotional appeals to stop exploiting animals. The teary-eyed anti-meat videos with the somber voiceover and melancholy piano music does nothing for me, and I would hope that kind of pathos isn’t the deciding factor for most vegans. I don’t really trust people’s opinions when they come from emotion, (even my own) and so the decision to go off animal foods must be logically sound to me regardless of my fluctuating emotional relationship to it.

Throughout the whole month of mulling over the ethical implications of how we eat, the thought that kept coming back to me is this: Would I treat animals I do know and do see (the dogs and cats in my life) as brutally as I’ve been treating animals I don’t know and don’t see? Of course not, and I’m convinced few people would if they were being honest with themselves.

This is a very simple point and I can’t deny that it’s true. The question is whether I am willing to live my values or not. Living your values isn’t something that happens automatically. A person can believe something is wrong but do it anyway. We do it all the time.

We inherit our lifestyles from the people around us, and we uncover our values as we live life, and they’re not going to come to match each other on their own. Rather than work to reconcile them with each other, we mostly rationalize one or the other so that the disparity isn’t so apparent.

I know that regardless of the health benefits I’ve experienced, my values are clearly prescribing a vegan lifestyle. I’m grateful that I feel so much better physically with this vegan diet, because if I didn’t, in all honesty I’d probably go back to rationalizing an omnivorous diet because it’s more convenient. I’m a pro at rationalizing, so in this case I’m glad to have the extra incentives keeping me honest.

Give it a whirl, even for a week

This experiment has done more for me than any other, and I’m so glad I went through with it. Committing to a temporary change was key. It wouldn’t have lasted if I knew I was making an open-ended commitment.

No matter where you stand on the ethics point, I think most people would gain a lot from eating vegan for a week. I wasn’t a particularly unhealthy person and I felt awesome within the first few days. Way cleaner and clearer. If nothing else you’d get a first-hand idea of what meat and dairy do to your system. In my case they were taking way more from me than I knew.

If you’re going to try it, the best place to start is with a cookbook. I have quite a few now, and the best one is still Vegan Yum Yum.

The thing I learn in every single experiment I do is that you can’t know what will happen until you do it. Every time, I’ve been surprised.

R

Photo by norwichnuts


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{ 362 Comments }

Anna March 30, 2011 at 4:04 am

I went vegan (from vegetarian) four months ago, and I had similar experiences to you. It also made my auto-immune disease go in remission (which I approve of ;) ).

I’m not used to being “the weird one” in restaurants, yet, and I feel a bit guilty every time someone has to go out of their way in cooking for me, but fortunately most people have been very supportive.

This is a message worth spreading. Thank you!

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ramblinman502 February 15, 2013 at 7:28 am

so cool that i just stumbled on this. i started a 30 day vegan experiment two weeks ago and have had a very similar experience to the author. interested to see what happens at the end of my 30. i feel great!

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Justin April 6, 2013 at 6:59 pm

I did a 30 day vegan experiment in January. Like David, I found it surprisingly easy. In the end I decided to (mostly) stick with it. How did it turn out for you?

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Liz May 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

What kind of autoimmune disease? I have lupus and I’m very curious about what positive benefits veganism can have on people with various illnesses.

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Daniel February 14, 2014 at 4:01 am

My partners’ iron level went UP when she was vegan. The results before and after have been attributed to her body being able to ABSORB the iron in her food better than what she had previously from meat.

Having seen the positive effects of others going vegan, i tried it for myself and havent gone back!

One thing that wasnt mentioned in the article is that when you make the choice to go vegan, you begin to research where things come from- some housepaints are tested on animals and some wines contain fish guts. Through this knowledge you become empowered. You are less passive when you hit the aisles at your store.

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Jaap March 30, 2011 at 4:27 am

Dear David,

Although I support veganism/vegetarianism, I feel that what you described when you started eating dairy again isn’t so much a reflection of your bodies tolerance to these substances, but your minds. Like you said, it felt wrong, and your body reacted appropriately.

You have to realise that our ability to drink milk (lactose tolerance) is something relatively new. It evolved after homo sapiens was officially a species, so there were probably some pretty strong selection pressures that favoured drinking milk. Now in the modern day, we can probably get enough fats from things beside milk, but I feel that attributing your nausea to your bodies rejection of dairy is going one step too far.

It was most likely your mind that rejected your old lifestyle, and your food tasted worse because of it. (for the same reason, a 5 cent aspirin is not as effective as a 1$ one, i recommend reading “predictably irrational” if you’re interested in how our mind can fool our body.)

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David March 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I think it’s just as presumptuous to automatically chalk it up to the placebo effect.

The guilt feeling I experienced was mild, the diarrhea I got was not.

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Jaap March 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

No offense, but as the test subject, you’re not the best person to ask :P. Have you tried a single blind test in which you let someone else add either milk or soymilk to something that doesn’t taste like milk to begin with and see whether there is a difference in your physical response?

It’s interesting enough to give a shot in my opinion…Although one of those…pancakes or something might make you feel terrible..

I’m not saying you’re wrong btw, I just feel we need a proper experiment to see whether your new physical aversion is physical or psychological in its origins.

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Jonathan Steinbeck March 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I wonder: does it really matter? I mean when someone’s feeling good being vegan then what does it matter if it’s only psychological? In fact, I do believe that pretty much everything we do is a placebo of some sort. ;)

David March 30, 2011 at 7:12 pm

All I can tell you is my own experiences. I already know that different foods make the body react differently, that’s a given. When I eat X I feel like Y, when I eat A I feel like B — that’s all the analysis I need. I don’t feel a need to separate out psychosomatic influences, but I’d bet money it’s not playing into it too much.

Anna C March 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Lactose tolerance is often related to your dairy consumption. If you stop eating it for a month, your lactase production and gut flora are going to change, and you may need to reacclimate yourself if you want to eat dairy again. It’s not necessarily in your head, but I agree with Jaap, eating X = feeling Y isn’t enough analysis to be drawing conclusions just now. There are lots of variables, both physical and psychological, that are unaccounted for.

I think you might be surprised at the power of the psychosomatic too. This is getting into TMI but hey, it’s the internet and it does address both my points: I’m a student and I get diarrhea basically whenever a paper is due or an exam is coming up. I had assumed that it was because I’m lactose intolerant and was less careful with my coffee (i.e. dairy and Lactaid) intake around exam time. I was commiserating with a med school friend though, and she mentioned that while she got constipated before exams, her roommate always got the nervous shits. I giggled at this, but she was like, no seriously, stress can really wreak havoc on your GI system. So I started paying more attention to uh, my trips to the bathroom, and experimenting with dairy, non-dairy, how much I’d slept, caffeine, coffee vs tea, etc, and it seems that dairy probably isn’t the contributing factor, and amazingly, it’s likely stress.

Anyhow, the point of this verbal diarrhea *cymbal crash* is simply to point out that there are lots of things that can affect your GI tract and suggest that you look at this experiment more rigorously.

sofia March 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm

I know this reply is extremely late..but I also thought his response was psychosomatic..and yes the diarrhea he experienced could have been a result of it..I was thinking along the same lines as you..he could have someone add it to his food or drink at some point without his knowledge…even in a situation where someone else picks the soy or real milk for you could still cause your mind to have the same response..its “what if factor” …

Ryan March 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

David, I am someone who has competed in bodybuilding since the age of 19. I ate paleo before it was popular, pounds of muscle gains and a ripped body. 4 years ago I got Crossfit certified and followed the paleo/ zone diet. 2 years ago I decided to try whole foods plant based like you, and to my surprise I had such an amazing amount of energy, clarity, no sluggishness, and never got sick even the common cold. The alkalinity of the diet is what kept me healthy. I still compete in bodybuilding while eating a plant based diet (not sacrificing size or mass). I’m not an ethical vegan I just do it because I like how I feel. I stay away from gluten, so no bread for me. I am flexible with my diet if I go to a dinner party that doesn’t have any vegetarian options, but I always wake up that next day feeling sluggish. Another Crossfitter who is well known in the Crossfit communitty is Michael Gregory (aka: Big Mike) tried plant base for 30 days and admittedly felt the same as you and I. His blog post is called the Vegan Experiment at http://oakfreak.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-02-01T05:48:00-06:00&max-results=6 .

Just because someone is vegan doesn’t mean they’re healthy; oreos, french fries, coke, Boca Burger brands are all vegan, but are processed and unhealthy.

Oh…before I sign off. I am also a trainer, biomechanics specialist, and a fitness and wellness coach. I have helped 20 clients reverse they’re heart disease, Reversed 3 clients fibromyalgia, reversed 2 clients MS, and 1 client unknown mystery illness through plant base whole foods.

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Jordy January 6, 2013 at 1:27 am

Oreos most certainly are not vegan, they’re made with whey.

Kiara June 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Jordy: Oreo cookies are made with whey in the UK, but in the US they are not. In the US Oreo cookies are in fact vegan, although some vegans still avoid them because the sugar in the cookies may or may not have been filtered though charred animal bones.

Christina Arasmo Beymer May 12, 2012 at 1:52 am

I had real creamer in Chai and didn’t find it repulsive, because I didn’t realize it until afterwards. However, I got dysentery like symptoms. The lactase enzyme is something we can lose. It’s also something we can gain. Humans are the most adaptable animals on earth. I take a phytase enzyme to be able to eat grains and beans and get the nutrients from those without a lot of soaking, sprouting, and so forth. There’s zero proof, but over the years I think human kind has fucked up our guts with so much sugar and factory farmed animal meat (lots of antibiotics will truly mess up good gut flora).

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Simon November 25, 2013 at 7:22 am

The placebo effect would be expected to produce or alleviate physical symptoms. It is certain that some, if not all, of the effects of your dietary changes are explained by placebo. It is not presumptuous. Perhaps vegan diets have beneficial effects but your experiment is not well designed to uncover them if they do exist.

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Doug May 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Your mind can only fool your body if your mind is foolish. You can literally, physically feel the difference when you eat dairy/meat products after switching to vegan. Also, I’ve noticed many people seem to believe only what they want to, and not the cold, hard truth. Think about that one!

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Not you January 23, 2013 at 6:04 am

What are the cold hard facts ??

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Emily September 14, 2012 at 11:58 am

I have been living a vegan lifestyle for over 2 years. However, I still live with my parents and have caved for dairy products a few times(my old favorite brand of milk chocolate on christmas eve and my old favorite cheeses two other times). Every time, mentally I felt guilty, but in all honesty, physically I felt excited to eat the food I used to love so much. Though my guilt was there, those things tasted absolutely delicious to me, yet I still got horrible diarhea…? I also have vegan friends who have experienced the same without me even bringing up my experiences.

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Giulia C December 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I started eliminating animal products from my diet for environmental and health reasons. As I learned more about factory farming, I started trying to eliminate dairy. I’ve got it mostly kicked, save for an occasional bit… I can relate to the author’s description of it being “dirty”, but for me it has been more along the lines of cow milk or cheese having a stronger/greasier/more sharp taste, which I found very unappealing. Normally, I love pizza with cheese on it. But now? Pizza with mozzarella cheese, on 3 different tastings- did not taste delicious to me anymore. It also smelled “off”, as did cow milk- despite not being past expiration, etc.

I can only attribute this to the fact that eating from almost entirely plant sources (as well as a marked increase in any processed foods) has made my taste buds more sensitive to the more subtle nuances in the various veggies, fruits, nuts, grains, nut milks that I’ve been eating.

Prior to eating this way, I would have thought a handful of raw almonds tasted like cardboard. Now I can very much enjoy the taste of them. And many other things as well.

I feel lighter, clearer, more aware. While no doubt part of this is psychological, I certainly won’t knock it.

My son is transitioning as well. He recently stopped drinking cow milk, stating that it “tasted weird”. His school lunch serves nothing but cow milk- no non-animal options at all… so he now takes a thermos to school with almond or hazelnut milk in it.

My stomach, and my entire body seem to be very happy with not having any meat or dairy products. And cooking has become a source of enjoyment and adventure for me and my son- whereas before it was a chore.

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jack orben April 12, 2013 at 1:35 am

Sorry mate but what this article is saying is 100% absolutely correct. I have done exactly the same experiment in order to challenge the concept that you need meat and diary to build muscle. Within 4 DAYS!!!!!!!! Yes 4 DAYS! my body felt lighter, less tired, my usual morning headaches were totally gone! Placebo my ass! You are assuming in the light of evidence here. If it wasnt placebo what was it? Vitamins. Thanks.

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Smith February 11, 2014 at 5:13 am

As others have pointed out, you can lose your tolerance to lactose by not consuming it regularly. My fiance is vegan, and he found out the hard way (by getting diarrhea) that certain beers contain lactose. He didn’t learn this beforehand and have a mental reaction. He learned it by having a physical reaction.

The mind can certainly fool the body, but in the case of veganism and lactose intolerance, it is a physical rather than a mental effect.

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Sarah March 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

I have to disagree; I feel the same nausea, guilt, and just overall disgust after I eat dairy now.

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Max Bronson March 30, 2011 at 4:35 am

I tried vegan for twenty one days and felt like crap. Lots of diarrhea, weakness, headaches, etc. Now, I’m following an almost paleo diet and I feel awesome. I work out with heavy weights and the protein I get from meat and eggs has really helped my strength to increase rapidly.

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David March 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I imagine different people’s bodies react differently to different diets. The vegan diet, for me, really feels like it’s been the “round peg” I’ve been missing for a long time. I was originally going to try paleo but the menu didn’t appeal to me.

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Lisis March 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I definitely think different diets work for different people. I have friends who swear by the Paleo diet (so much meat that just thinking about it gives me a heart attack), and others who are vegan or vegetarian. The real key, I think, is finding the system that works best for you… which it sounds like you have.

As for cheese… I *could* give it up, but won’t. It brings me way too much joy with no negative side effects. If that ever changes, I’d reconsider. :)

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Kate May 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

People have to choose the diet that works best for them, both physically and ethically. That said, people have a responsibility to know where their food comes from. If you spend a bit of time checking out commercial meat industry / farming practices, etc., your ethical paradigm will most likely do a radical shift.

David (EOD) April 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I had a similar reaction to going vegan. Besides not enjoying the limited food, I just felt weak. I don’t know if that would have changed if I stuck with it, but what works for me is a balance, all natural, if man makes it don’t eat it 2500 calorie diet mixed with regular exercise and 8 hours of sleep. Sorry if thats a bit boring :)

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Eric April 15, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Your comment on “limited food” makes me think your dietary selection might have been poor. What were your staple foods when you were vegan?

Note that I’m equally skeptical that the author felt less weak and tired going vegan as I am that you felt weak due to a vegan diet. As long as you’re getting enough calories, energy levels shouldn’t change much based on meat and cheese. If you eat a lot of refined grains it might cause blood sugar crashes, but that’s not really a vegan issue.

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David April 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I gotta say I don’t understand why everyone thinks I am lying or exaggerating or “experiencing psychosomatic changes” when I say I experience profound changes in my energy level. It couldn’t possibly be that animal foods are taxing on the system in general and take a lot of energy to digest, right?

steven August 5, 2012 at 7:31 am

I just wanted to point out 1 fact I knew of and hadn’t seen mentioned at this point its “Blood Types” while Im not vegan and I actually eat a fair bit of meat and dairy products maybe more than I should being A+, but that aside being a A type blood for example I should be eating more “greens” or vegan type food while limiting the meats i eat to stay healthy, I believe the different reactions people get when trying vegan could be based on their blood type among other variables, people like me who have newer blood types that are more omnivore/vegetarian/vegan will be more likely to feel better changing to vegan whereas people with older blood types like when we were still eating mostly meat and a little grains and other “greens” would be more likely to feel sick sluggish etc etc, I recommend people know their blood type before changing diets so to avoid unnecessary health problems, while a vegan diet is better for the environment and a lot of the human population there are still some people that it would be bad for them to make the change and on that note i remember reading further up, something about those vegan videos being made to persuade people to change I believe that such propaganda shouldn’t be persuading people to make the change but informing people of the benefits and drawbacks for some people so that each person that makes the change has made a well informed decision and thus more likely to stick to it, unfortunately I dont think we will ever entirely give up on consuming animal products but I hope we will minimize our dependance on them. At this time I like the author of this article was I have grown a little bored with my current diet and am considering changing to vegan or at least part vegan because I know my blood type and believe in my case it could be a good thing. I will give myself a short trial of pure vegan then if I agree that it is for me I will add a bit of meat and dairy products so that if there is no non animal foods left on a plane for example I still have options apart from peanuts lol.

Thanks to the author for the informative article and to the commenters for their opinions, experiences and extra facts.

Lisa January 8, 2012 at 11:46 pm

You probably didnt eat a healthy vegan diet. Maybe for the first week or so your body would feel weak but after that if youre eating a well balanced diet then most people experience more energy. I have no problem with regularexercise with a vegan diet.

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Larisa February 3, 2012 at 8:48 am

I agree. My entire family (husband and two daughters) have gone vegan for over a month. We ALL have experienced positive side effects of veganism. We are all athletes and have seen improvements in our individual sports in these last 30+days. My last Sunday’s 10mile run seemed effortless and I was not sore the next day! Beyond that . . .My husband even noticed that I am less stressed/anxious/moody/etc. Our foods are seemingly limitless now. Our meals are more varied than they have ever been.

Shiree November 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

It’s not boring at all. I think it sounds very sensible and health concious. I myself have been struggling with whether to go back veg or all the way vegan becuase of GI issues, sluggishness, blah feeling all around. I think whatever works for you. I find that lack of sleep, caffeine, and stress can really put a crimp on your life and how you feel physically and mentally. Clean eating, water, movement, pilates and yoga with the occasional lean fish (salmon) and greens can work just as well and leave me feeling alert, happy, and flushed out. Sorry, just my two cents! :-)

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EcoCatLady April 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I have to agree that one size fits all doesn’t necessarily work where diet is concerned. I’m mostly vegetarian, but I’m also allergic to a vast array of foods including most seeds and nuts. I also can’t eat much soy, or fermented foods, or any of those fake milk products because they trigger migraines for me. Suffice it to say, my Vegan experiment was a complete disaster that left me feeling sick and nearly sent me to the ER a few times.

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Scott July 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I got really sick when I went vegan, mostly because I came off of eating a *very* lopsided diet full of meats, cheeses and processed foods and to top it off, I wasn’t really replacing those with the right things. Detox can sometimes be a startling, and painful experience – especially when not done correctly.

also, though it goes without saying – protein is not hard to get in a vegan diet. It’s actually very easy.

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kat jaime August 15, 2013 at 10:21 am

i felt the same way too

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Shanna Mann March 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

I would like to point out that not all, I would say not even most dairy and meat cows are mistreated. Yes, there are several places I can think of, right off the top of my head, that animals are not kept in accordance with best practices. But my family has ranched for 120 years, and our animals are grass-fed, carefully checked and treated when ill. (Yes, with antibiotics. What the hell else would you use?)

Our neighbors run a dairy and their herd is kept in a temperature controlled barn that is cleaner than my house! Yes, they look like skeletal racks of bones, but that’s what a dairy cow looks like, because their metabolism runs so high for milk production.

I really wish that, rather than looking up videos on YouTube, everyone who thinks animals are poorly treated would find a ranch, dairy, or feedlot and go on a tour.

I personally don’t care if people are vegetarian, vegan, or what-have-you. I’m a fifth generation rancher, and I think everyone eats too much meat. It’s hard on your metabolism, and it makes you sluggish. But, I’ve also found that in a physical job you can’t afford the trade-off in strength and endurance that going meatless entails.

So, David, if you ever take the number one past Maple Creek, give me a ring. I’d be happy to show you around.

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David March 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Hi Shanna. I would love to check it out, and I didn’t mean to characterize all meat producers as evil. I haven’t yet explored small-scale farming and what the implications are for ethics. It’s always going to come down to the details of the particular operation. Maybe in the future I will get small amounts of meat from producers I’ve visited and toured. But in the mean time, without knowing the producer of what I see at the grocery store, I’m going to stay on the cautious side and guess that the animal I’m eating was treated considerably worse that I’d treat my mom’s cat, and I don’t think that’s too likely to be untrue.

But even with the dubious industrial practices out of the picture, the other major philosophical question still remains: should we take from animals whatever we want, just because it is convenient or pleasurable?

But, I’ve also found that in a physical job you can’t afford the trade-off in strength and endurance that going meatless entails.

Gotta call you on that one. Strength and endurance depend on your own physiology, your habits and diet, and many people have reached peak shape on a meatless diet: http://www.veganathlete.com/vegan_vegetarian_athletes.php My job can be quite physical depending on the day, and the physical tasks all became noticeably easier. The super-endurance athlete community (ultramarathoners) is disproportionately vegan.

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Chris Robbins March 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Have to agree with you there, David. Through out the ages, the poorest were often the ones in the most physically demanding jobs & didn’t eat much meat because they couldn’t afford it. Think of the Irish & Scottish who lived off of oats & potatoes mostly.

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Shanna Mann March 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Yes, David, I should have specified that *for me* I couldn’t sustain myself if I wasn’t eating meat. Even though I also ate a lot of nuts and legumes, having eggs or steak was essential for me not to feel periods of weakness and even lightheadedness at time. Mind you, I didn’t go at it with the same focus that the athletes you mention did. I simply gave my body what I felt like it needed, using what was readily available.

I largely avoided the carbs that Chris mentions. Especially in my previous professions in the oilpatch, where I worked 12-16 hours a day, lifting my own bodyweight, I couldn’t afford the crashes and sleepiness the carbs wrought in me. I lived on trail mix and steak burritos. Man, was I ripped though :D

fwiw, you’re welcome any time you’re passing through. You know where to find me. ;)

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J April 1, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thanks for bringing your points about sustainable, alternative animal raising to the conversation, Shanna. I’m sure the rest of you have already seen, heard, and read about Joel Salatin, but if you haven’t you should (yes, should) read an article or two by him. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, what he’s doing as a ‘grass farmer’ is inspiring.

I’m increasingly interested in the ideas of eating what’s local and available. If that means high on veggies for one part of the season then uptakes in fruits and nuts in the fall, maybe some vension or beef over the November, December months and then fish in the early Spring (not exclusively any of these items, just mentioning that staples can rotate along with seasonal shifts). Every region of course will be different and not everyone has four seasons like I do. What about the Inuits–didn’t they survive largely on animal fat?

It’s worth mentioning that in some locales eating a vegan diet or a paleo diet are equally unsustainable and rooted in petroleum (avocados in December in NY?). I know this is a little off-topic as the scope is largely focused on this man’s discovery of the physical benefits of veganism.

I was having a great conversation with a restaurant owner about genetics’ role in food tolerance and dietary selections–anyone have links to digestible (hehe) articles?

Let’s all plant a garden! We can agree on that, right?

Jen April 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Feedlots are not at all suited to raising animals. I’m not sure where the assertion that most animals are treated well comes from, perhaps on your ranch but it’s not proven that that is the case for the majority of animals that arrive on our plates. Personal experience does not equate with the majority.

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Suzi May 25, 2011 at 10:06 am

Ok, you say the cows look like a sack of bones because of their metabolism. But that’s only because the cows are kept permanently pregnant to make sure they lactate. It’s unnatural and therefore the cows will be unhealthy. They shouldn’t be used for milk unnaturally. And yes I have been on my fair share of dairy farms before you ask, I don’t sit on youtube all day and get all my opinions from that.
If human women were made constantly pregnant and had their milk sapped from them on a daily basis I reckon they’d look pretty thin and unhealthy too…..

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Margaret January 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

Check your facts. Mammals lactate after giving birth, not so much while pregnant. Milk cows are made pregnant once every few years, then they lactate for several years. The occasional pregnancy is quite natural… although the prolonged lactation isn’t so natural. But if you had really been to diary farms, you’d know that.

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Emily September 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm

For the bulls, do you slaughter immediately onsite or do they travel in a truck to the abbatoir? If onsite, how? For the the dairy cows, do you unnaturally impregnate them your selves, or do you let the cows and bulls socialize together and mate? Do you take the calves away from their mothers or do you let the cows raise their babies? I won’t even ask how you milk them or for how long because whatever the answer, it’s still unnatural. Do I think at family raised farms animals are treated much better than factory farms? Absolutely, no doubt in my mind. I belive you try to do your best and think that your cows live good lives but it’s not about the temperture of their barns or what they eat, its the fact that they’re products that are manufactured and used and don’t get to live out natural lives of their own.

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gina October 2, 2012 at 8:55 am

Such good points Emily!

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Sarah February 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Amen. They are slavishly used and then slaughtered way ahead of their natural lifespan.

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Cait March 19, 2013 at 11:43 am

Exactly what was going through my mind when I was reading about the small family run farm. I am vegan and have been wishing I could find some truly cruelty free cheese to enjoy. There was a stand at my local natural food market for cruelty free goat cheese so I checked it out. The man told me that they only own about 25 goats, that they a free roaming, grass fed. They only milk the goats that have become pregnant naturally, and they are basically treated as pets. The cheese, of course, was extremely expensive because they produce such a small amount of it. I felt extremely excited, hoping I had found a way I could enjoy some cheese guilt free. I asked him what happens to the goats after they pass the point in their lives where they can nolonger produce milk, and he informed me that they slaughter them to prevent over population rather than let them live out their life… It was such a great example of “cruelty free” not actually being cruelty free, just less cruel than others.

Nicky Spur March 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

Bizarre — I got the same feeling from eating a paleolithic diet which is pretty much on the opposite end of a vegan diet… I’m curious, could definitely be worth a week’s test sometime in the future.

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David March 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I’ve heard rave review about paleo and I almost did it for this experiment. I just couldn’t find any recipes I really wanted to eat though. It seems more restrictive and restaurant-unfriendly than veganism… have you found that?

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Chris Robbins March 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Considering how you say most things at a restaurant are made with animal products that’s kind of silly. It’s extremely easy to eat out at restaurants as a paleo/primal eater. Steaks, eggs, bacon, cheeseburgers (without the bun), veggies, lamb, veal, fish, shellfish, etc. Most restaurants sell a few of those.

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Tanja March 30, 2011 at 9:27 am

This is really interesting! I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 14 years now (actually, a pesco-lacto-ovo-vegetarian, as I also eat fish once or twice a month) and the best I’ve felt during this time was when I tried a version of low-carbohydrate diet with lots of cheese (but not milk), fish, eggs, chicken and vegetables. After a few days on that diet, I felt very focused, alert and – best of all – was never hungry between meals (I had three meals a day). After I week, my skin started clearing and my hair shinier. The only problem – and the reason why I didn’t continue the diet – was that this way of eating was impossible in social situations (dinner parties, eating out etc.). But I felt much better during that diet than as a vegetarian. This makes me wonder how food really affects us. Is there a difference in genes or environment that makes some people feel so good on a vegan diet and others on a high-protein (animal protein) diet?

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Shanna Mann March 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

I agree, Tanya, I feel best on a high-protein, lots of crunchy veggies, low-carb diet. My preferred protein is eggs, though. I only eat fish, pork or chicken once in a very long while. But a high-protein diet is like, 3 or 4 eggs a day, when eaten with suitable roughage. It’s not like my husband, who in a fit of, I don’t know, gastronomic indulgence, consumed four pounds of chicken wings yesterday. Ewww.

The question of dairy is interesting too. I find that it depends on the day, how my body enjoys dairy. I eat yogurt nearly every day, but I don’t enjoy milk. Cheese is generally fine, but any more than a couple ounces is too much. But, I love cream soups and sauces, so I cook with it fairly often. And if I’ve been consuming a detox style diet, with lots of water and veggies, my reaction to dairy is much like David’s. But as I consume more protein, that reaction fades.

One thing I’ve always wondered how come all those labels? Why not just eat whatever you like to eat and not worry about labelling it? Aside from the difficulty of other people cooking for you, I guess. But on the other hand, aside from your mother, who memorizes that list in order to cook for you?

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David March 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Different people give different accounts of different diets. I’m glad I hit on one that seems to be closer to optimum for me, but I’m not done making changes.

It should be said though that in any of these diets: vegan, paleo, etc, there thousands of different ways to go about it. An all-Oreos diet is vegan, for example. So two different vegans could eat two totally different diets and have two different physiological experiences, even if their bodies were genetically geared to react the same way to any particular food.

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Tanja March 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

You’re absolutely right, David. I’d like to clarify that my vegetarian diet is not all Oreos :) I eat a normal, quete varied diet with an occasional treat. The reason I’m so interested in the reaction people have to different diets is that in my mind it’s obvious that from an ethical (and environmental) point of view, a vegan/vegetarian diet is the best diet, so the real question in choosing the best diet is if that diet is also good for your own well-being. In my experience, the vegetarian diet is not the best for me, but I still follow it for ethical and also social reasons.

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Renee April 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Yeah, Oreos aren’t vegan. Refined sugar is not vegan. So no, an all-Oreo diet is NOT vegan. Refined cane sugar is filtered through charcoal, much of which is derived from animal bone.

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Shanna Mann March 30, 2011 at 9:48 am

Also, David, I liked your point about feeling marginalized. It’s kind of an odd feeling, isn’t it? I don’t know about good for your character, but I suppose that’s a fairly useful way of looking at it.

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David March 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I just mean it’s new to me and dealing with it is a life skill I have had very little practice in.

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Julie March 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I,too, was struck by your comment about feeling marginalised and I was so reminded of the reaction I get when I say our family homeschools in your comment:

“I didn’t go around announcing my new diet, but food is such a prominent part of human life that it does come up. Reactions were mixed. Most wanted to know why, some asking as if they’re just curious, and others asking as if I’ve violated them in some way.”

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

It’s always going to be tricky I guess, because just by going vegan people will naturally infer that I disapprove of their lifestyle. And I don’t really, I just disapprove of myself having that same diet. But I can see how it would be hard to come to any other conclusion. I suppose it’s similar with homeschooling — right now it’s an “alternative” kind of thing that seems to be founded on a rejection of the status quo in that department. So those who support the status quo in that department might feel like they have to defend themselves from you. I think in both cases, more people will be exploring unconventional options, and “different” lifestyles will be less upsetting to people.

Jonathan Steinbeck March 30, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hi David, I’m glad you like the vegan diet. I’m a vegan for over 3 years now and I discovered pretty much the same things, although I acutally did it for the sake of animals and not for health-related reasons.

You should be prepared though that feeling better will probably only be temporary. I can’t really say if that’s because I just got used to it or whether these benefits really vanished. I guess if I would try eating meat or dairy now it would make me rather sick. But what I think is really priceless about being vegan is that feeling of doing the right thing.

I’m one of these vegans that never EVER tell anyone they should go vegan because it’s bad to eat meat. I know there are vegans out there that do that and I think it’s a shame, really. I’m beeing vegan because I don’t want animals to suffer and not because I like bothering other people.
And what I discovered is that most people are actually really curious. The best advert for the vegan lifestyle is… cooking delicious vegan meals for your guests *surprise surprise*. ;) I never once had anyone tell me my meals tasted bad. In fact, pretty much anyone that ever tasted my vegan cooking loved it and really wondered that there wasn’t actually anything missing in it. And it’s quite effective. Although I do not know of anyone I may have inspired to become vegan, I know that I inspired a few of my friends and aquaintances to go vegetarian and I’m sure I’m doing a pretty good job at smashing prejudices about the vegan lifestyle.

I guess that’s just another lesson I learned from being vegan: You can talk about something till your mouth gets dry and people never really understand what you are saying – the most effective way to explain something is, well, just doing whatever it is you are trying to explain.
There’s a reason that Robert Greene made this ‘tactic’ out to be one of the 48 Laws of Power (http://www.amazon.com/48-Laws-Power-Robert-Greene/dp/0140280197). Great book by the way, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Oh and before I forget it: thanks for sharing all these interesting insights with us, I really like your blog. :)

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Thanks Jonathan.

One of the benefits I didn’t mention — which was actually the main reason for doing this experiment — is that it has really helped me to draw hard lines in my diet. Before, everything was an option, so I didn’t really have to practice my defensive eating reflex. I never had to say no, and so I often ate just because there was an opportunity. I’ve had to really take control of the food area in my life, which means very little gets decided by what’s convenient. So I eat very little food that isn’t good for me, and that’s probably where most of my lightness and clearheadedness is coming from. All I know is what I’m doing now works better that what I was doing before, and I don’t imagine it’s temporary.

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Sund S July 10, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I’m one of these vegans that never EVER tell anyone – appreciate you for that. We have one friend and family who became vegans recently and driving the rest of us in our group nuts – irritating all of us to our core with their ethics and cruelty arguments. All we are saying is, if you like it follow it but don’t expect all of us to change because you have. I am just wondering does veganism mean only with food or is it a life style..I mean with cruelty and all full bag of it. The reason I am asking is because their home and car seat is leather and they have silk business. So, is the cruelty factor only for chickens, fish, cows etc or does it extend to silk worms and more too? Just curious.

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john smith August 25, 2013 at 9:33 am

One whom follows veganism should not be accepting of any animal expoitation in their lifestyle. Leather and silk are not vegan. They might just be full vegetarian (considering themselves as health vegans).

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Sunny March 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

Excellent post. Just excellent. Thank you! :)

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Thanks :)

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Cate March 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

This is a great post. I was vegan for a couple years when I was in high school, and had great success using it to manage my constant depression. The depression didn’t go away, but it was much better. I returned to eating animal products after a while, but I try to be very even-handed with them. I only eat meat once or twice a week, and while I do consume dairy every day (what can I say? I like cream in my coffee), I try to keep it pretty minimal. For me, eating animal products is closely tied to my mood and general well-being. I feel best when I am eating some animal products (maybe it’s the fat, because I get plenty of protein from non-animal sources), but when I eat too many, my mood plummets. Sometimes I go through phases where I’m perfectly happy and then wake up one day feeling so depressed I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m always baffled with this happens, but when I think about it, it always, ALWAYS follows a period of overdoing it on processed food, meat, and cheese. Sometimes I don’t even realize I was overdoing it until my mood drops. It’s a very delicate balance for me.

Also, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on veganism and marginalization.

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Thanks Cate. My mood has been better, but it’s too early to tell exactly what it’s from — whether it’s the absence of animal food or just that I’m eating healthier.

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Celeste March 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

David,

I’m curious to know if when you ate dairy, cheese and meat if you found out where the dairy and meat was sourced from? I find that eating CAFO dairy and meat causes me to not feel great and have bowel issues, however if I eat dairy or meat from animals that were ethically, sustainable raised those physical issues don’t occur. I think it’s important to note that CAFO animals are not eating what they would in nature and that has a huge impact on the quality of the dairy they produce or the meat they provide when butchered and what nutrients, vitamins and minerals that food will then contain. I think many of us that support ethical, sustainable consumption of animal products have found that switching from conventional farming to sustainable farming have gotten the same health benefits you have from going vegan.

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Cate March 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I can’t speak for David, but I know that in my own experience, my depression/general sluggish feelings were amplified when I ate CAFO meat/dairy, but still present if I ate sustainable animal products…I just had to eat a lot more of them for that to be the case.

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm

No, I didn’t source the food. That’s something I haven’t explored yet, and would like to. I don’t want to put any money into the CAFO system, so it’s easier just to avoid all meat and dairy, but there probably is a pronounced difference in what it does to the person eating it.

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Heather @ Side of Sneakers March 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm

This was a great review of your experiment and I enjoyed reading your perspective. I eat largely vegan, but never call myself vegan. I recently got my husband to go vegan for a week and he said within a couple days he had more energy and felt much better.

I too agree the hardest part is restaurants- depending on where you are, it can be virtually impossible to find something to eat that fits your requirements. I struggle with the same thing while eating at the homes of friends and family.

Look forward to reading more!

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Susan March 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Wow great read! I hate to label myself as the lacto-ovo-pescatarian who doesn’t eat wheat or corn, AKA “The Dinner Guest from Hell”. Similar to you with dairy, I find that wheat and corn make me feel positively dreadful, dirty, bloated, disgusting. I don’t eat meat because I don’t want to support the growing of mammals specifically to kill them for food. And I find poultry revolting. However, if I am offered some venison from someone who shot it themselves, bring it on.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I have found a diet that keeps me healthy and happy and feels ethically right for me. Yes, I do have to pack my own lunch almost everyday, always have food with me when I travel (i.e. never be caught in a chicken wrap or nothing airplan scenario!) be VERY specific about what I eat when invited out. Be mindful that I won’t get many dinner invitations, but that only encourages me to ask people round and gain pleasure for cooking for others…..and in some small way they will see that I’m not that difficult lol.

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Shanna Mann March 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm

hey susan, may I question you on your views? If I’m understanding you correctly, you feel it’s unethical to produce beef animals solely for the purposes of consumption? I’m not trying to be ornery, I just haven’t run across this view before, I don’t think.

Does that make a dairy operation more ethical, in that the cows are used for purposes other than meat? (they are eaten eventually, though, so I’m not sure if that factors in.) What about sheep, grown for wool, but still consumed for meat at the end of their life cycle?

These animals were cultivated for their meat, as would deer, elk, bison, pigeon, moose, horses and rabbits, if there was a clear commercial demand. Since that isn’t quite logical, I’m thinking that you prefer the idea that whatever you are eating roamed freely before it was killed and consumed? And if I’m correct about that, how is that different from a free-range cow (or chicken?) Is it about predestination, or the fact that human agency is at work in the commercial raising of meat?

As I said, I’m not trying to pick a fight or anything, I was just looking for clarification.

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Susan April 1, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Hi Shanna

You raise some very interesting points! Thanks for challenging me. I think I can clarify my own thoughts (or justify them for myself at least) in that I don’t WANT to eat meat from mammals that have been produced, and subjected to transport and a fearful death for the sake of feeding me. Just like EVERYTHING in this life, it is not for me to make ethical judgement, I just do what feels right for me, and makes sense for me.

And perhaps I am very naive, but I live in New Zealand, and daily in my face are herds of dairy cows and sheep, producing milk, and grazing freely (in the case of many sheep) to produce wool.

I think the nub of it is the factory killing process. Simple as that.

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Shanna Mann April 2, 2011 at 8:48 am

Hi Susan. I don’t think you’re naive at all. It’s great that you actually see herds and flocks up close. So many people have no idea what their food looks like before they buy it in the grocery store. What I hear you say is that the impersonality of the factory killing floor dishonours in some way, the animal, and you don’t want to put it into your body. Which I think is great, to be mindful about it that way. I really appreciate you sharing.

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seadiayrs May 6, 2013 at 4:25 am

I don’t think this is a strange view and it is one I believe I nearly share. I think it is all dependent on your basis for your diet. Essentially how you define the way life should be treated and your own role as a human in the natural world.

I don’t eat meat.
My reason (ethical): I do not support the mass production, treatment, life and method of death that a human decides it can bestow on another living being for convenience.

As a human I see my role in the natural world as a predator whose primary weapon is the mind. I am meant to live in this world with others, peacefully and will not support cruelty. While I do believe that death is part of life applied to animals and humans alike.

Following from this reasoning, it seems natural that a free living animal can be hunted by another animal for food, yet excess violence for convenience is unjustifiable.

“The duck swallows the worm, the fox kills the duck, the men shoot the fox, and the devil hunts the men.”

Jack Bennett | 32000 Days March 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Hi David,

Great post. I’m fascinated by what you discovered because it reminds me of the start of my “vegan experiment”. That began about three years ago and has been going more or less continuously ever since.

Here’s a post I wrote about a year ago describing my vegan journey until that point:
http://thirtytwothousanddays.com/blog/2010/03/following-a-vegan-diet-improves-your-health-and-the-environment/

I didn’t “snap” into vegan eating so much as I slowly “slid” into it.

Some odd little milestones on the journey to starting vegan eating:

I observed that I hadn’t yet bought milk, eggs, or meat after several months in my new apartment.
I noticed that my favorite dessert, thai coconut sticky rice with mango, was completely vegan.
I started getting curious about green smoothies and began making them for breakfast.

After a certain point, I decided that I was ready to declare a “vegan experiment”. So I chose to consciously drop eating animal products when I was out at restaurants too.

The experience of marginality and alienation was the biggest one for me. Most restaurants are familiar with vegetarians, and can provide a bunch of choices for them, but vegan requests complicate things far more. I began to despair of ever being able to eat socially again.

That feeling faded over the first few months, and I eat at lots of different restaurants now with a sense of acceptance and awareness that most things on most American menus are inaccessible to me. My mantra became “salad and fries”, since those things were generally available at American restaurants, and were reliably vegan.

Best of luck on your own journey in the weeks and months ahead, regardless of whether you continue with your vegan experiment or not!
-Jack

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Thanks Jack.

I enjoyed your post. You touched on something cool that I didn’t really realize was happening this last month:

As a vegan, I’ve been eating in a completely unconstrained manner (i.e. not “dieting” at all)]

I never felt a sense of having to restrict myself. I was so fully into the habit of buying and preparing non-animal foods that I just made what I wanted for my meals, seldom ate too much, and felt much healthier. There was no sense of sacrifice or constraint, yet I lost weight and felt awesome. It made it almost effortless to eat clean and healthy, and it never had been before when I would go on labored “health kicks” that gave me a feeling of having to constantly restrain and control. It was nice to be free of that.

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Jack Bennett | 32000 Days March 31, 2011 at 9:45 am

I’ve noticed that same effect. For the first few months eating this way, 40-45 lbs of unnecessary fat left my body, but I wasn’t “dieting”. I was enjoying an abundance and variety of rich and tasty foods. I didn’t (and don’t) count calories and or grams of carb / protein / fat.

In the past, when I’d tried “low fat” or “low calorie” diets, I was able to remove unwanted fat / weight but it was psychologically punishing. Most of the time, I was uncomfortably hungry and thinking of all the things that I couldn’t eat.

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EcoCatLady April 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Hey Jack,

Sorry to burst your bubble, but very often french fries are not vegan at all. Many restaurants use meat extracts as flavorings in their fries. Likewise, if the restaurant cooks the fries in the same oil as they use for meat products, the fats from the meat end up in the fries. Just thought you might like to know…

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Karen Lindsay March 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The diet you choose has a meaning. The mind and the body are part of the same phenomena which are inseparable. Your mindbody rejects dairy now just as others’ meaningful diet dictates their symptoms. With a dualistic paradym that treats the mind and body as separate we will never agree. Isnt it amazing?

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Leah March 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Hi David – out of curiousity – are you an A type blood by any chance?

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David March 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Yes, A positive. What does that mean?

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Shanna Mann March 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I think she’s referring to a book called Eat Right for your Blood Type, which posits that blood types evolved due to dietary specialization amongst ethnicities. I know my Mom found it helpful, and I was intrigued — I just couldn’t be bothered to follow the diet.

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Henway March 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Interesting, I don’t think I could ever make the move to being a vegan especially since I live with my family, and we are all meat eaters. But I definitely know it’s great for your health. Ah well, I’ll sacrifice convenience for more years added to my life =)

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CD March 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm
David April 1, 2011 at 12:48 am

Thanks for the link. It was interesting. But it makes me wonder who to listen to. It seems like the field of nutrition is always subject to dramatic new pronouncements about how the all the science up to this point is wrong, because this new expert says so. It’s strange how most sciences seem to be building certainty over time, yet nutrition is constantly knocking itself down and starting over.

This guy seems to have trouble keeping his right-wing political leanings out of the article so it makes me think his science might be slanted too.

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Yasmin March 30, 2011 at 10:12 pm

did you lose any weight during the month??

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David April 1, 2011 at 12:59 am

It looks like about seven pounds

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galen March 31, 2011 at 9:38 am

Whackjobs…..

Man has been consuming meat since he could hit a squirrel (or a squirrel’s predecessor) with a rock. Conversely, agriculture is a relatively new phenom (<10,000 year old?).

This article has zero credibility except to the author and those with a plant-based religious bent. The Inuit (those not Westernized anyway) eat NOTHING BUT WILD GAME….. for their entire lives! And they are healthy and hardy.

You 'feel' the want you expected to feel after changing your food intake. Totally psychosomatic.

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David March 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I never said people shouldn’t eat meat, or that this post is anything but a record of what I experienced. And why would I *want* to have to make a dramatic diet change to achieve these benefits? If all this could be achieved through the psychosomatic effects of enthusiasm, why wouldn’t I just eat some acai berries or gingko every morning and “want” my way to better health, without such a big lifestyle adjustment? I did this because I wanted to see what would happen. I like what happened.

For whatever reason, some people really seem to want the physical changes to be “psychosomatic”. I take it they reject the notion that switching to a vegan diet is probably going to result in considerable health benefits for most people. I don’t think that’s too much of a stretch.

Is my seven-pound weight loss psychosomatic too, Doctor?

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galen March 31, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Switching to a vegan diet could have considerable negative health benefits, since meat and fish contains so many essential nutrients.

The weight loss is because: Your caloric intake was reduced or your activity level increased or some of both. Maybe your old diet was full of fat. Maybe if you simply cut down on fat you would have the same weight loss. Fat is twice as calorie-dense as carbohydrates. A person will only lose weight if there is a caloric imbalance – more calories are being used than ingested. All one has to do to cut down on fat is buy leaner meats, make portions smaller and not eat deep-fried foods like french fries and potato chips, or those horrible prepared mashed potatoes that have 50% of their calories from added fat (a plain potato has almost no fat).

I don’t eat a lot of meat. But I am certainly not about to cut animal proteins out of my diet.

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Melanie April 4, 2011 at 11:23 am

The only essential nutrient found solely in animal products, that humans cannot produce on their own, is B-12. However many readily available cereals, etc. have B-12 added to them. The human body possesses the ability to combine different amino acids from different non-animal sources into complete proteins. The key is to eat a variety of foods, which is what anyone should be doing anyway. There is also much debate among nutritionists as to how much protein the average person actually needs to get.

Matt July 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Wow Galen. What is the saying…..better to keep your mouth shut than to open it and remove all doubt?

Karen Lindsay April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Psychosomatic implies its starts in the mind and is therefore not real. Dualism again. Your weight loss and feeling better and symptoms were all part of a mind/body/spiritual/human community/ mother nature change, which cannot be disqualified by anyone, even if their experience was diametrically opposite. You all have different meanings, manifested in your bodies. Why does that make someone else wrong? Clearly the reality is your all right about yourselves, symptoms and all but have the wrong model about the mind and the body and humans in general.

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Jonathan Steinbeck March 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Hi galen. Imagine you were a prehistoric human living in mild climate (not extreme like where the Inuit live). What would you rather do when you are hungry? Pick all the plants and berries and whatnot that you can find all around you, eat them and then do whatever the fuck you want to do with your time or hunt for weeks for some animal that you might or might even not catch at all?

Using the Inuit as an example for all mankind is kind of fishy because while the Inuit never had a choice in the first place but to go hunting, people in other regions did have a choice.

Without modern equipment, hunting is an insanely hard job. In fact more and more archaeologists doubt that we could have developed such big brains if we relied on hunting as primary source for our nutritions and they found that even before the Neolithic, people consumed grains. And observation of the lifestyle of the few tribes that today still live under prehistoric conditions seem to confirm that. That makes me wonder where your picture of prehistoric man comes from. Fantasy, maybe?

I guess your comment has zero credibility except to you and those with a pseudo-archaeologic based religious bent. ;)

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galen March 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm

There is no doubt that our prehistoric human ancestors gathered and ate available plant matter. They also hunted, killed and ate wild animals – hunting some species to extinction (wooly mammoth). Humans eat meat for a very simple reason: It provides much more nutrition than plant matter. And one good kill and a family could eat for a week and attend to other things like….. developing agriculture. Studies of early human fossil remains have shown that hunter-gatherers were better fed than the more ‘civilized’ later cultures that practiced agriculture. This fact should be self-evident as grain staples have very little nutritional value except as heat energy (calories). Vegetables, fruits and nuts are higher in nutritional value than grains but if one needs a lot of food energy AND vitamins and minerals, than one would need to consume meat to meet those nutritional needs. In today’s world, where physical labor is mostly absent, than caloric intake should be reduced to meet demand and it’s not, hence so many people are overweight. But meat still provides necessary nutrition that is difficult to duplicate with a 100% plant-based diet. You don’t need a lot of meat in today’s world but you still need some.

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David April 1, 2011 at 1:05 am

You don’t need a lot of meat in today’s world but you still need some.

I guess I just don’t think that’s true. Clearly there are many healthy people who have lived without meat for years.

Elizabet February 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Whackjobs? Way to start the conversation. So thoughtful. You are also one of the only people on here, 207 comments worth, to insult the author and readers. Nothing you have to say has any bit of credibility for the simple reason that you are so angry and rude.

I applaud the author for sharing his experience. I also applaud the others who might disagree, but have done so like an adult.

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Linda March 28, 2013 at 2:14 am

I agree Elizabeth, Galen you started off by acting like an ass! No need to be rude, everyone is entitled to have an opinion, just not an shitty attitude towards it! Good article David!

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Isis March 31, 2011 at 10:26 am

When I went strictly vegan, I had a very similar reaction to you, David. I do think my body is well suited to a vegan diet, and I share many of the same ethical concerns (though I live in a place where local and sustainably raised animal products are easy to come by, so that’s not so much of an issue).

That said, I think almost anyone who transitions from the standard American diet to a largely whole-foods, unprocessed diet (whether it be vegan/paleo/raw/whatever) is going to see a clear physical and mental benefit. It’s just a matter of which flavor of unprocessed diet appeals most to you. And I don’t really think anyone can argue that more fruits & vegetables are bad for you.

I don’t like the taste of meat; I never really have. A paleo diet would be a nightmare for me. A mostly vegan diet works. I call myself a pseudo-vegan (or a “bad” vegan) now, because I do make exceptions for eggs, yogurt and cheese every so often.

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BigEater March 31, 2011 at 11:04 am

A couple of thoughts:

1) Genetic typing is showing increasingly that our bodies’ immune systems react to different foods and this is genetically based and;

2) That sensitivities to proteins in specific foods can cause all kinds of bad symptoms. This complicates things. For example, if you can’t eat gluten or corn, that could have a genetic basis. Chickens and cows usually have diets that include corn-based feed, so you might even react to eating eggs and corn-fed beef because of the residue from the animals’ diets. However;

3) Much of our “food” is also tainted chemically (from pesticides, et al) and GMO (see above — even if you eat “natural” beef, it could have been fed GMO corn or soy) and that causes problems too. And, finally;

4) Don’t forget that soy is a phytoestrogen and one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet so that it can withstand untold amounts of RoundUp and who knows what else. You rarely see organic soy products for this reason. If you replace meat protein with soy products try to use organic soy.

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David April 1, 2011 at 1:23 am

I’m just beginning to look into the effects of GMO foods, chemicals and food production methods, and it’s overwhelming. The trouble is its so difficult to get reliable information on nutrition. There is so much contradiction among experts and so much industry propaganda involved, not to mention people’s emotional attachments to the diets they think are “right”. Who to believe? So far my best barometer seems to be how my diet makes me feel.

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Allyson March 31, 2011 at 11:16 am

I also took the plunge about a month ago and am loving it. I can relate to every single thing you said here. I love cooking too and have enjoyed it even more. Thank you for sharing! I enjoy your blog. :)

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Cindy March 31, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Hi David,

I really enjoyed reading your blog. I have been a vegetarian for 20 years and became vegan a couple years ago. My rationale for becoming vegan is mostly for environmental reasons. In your post, you didn’t really touch upon this motivation for veganism. A vegan lifestyle has huge benefits on our environment and people should consider this aspect when deciding to be vegan for a day, month or longer. Has the environmental impact influenced you in any way during your experiment?

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David April 1, 2011 at 1:38 am

It wasn’t what brought me to do the experiment. I know the environmental load from meat production is staggering, but this experiment was meant as an exploratory habit shakeup more than anything else. Over time I’m going through my life, auditing each part with experiments to see what works best, and I haven’t yet properly looked into the environmental consequences of how I live. I will in a future experiment.

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Trish March 31, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I am a vegetarian (3 years now). Very much enjoyed this post. Interesting – your comments that people somehow are offended when they find out you are vegan – happens to me all the time; and, reading other comments here – I see a LOT of hostility toward your personal experience, so it all plays out, here and ‘in the real world’ … people seem almost afraid to admit that life without meat is not only possible, but enjoyable. Keep up the good work.

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David April 1, 2011 at 1:45 am

I know. Diet is a very personal and emotional issue and we all get attached to certain positions. But I am still surprised how dismissive people can be. I thought all I did was share what I found happening in my life in my experiment but it seems to have triggered a lot of hostility.

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Justin March 31, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I went on a gluten-free diet a month ago and I feel way better physically and mentally. It’s almost time to start the vegetable garden. six months of nothing but fresh, organic, and relatively cheap vegetables.

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David April 1, 2011 at 1:46 am

I’m going to look into gluten’s role next I think.

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Leslie April 1, 2011 at 6:26 am

I have many food intolerances including gluten, dairy and eggs and 2 years ago I gave those up 2 years ago and felt amazing. Recently, though I felt the pull towards veganism and decided to cut out the remaining items- poultry, pig, fish, etc. I also set a goal of going vegan for Lent which made it easier to tackle rather than the decision to do it forever. I, too, feel like it was my missing link. The animal empathy I have always felt has inevitably gotten stronger and I have enjoyed the culunary aspect of it. The fact that I have a culinary degree has helped alot and I am creating recipes left and right due to the fact that I am a gluten free vegan and I can’t just grill a veggie panini and be done with it.
The most amazing side effect I have discovered is that when my alarm goes off in the morning- I am awake. In fact, I am fully awake until I go to bed at night and I sleep insanely well. And, for me as well, tasks that used to be annoying are not anymore. I am more productive and much less crabby about every day occurences.

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Tobi April 1, 2011 at 7:36 am

I read some of the comments, and I had some of the same thoughts and feelings as the other. I know that it could just be physiological because that did seem like kind of a big reaction to just a small amount of milk. But, you never know. There are so many variables and everyone is different so everyones variables will be different… so I really don’t see the point in doing a blind test unless the person doing this experiment cares whether or was physical or physiological. Because it probably wouldn’t be quite the same way for anyone else. I mean, David said that this had been pretty easy right off the bat. But I read in the comments on another vegan related post here about someone who had been doing for for like, 8 years and was still struggling. I, personally, don’t think that meat typically has any negative physical effects. It’s a natural thing that humans were designed to eat. But my friend Aryn can’t eat meat simply because it doesn’t agree with her! So maybe meat doesn’t agree with some people just not to the extent is does her. I mean, bananas never make me feel good after I eat them, so who knows what’s going on in there.

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David April 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I suspect my reaction to milk was just because my stomach wasn’t used to it. I have had some dairy since and didn’t have quite the same reaction. But I do get a weird stomach “buzz” whenever I consume it. It’s a familiar feeling and I think I always had it but didn’t notice because of how I ate. I seem to be at least a bit lactose intolerant, and I don’t think that’s unusual.

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Wes Novack April 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Great post! I like how you explained (in a well put and an easy to understand manner) the immediate effects that you felt after switching to 100% vegan food. Definitely gives others an idea on what to expect.

My wife and I have received the same benefits and we feel great! Switching to 100% vegan eating in September 2010 and we’re loving it!

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Wes Novack April 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

That should’ve said “Switched to 100% vegan eating…”

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Greg Cohn April 1, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Please write up a how-to for noobs.

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David April 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I’m probably not the best person to ask. There are a lot of people out there who have been doing it for years. Google will show you the way better than I can :)

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Seraphim April 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

As an Orthodox Christian, at this time in the year I am a vegan, for at least 7 weeks. Even more, I reduce the amount of food I eat. I feel no different physically when I eat meat than when I am a religious vegan. Now to each his own, of course, and if it fits you well, I’m glad for you. Just as different people have different propensities for food, different people will feel differently about changing their diet.

I do not like being a vegan for the time that I am, because I like the taste of meat. When you change your diet, it can have a profound effect on you, but I think it is in how you approach the change. I approach the change with uncertainty when Lent approaches. Thus I am not wedded to the idea of being a vegan. You approached the change with anticipation and expectation, and thus it appears you enjoyed the change. I say this not because I do not think it affected you as you said, but because our thoughts can determine our lives (also the name of a recent book http://www.amazon.com/Our-Thoughts-Determine-Lives/dp/1887904190 ).

There are also a variety of stories of life-long vegans that have changed to eating meat. When they did this they felt far better than they ever had before. Unfortunately I don’t have a link to the blog post, but it was also compelling. Again to each his own.

I like your blog, and wish you the best.

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David April 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I should clarify that I’m not wedded to any particular diet either. It will continue to evolve as I learn more about organic food, the effects of gluten, ethical meat, etc. I am looking for what works for my body and my conscience, not to wave any particular flag or join any particular club.

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Jeff Gaver April 2, 2011 at 9:34 am

kudos, I’m mid swim in a monasticism project for an eastern religion class which involves similar eating restrictions in conjunction with meditation and readings. It kind of gives one a perspective otherwise unseen, like living on the other side of the mirror

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Nea | Self Improvement Saga April 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It seems like it went much better than expected. I’m thinking about giving it a whirl for a week- just as a type of fast. However, I don’t think I’ll ever become a vegetarian. Definitely not vegan.

I don’t drink cows milk, but I WON’T give up cheese, fish, chicken or eggs. Notice I used the word won’t as you suggested. You’re so right that in the past I would’ve said CAN’T. Of course I can, but I don’t wish to. That’s my answer today, but who knows what I’ll think after 7 days of veggies.

I most certainly wish you happy eating on your new diet and maybe you’ll email me some recipe ideas. I’ll try anything once.

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Angela April 3, 2011 at 9:44 am

Your experience has been really useful and interesting to read. I was especially interested in your description of how it felt going back to animal products. I started on Veganism this January just to try it out – like you – and while on a trip to New York I allowed myself a latte as a treat and got horribly sick. A few weeks later I had some meat thinking “well, you know I’ve been vegan for two and a half months; I’m probably lacking some essential nutrient by now that I should get from this steak…” It completely threw my body out of wack. Im still recovering. I got moody, tired, I slept in more, and the exercise routine I’d just established was flushed down the drain.

That was last month. I’ve been hovering on the edge of giving up my diet in the past two weeks, but this article has had me rethinking that route. I was considering giving it up because a) social awkwardness (try explaining to your friends why you brought an entire carton of Almond Milk to their place for the weekend) and b) I was focusing on what veganism WASN’T giving me; my rational was something like, “well, it’s not really making me happy…” instead of realizing all the subtle improvements this diet has given me, improvements that free me from many unhealthy habits and give me the leeway to choose happiness.

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Sue Henderson April 3, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I’m amused and disturbed at the same time by your rejection of emotional responses. Our emotions are part of what make us and they’re an incredibly important part of us. Dya reckon it was scientists who campaigned against the human slave trade? Ok they might have, but I’m willing to bet they were also responding on an emotional level too. Emotions shouldn’t be rejected totally in favour of science. They should work together with science. Empathy and logic in harmony – that’s what veganism is about.

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nrhatch April 3, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Thanks, David. Wonderful experiment and post. As a vegetarian for the past 15 years, I relate to many of your observations.

The hostility toward and marginalization of vegans and vegetarians has often surprised me. Also, the MYTHS that people toss about ~ that meat is more nutritious, for example, or that meat is necessary for optimal health ~ seem little more than rationalizations by people who *can’t* or won’t give up their reliance on a culturally-sanctioned, meat-based diet.

We eat vegan meals most of the time and feel terrific, full of energy, with no afternoon slump or morning grogginess. Nuts, legumes, fruits, veggies, grains are chock full of anti-oxidants and vitamins. Meat, in contrast, is full of saturated fat which promotes clogging of the arteries, high blood pressure, and increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

When people say, “You don’t know what you’re missing” (as they dig into a steak or other meat), I just smile and think, “Sure I do. And I’m not missing it at all.” :D

Thanks! Good luck with your Gluten Free experiment. There are some terrific pastas that are GF and delicious.

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alma karime April 4, 2011 at 9:30 am

people should learn to accept others decisions, they´re always asking “why did you go vegan?” as if it was a sin :S they should get a little more information because they think vegganism is some kind of anorexia….
and i totally agree with you, restaurant menus dont have anything for veggan people, specially here in mexico

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Dominique NG April 4, 2011 at 10:04 am

Thanks for the article, it was really interesting. :-)

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Danny Welsh April 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

At this time in the history of humankind, (the last 80,000 years or so) human beings insist on ingesting substance in their bodies that is wildly aberrational. Along with much of the food particularly westerners eat, all drugs, alcohol, cigarettes certainly fall into this category. While the origins of this behavior clearly were for survival, in harsh climates where our natural plant diet was less available, it has clearly evolved during present times into much more. Anyone who has come out the other end of and experienced some form of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction has at least some understanding of how human compulsive behavior works. The pain of a persons experiences and life being covered up by these substances is most often the biggest component of the compulsion. Imagine how deep this process is with regard to the food people eat! Add to that the cultural inertia and family pressure people face and you get the picture! As a vegan for the last 25 years, I’ve almost never seen this aspect of the problem addressed. I long ago gave up conversations involving the relevance of a vegan diet and lifestyle. We are primates. Any scientist on the planet that is in any way affiliated with the unbelievable amount of arbitrary research data on this subject will concur. If animals were our natural diet, they wouldn’t be killing us. Any measure if health someone thinks they achieve on a meat or dairy diet, is most assuredly a result of the human body’s unbelievable ability to compensate for such unnatural aberration. I very rarely comment on this subject. I’m not trying to get on my soap box but …. I turned 50 this week. I look 35 (on a good day!) and am in incredible health. In our youth crazed society, you’d think the huge youth giving benefits of a plant diet would be the top story on CNN all day long. The fact that it isn’t, is a barometer and testament to the deep deep chasm of denial and addiction that we’re all a part of. Even in the face of enormous degenerative disease all caused by what we eat, people are still going to eat their frick’in meat!!!

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sara April 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Excellent article david! I have also been contemplating going vegan for a month to increase energy levels and this article just might be what I needed!

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Melanie April 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I can not believe how the thought process, and events (social and physical), are so similar to what I have experienced on my journey toward veganism. I’m sure many others have felt the same.

Although I never set out to do an actual documented experiment, I have always operated with the attitude “you don’t know unless you try”.

I am thrilled after reading this article. So much of what you wrote is exactly how I feel:

“In light of my immediate physical benefits, my new diet felt pretty damn sensible once I started, so it kept surprising me that the majority of the world still regards veganism as some vaguely menacing fringe thing akin to Scientology or Communism.”

So many restaurants are starting to recognize vegan culture, and more free expression of information like this is what helps make it even more mainstream!

:D

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Melanie April 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Sorry, I also wanted to add this: I discovered via The Vegan Society, that getting adequate amounts of vitamin B12 is especially important after going vegan. “What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12″ found here: http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/b12.aspx.

Also, I must say, “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell provides a plethora of solid research and evidence to reassure anyone wondering if a vegan lifestyle truly is healthier. He shows a lifetime of evidence to support the removal of animal-based foods from the human diet. Learn more: http://www.tcolincampbell.org/

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David April 7, 2011 at 8:49 pm

The ironic thing is that most vegans get a more vitamin B12 than non-vegans because so many vegan foods are fortified with it. I take a multivitamin that includes it and add nutritional yeast to some foods.

I have heard a lot about the China study and I’ll check it out.

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Vilx- April 7, 2011 at 3:39 am

92 comments… I hope you will excuse me for not reading them all. So maybe what I’m going to say has already been said. But if not – here goes.

The emotions you’re describing are in a way very similar to the emotions of me and my wife when we started a diet (the weight-losing kind), some 6 years ago. (Well, she started, and I joined in to support her). The first months were filled with enthusiasm about all the new foods and new ways of cooking that we discovered. Lost quite a few pounds too, which contributed even further. But when the joy of discovery passed, when we had already researched most of the tricks and shortcuts, and life settled into a routine again, the diet enthusiasm started to vane. The chocolate bars and chip packs that we had so proudly walked by without so much as looking at them started to attract more and more; we started missing cheeseburgers and pizzas, etc.

Today we’re way back even further than we started. And we do shamefully realize that we do not have enough willpower/motivation to do it all again, especially when (and because) we already know all about it.

So… I’m not saying that this will happen to you and your vegan diet. But it is a possibility you should keep an eye out for.

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Vilx- April 7, 2011 at 3:42 am

P.S. There’s something wrong with the dates on your blog. Shanna’s post was here before mine, yet it shows that she has posted it, like, 11 hours after me! FYI – I’m GMT+3 right now, with the DST in effect.

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Shanna Mann April 7, 2011 at 7:28 am

@Vilx Time travel! I’m GMT-7, so that explains it. It just posts our local time. Now I have to figure out how my comment got at the bottom of the thread, damn it. How’s a girl supposed to have a conversation like that?

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David April 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Sorry for the confusion. I accidentally marked the comment that Shanna responded to as spam, so hers lost its place in the threads and fell to the bottom. It was actually posted April 5th at 2-something pm. So it was dated way before yours, it was just weird that it went to the bottom of the list.

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David April 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t see that happening. There’s just no way I’ll go back to eating like I was. The way I was eating before was really not working for me on a number of levels and I had to get away from it to see exactly how. It’s much more than the joy of something new that’s keeping me going here. The planning and attention involved in eating vegan have finally given me what I’ve been trying to find forever: a sense of control over my food intake. I’m never giving that up.

I also am not doing it alongside someone else who could give out on me, which may or may not have contributed to your switching back.

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Vilx- April 8, 2011 at 5:47 am

Let’s hope so! Good luck! :)

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Camille April 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Great post! I will forward to friends and family. I have been vegan for about 6 years, exercise every day (including weight lifting), and feel great. One argument for veganism that hasn’t been addressed here, I don’t think, is the environmental impact of a meat-based diet. Huge quantities of water and grain go into creating beef, chicken, pork for human consumption. The CAFO industries, as well as farmed fish production, also create enormous waste and pollution. The environmental impact of meat production ranks, for me, above personal health or animal cruelty as a motivation for a plant-based diet. Thanks again for the well-written post.

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David April 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm

The environmental impact of meat is huge, but I didn’t comment on it because it wasn’t the reason I did this and the post was getting a bit long. Because I was eating without any constraints really, I had to distract myself from facing the environmental impact of what I eat. Suddenly I’m becoming more aware the potential impacts of everything I do — how much I consume and what it costs us.

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Floria April 8, 2011 at 12:22 am

This is a well-written, thought-provoking account. It matches my own perfectly. I have recently started the vegan lifestyle and thought it was going to be a month thing too, instead of a long-term commitment. I wonder how many others first tried it on a lark?

Ironically, cheese is the one thing that I do miss, but I don’t feel the need to eat it. I really like how you make the distinction between wouldn’t and couldn’t in your post.

Congrats on sticking with it, and I look forward to reading more on your vegan adventures soon.

Cheers!

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Caroline April 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

Hi! Your article was really interesting and it reflected the same changes that happened to my body after I dropped meat and dairy from my diet. First immediate difference, asides from increase in energy, was how much smoother my skin became – I couldn’t stop touching the skin on my arms and legs – they used to be a little rough and bumpy and I used to try to solve this by slathering on body lotion. After going vegan, I didn’t need to use lotion anymore.
Another very interesting observation is that every time I went on a long flight, I would always get very sick when I arrived at the destination country. On my last trip which was to Thailand, it was a two day trip to get there and I never got sick which was amazing. No colds, no other adverse effects on my body.
My son also noticed his upper arms became very smooth instead of rough after he stopped consuming dairy for two months during a summer vacation to Poland. When he came back to Canada and started consuming dairy again, his skin went back to being bumpy.
You’re right – there are some people who take it as a personal affront against them if you choose not to consume meat or dairy. It’s not easy to deal with that kind of attitude. I went vegan after learning about factory farming and its impact on the environment.
Now, like you, won’t get into an ethical debate about meat but I will point something out – if we are truly carnivorous like other species, then why are we the only species who has to cook our meat first before consuming it?

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David April 17, 2011 at 11:10 am

I noticed an improvement in my skin too. I had rough, dry patches on my upper arms and lower back too and now they’ve gone back to how they were in high school. I’m experiencing very quick reversals of problems that seem to have been worsening for over ten years, the energy level being the main one.

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gem April 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

Hi David,

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading all your posts but this one was kind of a light on over the head for both me and my boyfriend. We’ve been cooking a great deal over the past year, healthier and better but still are not “feeling” as good as we should. Reading your experience (and all the comments) has given me the guts to dive in and try it. I passed this to my man and while skeptical, once he finished reading, he was in! Our only barrier may be others in our home but we figure we’ll give it a good try and hope that they too get excited by how good they will feel. Can’t hurt to try it!

Thanks again for such a great site and sharing so much of yourself with all of us!
gem

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David April 12, 2011 at 6:21 am

Hey Gem. It sounds like you two like to cook, so I think you’ll like it. For many people it means you end up spending more time preparing food than usual because you have to take control of it yourself. But it sounds like you’re already doing that. So enjoy!

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Nick April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

The energy boost you talk about seems to be a common occurrence from friends that went vegan. I would have originally thought it could be placebo effect but too many people have now said the same thing. Personally, I’m too much of a meat eater to go the route but I respect people who do. In general, I’ve been pushing myself to eat more green which I think everyone should. Interesting stuff man :)

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E. April 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

“To not eat healthy food because it’s “too expensive” is like not sleeping much because it’s too time consuming — yet that’s how some people operate.”

The (class/financial) privilege inherent in this statement is just unbelievable.

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David April 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm

There’s no economic class “inherent” to that statement, only to your inferences. A disproportionately low percentage of income expenditure on food is found across all classes of western society. Much is made of the relative cheapness of unhealthy food and I have not seen this where I live. Junk food and convenience food is expensive. Almost anyone who can afford food (and certainly anyone privileged enough to be sitting in front of a computer with nothing better to do but leave aimless criticism on websites) can afford healthy food if they make it a priority.

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Dalia Marshall April 15, 2011 at 11:45 am

I am a Dietitian and as interesting I found this article, I think that non-meat diets could be hazardous to health especially considering the number of deficiencies in various micro-nutrients that arise. Additionally to be and stay healthy, many supplements need to be taken. I sometimes find it amusing when clients get that ‘rejuvenated’ feeling from a vegan diet because most of it is psychological.

Going vegan, the macronutrient that is avoided is protein. With a normal diet, protein should consist of 10% to 35% of energy intake. Supplements can be taken, yes but are inappropriate for women of childbearing age, pregnant women, children and elderly people.

I guess there’s something to think about when going vegan.

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gem April 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I know very little about much of this stuff but even I have known for many years that there are many many foods very high in protein that are not animal. Not hard, especially today when there is so much information about factory farms vs naturally raised animals.

Anyone considering going vegan or trying it as I am planning to for a short time can easily make sure they are getting all the nutrients their bodies need for their particular lifestyle. In fact are highly motivated to make sure they have all the education they need to make those decisions.

Humans are designed to eat almost anything and while I do think there are some that just do better with meat/dairy than without, that seems to be much more linked to their genetics than anything else.

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David April 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm

What micronutrients are you referring to? I take a multivitamin and iron supplements. I get loads of B12 from the multivitamin, fortified foods and nutritional yeast.

Protein is not avoided in a vegan diet, and as a dietitian you would know that there are plenty of plant-based sources of protein and achieving a healthy intake is actually hard not to do even if you’re not paying attention to it.

I have to say this comment sounds pointedly anti-vegan and kind of condescending.

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Laura April 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm

It’s interesting that the problem with the vegan diet you focus on is ‘vegans don’t get enough protein’. This is a sure sign of someone who hasn’t done their homework on the issue. Protein is not what vegans have to worry about. You can get plenty of protein from a variety of plant-based sources. Now, if you said, “the one thing vegans have to be sure to get enough of in their diets is B-12″ then I would take your information more seriously. B-12 is is actually the thing vegans have to be aware of to get plenty of in their diets because it is rarely found in plant sources. Most vegans end up taking B-12 supplements or simply making sure they are eating plenty of B-12 fortified foods.

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Elizabet February 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I want to clarify the B12 thing though! B12 is made from bacteria. Long, long ago, humans received these B12-making bacteria from foraged, wild plants and animals. Wild mushrooms for example can be a great source of B12. Having said that, we do not consume wild foods anymore and consume foods that are grown in a very sterile environment. Animals raised for food are also consuming these sterile food sources. What has begun to happen is first vegans are unable to get B12 since we do not forage and now meat-eaters are becoming deficient since the animals don’t have as much of the bacteria in their gut. I thought that was quite interesting when I learned about it.

Re protein, you can get enough protein from a completely raw, vegetable-only diet. Meaning you don’t even need nuts, seeds, eggs, meat or quinoa: we make it from the amino acids in those veggies! (Just eat a variety) It’s a big, bad myth about protein that if you hear it from a nutritionist, should throw up red flags that they are buying into some out-dated and incorrect information.

We humans are absolutely remarkable.

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Caroline April 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm

To the dietitian: you’re not the first to say that what you’re saying is pretty much a myth that’s been debunked a long time ago – having been trained as a personal trainer myself, I found that there was a lot of pressure from the meat/dairy sectors on the dietary/bodybuilding world – fostering beliefs that one would be sickly and never be able to build up muscle mass if they did not consume meat (by the way, many first class athletes have gone vegan and have reported being healthier than ever before and had no problems building muscle mass) and I also found that every time someone pointed to an article stating vegetarians/vegans would be sick from lack of animal protein, 10 times out of 10, I would find out that article was sponsored by the farming industry. If one only ate vegetables, yeah, there would be a protein deficiency. If one only ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal or potatoes, they’ve got more than enough protein.

I find it very bizarre what you said “going vegan, the macronutrient that is avoided is protein”. What?? Are you saying there is no protein at all in a vegan diet and that furthermore, vegans “avoid” protein? Really? Where did you study to be a dietitian? You might want to get your money back.

http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr/htmlen/index.en.php?id=23

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Cherie April 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

You should definitely share some of your top favorite vegan recipes! I too have the “mis”conception that veganism would be nearly impossible or at least very difficult! It would really be helpful and eye-opening to read what kind of foods you were eating your first week!
C x x

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gem April 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I second that request!

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David April 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Hi Cherie. I got most of my recipes from a book called vegan yum yum which is based on a blog you can find here:

http://veganyumyum.com/

I recommend the crispy baked kale and the sweet chili lime tofu with quinoa

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Ivars April 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Well, here in Latvia, I think it’s already difficult to be vegetarian, no to mention vegan. Mostly because the weather – it’s kind of unsuitable to eat only un-animal food, when there’s -20 °C and a heavy snow blizzard outside. And when you get your heating bills, you just have to settle to eat what you can afford.
If I want to clean my organism a bit, I take a hot cup of green tea, or, in the spring, some fresh birch sap.

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bagado April 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Nutrition is such a complex subject. I have friends with all kinds of different diets. Some avoid grains, others meat or animal projects, eat like the italians others eat a certain amount of calories or just exercise a lot or do those ADD or anti-cancer diets etc. Some very complex others very simple. And guess what; some feel better with lots of meat, others without. Others just eat whatever they want and do not notice a big difference no matter what they eat. I really think as far as food, just as with most things in life, there’s no such thing as a one size fits all solution.

A while ago my friend and I did a no gluten challenge, we live together and eat most meals together. We both didn’t eat any for 30 days. She felt great after those 30 days, i didn’t notice any difference. I can’t stomach red meat very well, makes my bowels a bit naughty (sorry if that’s tmi) , she has no problem with it. What works for you might not work for anyone else. I think the only thing you can do is try it for yourself, and learn as much as you can about it.

I do think however that eating mostly plants works for everyone, no matter what you eat it with, i’ve never met anyone who’s health got worse when they started to eat more veggies. But then again maybe we should all relax more, have more friends, dance more and enjoy life more. I’m sure a lot of things besides nutrition effect your health as well.

And also i do think there are other reasons to go vegan though or at least eat less meat (environment) but it still seems hard to me, might give it a go though. Might try both paleo and vegan of maybe even raw. Would be interesting.

But all of those diets would exclude cheese! Oh dear…;-)

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Bailey April 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm

VERY well put. I love that you addressed the “I could never give up cheese” excuse. I don’t mean to get irritated by it, because I know lack of information is most likely what makes those people ignorant, but it definitely wears on you.

Congratulations on your 30 days/life change! :)

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Sayward April 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm

This article is AMAZING, thank you for writing it. I had an almost identical experience when I went vegan nearly 3 years ago (except I never went back) and each issue you touched on rang true to me. Bravo for laying it out so eloquently and logically!

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Melissa April 17, 2011 at 5:01 am

May I comment on this without it coming out as critical, cause it’s not my intention, its just something I’m observing. I notice that alot in the article and even in the comments the word guilt comes up. One of the comments says that the girl felt guilty for someone prepairing a vegatarian meal for them.

In my experience, guilt is not a good space to be in. The reason why I say this is it is outside of love and peace and joy. First off it was a loving gesture for the host to prepair her a vegan meal. Why reject the love someone is offering you. (Who doesn’t like to try someones cooking.) That sounded like she was coming from a space of unworthiness. Which is other than true.

Secondly, about the article the writer mentions the word guilt several times though the article about her trying dairy, cheese….ect and feeling guillty and observing symptoms. My point is guilt is not a good vibration to be in or even talk about being in.

I could get in a big argument about eithics, but there is a ethical way to consume eggs and dairy if that is what a person is concerned with. Without getting oddly graphic, the egg laying is something that they leave behind. Also with the cows, as long as they are being treated lovingly and nutured, it really wouldn’t be unethical to share their milk. It’s not the worst thing, and this is coming from a ethical standpoint. More like sharing. There are tons of farms that treat the animals with friendship, kindness, ethics and care. You could view it as a child sharing the cookies he baked with his mom. He makes the cookies for himself, and out of the love and friendship he gladly shares with his mom that provides his space to live and eat. You could also view it as humans choosing to bond and share with animals which is actually human reaching out to animals to share love. It also can be viewed as a safe and protected space, cause out in the wild the animals can get attacked and eaten by other animals.

So the whole guilt thing is only causing self-harm to you. Period. Also, you wouldn’t be allowing yourself to be human, which isn’t good for ones health really. Perfectionism and self-critisism has been know to cause health, anxiety and a whole bunch of other issues. I also felt guided to share this.

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David April 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

Guilt is not a big part of my life, but it does have a use. When it arises, it’s a pretty strong indicator that there’s something about one of your behaviors you don’t accept. I agree that it’s not healthy to dwell in guilt, but there is a clear reason it exists.

The eggs you eat (whether they’re marketed as cage-free, free run or anything else) are are not collected as incidental “free gifts” that happy, self-directed chickens leave behind. Regardless of the operation, eggs are cultivated en masse from chickens who are afforded no other reason for existing. There is simply no way to commercialize the production of eggs without exploiting chickens. A quick lesson on “ethical” eggs: http://humanemyth.org/cagefree.htm

Milk is never shared by cows, it is taken. We don’t need it, it is not offered to us, we just take it because we want it. The only reason the cows are producing milk is because they have a calf to feed with it. The cows are kept perpetually pregnant and lactating, while their calves are taken and sent to veal operations. When the cows are “spent” and have no more economic value as a milk producing machine, they are slaughtered for meat.

The “willing communion with animals” imagery you describe is really nowhere close to the reality of animal farming. There is a highly marketable notion floating around these days that one can buy animal foods that have been created without cruelty or exploitation, and as much as I’d like it to be true, it isn’t. The only compassionate thing to do is to refrain from taking from animals that which is not freely given: their milk, their eggs and their bodies.

This isn’t hard to do, but we have marketers trying to convince us that we don’t need to do even that — we can continue to enjoy animal foods freely because the experts have “fixed” the moral dilemma with nominal animal welfare reforms, which come nowhere near preventing exploitation, but they are evidently enough to appease people’s consciences such that they no longer resist buying these products.

Guilt, if it is not ignored as a useless and negative feeling, helps to prevent the self-delusion that there is no real harm meat or dairy. As I said, guilt is a minor part of the equation for me, but what it does is prevents me attempting to justify the harm we do to animals by having our way with them. It’s not a matter of perfectionism or self-criticism, it’s an honest confrontation with the reality of the violence and exploitation I have been creating with my lifestyle. If health is what you’re after, go vegan.

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Caroline April 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

This is probably the most well written comment I’ve read on the matter of guilt and eating dairy and meat.

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Melissa April 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yeah, David…..

I wasn’t talking about factory farming. But farms that treat the animals well.

About guilt, alot of people feel guilty about things that are not morally wrong.

Eating a egg is not bad or wrong.

A child can be taught to believe by a parent that going outside and playing with kids is wrong if they don’t have all their homework finished. They may recieve scolding, restriction and punishment and feel guilty and afraid to go out and socialize and play before homework and work is done. This may cause them to feel anxious and nervous feelings about feeling worthy about deserving to play because work must always come first. They may feel guilt about it. In truth they find that playing and relaxation helps a person to relax and focus better on tasks. It’s a important component in learning:

http://teacher.scholastic.com/professional/bruceperry/pleasure.htm

If you had watched the video about how other animals viciously ate and killed the animals in the wild you would see that your viewpoint isn’t the only way to see things. I think the issues here are factory farming and lack of care or regard that alot of farmers had over the ages.

Allowing the cows the freedom to graze safely on your land while they allow trade and share mild is a loving communion. Healthy friendly relationship between man and cow.

Here is some information about chickens. They leave the eggs lying there. In nature if this happened another animal or creature would probably come along and eat it. Look through nature. It’s constantly consuming each other. Without it other things wouldn’t survive.

The guilt you have was taught by someone that didn’t have the whole knowledge and understanding of everything. Just like the child that was taught that it was wrong to play before homework. Not valid. It also teaches the child that it can’t have responsibility and fun and be right. As seen in the article some people reccomend that deeply nourishing play helps a person focus and facilitate learning. This stuff gets ingrained in a person.

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David April 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I don’t think it is possible treat an animal well if your treatment includes killing it and selling its body parts. Clearly the animal is not interested in this arrangement and it is imposed on the animal by force, as much or as little as is necessary. The question is not how animals are coddled throughout this established process of taking ownership of their lives and commodifying them, but whether we should continue to involve ourselves in this process at all.

I did watch the lion video the first time. This argument is made a lot, and I’m really not sure why some people imagine that certain behaviors of animals justifies that same behavior in humans. Male lions also kill lion cubs that they have not fathered. Does that somehow mean this same behavior is defensible for human beings?

I don’t know what a lion’s experience is like, but I know that as a human I am capable of reflecting on the far-reaching consequences of my behavior, I am capable of understanding that non-human animals suffer, and I’m capable of refraining from doing things I know are cruel or exploitive. I doubt a lion has these same capacities, but its behavior is not up to me anyway.

Melissa April 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Here is the Lion Attacks Giraffe Video:

http://youtu.be/JcYhpcMy-Nw

(Make sure you watch it David)

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nrhatch April 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Melissa ~

Make sure YOU watch THIS:

http://humanemyth.org/cagefree.htm

Eating eggs contributes to the inhumane treatment of chickens in over-crowded facilities. Adding to the demand for egg production by eating eggs is a moral issue.

Elizabet February 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

How many people you know consume every animal product they eat in this way? What I mean is in nature that giraffe was allowed to live and thrive until the lion ate him. That whole process is completely sustainable, to boot! We are not. Our methods of suffering now extend to the entire lifespan of farmed animals. We can’t all 6 billion of us eat meat and not destroy the planet.

Maybe it’s time to use our big brains and forget what we used to do or what other animals used to do and start thinking about what we have to do so we have a planet to leave to our children that’s not a pile of suffering and rubbish.

Melissa April 17, 2011 at 5:11 am

Lion Attacks Giraffe:

http://youtu.be/JcYhpcMy-Nw

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Caroline April 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Melissa, watch “Earthlings”. Maybe we SHOULD be feeling guilty about how we treat other species.

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Melissa April 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

I haven’t watched “Earthlings”.

Yet, it doesn’t change that some people feel balanced eating animals, and in all of nature the process of animals and other organisms that feed off each other. These animals wouldn’t survive.

A perfect example is the honey bee. Part of it’s existance helps polinate plants such as the strawberry. If the honeybee stopped doing it’s job then strawberries may never exist again.

What would we lose on this planet if the things that consumed other things ceased to exist. It would take deep research to understand it fully, and we might never know.

Being a ex vegan I didn’t like it, yet I know my mental health suffered tried to figure out how to end suffering. I missed out on love, laughter, joy, intimacy.

What would happen if we just let nature take its course?

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David April 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

There are many courses nature can take. Why would one human behavior be “natural” and another not be? Human beings have an enormous influence over the environment, and depending on our choices, the natural result could be oceans slick with petroleum, widespread famine, or nuclear war. Or we could take actions that are unlikely to lead to those things. It’s all equally natural, but it is not equally justifiable or equally conducive to our health and prosperity.

Part of nature is adaptation. We recognize now that our current behavior is threatening our own species, and we have a chance to change our behavior.

I really can’t explain why going vegan caused you to stop laughing, or why giving up on addressing the problem of suffering brought your laughter and joy back.

nrhatch April 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Melissa ~ Arguing that lions kill giraffes is irrelevant:

(1) We are not lions required to eat meat to survive.
(2) Most meat eaters in this country do not hunt wild game.
(3) Wild game has a fighting chance to get away.
(4) Before being killed by a lion, giraffes enjoy life in fresh air.

The vast majority of meat and dairy produced in this country is grown in an appalling dung heap under attrocious conditions that are bad for us, bad for the planet, and bad for the animals.

Adding to the demand for it IS a moral issue which produces healthy guilt in many of us.

If you want to eat meat and consume dairy, guilt-free, go ahead, but don’t try to persaude vegans and vegetarians that it’s more “natural” to subsist on decaying flesh and dairy laced with anti-biotics and growth hormones due to the horrendous living conditions “offered” to the animals in exchange for their eggs, milk, and flesh.

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Melissa April 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

You said:

“(4) Before being killed by a lion, giraffes enjoy life in fresh air.”

Would you allow your baby the freedom and ability to crawl over a road?!?!? No you wouldn’t. It would miss out on that freedom but it would obtain safety and protection and love.

I was veg for 3 years and raw vegan for 10 mos. I went bag veg and at the end of that year tried eating meat. I felt guity about it, but continued. My health returned. Then when I would go out to restaurants I would explain I was used to being veg so I still liked ordering tofu, yet I ordered steak too. Sooo many people came out of the woodwork explaining they too were vegan and they used to be vegan and got sick. I will admit I hear that some people feel good on the diet. I didn’t. I had expensive supplements and stuff.

You said:

“The vast majority of meat and dairy produced in this country is grown in an appalling dung heap under attrocious conditions that are bad for us, bad for the planet, and bad for the animals.”

I agree and it’s gross. Something needs to be changed. it’s possible.

It seems to me that vegans want to end suffering for the animals yet animals and things will always be killing each other and suffer. If a person benefits and feels better eating meat then why would you critisize it?!?!?!

Its nature.

I made a mistake by being vegan. I won’t hurt myself like that anymore.

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David April 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

It seems to me that vegans want to end suffering for the animals yet animals and things will always be killing each other and suffer. If a person benefits and feels better eating meat then why would you critisize it?!?!?!

If I felt better by beating up little kids (and some do), and I stayed in good shape that way, would you say there’s nothing to criticize about my choice?

Things will always be killing each other, yes. Does that reality give us free reign to hurt and kill whatever we like just because we derive some benefit from it?

Eric April 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

“I was veg for 3 years and raw vegan for 10 mos. I went bag veg and at the end of that year tried eating meat. I felt guity about it, but continued. My health returned.”
Raw veganism is a tough and risky diet to try. It’s no surprise that you became unhealthy from it. Cooking our food is the main reason humans get enough calories. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is very hard. I suspect your health would have returned just fine by going back to being vegan or vegetarian without jumping the shark all the way to being a vegan-hater. I don’t mind that you did start eating meat (I’m not vegan myself), I’m just emphasizing that your poor health was almost certainly due to the *raw* part of your diet, not the vegan part.

“yet animals and things will always be killing each other and suffer”
I hope everyone else has explained well enough already why this logic is absurd. If you’re OK without the amount of suffering your diet causes, then that’s fine – it’s a personal choice for everyone, and we all cause some degree of suffering through living. However I think we can all hold ourselves to a higher standard than animals. If we looked to animals as an example we’d still be crapping in caves instead of putting men on the moon and flame-warring on the internet. ;)

Melissa April 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

You said:

“If you want to eat meat and consume dairy, guilt-free, go ahead, but don’t try to persaude vegans and vegetarians that it’s more “natural” to subsist on decaying flesh and dairy laced with anti-biotics and growth hormones due to the horrendous living conditions “offered” to the animals in exchange for their eggs, milk, and flesh.”

If a person feels good being vegan, then more power to them, but you guys need to stop trying to persuade those that eat meat to stop if they feel good and it balances them.

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Melissa April 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm

You said:

“decaying flesh and dairy laced with anti-biotics and growth hormones due to the horrendous living conditions “offered” to the animals in exchange for their eggs, milk, and flesh.”

These are not the only possibilities.

There is organic grass-fed grass-finished meat that is raised humanely.

There are eggs and dairy raised with love and humanely without chemicals and other stuff.

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eden June 15, 2012 at 5:17 am

In the end we are taking something from them (eggs, milk, their life) that are not ours to take, so there is no way that these industries can be considered humane. I could milk a person continuously by artificially impregnating them every couple years and keeping them attached to a milk sucking machine for the majority of their lives and then kill them, and love them as much as I want, but it would not make it humane.

EcoCatLady April 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm

OK… here’s what I can’t stop thinking. Many vegans choose their diet because they feel it is the only ethical choice, and that all other diets contribute to the suffering of animals and the destruction of the planet. I have a certain amount of sympathy for this viewpoint, and it is one of the main reasons that I very seldom eat meat. On the other hand, there is an assumption built into this line of thinking that eating a vegan diet does no harm, I’m not sure this is always true.

For example, many vegans eat a huge quantity of highly processed foods including fake meat products, soy products and a whole variety of fake milks and cheeses. Many of these foods are made with GMO soybeans grown on land that was once Amazon rainforest. The soy is then flown across the world several times throughout the course of production and then wrapped in numerous layers of plastic once the product is complete. It’s safe to say that the environmental impact of such foods is significantly higher than that of locally produced pasture raised eggs.

And in terms of the suffering of animals, I think you have to take into account the habitat destruction caused by the farming itself. I’m not talking just soy… many vegans I know love to extol the virtues of palm oil, yet they seem totally ignorant of the fact that palm farming is destroying rain forests right and left and contributing to the demise of many species including orangutans (I gratuitously threw in that fact because they’re so darned cute.)

I’m not saying that this makes it OK to go scarf down a pile of McDonald’s hamburgers, and I agree that the factory farming system is horrific. But in general I think that making conscious and informed food choices is much more important than trying to adhere to some sort of pre-defined system which involves turning off your brain and adhering to a set of rules that someone else has set up for you.

As someone very astutely pointed out above, an all Oreo diet would count as a vegan diet, but the pure fact that it is vegan makes it neither ethical nor healthy.

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David April 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Vegans are probably more aware than the average person how much harm humans cause, so I don’t imagine many have convinced themselves that they cause no harm at all.

Nor would they presume that going vegan alone addresses all the ills of society, or even all ethical issues surrounding food, manufactured products, and ecology. What it is meant to address is the exploitation of animals, and a personal commitment to not to exploit them directly or pay others to exploit them directly is a very sensible first step.

I suspect the more someone looks into the effects their lifestyle has on other beings and the environment, the more certain they become that there is no utterly harmless way to live. For some reason many detractors of veganism believe that because it does not achieve everything that it therefore achieves nothing, and is disqualified as legitimate approach.

Livestock cultivation is widely known for using obscene amounts of land: 30 percent of the world’s land surface. There is probably no greater source of habitat destruction than the clearing of land for pastures and the crops necessary to feed those animals.

Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture but also including 33 percent of the global arable land used to producing feed for livestock, the report notes. As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.

Source: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html

This is so well documented I probably don’t even need to mention it. There are a gazillion sources on how destructive animal farming is in an environmental regard.

I don’t know why you think veganism is a “predefined system” that involves not thinking. Every individual decides how they’re going to live, and veganism is strong evidence that a person has not only thought a lot about it but made nonconformist choices as a result. I don’t imagine anyone decides to forego vast swaths of foods and consumer products available to them without really thinking about whether it makes sense.

Many vegans do see a problem with GMO food, soy in general, palm oil and countless other issues, none of which serve as a sensible reason not to go vegan.

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EcoCatLady April 17, 2011 at 11:25 pm

You make good points, but I guess that what I am reacting to is the idea that it’s vegan vs. business as usual, and there’s nothing in between. For example, you and Eric (below) were very quick to point out that most soy is cultivated for animal feed and that much habitat is destroyed in the name of livestock cultivation. I totally agree with those points… what bugs me is the assumption that I somehow support this sort of system just because I don’t belive it’s evil to consume some animal products.

I have no problem with people being vegan. I think it’s a great option for many people. What I take issue with is the evangelical approach. For example, I have been mostly vegetarian for nearly 30 years (I say mostly vegetarian because I eat dairy and eggs regularly and chicken and fish a few times per year), and you (if I am reading correctly) have been vegan for about 30 days. Yet somehow your recent conversion leads you to statements such as: “Does that reality give us free reign to hurt and kill whatever we like just because we derive some benefit from it?” – as if anyone who consumes any animal products at all is an evil beast who gives no thought to their behavior, while you, the recently converted, are the suddenly the defender of the animal kingdom. I apologize if I’m mis-stating your position, clearly my reaction is not simply based on your statements, but the vast amount of crap I have received from the vegan crowd over the years.

When I say things about “turning off your brain” I guess what I am reacting to is the commercialization of the vegan approach. I mean, the very fact that everybody knows what it means to be vegan tells me that it’s a pre-defined system. I can walk into any health food store and find product after product labled “vegan”. It’s like “these products are guilt free and get a gold star – that’s all you need to know”… except that it isn’t.

My other issue is the “all or nothing” doctrine. I mean, just look at the number of people who have commented here saying things like “I tried being vegan, but it didn’t work for me so I went back to eating meat.” These kinds of statements make me so sad… it’s as if they’re saying, “I tried to be part of this club, but I wasn’t good enough so I gave up”. Is creating a system that is so rigorous and so laden with guilt really helping the cause of animal welfare? I just don’t believe that it is. And judging by the heated nature of the exchange here (and in just about any discussion I’ve ever witnessed on this topic) trying to sell the idea that all consumption of animal products is evil really seems to be a losing proposition.

I guess I just think that those of us who care about the environment and animal welfare would get much further in achieving our goals if we took a more balanced “big tent” approach that invited people to try some lifestyle changes rather than insisting on some level of perfection which is, for many people, not feasible.

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David April 18, 2011 at 7:09 am

what bugs me is the assumption that I somehow support this sort of system just because I don’t belive it’s evil to consume some animal products.

I think this hints at why there is so much resistance to veganism: because people feel judged. Please believe me, it’s not about assessing your worth as a person, although a minority of vegans (or activists on any issue) sometimes get heated and make it about that. I honestly don’t think about it in terms of some absolute good and evil. But I do think most people recognize on some level that they are creating enormous suffering, yet are afraid to make a (seemingly) drastic change, so they come up with reasons why it is okay to ignore it: I need meat and dairy for my health, vegans are judgmental, it can’t be all or nothing, it’s not practical. This was the whole point of my original post (7 Reasons I Never Went Vegan). I listed all my reasons for not going vegan and found that when I examined them they just weren’t very good reasons. I think this would happen for most people if they really made an honest, detached assessment of why have never gone vegan.

everybody knows what it means to be vegan tells me that it’s a pre-defined system. I can walk into any health food store and find product after product labled “vegan”. It’s like “these products are guilt free and get a gold star – that’s all you need to know”… except that it isn’t.

Veganism is fairly strictly defined but every single person ultimately decides what they are going to accept. The original declaration of veganism specifically excluded honey, but some vegans don’t think it is a problem. That people do this for “gold stars” is your inference and I don’t think it’s true very often. If anything, the Gold Star mentality is what the “humanely raised” marketing tag is all about. It is there to appease consciences, to quell any thinking people might be doing about whether they should buy it or not. It represents a marginal change in how the animal has been exploited, which is enough to keep many people from looking further into what cruelty is still required to produce it. It’s a marketing tool.

My other issue is the “all or nothing” doctrine. I mean, just look at the number of people who have commented here saying things like “I tried being vegan, but it didn’t work for me so I went back to eating meat.”

It isn’t all or nothing. Veganism is just the “moral baseline” as some put it, for people who recognize that the notion of having our way with animals for our pleasure and convenience as morally unacceptable. You can go much, much further, and there are grey areas, and each person must assess what really makes sense to them.

In other words, if you recognize that it is absurd and unnecessary to exploit animals because they taste good, it’s the only logical first step. Ethical vegetarianism, for example, makes the distinction that eating flesh is somehow different morally than eating eggs or dairy. Given the conditions experienced by dairy cows and the length of their experience, a glass of milk represents as much suffering as a steak. Ethical vegetarianism, if you look into it, just doesn’t make for a logical position if you are at all troubled by the abuse of animals. However, it does serve as enough of an intermediate stepping stone for many people to park themselves there and tell themselves that they are doing enough, and they no longer need to be troubled by the animal exploitation issue. That’s why it might appear “all or nothing” to a vegetarian, but going vegan is not all, it’s just the first morally logical move to make.

while you, the recently converted, are the suddenly the defender of the animal kingdom.

This too is your inference. I’m making counterpoints to arguments people are making on my blog. I don’t think that makes me evangelical or pedantic. It’s not about judging people, it’s about dismantling poor arguments. I used to use some of these arguments too, and lo and behold when you really look into them they don’t make much sense. Nearly everyone says it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals, yet they do it freely and defend it with pot-shot rationalizations about why all the suffering they inflict is “necessary”. This is normal and I’ve done it for many years, but that doesn’t mean that what I’m saying in this thread isn’t true.

I guess I just think that those of us who care about the environment and animal welfare would get much further in achieving our goals if we took a more balanced “big tent” approach that invited people to try some lifestyle changes rather than insisting on some level of perfection which is, for many people, not feasible.

There is definitely a misconception about how difficult it is, and I think a lot of ex-vegans probably add to this with their horror stories about how impossible it is to live this way. But the strange thing is that all of these people claim that they went to veganism for ethical reasons, yet they still throw out the entire thing because of one hangup. A common one is “I couldn’t get all my nutrition without some meat or dairy,” yet virtually none of them stay vegan except for that one concession (salmon for the omega 3s or whatever). So clearly it wasn’t very important to them and they were looking for an excuse to dismiss it all and go back.

The problem with starting by going “halfway” to veganism (not that vegetarianism could really be considered halfway) is that most people will find a comfortable place to park along the way and never get closer to eliminating animal exploitation from their lives. There have been animal welfare reform for over 200 years now and it flatly has not gotten humanity closer to phasing out animal abuse. Think of all the anti-fur campaigns in the last few decades. Today the fur industry is stronger than it has ever been. Single issue campaigns and incremental moves to treat exploited animals better have never gotten us closer to ending this culture where we do what we will with animals. Veganism is not perfection, and I think it is certainly feasible for most people. But I understand the hesitation: I didn’t believe that it was feasible until I was doing it.

Eric April 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

“the pure fact that it is vegan makes it neither ethical nor healthy.”
So true. While I don’t eat meat, I can’t pretend it’s intrinsically unhealthy. It’s just that most american diets include an excess of meat and cheese, and inadequate whole grains and vegetables. For many people (myself included) going vegan/vegetarian was healthy moreso from moving to include those basics, than from excluding meat entirely.

“Many of these foods are made with GMO soybeans grown on land that was once Amazon rainforest.”
Apparently far more rainforest clearing is done for crops to feed livestock than to feed humans, so a vegan diet is still preferable. Sure, rainforests are still being razed and all crops are going to lead to some number of animals (and bugs) suffering. It’s all about minimizing ethical impact, not pretending you can eliminate it entirely. Likewise with improving health, not trying to reach some hypothetical diet perfection.

Too many vegans, unfortunately, go the vigilant route and insult other vegans for having a little dairy or meat now and then, or (god forbid) honey. This drives people away from even trying to minimize their impact, for fear of not being perfect. The truth is, the world would be far better with 50% of americans eating meat 1 time a day than having 10% of americans eat meat 0 times a day.

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EcoCatLady April 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Honey?!? That’s a new one for me. I’ve always heard that eating honey was the environmental choice because it can be produced locally, it encourages the cultivation of bees which are necessary for the pollenation of crops, and, unlike sugar, it requires no land for cultivation or fertilizers etc. What’s the arguement against honey?

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Eric April 17, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Supposedly many honey farms kill off their bees every winter to cut costs. Another argument is simply that it’s “from animals”, therefore not vegan. The latter makes sense I guess, as personal preference. The former is a grey area of veganism imo. Critters and bugs are certainly killed harvesting grain — does that make wheat non-vegan? Heck, who knows how many bugs I inadvertently chopped up this afternoon mowing my lawn!

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Colin April 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

Okay, let’s not start comments with supposedly. Honey “farms” don’t exist. Beekeepers do, and killing off your product maker is a terrible business decision. All bee colonies, human or bee-made, experience die-off in the winter. Nature is a cruel mistress.

Beekeepers do their best to find a market for the bees year-round, meaning they will drive hundreds of miles to warmer weather in the winter, arriving back in the colder climates in the spring just in time for the pollination season. This constant motion, of course, has it’s own problems, and here in Maine, people are reluctant to catch swarms they find these days because there’s a good chance they’ve mixed with some of the more aggressive southern bee colonies.

Everything is a give and take. Personally I would get a few head of sheep instead of mowing my lawn. No bugs killed and unlike a steel & gasoline lawn mower, you can eat the sheep when their numbers get too high. Ah, but for the veganism thing again!

euromix April 18, 2011 at 12:12 am

This post and the reactions makes me feel that the best effect of changing diet is to have more attention to ourself. This attention and self awareness seems more beneficial than the type of diet itself to me.

About the ethical issue, feed 9 billion humans impacts nature in some huge way. Todays industrial production seems quite barbarian to me, but it scales and makes money. It’s a great advantage over alternate production system in terms of one production model replacing others. Unless a bigger force (developing country demographic ?) comes to shift it, the power of industrial food will be there.

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Karen Lindsay April 18, 2011 at 2:42 am

I think youre right. Every year Muslims and other religions all over the world fast to create exactly this kind of self reflection on thier relationship with nature and stimulate a feeling of self-renewal. Its a spiritual practise.

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scamper April 18, 2011 at 4:22 am

I’ve never been a foodie. Good food is good, but futuristic food pills work just as well if they ever came along. Also, I’ve slowly drifted away from red meats just because they don’t appeal. I sometimes forget to eat. So you’d think that I could go vegan fairly easily… but for one thing: chocolate. I would climb over dying family members to get good chocolate. I’ve never smoked, imbibed alcohol, or tried drugs (I avoid medicine too), but I will never consider a life without chocolate. Other than that, sure, I’d be a vegan!

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nrhatch April 18, 2011 at 7:20 am

My sister (a vegan) gave me some Vegan Chocolate to try. After sampling it, I gave it back. Not even close to the real thing. :D

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Laura April 18, 2011 at 10:35 am

*Actually* vegan chocolate IS closest to the “real thing” as “non-vegan” chocolate has been mixed with milk and sugars (which, subsequently, defeats it’s health properties). That being said, there are good vegan chocolates out there that tastes more like the “milk chocolate” we are so used to.

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nrhatch April 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thanks for the clarification, Laura.

All I know is that it tasted TERRIBLE and cost $6 for a teeny tiny box (about 1 oz) . . . so I gave it back and got myself a piece of luscious dark chocolate. :razz:

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Camille April 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

Good dark chocolate *is* vegan, whether labeled as such or not. Check the label–should only include cocoa, sugar, maybe vanilla and some lecithin. No milk necessary! Try Scharffenberger, Gold & Black, or Divine.

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Jerica Michael April 18, 2011 at 7:57 am

You said you noticed that vegans tend to turn their stuff into rants and things. Look up vitamin B12. That will explain everything.

Also, do you read the Fat Head blog?
http://www.fathead-movie.com/
There’s also Gary Taubes:
http://www.garytaubes.com/
and Jimmy Moore:
http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/

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Colin April 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

Hooy, there are a lot of comments here, so I’m probably just copying what someone else said. As a sustainable farmer, I can honestly tell you that a farm without animal inputs is a tricky thing to run. You can advocate all you want for vegan diets, but when a solid chunk of the world’s population lives in climates that go dormant for 3-4 months out of a year, eating a local vegan diet is quite unsustainable. So, truck all your soy products around with fossil fuel. I’ll humanely slaughter my chickens in the backyard, saying a kind word for each one before I cut their jugular, and then stew them up with some tomates I put by and some wild-yeast bread made with non-wheat grains harvested a few hundred miles north of me on the Quebec border. You can have your restaurant food.

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Caroline April 18, 2011 at 9:37 am

I’m exploring sustainable farming myself. But I’m looking ahead towards the future and knowing that we’re running out of land and resources and knowing that weather patterns are increasingly unpredictable and erratic, I’m looking into indoor vertical farming which would resolve that pesky dormant climate problem you’re talking about and does not require fertilizer from manure. Plus it’s far more cost effective than traditional farming and leaves much less of a carbon footprint. Google Terrasphere vertical farming

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nrhatch April 18, 2011 at 10:47 am

FYI: Audubon is hosting a workshop in D.C. for people alarmed by the threats of invasive species and the impacts on birds, wildlife, and habitat ~ people passionate about learning how to be involved in advancing policy solutions to this growing problem. People who want to act now to address these challenges.

Audubon will fly participants to Washington, provide them with hotel accommodations, and cover most meals! For more info:

http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/free-almost-advocacy-workshop-in-d-c/

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nrhatch April 18, 2011 at 10:49 am

Application deadline is THIS WEEK ~ April 22nd

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nrhatch April 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

Also, Wayne Pacelle’s new book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, published by William Morrow/Harper Collins, came out on April 5, 2011 and is already a bestseller on the NY Times Bestseller List!

He’ll be on Ellen this afternoon:
http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/the-bond-is-a-bestseller/

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Alex P April 18, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Thanks for this. I’ve been vegan for the past five years and you just summed up perfectly what I’ve experienced. Everybody thinks it’s so hard, and I must have great willpower, but once you do it, it’s no harder than any other diet.

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David April 19, 2011 at 6:44 am

Hi Alex,

For me it has almost eliminated the role of willpower in my eating. I used to always be bargaining to allow myself a certain amount of this or that. Wherever there was food, I had to either exercise willpower or eat when it wasn’t necessary. Also, food prepared with no restrictions to the ingredients is often prepared with total abandon in terms of how many calories or unhealthy foods are in it. Mainstream restaurants think nothing of serving a 1500- or 2000-calorie meal to someone, and that’s easy to do with unbridled use of creamy sauces and cheese. Now most of it is off limits if it wasn’t prepared by myself or another vegan, so I don’t even need to consider eating it and willpower doesn’t enter the picture. Finally, after all this time, it’s easy to eat healthy.

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Sierra April 19, 2011 at 8:16 am

Hey, I loved your article! I cut wheat, meat, eggs, and dairy out of my diet last June and I feel great! I fully support what you are doing. Don’t let people thinking you were just having psychosomatic symptoms detract you. Ask most vegans what happens when they slip up and have some wheat or dairy, and most of them will tell you they get some sever side effects like cramping, diarrhea, and allergy-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, and nose running alllll day!) Are you going to keep it up now that your experiment is finished?

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tissit April 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

You did get good results, but from a scientific standpoint your experiment is not valid (answers the wrong question) as you changed more than one variable at a time.

Most of what you describe most likely isn’t because of the lack of meat, but because of a general cleanup in your diet and addition of a lot of good foodstuffs. If you added good animal-based foods and got rid of suspicious things like tofu, you would still do great and you’d end up with something that looks a lot like many other diets (paleo, Dukan, slow carb etc). You’d also be less likely to hit dificiencies with a less restrictive diet.

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David April 20, 2011 at 7:16 am

Nowhere did I say this was a scientific study. There is already plenty of science supporting the health benefits of a plant based diet.

The deficiencies that anti-vegans claim are some major danger are rarely experienced by vegans and easy to avoid.

Paleo and other animal-based diets might also be healthy, I don’t know, but I’m not interested.

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Laura April 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I have been following along with all these comments, and finding all points interesting. Here’s something I would like to point out: It is not necessary to consume animals products. Plain and simple. For those who do, it’s because they want to. It may seem “harder” to get the right nutrients simply because it’s a very different diet than the one most of us were raised on. You have to learn a new way of eating. That’s it. Omnivores: Be OK with the fact that you personally don’t see anything wrong with killing or using another animal for it’s resources, and respect that others will disagree with you. Same goes for you, Herbivores. This journey is your own and you don’t have to convince anyone to go the same path as you. Simply live by example.

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Karen April 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Hi! Very interesting article, but there’s one option thats not even mentioned. Buying organic, or local, or grassfed meat and dairy. Better yet, buy it from a farmer you know. You’ll know the animal had a good life, which, really, beats never being born. just sayin! You can support your local economy, and if you find your farmer through Animal Welfare Approved’s website, you’ll know it was pasture raised on a family farm. Good luck!

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David April 20, 2011 at 6:56 am

It has been mentioned. There is a popular notion that buying local from a small operation alleviates all moral concerns about exploiting animals for food. No matter what size the operation is, or how close it is to your home, dairy cows are still forcibly, repeatedly impregnated so that they produce milk for humans to take, and once they are “spent” still slaughtered at their owner’s convenience.

The word “humane” is used to describe any method that is in some respect different from the factory standard, that is somehow claimed to be better or “kinder”. It does not mean they live good lives. Being raped and butchered are not minor inconveniences for an animal, but that is how the concept of humane meat and dairy is marketed. Somehow, the fact that it spent part of its life eating grass is meant to justify this.

The issue is not how “softly” we exploit animals, it’s that we take for granted that it is perfectly okay to treat them like raw materials for products that we don’t need, even though we’re all aware they are conscious and experiencing the whole this whole process from the inside of it.

Stickers like “Animal Welfare Approved” do not mean the animal has a good life, it means it has met some arbitrary standard that is judged to be less cruel than the factory standard, which we all know is appalling. Some animal welfare organizations believe they are doing a good thing by supporting these stickers. The label indicates marginally better conditions for animals that are still subject to practices that we would consider torture if they were applied to a human (or even a dog.) Yet, it appeases the consciences of many buyers, who pay a little more in “conscience tax” to continue to support industries that could not exist without cruelty. Most people do have some level of moral discomfort somewhere about purchasing meat and dairy, and these labels are meant to stamp that out.

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Daniel Lukic April 25, 2011 at 8:14 am

Lack of respect..

If you kill a person (or animal for that matter) you have decided. Undoing it is difficult. (Cloning does not really work well. ^^ Looks like you get a physical copy without the original soul.)

Now: If you do not kill that living being you still can do it later. Until this point, however, you do respect life.

Whether it is important to have respect for life is debatable. As is everything. Unless you are god (aka the universe? ^^) I guess. But: Unless you are entirely sure of the answer it is up to you whether you want to live life respecting others or not.

All this talking about humane treatment and what not is just yak. Much the same like for example what a country does to justify going to war against another country. No matter the reason. Fundamental lack of respect for life is the precondition.

Drawing the line? Between a human and an animal? Between a master and a slave? Between a Nazi and a Jew? Between a pet and a production animal? Between /your/ pet and that other annoying neighbor’s pet? Unless you are god, every line drawn is probably pretty arbitrary. No matter what topic. No matter what knowledge builds the foundation. Meat eater. Organic-only meat eater. Vegetarian. Vegan. Car driver. Bicyclist. Religions. Wars. Capitalism. Environment. Nuclear energy. Etc.

Well, I guess we all like debating a lot. Talking about everything. Discussing. Having our own opinion. Nice. So educated and intellectually challenging. This life. ^^

Vegan three years now. Vegetarian about 20. 38 years old. Wishing I had been vegan all my life. So many things I wish I was not a part of. Some of these I can change. And I do.

Thank you for your blog post!

Cheers,

Daniel, Berlin, Germany

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vanderleun April 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Sorry but the whiff of sanctity is too think on this thread for normal breathing. Ditto the constant “Stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plumb and said what a good boy am I” piety.

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David April 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

You may be right. I’ve been known to get self-righteous sometimes.

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Jeremy Myers May 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I think that the “try it out approach” is the best way to explore new options and find out what works best for you while hopefully preserving a sense of play and curiosity.

As a fitness coach I have seen great benefit whenever people choose to bring an intention to their eating. If they keep up with awareness and experimentation they tend to keep evolving their diet and their general approach to food. Where they “end up” isn’t really the point and neither is finding out whether the benefits are “psychological” or “physical” because both are important.

I have had good success and enjoyment with a paleo-like approach and would encourage further experimentation with it. Specifically, experimenting with meat and dairy as separate variables. I am very much informed by Robb Wolf and Matt Lalonde for my understanding of nutrition. You can check out Robb’s blog at http://www.Robbwolf.com.

The ethical piece is tricky but it is impossible for most of us to avoid given the way most of our food is produced. Large scale monoculture farming is also a huge problem with regard to sustainability and food quality. The most productive techniques for food production involve a diversity of animal and plant species on the same land.

I really like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “Meat Manifesto” on the subject of ethically eating meat. I couldn’t find a full version of this manifesto from the River Cottage Meat Book online, most of the excerpts available seem to cut out the most interesting parts. I really appreciate his insight about our discomfort with human-animal predation. We generally have no problem with humans killing humans (witness the whole reaction to Bin Laden’s killing) but we are often sensitive to humans killing animals. Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book shows a sequence of photos of one of his cows being slaughtered and it is definitely something to come to grips with and something he thinks should change our relationship with meat.

Anyway, plenty to struggle with and explore!

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Drew May 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm

David, I’m curious… what is your diet currently? I read your blog all the time, but it was sheer coincidence that I started a vegetarian diet either the day before or the day after your vegan experiment began. I read “Eating Animals” and I’m currently reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Two and a half months in, I’m still sticking with it, so I thought I’d check your status.

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David May 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I am vegan now, for good.

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Rachel May 15, 2011 at 12:17 am

Interesting blog, thanks. I don’t think that eating meat or dairy or eggs is necessarily wrong in itself. But the way we treat animals when we farm them is often wrong.

I’ve been mostly vegetarian for years. Considered becoming vegan but never done so, for reasons of convenience mostly.

However, I think I’d agree with you in that I’m not sure that being vegetarian is necessarily ethically superior to eating meat. Commercially produced dairy or eggs aren’t any kinder than commercially produced meat, and in some cases, they are worse. I know this from experience, since while training to become a veterinarian I toured two slaughter houses, worked on a pasture based sheep & beef farm, worked on two pasture based dairy farms, & have visited a factory pork farm. So I’ve seen the whole industry. And to be frank, the sheep and cattle on the meat farm I worked on seemed happier than the dairy cattle I worked with (until they were sent to be slaughtered, I guess – but old dairy cattle, and most of their calves, inevitably get slaughtered too).

It’s probably impossible to find truly ethical dairy or eggs unless you keep the animals yourself – IMO it would be uneconomic to produce truly ethical dairy or eggs as a commercial venture.

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David May 17, 2011 at 6:56 am

it would be uneconomic to produce truly ethical dairy or eggs as a commercial venture.

This is certainly true. As soon as there is any economic incentive involved in processing animals as raw materials, any respect for the living things involved loses out to efficiency.

But I don’t believe there is any ethical way to use animals for pleasure or entertainment, which is what animal foods are all about, knowing that we don’t need them to be healthy. Welfare groups have been addressing the treatment of food animals for 200 years now, and we are exploiting more animals in worse ways than ever. It will remain this way as long as we think they are here for us to pleasure ourselves with. So I don’t believe the answer is to reform animal treatment, but to abolish the exploitation of them altogether.

Chi City Chic May 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Please know that in leaving this comment that I am not personally attacking your view but I have to say that it is unfair to make a statement regarding finances when it comes to your experiment here. Too often I find well-to-do individuals jumping to the assumption that other people simply do not go out of their way to eat healthy based solely on financial strain or pure laziness. I don’t make A LOT of money, but I make enough that I surely could cut out unimportant/self-indulgent expenses and budget in quality foods AND start cooking more; but that’s also just me. I am a busy person as well but I suppose I could find ways to factor in more time to cook, but I don’t, again just me. However, I could not even begin to fathom how someone living off minimum wage without any means of extra support could ever effectively be able to budget in a $100 trip to Whole Foods for five items into their life, even if a few times a week or once a month, no matter the benefit. A $1 burger over a $5 salad for those of us who are severely struggling to just pay our rent or mortgage is vital in the end; I personally would at least want a place to live and clothes on my back FIRST and know that at least I have some kind of food to keep living, regardless of if it’s healthy. Also, I can’t imagine what a mother working full time would do with factoring in time to cook and plan out meals; I don’t even have kids and its hard. I waste food simply because I have rehearsals till 11 or 12 3 nights a week or I’m exhausted from the long 8 hours I just worked that I forget about that amazing fresh spinach I just bought 3 days ago that I was going to cook…. Plus, it may on the surface appear to be a minor price increase, but a few cents or a couple dollars here or there to buy “Organic” or fresh has a way of adding up in the end for budgets that are already hugely strained. I eat healthy when I can but I also find that if I’m having a bad month or rent is right around the corner and I’ll just barely make it…I’m going to have to either not eat or grab a sandwich from Mikey D’s; I’d rather eat than forgo eating.

With all that being said, I would really like to see someone do an experiment on attempting these healthy eating diets on sub par budgets just to get a sense of whether or not it is financially sound for people. I applaud that you had a great experience with this yourself, but I find it unfair for you to say that there is no excuse for everyone to not be able to partake as well. I feel like if you’ve never lived having your lights/water turned off periodically or having to eat a meal of read beans and white rice from time to time only because that was all you had to eat, that you really aren’t in a place to make such a broad statement.

Also, maybe do a cost comparison on healthy foods before jumping to the conclusion that it doesn’t cost more?

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David May 16, 2011 at 6:38 pm

This is a fair point and I didn’t mean to imply that everyone has the same leeway when it comes to food budgets. That does depend on your income, your fixed expenses and where you live.

I would like to clear up a few things. Like anyone else I do generalize, and I have no doubt that in general most people in Canada and the US do choose all sorts of unnecessary convenience and lifestyle expenses over expanding their food budget. That’s all I’m saying. Do you disagree? It was just a comment on the widespread trend of marginalizing health as if it isn’t worth giving up some creature comforts in order to maintain or improve it.

This is normal. Regardless of our income we all quickly find routines that take up all of our time and money, so naturally we claim that we have no remaining time and no remaining money with which to make changes. Changes always require giving up a time or money commitment in one place in order to take up a newer, more beneficial one somewhere else.

In your comment you seem to be reacting to things I didn’t actually say. I never said people have “no excuse” not to eat healthier. Nobody has any responsibility to me to eat in any particular way. My remark was just a response to the typical middle-class complaint about how unworkable eating healthy is.

I did not say anything about Whole Foods or organic food, and I don’t believe it is necessary to eat organic food in order to eat healthfully.

I have lived with different levels of income in my life, and I always had some choice over what to do with whatever money I had. At one time I was making minimum wage scrubbing toilets, sharing a 350-sq-ft studio with another person, and my typical meal was eggs on toast or frozen perogies. But if health was a priority for me at that time then I still could have made a lot of adjustments, whether that meant devoting more of my budget to food or not. It was never economical to east fast food.

I don’t know anything about you except what you posted but it sounds to me like your frequent use of convenience food and the mismanagement of your spinach have more to do with your demanding routine and your priorities than your actual financial constraints. Do you really not have any choice there? What you choose is none of my business, but with the possible exception of the severely over-extended members of society, all of us can make choices to make health a bigger priority regardless of income level. Does that make sense?

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Jennifer February 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Beans and rice are some of the cheapest food you can eat – much cheaper than a burger a meal.

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Ellienne May 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm

For those under 35, perhaps eating fast or junk food may have less effect than for those over 35. But for those who truly CHERISH and hold precious their ONE AND ONLY body, paying for organic and choosing the best of the best will become a way of life.

Why organic? Because the soil has been tested and found pure. The nutrients are more “natural”, and pure. Trace minerals included, not just sparse, chemical phosphates, nitrogen. Toxic pesticides are hugely, if not completely limited. Sewage sludge, no. Genetically modified or altered, not used.

ALSO… organic farmers must work more harder, much more diligently to bring you their produce. It requires a special love, a dedication to excellence, that keeps an organic farmer doing his / her work. They bring you the best the Earth has to offer, to the best of their ability. I honor them, I support them with my dollars.

Savings… You see, eating organic, and much raw, can mean requiring LESS. So that’s a savings, albeit perhaps not enough… so think of it this way. Did you buy something lately that you didn’t really need? Was it an extravagance? Could you have done without it, easily?

Why not sink your precious dollars into something MORE precious than gold… the most perfect fuel for you ONE, your ONLY body that will carry you for the REST of your LIFE?

If I had my life to do over again, I would choose:

Fresh raw organic fruits and vegetables
Truly sprouted seeds of grass (wheat, barley, grains)
Soaked sprouted seeds, nuts, legumes
Occasional delicious treats
Delicate, natural and delicious seasonings
Perhaps: fresh, delicately warmed pastured eggs from humanely raised chickens
Perhaps: Vitamin B12 if i needed it
Perhaps: Vitamin D if needed
Perhaps: Organic dates, other dried fruits on occasion
Perhaps: whatever else that honored my body, my health

i would be healthy slim… boundless energy, muscles strong like wires, glowing skin.

My body would be my TEMPLE. To carry me painlessly, effortlessly through life.

Today, organic, fresh and raw is helping save my life. But perhaps, it’s only my imagination… or perhaps, not…

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Maia July 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Hi David,

I found your post about turning vegan very inspiring. I was just reading a book about how animals in mass farming are being mistreated and it made me want to puke out the chicken salad I had just had for lunch.
I am going to try the vegan experiment as well for 30 days but I want to cut out refined sugar and white flour as well. So I will see what happens. Starting as soon as I get back from holiday.

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Abby August 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I’m vegan too! And have been for about two years. It has changed the way I look at the world. Anyone interested in veganism (or any skeptics to the benefits) should undoubtably read “Food Revolution” by John Robbins. For that matter, everyone should read it. You have a right to know what goes into your food and the social, environmental, health and moral cost of it.

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Nina September 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Great comments – I shifted into a vegan diet about a month ago and really enjoy reconnecting with the food I consume. I feel great and have a renewed interest in preparing a wholesome meal. First thing I did was clean out my fridge and pantry, to make it Vegan friendly. Checked out recipes and stock items that would make it easy to ‘throw’ a meal together in a hurry! You need to be organised here people. I start my day with a juice of spinach, celery, lemon, beetroot and apples. There is plenty of info out there to help, just do your homework. A great website is nutritionfacts.org – do yourself a favour and check it out. As for what your reasons for becoming Vegan are – well … it’s personal and I am happy and healthy with my decision, as I trust you are with yours! Don’t stress out over it, because that’s really unhealthy for you!! Cheers from Australia x

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bodyistemple September 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

This post is the best personal account of veganism that I’ve ever read. Today I know that veganism is accessible to all and is far more about a mindful attidue than an expensive list of groceries or an unproductive petition. That being said, I cannot imagine what veganism is like for American families who support several children, work two jobs and don’t have the social and economic support that I enjoy as a liberal upper-class single woman. I think there is something to be said about pioneering the path to veganism in a way that develops comraderie with those who “can’t” and even those who “won’t” without accusation.

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David September 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Thanks. I still don’t think we should presume that veganism is exclusive in any way. I meet with a group of local vegans and many (most?) of them have little money and some have kids, yet they manage because it is enormously important to them.

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Jennifer February 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Beans and rice is so cheap. Add in inexpensive produce from a local ethnic food store. Eat PB&J. Take a B12 supplement. There is no such thing as “can’t” financially unless you are starving and can’t afford any food.

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Jennifer February 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

*are not is ….

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munin_and_hugin September 30, 2011 at 1:03 am

Having previously been vegan for two years, I have to say I felt worse being vegan than not. My clinical depression and the fatigue that goes with it was constant and not as manageable as it was before I went vegan. I was tired all the time, and the days I wasn’t in classes or working I slept most of the day. When my depression pulled me under my usual methods for dealing didn’t have an effect. I actually put on weight, instead of staying the same weight since graduating high school as I had for years. This is not to say that someone can’t feel better on a veg*n diet, just that it was really, really, bad for me.

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LCG October 6, 2011 at 3:11 am

This is great! I think there is a lot to be said about people documenting their experiences and yours is very approachable. Oh, but cheese! I’m amused that it is a bit of a joke in the vegan world, but one of my great passions in life is food, and a good cheese is such a pleasure. Cheese is something I bond over with my friends, can’t say how much time we have spent gushing over it. But it isn’t necessarily something I have to eat every day. Part of what makes something so pleasurable is to not wear it out.

I feel like this idea that we have to label ourselves “vegan” and force rules on ourselves in order to fully do or not-do something, is a little too dogmatic for my taste. It gives people this idea that they either have to be all the way in or all the way out- which deters them from giving it a real try. I knew a girl who was vegan except for on thanksgiving and Christmas.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that if people really feel like that cannot live without something (ie, don’t want to) then don’t live without it, just make certain standards and occasions for it. Such as only eating ethically treated animal meat you get from the farmers market, however many times a year. Or simply make it something for when you are a guest. When I travel I try to be open to people and never turn my nose up to what they offer (the language and cultural barrier can be hard enough, best not to hurt people’s feelings). I also enjoy the challenge and adventure of trying new things, even if it seems gross- and too this day, no meat was as difficult to stomach as stinky tofu (although i did later hear that it was made with rotten-fermented meat).

That was a very long winded way of me trying to encourage people (both vegan and vegan resistant) to explore more possibilities, perspectives and if need be- take that middle path. Sorry this is so long!

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David October 6, 2011 at 7:05 am

Hi LCG, thanks for your comment. There are a lot of ways to live life, yes. I just encourage people to honestly consider the ethics of what they choose to do. How much a person likes cheese does not change the ethics involved. There are certainly people who really like exploiting and abusing children, but of course that in no way excuses any amount of it.

“Ethically treated meat” is a fantasy, in my mind. I can’t think of any way in which someone could kill me that I would consider ethical, no matter how nice they were about it. Believe me I wish it were possible, but no matter which way I dice it, it is taking a sentient life for a frivolous and unnecessary pleasure. There is plenty of room for challenge, adventure and cultural experience without victimizing others.

I do agree with your sentiments about exploring more possibilities, but that doesn’t mean there’s any justification for doing what most people already agree is wrong: inflicting unnecessary pain and death for our pleasure or convenience.

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Carlee November 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I’m a little late to join the discussion but I wanted to comment. I’ve been on the vegan diet for just 10 days and I will testify that my energy level has skyrocketed. I too have more energy to work out (I love to run and before I almost always had some sort of stomach cramp during my run which was very uncomfortable.) The most miraculous of all is that I only drink one cup of coffee now. Before I had to practice major self control not to drink three cups, as I wanted to, and would settle for two. But now, drinking and only WANTING one is just amazing. All this after only 10 days as a vegan makes me incredibly excited to see where else this will take me.

The only downside is that my skin has broken out pretty badly. Everyone says this is a detox side effect, which makes perfect sense. I’m going to be patient and hopefully it clears before long.

Thanks for writing this, was helpful for me.

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LauraR November 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Hi,

I just wanted to say what a well written and interesting article this is, thanks for doing these life style explorations they are fascinating but I have to admit that this is my favourite!

I recently went vegan and can absolutely attest to the feeling of lightness and increase in energy levels, reading through your experience I felt your altered physical sense mirrored mine.

With all the steroids, hormones, antibiotics and mycotoxins (from corn based feeds) we consume with meats it’s no wonder that when ridding ourselves of these pollutants we feel better; those individuals suffering when attempting a vegan lifestyle may well have developed some sort of physical dependency on all the drugs hence the harsh reactions and certainly any yeasts (from mycotoxins) in the body would cause withdrawl symptoms to ensure that the steady supply of nutrients to help it grow in the human body is maintained!

Great experiment, dont ruin what you are doing with over analyses of the results there is plenty of evidence to support the health benefits of veganism!

Laura

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Claudine December 11, 2011 at 1:14 am

I’ve been eating vegan about a month. Tonight I had clam strips?? It’s been about 5 hours since I ate them and I literally feel like I’m dying. Sick as a dog. I had no feeling of guilt etc, my body is literally rejecting this food.

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Kelsey January 12, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I have to comment on this even though I know nobody has in a long time. I decided to go “vegan” for diet purposes after a long, hard bout of postpartum depression and panic disorder, various hormonal issues and constant body aches. It started as a plan for detoxing my body, but I have found my depression and anxiety has almost been completely eliminated. I don’t know what it is about meats and animal products that aggravate these issues in some people, but I suspect it to be hormones and antibiotics. Some people may disagree with this and say that not all animals are given antibiotics and hormones HOWEVER the fact of the matter is, is that the meats we buy at the super market are. I am early into the diet, but I would say that it is completely and totally worth it for me. We all have different physiological make-up’s and it’s possible that some bodies are unable to tolerate animal products. It has been researched at proven in some theories that meat and animal products are the contributing factor in heart related diseases, diabetes, and obesity so honestly I cannot see how a “paleo” diet could be anything but detrimental to your health. But this is just one girl’s opinion that caught a lucky break through diet. I was at my wits end, and now I feel great, hopeful, and energetic.

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David January 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Yes, I’ve experienced the same thing and it is unquestionable. And people never stop telling me I’m imagining it.

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Brooke January 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I have been eating mostly a plant based vegan diet (I’m following Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendations) for three weeks now and I have to tell you I could have written this blog. All the things I thought would be hard about eating this way has not been an issue. I love to cook and feed people and I thought I would miss out on the joy of cooking…but I have enjoyed cooking new things and have even greater joy knowing that what I am preparing will make me feel so good. My palate has changed. I’ve been a diet soda drinker for 20 years and I can’t stand the taste anymore. I don’t even really crave junk food. And I instantly felt better…I don’t need caffine in the afternoon to get through the day. I am never tired, recover more easily from my workouts. I’ve used my asthma meds three times since I’ve started (instead of once or twice a day). Its amazing…don’t know why more people don’t eat this way!

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Jemma February 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm

I wish I could be vegan, but honestly, I don’t have the willpower. Its not that I can’t read labels or silly things like that, but I hate vegetables and soy products and can barely force myself to eat them now.
I guess this came from that childhood phase when kids hate vegetables. My parents functioned on no-food-until-you-eat-them rule, and I was stubborn enough to just not eat. I literally will not anything I dislike, no matter what.
Unfortunately, the main things I like are potatoes, meat, pasta, and sweets.It would be nice to be vegan, but I would probably just waste away. Still, interesting experiment.

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Heather February 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I just discovered this blog entry, and I appreciate you writing it from a “non-biased” point of view. Today is day 1 of me trying a vegan diet after being a meat and dairy eater for most of my life. I was brought up in the Midwest with parents that have incorporated a meat protein with every meal, always cooked with butter, and taught me everything tastes better with cheese in it. While I know it will be difficult with such a lack of time in my schedule (generally leading me to the convenient fast food world), I realize that, up until now, these foods have been more of an addiction than a lifestyle. Thank you for keeping me motivated in knowing that my body and mind will thank me for the transition. Research or not, I’m looking forward to what a vegan diet will do for me in my individual journey.

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aly March 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

i went vegan for a month and i felt so weak. i would come back home from school pale as hell. i added all types of protein – beans, legumes, lentils and tried to reduce carbs to reduce sluggishness. i would cook everything at home to monitor salt and oil intake. i also took multivitamins and drank a lot of water. idk, my diet is mostly still vegan probably around 70-80% (mostly because i don’t reject the food people make when i’m a guest) and i’m still trying to get the knack of it..

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Caleb March 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I “went Vegan” four days ago for health, not to save the whales. My body feels good, but I can’t think anymore. I can’t remember things that I just thought of, and its hard to even write sentences, cause I just can’t think of what to say, even though I know what I’m trying to say. Any suggestions? I want to stay on this diet for awhile, but if its gonna stay like this I think I’ll quit pretty quick.

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David March 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I have no idea. How much are you sleeping, and what are you eating?

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Laura April 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I am vegan and must be eating the right things, because I have plenty of energy and feel all around great… after 2 years of being 100% vegan. I eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, lentils, and whole grains (all organic). I think that anybody can thrive on a vegan diet, if you eat right. I not only feel physically better, but I feel mentally better as in.. happy, not depressed. I used to have these days where I felt so lethargic I didn’t want to even MOVE.. it was pretty insane. I no longer get those periods of lethargy. My husband has had even more positive side effects than I have.. his eyesight has improved so much that the eye doctor had to reduce the strength of his contacts. We both have so much more stamina and we’ve always been avid hikers – now we can hike even longer. My father has also given up animal products, except for the eggs from his own chickens. After suffering from gout for many years, it is completely gone. Anybody telling you that a vegan diet is unhealthy either hasn’t tried it, or hasn’t done it correctly. It’s pretty awesome. Although I think a 95% vegan diet like my father eats is really good too.

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Larry April 19, 2012 at 12:22 am

There has been large-scale research. Read the book THE CHINA STUDY by T. Colin Campbell.

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Rosanna April 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Well done on going vegan:)
I have now been vegan for three weeks and feel so much more energy:) I am waking up earlier and my skin is better and so much more.
I have not eaten meat or dairy for a very long time and finally cut out the last vestiges of animal, namely fish three weeks ago.

It IS surprising how people will defend their meat and dairy eating so much. People defend all the negative, not necessarily healthy things in life; like smoking, pornography consumption, red meat…I could go on. I guess that it is defending one’s addictions…I used to smoke and really defended it. People don’t like to see others change so will say that it’s just a placebo effect…but the body doesn’t lie. I don’t LOVE when people eat meat and dairy around me…I see the negative long term effects it can have on their bodies and minds and what it does to animals but I don’t give them a hard time about it…but how my mother reacted when I told her I was not eating fish anymore!? She was upset!!! So funny!

I think that veganism can really help with health issues :) So congrats for trying it…and I hope you cna stick with it like I intend to…i really believe it can change your life for the better:)
This website is AMAZING for information on a vegan diet and how bad meat and dairy is for us..it’s my bible right now;)
http://nutritionfacts.org/

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Kristin April 26, 2012 at 1:14 am

Dear David, you’re right enough to feel an emotional response and rest assured it IS your bodies reaction, not you’d mind making your body feel bad, but it goes hand in hand. Read ” Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself.” By Alejandro Junger MD. He goes into detail how eating the wrong foods for your body can effect your moods as much as the physical signs and why.
I tried being Vegetarian, but couldn’t follow the diet very well because it was too much cooked food, too many starches, and it seemed Redicious to me to eatfake veggie shaped ‘meat’ if I just wanted the meat. I did believe on it for ethical reasons Bc factory farms and factory dairy are the sheer devil, but I instead shifted to less processed, more humane, organic cage free. Wild caught, free range meat. I believe everyone who still eats meat and can’t justify buying humane, organic, sustainable meat shouldn’t eat meat anyway. But the funny thing is I felt horrible being vegatarian but I feel AWESOME now that I am a mostly RAW vegan! Lol. For me the more green juice, salads and fruit I eat, the less meat, cheese, breading want. Its amazing. I’m slipping into vegan naturally with an ease I never had before. I don’t like hos dairy cheese makes me feel instantly bloated, heavy, and mucusy but vegan cheese is even worse for me when I eat it in different ways. The salt the next day gives me a hang over and it still gave me issues. Also I do best with one or two strachy itemsin my diet per week, anymore and I get cravings, I feel moody and awful and its harder to stay n track.

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Vanessa May 4, 2012 at 8:56 am

I cut out all animal products from my diet back in October. I did it gradually starting September and by middle of October, the process was complete. I had been a vegetarian all my life, so it was dairy and eggs that needed to go. But I was not a vegan officially, I planned to consume dairy eggs once in a while.
A month later, I ate a small bowl of rice pudding made with milk in an Indian restaurant. Within and hour, I started getting this migraine headache which got worse by the minute until I could not walk or keep my eyes open. I shut myself in the dark bedroom and lay there in pain. My migraine prescription was on hand luckily (I have suffered on and off last few years), it just lowered the intensity, that’s all.
I was sealed shut in the bedroom from 5PM to 7AM the next day, had no interest in dinner. Just prayed for the headache to go away. The next day I felt like I was recovering from a terrible illness.
Guess what? I could not put 2 and 2 together. A month later, I had some hot cocoa and I got a migraine not as bad as the first one, it had less straight milk I suppose. That got me thinking, “Is it milk?”

It has been 5 months since, never touched any dairy, no migraines.

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Mikki Cooper May 16, 2012 at 11:59 am

I have recently made a change in my diet, going from vegetarian to vegan. Today, is my forth day and I am loving it! I initially went vegetarian for ethical reasons and I also wanted to go vegan for the same reason but perceived it to be too hard. Recently, I found myself eat far too much unhealthy dairy food (large blocks of chocolate, entire packets of biscuits) in one sitting. So, I decided that I NEEDED to become vegan, in order to encourage myself to eat more veggies and fruit (before I was hardly eating any). So far, so good! I have bought some substitutes for meat (as I did before) but now I also buy rice milk and cheese made from soy which are both delicious. I did try these foods before but I think my pre-conceived ideas on their tastes didn’t allow me to properly enjoy either of them. The vegan diet is EASY for people like us who live in countries like Australia (I live here), America, Canada and most of the countries in the EU. I can order most of my vegan substitutes online and have them delivered the day after and overall it is not really that expensive considering here veggies are so cheap. I don’t understand the stigma though, I feel enlightened with my knowledge and way of life. I studied a unit which was almost 100% about animal welfare, in that time DISTURBED by what I was learning my boyfriend and I cut meat out of our diets! It is my belief that their is NO humane way of killing an animal and I also believe where money can be made ethics are USUALLY ignored especially in the food industry. When I think of meat and people eating it, I put it into the same category as eating my dog companion (WHICH I WOULD NEVER DO). I don’t think people understand when they go to their local supermarket and buy a cheap piece of meat or cheap milk that they are contributing to immense suffering because this cheap meat or milk comes at a price, the price of the animals welfare. And furthermore, I don’t think people understand that factory farming is the common way that meat is obtained for human food (in first world countries). Sorry, but its most likely that your dinner didn’t come from a sunny farm where they cow was able to lie in green fields, let alone see sun light. America has some of the worst standards. I suggest you read Peter Singer books, there is one specifically relevant to American’s and the meat industry. I am hoping never to support the meat or the dairy industry. What annoys me also is that people eat up this government propoganda that meat is the only way, DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW THEY PROFIT FROM THIS? Why do you think they mostly promote exercising and not really healthy diet? I am going to stop writing or I will write literally forever. I enjoyed your post David! I am just upset about all this ignorant attitudes. I am hoping one day we live in a world where specieism is considered equally as evil as homophobia or rascism. Thank you for your post!

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Darrin June 6, 2012 at 2:26 am

One point that seems to have been missed is that the debate about the ethics of consuming animals/animal products is only possible in relative affluence. Our ancestors ate whatever was available, plant or animal, because it was either eat it or starve, and there are places in the world today where people still eat what’s available because they don’t have any other choice. Otp, in many cities large grocery chains often won’t build stores in poorer, higher-crime-stat areas, so access to reasonably-priced unprocessed foods can be problematic whether you’re attempting to follow a vegan diet or just trying to improve your eating habits. (In rural areas, access to vegan products can be extremely limited: e.g. in my hometown, you’d have to have someone mail you quinoa and lentils.)

Another is that some of the hostility expressed toward proponents of vegetarianism/veganism may based in past experiences with people who behave as if ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ was defined ‘self-indulgent jackass’. E.g. a relative demanded that my niece’s wedding menu be changed to vegan dishes or the caterer provide her with a selection of entrees, side dishes and desserts — at least four of each, the extra cost to be paid by the bride and groom. That she was the sole vegan guest simply didn’t appear to register; nor did that she’d be putting people on a budget to extra expense. It wasn’t the first such performance and wasn’t the last: sits she’s only invited to meals when it’s impossible to leave her out. What’s even more irritating is that people prejudged my vegetarian friends on the basis of their experience with her: the ‘Oh, God, not one of THOSE’ effect.
I agree she’s entitled to decide her own diet: afaIc we all are. But we’re not entitled to decided for others or insist that our choice be accommodated regardless of the inconvenience or cost to someone else.
Imo, in your own home, serve what you like. But when invited to someone else’s, you don’t hand the host/ess a list of your preferred foods as if they were your servant: if you think you might not want to eat what’s being served, you take a casserole or salad, explain to the host/ess that it accommodates your dietary restrictions, and that you brought it because you wouldn’t dream of inconveniencing someone delightful enough to ask you to dinner. (And yes, it should be something that can be eaten at room temperature, if necessary: unless the host/ess has servants, they’ll have enough to do without adding ‘finding time to heat or chill your dinner’ to their list of things to do.)

My direct experience with a vegan diet was limited to two weeks: it was part of a group experiment. Two said they felt incredibly energetic, two said they’d never felt so hungry and tired in their lives, and two said it didn’t seem to make any difference. (I was one of that pair.) It did change my eating in that I eat more fruit and vegetables than I did, but given that there wasn’t any change in my energy level or my state of mind, I wouldn’t bother going back to it. Each to their own.

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... July 15, 2012 at 11:34 am

Tried going vegan my body hated it the lack of the abundant animal proteins I was consuming (meat poultry fish eggs dairy) and it was harder to do activities like running or working in general because I was getting no haem iron only non-haem iron which is 10x weaker (harder to absorb) also B12 if you are taking that suppliment in a pill form its extracted from animal products and is necessary and for those of you who say meat is too fatty correctly fabricated meats meets the Heart Foundation’s requirements for proper heart healthy fat intake and the newer animal husbandry methods cut down on fat and make it so there is more meat itself to counteract them being grain fed. Also protein the protein in vegetables is of a lower quality (strength\ability to fully absorb) than that of red dark or white meats and seafood. If you study meat vs. Veg well enough from NON-BIAS sources meat(and animal products in general) seems to be a better faster and easier way to get essential nutrients and micronutrients. After the easily absorbed meat based nutrients what you want to eat or crave is what your body wants\needs also basied on the taste of the food.

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Ida Blomhåret Reshagen July 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

For those who would like to try a vegan diet here are some tips
Here is a site with recipes and under the “making the switch” tab there are some suggestions for alternatives for common animal products.
http://www.chooseveg.com/vegan-recipes.asp

This site is also helpful,it has pretty much everything you need to know on how to go vegan.
http://www.vegankit.com/

Some more really great recipe blogs
http://www.fettlevegan.com/recipes.html
http://myvegancookbook.com/recipes/all_recipes.php?by=date
http://www.findingvegan.com/

I hope this will do,atleast as a start.
You can get some insperation and stuff.
Have a great day!

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Brooke July 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

First of all, David, thank you so much for taking the time to document your vegan experiment! It was really interesting to read and you are awesome for having the guts to do it! I have been a vegetarian for several years and just recently decided to do a 1 month vegan experiment. I have built up quite a folder of amazing sounding vegan recipes, and was armed and ready to try them all out and see how I felt. My sweet husband and twin 7 year olds told me they wanted “in” on the experiment too! So we are about 3 weeks in right now. Long story short…all 4 of us are pretty amazed at how great we feel and how everything can taste just as satisfying and delicious as when we use dairy and eggs. We had to move to Paris for 3 years so are obviously in the land of CHEESE AND MEAT! But still….people are very curious and I even had a friend (a huge meatlover) just tell me she wants to go vegetarian. People can change and I think if people see your “excitement” over something, they are curious. That’s the best thing we can do in life is just show people how great being a vegetarian is by how we aren’t pushy, but we share the awesome benefits of it… I love how my kids love the idea of being kind to the animals..children are born being vegetarian I think. What child doesn’t want to “be friends” with a cow, not have them killed and served on a plate. Anyway, I have always been a cheese lover but I have found I surprisingly don’t miss it. Tonight for dinner we just had tempeh “meatloaf”, mashed potatoes and vegan gravy, (French baguettes, of course!), salad with fresh peaches, corn and coconut cupcakes….and red wine! Who says vegans miss anything??? :) Take care and thanks again David! P.S. I forgot to mention that my horrible seasonal allergies (super bad!) have “mysteriously” left since a few days after going vegan….I was not expecting that AT ALL and if going vegan caused that I would gladly give up cheese.

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Kyrstin July 20, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hi David, I know I’m late to the party but I just stumbled upon this blog accidentally and I want to say a HUGE thank you for this post, particularly the part about increasing our food budget. I am a dietitian and I constantly have patients complaining to me about how “healthy food is sooo expensive”. Meanwhile they are spending heaps of money for their diabetes, hypetension, and hypercholesterolemia meds every month. There absolutely needs to be a shift in our food budget allowance. Materials will fade away but the impact of your diet is forever. When you’re 85 (God willing), it won’t matter what you had ON your body when you were 25, but it will matter what you put IN your body when you were 25. I wish more people realized this. Thank you for mentioning it.

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Jen July 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I am planning on trying out a vegan diet for 30 days. I have just relocated cities away from my friends, family and boyfriend, so am looking for new projects to kind of fill in my days and make things interesting. So going to give it a go. I eat vegetarian mainly anyways, but I love milk, and I love love love to bake. So going to find it a bit difficult. But like you said, I think it will widen the variety of food I eat, and I may discover some great recipes I hang onto after!

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Kira August 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Very interesting article. I greatly enjoyed it.

I’m vegetarian. Have been for 3.5 years. I try to eat as organically as I possibly can (but it is the truth that it costs much more money, and I am currently unemployed, so it’s hard on my finances at the moment). All dairy and eggs I buy are free range and organic, I will NEVER give in on this point of my diet. I started for moral reasons, and the health reasons came into play later. I have also flip flopped with pescatarianism over the years. I barely consume enough dairy to affect how my body feels. I also wouldn’t (not couldn’t. lol) give up honey because it’s what I use as a sweetener. I dislike stevia and agave (which is not healthier than sugar as people have said). But like I said, I try my hardest to stay as strictly organic as possible. It’s not easy at restaurants and when dining at a friend’s house. My friends have to go out of their way to prepare mine first before adding the meat to things for everyone else. Sometimes they forget. I once asked a friend of mine what the vegetarian option was going to be at her wedding (and to be clear, I had slaved helping her make the invitations) and she looked at me funny and said “uh, salad?”

I have known people who are convinced that they are supposed to eat meat with every meal and that it is otherwise not a balanced meal. Several friends used to try and egg me on to eat it. I would have a craving and they’d be like “Do it! Eat it, eat it!” Then if I did ever give in, they’d call another friend over “she’s gonna eat meat!” and they’d cheer. It was unfair and rude. Hardcore meat eaters (the ones who try and discredit vegetarianism) have no respect for others who have made the choice to give it up. I’m not one of those people who go around berating people who eat meat. Live and let live. I would understand if I were screaming in the street at them, but I am not, and still they treat me like I’m the one who is wrong. And the people who try to discredit organic really irritate me. They just spout off whatever they think is the truth, without researching it first. they talk about how it’s not regulated, etc, when the truth is that the label “all natural” is not regulated, but “organic” has very strict regulations.

The truth is that the human body is designed to be herbivore. Our digestive system most closely resembles those of other herbivores. Many people say we are omnivores. However, known omnivores (like dogs – yes, they are omnivores. Cats are carnivores) have digestives systems almost identical to those of carnivores. Ours is not even remotely close to either.

Sorry for the rant. Great article. Thanks!

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Kristin August 19, 2012 at 10:26 am

I am going into my third week of veganism, after a few years of minimal meat/dairy consumption. Four days ago (2 1/2 weeks in), the detox hit me full-force, and I couldn’t move- I felt like I’d been hit by a truck and broke every bone in my body. I spent the entire day in bed sleeping; when I HAD to get up to feed my cats, I threw up- twice. The next day I felt a little better, still really achy, headache, but on the mend. That same evening, the diarrhea hit- I spent more time in the bathroom than not. Yesterday, most of my body felt decent, except the arthritis in my knee was excruciating- something it hasn’t been for quite some time, and my gut was distended and gurgly (gross, I know- sorry). Today I feel pretty diggety-dang ol’ good, stomach still a little upset, and I had a cup of organic coffee, which I haven’t had in days. The coffee hit me pretty bad- almost panic attack stage- I think I’m finally done with it, and that’s after an 8 (6oz) cup a day habit, along with 1-2 diet colas. So, I feel things are looking up from here.

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Searchbox August 23, 2012 at 8:56 pm

i usually don’t get into reading more than a few paragraphs of a blog, or w/e this is, but i found your writing to be very easy to read and made me wanna read more. Thanks for writing such a good and unexpected piece on this favorite subject of mine :D

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Layla August 30, 2012 at 6:45 am

I am a dietitian as well. I hope you don’t mind another dietitian chiming in. The point made earlier was that the protein macronutrient is missing in a vegan diet. That is an innaccurate statement, as protein can be found in a number of vegan-friend foods such as nuts, soybeans, whole grains and even some vegetables. These plant-based proteins are not biologically complete proteins, as animal proteins are, so there is a learning curve when it comes to understanding how to build a balanced vegan diet. However the vegan diet should not be painted as ‘dangerous’ as this is misleading. It simply is a way of eating that requires some basic education. The other challenging micronutrient to obtain is B12 , found solely in animal products. I think one approach people can use is being ‘part time’ vegans. I personally do vegan 4 days a week and have found not only do I feel ‘better’ (certainly a subjective observation, but after keeping numerous journals and food logs there does some to be a definite pattern) but my arthritis pains have literally disappered (non-subjective observation) and various improvements in lab paramaters became evident in about three months (also non subjective). My blood pressure has improved significantly despite no great change in my body weight. This is a reasonable expectation, given that the DASH dietary studies (well known in the nutrition science community) looked at vegetable and fruit-rich diets and found hypertension could often be resolved via dietary manipulations alone, the same as could be done with medications! Truly remarkable. I wish the medical community would remember that there are CLINICAL TRIALS out there that demonstrate diets can act like medicine! It is not new age fluff or touchy feely nonsense. Vegan diets deserve a closer look.

Anecdotal evidence never carries the same weight in this community as hard scientific fact, but it still is important. A GI doc I know went vegan five years ago and his kidney disease reversed. Coincidence? Perhaps. Placebo effect? Maybe. But isn’t it worth a closer look? Additionally another dietitian I know had a cancer go into remission after going 50% raw vegan. Coincidence? Maybe. Placebo effect? Perhaps. For the time being, for me it is a tasty, delightful and awesome experiment. I appreciated reading your blog!!!!

LK

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Ashley September 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I know I’m late tot this, but I love this!! I’ve been raised vegetarian from birth and have been vegan for 2 years now. I experienced the same exact effects that everyone spoke about…including relief from my anxiety :-)

Melissa, your comment about lions being vegan is silly and totally thoughtless. Some beings ate what’s called obligatory carnivores. The need meat to survive…..could you or any other nhuman for that matter catch, kill and eat raw a zebra or gazelle? The answer is no. But lions, however; can because they are MADE to eat them!! Can you, Melissa, kill a cow and eat it raw??? That’s what I thought. So therefore you have no business or right for that matter eating one.

Again, great article. It was a pleasure to read!!

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Ger September 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

Going vegetarian or vegan is not humanly natural. We are omnivores. There are so many things that come into play that go against it. Lets go back a couple of thousand years, or even hundreds for the matter, Vegans rely massively on imported foods if they live in cold climates. How does someone grow vegetables when there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground, its hard like a rock, and its -20c outside. The only way to be veg. naturally, is in a place with a hot climate. If it wasn’t for grocery stores, transport trucks and planes, it wouldn’t be possible. Also in cold climates what would they wear? Potato skins? No, people wear pelts. We also have canine teeth. and burn fat as fuel.

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jullie October 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I totally agree. I hate that people don’t realize not everyone has everything laid out for them in nice shiny grocery stores. A lot of people, even in the U.S can’t do that. Eating what you grow on your own and from your own climate is key. Shipping in foods on planes and trucks is environmentally horrible.

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Tanya A September 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Wow, that’s a lot of comments. So I might be a repeat. I find your experience interesting. I have an idea about it. Really I think it’s about food ratios. You were probably eating a lot more vegetables and such doing vegan. I imagine if one was to have meals with vegetables etc as the main course and meat in a smaller amount, the benefit would be similar. Lots of veggies can only do good. I think I’ll start experimenting with that, because I am notoriously sluggish despite exercise. I do paleo which has helped me eat better, but I think the ratios are key. I still view meat as a main course, because I’m a picky eater. But I’ll try eating meat in small amounts and crowded out with veggies. We’ll see.

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aMandalin September 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I have gone vegan for two weeks; each a week at a time. I noticed the same effects you mentioned. I am on another vegan “detox” as I call it this week; which is how I came across your site.

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Laura September 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I’ve never tried a vegan diet, but I did tried a vegetarian diet because of ethical reasons when I was about 19 or 20. Eating vegetarian food alone made my body feel great, so I can imagine how a vegan diet can feel even better. The food just felt much healthier, lighter, and it was actually very delicious.

Now, my problem (I don’t eat vegetarian anymore), and if you have suggestions please let me know, is that I’ve never lived alone and I’ve always been with people who wouldn’t eat a vegetarian diet at all.

When I was 19-20 I had to start buying my own food (my mom would not add my “special” food to the budget) and sometimes I didn’t even have much space in the fridge for it. Also, I would get home from work or school and my mom would be cooking for a while… I had to wait until she was done to start making my food (and I would be already very hungry).

Now I’m married and my husband doesn’t even like salads! He won’t eat lettuce and he really likes red meat (I actually don’t eat it anymore). He loves to cook and sometimes I rely on him to help me with dinner. Again, he won’t eat my food, but since I will eat his, then it really is awful. We will have vegetarian meals sometimes, but the point is I won’t have the variety I want because I don’t want to be cooking “twice” and he won’t eat from all of the delicious vegetarian combinations I would like to make (our vegetarian meal is usually rice, beans, and corn – and he doesn’t like brown rice). It just seems like it is really hard to even become a vegetarian (not even a vegan) when you live with people who won’t even try the food. If anyone has dealt with this, what did you do? How do I even manage to just become a vegetarian?

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Jeremy September 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

Freaking great info! I recently went vegetarian/vegan about 2 months ago as a similar experiment and I have no desire or plan to return to eating a meat-based diet. It’s evolved from an experiment to a full lifestyle change. I say “vegetarian/vegan” because I still each fish and some cheese, but that’s literally the only animal products. No milk or dairy outside of cheese.

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kelly October 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I would like to say that I was a vegetarian since age 8 and I am 27 now. I started developing a lot of health issues. I was assuming it was from dairy so I went vegan. 2 years later and I am was terrible shape. I have thyroid issues, weight gain, migraines to name just a few. I ate a very balanced whole foods plant based diet. I even tried supplements. I begin rethinking this way of life. Meet an older couple who live a few doors down who are BOTH wheelchair bound with endless medical dramas I mentioned my issues and found out they were vegan also! I feel like this is proof that the same diet doesn’t work for everyone. After deciding to add in some more traditional aspects back into my diet I literally feel like I am alive again. My body is slowly going back to normal. I would never have dreamed I would be in this position. Listen to your own bodies.

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Maria October 19, 2012 at 12:26 am

As someone who is trying to be a vegan, I find that there are more to eat than just the typical chicken, pork, and beef. In my journey, I found some fruits I’ve never seen or tried, which is fun because my curiosity wants to find out how it tastes. I find that I eliminate more :) and feel so good afterwards.

For people who have negative side effects when going vegan in the beginning, perhaps the reason why is because your body is feeling the junk that you’ve been feeding it after all these years as your body is trying to eliminate them while being cleansed. If you give your body more time to heal/cleanse, maybe you won’t feel the negative side effects anymore.

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Razza October 22, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hey handsome!
I would like to support your writings and experiences with going vegan. My children and I went vegan only just last week, we were vegetarians before that…
I am a psychology student and have just finished a philosophy paper, which, showed me how to critically think for myself instead of swallowing all the lies we are told about “must drink milk” and “must eat meat” in order to survive.
WOw! I have to say I feel lighter and my muscles are experiencing interesting physiological reactions which are hard to describe, maybe, lighter, more energy more electrical charge through atoms, NO parasites from meat (brain worm included).
We (everyone contesting) only need do a small amount of research to find out the truth about our bodies and its requirements.
Plato, Da Vinci, Rousseau, Franklin, Einstein – worth the read.
“He who does not value life does not deserve it.” Da Vinci.
life is good
Razza (New Zealand)

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Tiffany November 11, 2012 at 7:44 am

This, your log, and your 7 reasons post have inspired me to give this a go and find rational solutions to my concerns, including cheese being my favourite food and the fear of commitment. I like the comment about 95% still being an A+. I’m still worried about getting anaemic like when I was a vegetarian teen and about eating too many carbs and processed foods but I should still try it and figure it out. Have been uncomfortable with animal products since childhood, time to do something different! Really like your website :)

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Dacesita November 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Interesting. I have gone sort of vegetarian since I live in USA because I can’t buy only organic everything, especially meat, wild game and raw milk, and milk products made of raw milk.
I don’t have a problem with vegan or vegetarian foods and in NYC you can find great restaurants serving vegetarian or vegan foods.
In all you said you had to mention that you gotta eat 100% organic, especially soy. Because in USA “conventional” means 75% GMO+chemicals that are not permitted to be used in other countries. And over 90% of soy is GMO.
Anyways, what about all positive aspects of raw milk, for example? Not the milk you can buy in US of A grocery stores. I mean, fresh milk from a grass fed cow? I had the privilege to spend several months each year on a self producing organic farm back in my home country. If you, like 99% of Americans haven’t lived, worked and learned about food on an organic farm and eaten fresh produce, milk and meat from it, you haven’t even tasted real food yet. All my relatives for generations lived there and eat meat and milk and died in their sleep from old age without being sick.
Bottom line: I do appreciate the opportunity to try all kinds of vegetables and new recipes, but as soon as I can afford, I am returning to my meat and milk product habits.
Besides that I must note that I’ve got an over two week long ongoing on and off diarrhea which I assume is from radically changing my diet.

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Cheryl November 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Just found this while searching vegan recipes. I’ve read through the comments and have to agree with the guy who said it is NOT psychosomatic. It isn’t. I am an obese woman. I went plant based diet, it is a vegan diet but not lifestyle so I call it plant based, back in June. I did Dr Barnard’s 21 day plan and was excited and looking forward to the end of the 3 weeks when I could have cheese again. I threw up. I only had a little on (my new favorite!) alfalfa sprout, tomato, spinach sandwich with a little raw cashew butter. Just one slice of the fake individually wrapped cheese. ugh. I couldnt believe it. So the next morning, I got my latte without soymilk. I barely made it to the starbucks ladies room. I felt nauseous for a few hours afterward. So face it doubters, the physiological reaction is real. It happens whether a person is thinking it is wrong, or right, like I was. That was my last animal stuff. And by the way, I’ve lost 48lbs since then. I noticed after a few weeks my elbows were smooth. I noticed after the first three days that I had a ton of energy. I go for walks now, not because I feel obligated to lose weight but because I’m bored, antsy and need something to do! And outside is gorgeous! and fun! yay plants!

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Marie November 30, 2012 at 12:55 am

David,
I commend you on your manners in addressing some of these replies. I would not be able to be so polite. If only people read more about nutrition and physiology I think most of these posts wouldn’t exist. I appreciate your article and blogging your experience. If more people would just give a balanced vegan diet a chance, the environment, the animals, and their health would benefit greatly.

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Maya December 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I am not vegan, nor am I a vegetarian, but I do eat healthy. I try to make my diet consist of mostly greens, vegetables, and some fruit. And then a bit of meat during the week. I agree with the whole “healthy is expensive, but that’s not a reason to not do it,” idea. I’m a poor, broke college kid, but I refuse to allow that to be the reason I am unhealthy. If you want it, you will make it work.
Now, the thing that I don’t as much agree with- your experiment with eating meat again. It sounds like it was less of “see how my physical body responded” and moreso, your psychological self made you feel guilty and wrong and as a result you felt sick. I would say that wasnt a valid conclusion for your experiment. It would be interesting to set aside thoughts and only focus purely on how your actual *body* responds; are you feeling more energetic? Did you introduce cooked meats SLOWLY and still have a bad reaction (you cannot introduce cooked meats in quickly and expect it to go well)? I feel that would me a more legit, valid experiment to conduct.

More science, less guilty psychological talk.

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D von Wilt December 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

This is such a well written article, very clear, reader-friendly and absolutely interesting. Kudos for you, my friend. :)

I have been a vegetarian for 8 years and decided to go vegan about a month ago. I also don’t feel any craving for “real” cheese and dairy. I am also lactose intolerant, so i was half-way there anyway (i’d only eat yellow cheese and butter). Also the vegan cafés in Berlin make amazingly delicious cakes… so, i’m not really missing out on anything i just have my possibilities of eating out reduced. And i noticed the same queasiness when i eat something non-vegan in restaurants and it makes no sense to pay money to feel nausea the rest of the day.

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Mike December 20, 2012 at 1:28 am

An interesting biological factor that affects your ability to give up cheese is that some of us have small addictions to it!

“The primary protein in milk is casein. When the human body digests casein, it produces casomorphins, which have an opiate-like effect on humans. Because cheese is denser than, for example, milk, the casein is more heavily concentrated, meaning that eating cheese produces a larger amount of casomorphins in the body compared to eating other dairy products.”…casomorphins… have about one-tenth the opiate strength of morphine.

http://dsc.discovery.com/life/is-cheese-addictive.html

http://newsone.com/1540825/top-7-addicting-foods/

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Anna December 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm

So, what’s your diet look like now?

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David December 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

All the food I make is vegan. At restaurants I will usually order vegetarian unless there is a decent vegan option. I do not want to support bad vegan food. It does more harm than good. When I am a guest I will eat what is offered to me. I don’t want anyone to make something special for me.

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Harmony December 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm

It’s ironic, we eat cows, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits… etc etc….and these are all herbivores (the exception of pigs which are omnivores).

These are the true vegans of all life, yet here we are taking advantage of their incredibly efficient ability to turn solely plants into a meat carcase.

If they were carnivores would they eat us? I don’t know. For survival they might, as this is the nature of life.

But as said many times, humans being the more ‘intelligent’ species of life, we are above basic survival instinct. We ALL know, humans can survive without animal products. It is not NECESSARY for our survival to consume animal products. Eating animal products is an indulgence (Western World).

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Roczanne December 30, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I am so glad to have found this article. My main problem with veganism was the same: it seemed too difficult, but it is nice to see a personal account saying it’s not so bad. I wil be switching to a vegan diet, mostly because I have researched the terrible consequences that eating meat and animal products have on your body. So many diseases can be prevented from eliminating these foods and leading a plant-based lifestyle. Let food be thy medicine!

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Joell January 3, 2013 at 9:14 am

Just wanted to say, you are a very talented writer. You often write how you speak, so you sound like you think and reason in a similar way to me. I’m a young guy browsing around for healthy food alternatives as my x-girlfriend was always badgering on about it, and I just condescendingly dismissed her concern; but its a new year and I’m pretty sure that I’m about 30% as health inside as I could be, although I look very healthy on the outside. Thanks for the post, you’ve persuaded me to go vegan, at least for a month.
Well Done

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proeepher January 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm

So I’m not a big dairy eater… I always loved chocolate milk though. After about 2 years of not having any dairy (I order everything without cheese) I bought a gallon of chocolate milk. I ended up drinking the entire gallon in a day because I missed it so much.

I just wanted to say I had absolutely no problem digesting it even after 2 years of no dairy. :) And yes I literally drank the whole thing over about 6 hours.

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Stacey January 18, 2013 at 9:35 pm

You must have a gut made of steel haha, I think that might make anyone sick ;) I was an extremely healthy eating vegan for a year and ate a slice of cheese pizza which made me quite sick to spare the details. I wonder though if it’s more that it was a greasy cheesy mess going into the body of a clean healthy vegan, or all in my head. I’m not easily grossed out by things, so it did not feel as though it was my mind making my body sick. I believe it was just a shock to the body from all the wonderful things that go into cheese pizza (sarcastic).

I have been vegetarian for 12 years and have never felt healthier than when I went vegan (I’ve gone back and forth between vegetarian and vegan within the 12 years).

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Dane January 4, 2013 at 7:17 am

I’m a 44 year old man living with high cholesterol for over twenty years. My weight has always been under control and I’m very physically active, so it’s been frustrating living with a condition that isn’t for “people like me”. I know it may be genetic, but I wondered what if I eliminated all animal products from my diet. I don’t know any vegans, did no research, and am in the middle of a 30-day experiment. Not only did I give up animal food, I am also staying away from processed and packaged foods, so even tofu is off the list. Besides the health and environmental reasons reasons, I started my experiment because I couldn’t answer several moral and ethical questions about food. Do any other species drink the milk of other animals? Is it cool to eat the egg of another animal? Why do we farm animals instead of hunting or fishing only when we need meat? Is it cool to steal the honey from bees when they make it as way of storing food? It’s amazing that I don’t miss my old foods. Besides two old sticks of butter in my refrigerator, there is no animal food in my house.

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Sunshine January 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hi. This is an old article but I want to respond regarding the taste of dairy after not having it after a while.

I have been vegan (well mostly like 99%) for a long time. I do not drink cows milk or cream…well almost never. One day I was at my favorite tea place and they were out of soy milk, my favorite creamer for tea. Since I hate my tea without creamer I thought I’d do half and half just this once. I didn’t feel any “guilt” because it was only a little bit.

When I tasted it I honestly did not like it at all. It wasn’t the deliciouis half and half that I remember. It actually ruined the taste of the tea! I didn’t want to drink it at all.

It was then that I realized not only do I not want to take in dairy for ethical and health reasons (heavy, clogs you up, etc) but I can honestly say, that compared to all the plant based milks out there, it was not tasty at all. And I realized I didn’t like it all.

So I don’t think it was a mind thing for you, I think it could be very well a change in taste buds which does happen on vegan diet.

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Linda January 14, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I am so excited about being a vegan I actually thought I was dying I felt so bad everytime I went to the doctor they could not find anything wrong with me I just want to shout it out through the roof an let people know that you can change the way you feel anyone that thinks that it is not true simply have not tried it you can reverse dieases for all you nay sayers just try it I finally got my life back HOORAY!!!!!!

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Gemma January 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I went Vegan for a month a while ago and had a similar experience to dairy as you did. The first couple of times I ate it I actually threw up, but after a while the reaction stopped altogether, thinking about it now I am not sure why I kept eating it, but I think it had alot to do with the fact that I was eating out alot at the time and like you pointed out, Vegan wasnt an option. Based on that I have made a point to keep as much dairy out of my life as possible.
Interestingly I didn’t have the same reaction to my reintroduction to meat, but I know that I never really craved it while I was eating Vegan.
It was suggested to me at one point by my boyfriend that I wast getting enough protein (I exercise alot) for muscle recovery , and then I discovered that animal products are the only foods that (naturally) contain B12 so I jumped back on the meat eating train and maybe overdid the protein thing as a result.
I am currently trying vegan out again and am enjoying it. The ethical side of it is a bit of a brain teaser for me as I agree that eating meat isnt “wrong” and is actually what we are designed to do, but the way we treat the animals is abhorent. At the moment I am not really sure where to go from here.

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Bonnie Nisbet January 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I have been vegan for one month now. 100%. I noticed an immediate difference in how I felt mentally and physically. I have way more energy and so many health issues have dissappeared! I am now off of my lung steriod (was on it for many years), and the antihistamine I have taken every day for years I have not needed to take anymore. I used to think it was a dairy allergy and tried giving up just dairy (sometimes for 6 months +) however my symptoms were still present (though not as severe). I didn’t plan to become vegan but noticed one day when I had only eated veggies that I didn’t break out into hives as I had every other day. I also had no bloating or wheezing. I have been to allergists enough times to know I do not have lactose intollerance nor a dairy allergy. For me I have never felt better and it has been a pleasure to eat a variety of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts etc. I feel awesome and feel as if my body is saying “finally!”. I also recommend reading the Thrive Diet book as it has helped me with this transition and I make the Vega smoothies every morning to start my day. Thanks for your article – it was a pleasure to read!

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Dylan January 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for sharing, I have been vegan for the last 3 months, and have noticed all the same things that you have. I would just like to add that i lost 3 stone going vegan, and feel the best i have ever felt, a friend how also lost 3 stone swore by her diet, which was meat based. The thing was that both of us totally believes in our diet, so i asked her some simple questions, the main one was, do you have lots of energy all day, then do you feel mentally stable, and are you getting colds and ill alot? To all the questions it was a negative reply, where as i am not getting colds, mentally my depression has gone, panic attacks gone, no 3 o’clock shut down! This she could not argue with, so she tried, and was amazed as how great she feels, surely that’s the only thing that we are really after here, feeling amazing, and i have tried many diets over the years, and this one fits! i think its much more the natural way for us all.

I fined it easy to say no to every thing that i though i loved before – food wise – as i feel the best i ever have, and am much stronger, even though i have not done any exercise!

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Connie January 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I wanted to comment about the reaction of others/marginalizing. I have been obese my entire life until 4 years ago when I changed my diet completely. I follow a regime of types and amounts of foods I eat. For me, this is the only thing that has workled to lose 140 pounds and maintain the perfect weight I have become. What was shocking for me was the reaction of those around me, both family and friends, acquantances and strangers. They seem to feel no pause in commenting about my plan, my food, my body, my weight. Many people seemed defensive about their own diet/weight, some stopped socializing with me, many told me I was anorexic (even thought they could see I ate a lot of food regularly throughout the day) some seemed convinced I would get sick, some pushed food on me constantly (you can have one brownie, have some of this it is really good, can’t you EVER have sugar again? etc.)
What I came to realize is that one’s food is one of the most powerful things in a person’s life and trying to change it threatens or makes others truly uncomfortable. It truly seems we live in a food addicted society. This is worth exploring further, I think. I have never felt or looked better or have been less depressed. (I am in my 60′s)

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Melissa February 14, 2013 at 3:56 am

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I just went vegan a week ago and also feel such a difference already. I have more energy all throughout the day. No need for coffee and I don’t get that afternoon crash anymore. I do drink green tea still though. I even feel like my skin is getting better. I am taking more vitamins now though so that could be it. The only thing is I’m now getting a cold (which is rare for me). Do you think this is related? It seems so strange since I’m eating more veggies and fruits and more vitamin c caplets now….

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Lisa February 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Wow. This was a really great read. I’ve been vegan for 6 weeks now and I totally agree with everything. I feel better. I feel lighter. I did eat a slice of pizza just as an experiment and I felt the same way–it tasted “dirty”. I am a professional cook so I was all about bacon/eggs/butter/meat/cheese but after 6 weeks I can’t see eating that way again.

As far as the ethics thing goes…I had read something once that asked the question: If you had to kill something yourself with your hands and skin it, gut it, butcher it, prepare it–could you? I realize that many people hunt, and I have a respect for that, but I personally could not end an animal’s life and then eat it’s flesh. Not if I had a choice. Well, I DO have a choice. And it’s really hypocritical for me to buy my meat on a styrofoam tray on a maxi-pad. By doing that, it’s letting others do the dirty work for you and it just doesn’t make sense for me anymore. Everyone’s reason’s are different though….

Again, great read!

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Destination Infinity February 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm

In our region, a lot of people follow vegetarian lifestyle, by birth. People have sustained for centuries without eating meat. At this point, I do have the choice to stick to the vegetarian food-habit or change. But I chose the former because being vegan has a lot of health benefits. Also, we have an excellent variety of vegetarian foods here. This factor helps a lot! I too hope that more people would shift to vegan lifestyles for the health benefits offered by this lifestyle.

Destination Infinity

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Elizabeth February 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Great article! Found this today while doing some of my own research on a vegan lifestyle. I tried before, but failed after 3 days, because FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, NO CHEESE?????????????? lol

I gradually have cut out all processed foods and have been eating paleo, but still feel weighed down. I am committing to 30 days of vegan starting Monday, so I found your blog to be very reaffirming to move forward w/my decision. Plus, you’re a good writer, so thanks for not being boring!

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Hallbe February 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Wow! So well put. And you mirror my experience thus far. I’m just two weeks in and have found it very easy and quite invigorating. And, yes…all the same kind of reactions from people! It definitely feels like something I could do on a permanent basis! Loving the energy and freedom from digestion issues.

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amy February 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm

i’m 100% vegan for 13 years and vegetarian 36 years. THE BEST WAY one can stay 100% vegan is to choose vegan because of animal cruelty. If you’re only doing it for health or the ecosystem, you might cave. But when you fully accept the fact that animals (even ones who aren’t yet being slaughtered) suffer for your food, you can stay vegan.

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Lynda February 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm

This is an interesting article that is explains why we have all said “I just can’t give up cheese.” Very interesting

Dr. Jenna Taylor: Addiction to Cheese is Real Thanks to Casomorphins
http://www.yumuniverse.com
Casomorphins are protein fragments from the digestion of Casein—milk protein. Casomorphins have an opioid effect—resulting in addiction to cheese.
Like · · Share · February 22 at 10:03pm ·

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Michelle February 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

I’m sorry but I found while the effects of vegan are good short-term, there are long-term health risks involved in eating like an herbivore. The human digestive system is not meant to digest plants only, it needs some animal protein in it, not plant protein, completely different. Humans are not cows, our digestive system is not that of a cow, and our teeth are not anywhere close to a cow’s in any way. Humans should be eating the same things as pigs, that is the closest in comparison to any animal you will ever get to a human in digestive and internal physiology.

Eating vegan for a short time to cleanse the body is wonderful, but after that any bad reactions to animal products is one of two things:
1 your body type can’t handle that much animal protein and you should only consume small amounts
or
2 it’s in the person’s head… simple as that.

Does anyone even graduate high school anymore? Humans are OMNIVORES, so depriving oneself of animal protein for “moral”, “ethical”, or “health” reasons needs a serious reality check, it can be dangerous and does in fact cause long term health effects that are negative. Vegans need to seriously wake up and study the human body. All the supplements from the store to compensate for lack of lysine or other vitamins, most of them come from animals, so why not go natural and just eat non-processed meats instead. Go buy a chicken and have at-home eggs.

I’m sorry I am sick of seeing vegans pushing this garbage around because they THINK they are healthier, yes they feel better because they removed the bad stuff, but no they are not healthy, because humans still need meat or other animal proteins in their diet. Until they form the digestive system of a cow or horse, they should eat the same diet as pigs, because that’s the kind of digestive system we have.

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Johnny March 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I went vegan not by choice but because of a lack of money. Two weeks, just eating starches and fruits, etc… I suffered from anxiety, dizziness, lightheaded, I had no energy. I was depressed. I could barely run up stairs and do basic things like wash the dishes. I had difficulty breathing, and suffered from shallow breathing, rapid heartbeat, etc.

The minute I added some animal protein to my diet (chicken and turkey mainly), I mean within hours, my mood improved, the anxiety left, my heart rate returned to normal. I no longer suffered from dizziness, my breathing normalized, and I felt like myself again. I know some will say my symptoms are related to a iron or b12 deficiency but I was supplementing these vitamins while on this ‘diet’ and they only did so much. They never relieved my symptoms fully, no matter how often I took them.

I believe some people are just genetically disposed to eating meat and they need it to survive, and some people can make those adjustments with fruits, etc and not feel any side effects.

But for me personally? I suffered many side effects that were only alleviated after consumption of meat. (No Red Meat though lol)

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Kelly March 1, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I feel like you could be me! I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog today. This is such a great article. It’s exactly how I felt too. I don’t have violent reactions to a little diary now and then (sometimes it’s impossible when eating out NOT to have something with cheese or butter *sigh*) but even the thought of meat makes me feel a bit sick, and yeah, when I’ve tried it again, it felt like I was eating something dirty.

Also, as soon as I went fully vegan, all my allergies disappeared! Along with the feeling stronger and more alert and the added bonus of dropping a few of those lbs I put on whilst in the process of moving countries. x

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Lord Plopington March 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm

A lot of people experience a detox phase while their body is getting used to vegan food. It’s high nutrient generally and lacks the decay factor of animal food. After a short while it becomes very apparent the difference in freshness of plant food vs. animal. You’re taste buds change and fresh milk will just taste sour and gross.

But there is a detox phase, not to be confused with a simple lack in animal protein. It’s your body finally getting a chance to get rid of that decayed meat left overs in your cells.

It’s a common reaction to anyone switching to a more plant based diet.

More so in the raw foods groups, but for me as an ex-smoker and lover of meats and cheese, switching to vegan has given me some reasonable detox symptoms of feeling a bit run down and moody – - but I’ve been vegan before and eventually you feel much better.

Water, rest, workouts…it’s like a cold, you get over it.

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Bella March 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Going to start my vegan diet soon. Unfortunately, I have been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and I was reading a lot online and how a vegan diet can help with reduced symptoms and such. I’m honestly just sick of all the disgusting food that is being sold nowadays. For the love of God, everything in the market has aspartame… which is incredible TERRIBLE for you. Excited to start, hope the process goes smooth!

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HumanVegetable March 9, 2013 at 6:33 am

You are a sweetheart for writing what you did about the savage treatment of *food* animals. I feel less crazy for my decision (after 60 years of being a meat eater with not a care in the world) to eat a plant based diet. My adult children both looked at me when I said part of my decision was my learning about factory farming and the inhumane manner in which the defenseless animals are treated.Having been a fabulous cook of many prime ribs…hams…roast turkeys…fried chicken etc.etc.etc. of course my kids thought senility had hit me. I explained to them that to me I realized that eating meat is not a necessity there are too many plant options for me to eat. I quit almost 11 weeks ago….right after I paid $65.00 for a huge prime rib roast that I prepared and fed to a group of hungry men with all the fixings to go with it. So for me part of my decision was seeing a documentary showing the *humane* annihilation of a cow/cattle who was pulled into a small 4×5 foot area and injected into his skull twice with some *humane* substance.That poor cow was terrified and ducking…whimpering cringing AND did not die humanely or quickly.I saw him suffer…I cried like a fucking baby who had lost her mommy and have never eaten animal products since…nor will I.Fortunately for me I have always loved all foods.Not just meats…fish..poultry. I am a fabulous cook so I can substitute mushrooms…egg plant tofu for many dishes that I previously loaded with meat. I eat tons of fresh mixed green salads..fresh fruits…..veggie burgers….rice…..pasta with raw minced garlic grape tomatoes oregano olive oil. I make delicious stir fried cabbage served with steamed pearl rice…..stuffed cabbage rolls…stuffed bell peppers with tomato sauce and raisins. Lucky I have been cooking for 50 years and I like eating good foods so this works for me. I am getting ready to start my container gardens….hoping to grow zucchini….tomatoes….herbs….peppers…lettuces and a few other goodies. Perhaps it is psychological but my digestion seems almost perfect now. I do become repulsed by people consuming meat around me and if my kids are here to stay for a visit I prefer they do not prepare or eat meats here. This is just about me and what I experienced after being a huge meat/dairy eater for 60 years (since 6 months of age)and what out of the blue hit me like a hammer over the head about my inability to continue doing so.The stuff repulses me.I associate it with defenseless animals suffering needlessly and I can not contribute to that in any way at this point.Some may ask if I were starving and all I could procure was meat would I eat it? Good question but who knows? I hope I can continue getting good information and learn about the experience of other folks on this site.

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Lianne pierce March 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I’ve thought long and hard about these animals that we should eat or not eat. I believe the cows and chickens that we eat today have no resemblance to the cows and chickens God intended us to eat several thousand years ago. I’m going to try and give it the 30 days. The books that I found useful software to help me get started our forks over knives and all the things from that group in those doctors and there are extensive studies with those two doctors. Of course the China study is the most famous one.

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nutritionista March 26, 2013 at 5:43 am

I am a Registered dietitian, and I have counceled many individuals following many different types of diets. I respect the vegan lifestyle and looking througout history and modern times, the evidence is clear that plant based diets lead to lower rates of certain chronic diseases. I enjoyed reading about your experience. I wonder if perhaps people get so hostile with your choices because on a subconscious level they feel guilty for their own choices. If we can persuade others to join us it makes us feel better about ourselves. I applaud your efforts, and even if you don’t stick with it in the long run hopefully you’ll at least have adopted the habit of high eating amounts of plant foods. Not only do your benefit your own health, but you are unknowingly benefiting the planet as well. :-). (No, I’m not vegan-i am my own version of science and conscientious eating)

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Kenda April 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I grew up vegan, but when my mom remarried an omnivore, we eventually started eating meat and dairy. I recently did a similar experiment. My husband and I pledged to go vegan for 2 weeks as a new year’s resolution. After 2 weeks, I said “let’s do 2 more”. I haven’t looked back since. I was having some really scary gastrointestinal issues (I’m high risk for Chrohn’s disease), persistent weight gain, and extreme sluggishness. Going vegan made me feel better than I have in so long. I forgot what it was like to not feel terrible all the time. I occasionally have some meat or dairy, but every time I wish I hadn’t, and those pesky gastrointestinal issues pop up again immediately. It takes time and effort to plan a balanced vegan diet, but I can’t think of a more worthwhile investment of your time. My husband still eats some meat, but even he admits that he feels much better now that he has cut down on meat, and introduced nut milks and coconut milk into his diet instead of cow’s milk. The other upside… I eat all that I want until I’m totally full, and I keep losing weight. It’s a great feeling.

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Grimm April 15, 2013 at 10:19 am

Stumbled upon this article years after the fact.

That heavy feeling you were getting was the fats coating the lining of your arteries interrupting the endothelial nitrix oxide synthesis.

Nitric oxide causes the arteries to expand when prompted to due to the heart’s immediate need for oxygen. Plaque filled arteries don’t get that message, they don’t expand, there is no increased blood supply, you feel sluggish, later in life as the disease progresses, your heart starts to hurt..angina.

Folks that maintain an all plant based diet have squeaky clean arteries. Not preaching here, but expect a huge increase in heart disease related deaths over the next few decades as the baby boomers, that self absorbing generation that wanted it all, pays the reaper for their excess.

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Melanie April 16, 2013 at 12:51 am

Thank you for this article!
I’ve been vegan for 30 days with similar positive results and I’m glad to see that I’m not alone!
I also appreciate the person somewhere up there in the comments that brought up blood type and diet. I am thriving on a vegan diet, but my husband is really struggling with exhaustion. I guess back to the drawing boards for him to see if basing diet on blood type is key!

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Andrea April 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm

You just cut 10 years off your life, and will get very sick after awhile. It feels good now for awhile. Even the Dali Lama agrees this is not healthy and he should know.

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David April 30, 2013 at 5:51 am

I was vegan for 6 months, but I had the opposite reaction. It made me irritable and hungry all the time. And I found it hard. Everyday was a goal to eat enough calories. It’s good for weight loss, but for me, I wanted to maintain my weight. But I just kept eating and eating but losing weight. It seemed my day revolved around just eating. When I went back to meat, I was just happier. There’s something magical about meat that when you eat it, it just leaves you satiated and crave-free for the rest of the day. Just a piece of steak or a couple of eggs and eating seems less like a part of life rather than a difficult daily goal.

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the smtp2go review May 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm

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seadiayrs May 6, 2013 at 4:43 am

Thanks! Great article. I am a vegetarian and I am now seriously considering the transition to vegan. Your experience makes veganism seem so much closer to being within my grasp.

It is great to hear so many other people’s views about the desire to be healthy and live your values.

My one request… is it possible to reorder comments so that the most recent comments are at the top? Currently, you have to read through two years of comments to even be able to read what people now in 2013 are saying/reading/thinking. Then after 2013 the comments go back to 2011?

Still … great article and great comments that inspire more analytical thinking about one of life’s most basic functions – eating! and everyone takes eating and even health for granted too often.

-thanks for sharing!

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Adam May 6, 2013 at 7:48 am

I am a guy who would love going 100% vegan or vegetarian, I couldn’t care less. If I did I would however complement with meat whenever my well-being found it necessary, but I am not enjoiyng the meat-dominated diet that I and I guess most people have. I don’t have a problem with anyone eating meat, I just feel a little better when I don’t.

Anyway I want to comment on your article. When you “tried” having non-vegetarian/vegan food after the 30 days, its not like you had high-quality organic/grass fed meat. If anyone was vegan for 30 days and went do McDonalds they feel awful.

So to me; I can’t take this work objectively because it felt like you had previously made up your mind.

I am searching for the truth, so I must unfortunately move on and continue searching. Thanks anyway!

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Anna May 8, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I have been vegan for 40 days now and I so far my experience has been the same as yours. It feels right.
Some of the readers here have pointed out that the reaction to Milk in coffee was all your head not in your system. let me share a small experience I had at day 29. I had a blood screen done early in the morning and had to do some grocery shopping on the way back. the supermarket was still closed so I decided to have a cappuccino while I wait. I figured a small sin want do any harm, I mean how much milk can be in there right?
What a huge mistake, I barely made it home before I puked my guts out, it continued with cramps and diarrhea. I felt sick for the rest of the day. None of that was in my head. I had not even considered the spoon full of milk int hat cappuccino to be a factor and yet it was as if I have drunk poison. My choice is made, I am staying vegan.

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Amanda May 13, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I really enjoyed this article. You recorded your experience very well and inspired me; someone who has been thinking about trying out vegan-ism. Thank you.

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Ted May 30, 2013 at 10:27 pm

According to an article by lawrence wilson…

“An interesting and unusual symptom of intestinal problems is feeling better on a vegetarian diet. I have encountered this many times in clients. The client finds that eliminating all animal products results in less bloating, less gas, and often a feeling of well being the person has not experienced in years.
Most people then assume that a vegetarian diet is best for them, and that meat, eggs and/or dairy are harmful foods that just cause bloating, gas, mucus and so on. This is not the truth, but it sure seems to be the truth for them. Let us explore why this occurs.
When the intestinal flora contains some E. coli organisms, in particular, and one eats a concentrated protein food such as meat, eggs or cheese, perhaps, it literally feeds the E. coli organisms. As a result, they multiply. However, they do not digest the protein, but rather they cause the protein food to putrefy or rot. That is, they are involved in a different chemical process than digestion.
Digestion is specific chemical process that break the food apart into its components. It requires very specific enzymes and intestinal flora to accomplish this difficult task. When the flora is incorrect, digestion does not occur to a great enough extent. Instead, the E. coli convert the protein into very toxic substances such as indoles, skatole, cadaverine and other substances. This is called rotting or putrefaction.
When a food rots in the intestines, the harmful chemicals that are produced poison the body and often directly or indirectly cause gas, bloating, food sensitivities, weakness, headaches, depression and many other symptoms.
One answer for putrefaction in the intestines is to stop eating concentrated proteins such as meats and eggs. The odors and bloating go away and one believes that a vegetarian diet is the answer. However, we find repeatedly that vegetarian diets are not the real answer. It is a deficient diet, no matter what anyone claims, and it is too yin. Eventually, health suffers and restoring health after one has been a vegetarian for years is not easy. The real answer is not a vegetarian diet, but rather to correct one’s flora. When this is done, most people have no problem at all digesting meats, eggs and most quality dairy products.” So i agree that it is likely less of a problem with the placebo effect as it may simply be a flora issue…

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gardening June 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Many thanks for providing this info.

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Lauren June 11, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Hi, this is going to be long, I’m sorry.
I just wanted to say that I’ve been mostly vegan since I watched Vegucated in January. When I announced my decision on facebook (not that I needed the recognition, I had a bunch of parties coming up and felt it important that I not show up like “Surprise! I’m vegan now and I can’t eat any of this food you’ve made for me!”) a vegan friend of mine told me not to ever restrict yourself too much. She said “A little mistaken butter on your veggies from time to time is not the end of the world.” And I agree. I feel that if you restrict yourself too much veganism stops being fun. And it should be. Food should always be fun. And so far, it’s been a blast.
That was 6 months ago. I have to admit when I first started it was because of the emotional reaction to the video. But then I got to reading about it. The more I read, the more logical a plant based diet was to me.
The transition was easy. I hate being wastefull so as I finished the food that was already in my fridge I replaced it with vegan food (which I found out that all the grocery stores in the area are abundant in, if you only know where to look). I still have a leather coat, but I see no point in throwing away the money I spent on it as it’s been mine for years. I don’t buy silk or wool because I’m allergic to both so I didn’t have to “give up” either of those. I was looking forward to doing some good in the world and losing some weight too.
But then something totally unexpected happened. I felt happy. I had no idea how unhappy I’d been. I was by no means depressed before, but suddenly any insecurities I’d been carrying with me all my life lifted off my shoulders. I feel light and clear and (I’ll repeat myself just one more time) happy! It makes me wonder why I’d never tried this before. I have lost some weight but body image just isn’t as much of a concern any more.
My boyfriend has been very supportive, the only thing he said when I told him I was going to be vegan was “But… bacon?”, I said I didn’t want bacon anymore and he hasn’t said a word about it since. He now knows more about vegan cooking than I do and has lost a lot of weight from a mostly vegetarian diet. I didn’t make him do anything he didn’t want to, if he wants to eat meat he just has to buy it for himself. My mom and his mom have both used my veganism as an excuse to improve their own diets by keeping healthier vegan options in their houses. So it’s not only improving my life it’s improving the lives of those around me, and it makes me proud. Again, I’m sorry this was so long, but I’ve never had an outlet to tell my story to before. Most non-vegans are unreceptive and often become defensive when talking about veganism. Which is a shame because I’m not here to convert anyone, I just want to do good by me. This is still new to me, so I’m bursting with positive energy and happiness and want to share that feeling with the world! And yet I have no one to talk to.

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eryn June 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I started my vegan diet today but all I feel is dizziness, weak, and headaches. I did 20 pushups, sit-ups, and squats for 3 rounds. I was supposed to do some interval running for 15 minutes but I couldn’t because of all the things im going through right now. I substituted protein with peanut butter. the only reason im doing this diet is because my body is becoming very sensitive to what I eat. I asked my mother to get more things for me to eat since this is a family that loves their meat and wont give it up . so all I had was two pieces of toast with peanut butter on it, a plum, chips and salsa, and peanut butter apple jelly sandwich. tonight I was planning on just eating vegetables with some plain pasta while I also cook my family another dinner involving meat. this diet is not new to my family though because my 18 year old cousin (I call her my older sister) was a vegetarian but also did not have lactose intolerance like I have. which allowed me to call myself vegan. Maybe it will pay off in the long run

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Sara Elle Ogilvy June 14, 2013 at 4:28 am

I have been contemplating going vegan for a while now, but I’ve always brought myself back down again, telling myself things like “I can’t live without cheese” (I laughed when I read that). I recently changed my diet drastically, and the only animal products I ever ingest are yoghurt, cheese, honey and occasionally chicken. In other words, it shouldn’t be too hard. Thank you sir, you have just pushed me off the edge towards trying veganism for 30 days – I am certain I will commit to it fully when those 30 days are up!

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Berenice Weber June 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm

thank you for this wonderful post, very clear and explanatory. I always toyed with the idea of becoming vegetarian one day, vegan always seemed “too extreme” to me, and I was among the “I cannot quit cheese or yogurt in my case” people… yet, I am on my 4th month of veganism life and loving it!! I did it mostly for ethical and moral decision towards animals; I have done many diets in my life and I always quit, but this time, it’s been 4 months and I am not going back… I am a Mexican living in the USA, and I thought it would be hard to leave some foods behind, instead, as you said, I am actually expanding my horizon of dishes! I am eating tacos with vegetables and nutritional yeast sprinkled instead of cheese, and Asian, Indian, an even Italian twists of dishes but ALL VEGAN, I love my new vegan life… as much I like your post, Thank you!

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Maggie June 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I’ve been toying with the idea, but it looks like I would need to cook lots, give up the occasional gelato treat, and never eat precooked meals again because floppy cooked vegetables are IMO not edible. I also have an insanely strong aversions to black/refried beans. Just typing that made me feel grossed out.

And gelato. I don’t know if there are any vegan substitutes that are as creamy as gelato… Help?

(On the other hand, I like Asian foods, and I get the feeling that a lot of them can have good vegan options… Not the easiest to make, though…)

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healthy living June 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

That is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
Brief but very accurate information… Thanks for sharing this one.
A must read post!

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Theresa June 30, 2013 at 9:34 am

I decided to try veganism because of stiff joints, and I was afraid of strong arthritis meds. (No agenda or ideology other than my personal health.) It’s been two months and joints are slowly improving. I was completely surprised to wake up on day 3 with complete mental clarity and high levels of energy/endurance. Wasn’t expecting that at all. I’ve been using Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution and have been totally gastronomically satisfied. I didn’t try veganism to lose weight, but as it happens I did, so another surprising bonus. For those reasons I see no reason to return to my former way of eating.

Have since read a lot to make sure I was getting all the nutrients I needed. (big shout out to Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study…) Had full before and after blood work done, etc. Everything improved. Then last night I had pizza at a family party. I didn’t crave it, but that’s all there was. I felt 100% fine. Went to bed, but was rudely awoken by stomach pains and a throbbing wrist joint …

I read many posts on here that suggest negative reactions are psychosomatic. Since I went to bed happy and comfortable, and am motivated by health not ethics, I believe my body’s discomfort was authentic. Am now 100% convinced vegan meals are best for ME.

Good luck to all in finding what motivates you and works best for your unique needs.

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Li July 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

This post came at the right time for me, been veggie since I was 9 (just a gradual ‘this doesn’t feel right’ kind of thing). Have been messing about with veganism for a year and despite no dairy at home, I still find myself eating the odd bit of cheese on a pizza etc with the excuse ‘I couldn’t give it up completely’. I substituted the word couldn’t with wouldn’t and you’re right, all this time it’s been a choice. Thank you for the clarity.

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Ashley July 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm

I found your post while searching for vegan detox symptoms. I enjoyed reading about your experiment and all of the surprising bits about it. After eating like my boyfriend for a couple of weeks, I consumed so much meat that I got physically sick and stopped eating it purely to feel better. Then I did the whole, “I refuse to give up cheese!” I’m lactose intolerant, and thanks to these digestive advantage pills, I’ve been able to eat loads of it every day. But then, after eating less processed food I tried cheese and got a horrible aftertaste in my mouth, making me stop ingesting it all together.

I noticed something different. You said your grocery bills stayed around the same. I used to spend $80 a week on buying processed and pre-made gluten-free sugarless food, but now I can get a ton of food for $30, including a small splurge or two. Meat & cheese is incredibly expensive, even when buying the low quality Walmart brand, but you can get a 3lb bag of fresh red potatoes for $3.

Did you not experience any detox symptoms? My body has been going through spurts of re-experiencing every symptom I’ve ever felt in the past 2 years. Except this time my face broke out and my hair started falling out! Crazy. But meat makes me feel like crap so there’s no going back! I tried eating my favorite chips the other day and got a headache from how strong the flavor was… I’m doomed to eat healthy forever. haha!

Interesting experiment! Thanks for writing it. :)

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Agypsy July 8, 2013 at 6:23 am

Nice article! Here is a video that has me changing the way I eat. Not only is it about the mistreating of animals, but of humans as well. http://www.takepart.com/foodinc/film

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Teri August 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I agree with all of this. I found that by going vegan the spiritual dichotomy that I had been living with was gone and I feel so much more at peace. Before going Vegan I absolutely could not watch any animal movies. Old Yeller? Couldn’t do it. Marley and Me? Nope. I realized that as an animal lover, I had some underling emotions of guilt and not living by what I know to be right. Once I faced it (watching the videos about meat farming, reading the info no matter how heart breaking), then I found I could move on…I was really concerned about gaining weight, probably due to some misinformation about low carb diets. I am pleased to say that I actually lost weight and never felt better. My mental clarity is amazing. I wake up early without effort and have energy all day. Going to the bathroom is euphoric experience :) If someone would have told me 3 years ago I’d be Vegan I would have died laughing. Bless this article.

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Gary Ross September 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

l feel exactly how you do about everything you’ve have shared! Thank you for all your work and insight into this . l’ve been (as of late) feeling the urge to truly adopt a vegan diet. As I’ve been mostly vegan now for over 2 months I’ve noticed all the same benefits. And as a rock climber l’m elated by the energy levels & quality of the fuel I’m putting in my body. So what I’m feeling right now: I just finished a lunch of mixed baby greens, lentils w/ lime, cummin, Avocado, olive oil & sea salt….And a 1/4 chicken (wing & breast roasted). Now here is the catch: I know this piece of chicken was raised responsibly & not a factory farm product, but my conscience was pricked anyway. l can’t these days seem to separate animals that are and are not humanly treated. All I see is a obsenely Abused & exploited animal. So alot of soul searching is in order for me… a cheese loving, bbq raised American man who needs to make a final decision on the matter. It shouldn’t be tough with all the heart disease & other animal products related illnesses, but it does feel weighty. Can you relate?

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Anne Shumack September 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

I have been a vegetarian for many years, and recently decided I had a moral imperative to become vegan. I HAVE given up cheese although I do miss it.
When I am not a student of sustainability I have the glamorous task of smiling (actually I’m good at that), scanning and packing customers shopping. My aim is to give them a pleasant experience at the end of their marathon, not to complain about mine, and send them away with a smile on their face. Now, we in Australia sell the quickest meal – bbq chook (chicken). Every time this item passes under my nose I develop a craving for it. Finally, I ate some – in fact I ate quite a lot. I have been excessively tired, nauseous, funny in the tummy and although going to bed at an early hour (which I do when I’m not working) I cannot get out of bed in the morning. I feel I have poisoned myself. Anne

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joanne September 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I went vegan after reading dr joel fuhrmans nutritarian approach. Mainly to lose weight as I was eating chicken and veg all the time and not losing(60lbs overweight). My health numbers are great aside from the weight. I didn’t get any of the energy or other positive things since I was eating so clean anyway. The only positive was weightloss and didnt have to cook. Most of my veg is raw. My problem was not being able to eat enough. In six weeks I got 2 colds (in the summer) and noticed my hair starting to fall out. I recently bought vitamins but now I am scared to try again. Any ideas? I don’t do process products like tofu or tempeh.

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Kat September 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm

What about the fact that animals in the wild eat each other? Its part of the food chain and the way animals kill each other is far from humane. Nobody ever seems to say anything about that, though. Humans who eat meat are just other animals in the food chain and we have the carnivorous teeth. I don’t believe eating meat and dairy or other animal by-products is unhealthy. I think that humans these days are just so used to eating more processed foods. Some dairy farmers argue that we eat cheese that is so full of modified milk ingredients that when we get the real thing, our bodies simply cannot handle it leading us to believe we are lactose-intolerant. I think that blood type may have something to do with diet. I, for example, have tried many different diets and spoken to many different nutritionists, doctors, personal trainers, holistic practitioners, etc and have found that I feel best when I include lean proteins and vegetables in my diet. Why do people talk so much about other people’s diets? People should be able to eat what they enjoy. What I find strangest is when I find people who claim to be vegan or to eat very healthy and smoke or binge drink and believe me, many of those exist. Its really none of anyone else’s business how other people eat.

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Karen September 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

David, I loved your article. I became a vegan about 6 months ago. I too thought it would be hard, but it wasn’t. I am 58 years old and had a number of health issues including arthritis. All these health issues are gone! I too, deviated and tried some yogurt because I thought I needed the bacterial culture for health benefits. I didn’t feel guilty eating it, but immediately afterward my whole body ached in pain and I felt flu like symptoms. So it is not in your head. I immediately feel the results of eating “bad” food, too. I am sure it is similar to smoking a cigarette. The first time you feel really ill, then you become desensitized of the effects on your body. Once you quit smoking, that first cigarette will make you ill again. I no longer smoke… gave that up many years ago, but I still remember.

I began my veganism after watching a show called “Forks over Knives”. Now I’m reading “The China Study”. My favorite cookbook is “Everyday Happy Herbivore”. I feel fantastic and loving life. I’m so thankful for those who are educating us. I know I am going down a path less traveled, but it finally feels like the right one.

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Mark October 17, 2013 at 11:59 pm

You know, it’s funny. Someone will say, “I quit eating X and now I feel GREAT!” It’s always the same words. Sluggish, dirty, heavy vs. energized, light, clear/clarity. Then I try it. Nothing. No difference.

It’s funny to me to hear people talk about “good” or “bad” food. What is it that makes a food bad? What conditioning have you had that makes you feel that way? Why is a glass of milk “filthy” but a handful of kale “energizing and invigorating”?

I’m sad sometimes that I don’t feel this way. I’m amazed at people’s ability to deprive themselves or otherwise torture themselves (diet, marathoning, cleansing, etc.) and get a high out of it. Would you still feel that way if you couldn’t tell everyone about your decisions? Would it still be exciting if you didn’t get to make restaurants cater to your specific needs? Is that part of what makes you energized, and if so, why?

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Jennifer October 19, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I needed this!!!!!!! Perfect.

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rabbit October 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm

i turned “vegan” after watching Food, INC(im not an animal activist though),, 7 months “vegan” now(no meat, no milk, no cheese, no eggs at all) and tbh the day i decided i will stop eating meat was easy, the cravings was kind of annoying and hard though but i got through it! i think i had really really bad cravings for 1-1 1/2 months BUT i said to myself “its all in your head” until finally my cravings stopped and i got through it. sometimes its not that easy when im with my family eating outside. I also started educating(really important IMO) myself about how to eat properly and not get “deficiencies” on certain vits/minerals,
tbh being a plant eater is really fun and exciting, i dont always eat the same thing every week. i dont have to watch what i eat, i dont have to weight or portion the food. i love cooking and making new recipes(i costumize some ;] really fun!!). Never felt so much better..
I do take B12(nutritional yeast) though. i dont know if you call that a supplement.
i go outside 2-3 times(jog or go for a ride on my bike) for Vit D.
Pros:lots of energy, i sleep SOO much better at night, you never have to starve!
Cons:didnt start earlier, :)

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liliberth October 22, 2013 at 10:40 pm

i want to give thanks to the great doctor Lawrence who help me in getting back my ex-boyfriend i saw a testimony post by miss Kate from Spain about how the great doctor Lawrence had helped her, i decide to email him and to my greatest surprise my ex-boyfriend came back to me after three days of contacting him.i simply want to say thanks for what he had done for me and am so happy may he live long. if you have any problem just email him :drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com and you will not regret contacting him…

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Jamie Jenkins November 27, 2013 at 9:24 am

Happy to have found this post, really useful as I am trying out my own 21-day vegan experiment! So good to hear other people´s experiences.

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Fiona December 3, 2013 at 7:15 am

Hi David, thanks for this post. This is my third day as a vegan and, just as you did, I’m already noticing changes in my energy levels at this early stage. Everyday chores are getting done. No afternoon sluggishness. I feel mentally stronger. And, until I read your post I couldn’t quite describe it – but yes, I feel cleaner and clearer. There are a couple of vegan books on my wish list for Christmas, so I’m looking forward to continuing this journey in the New Year! Best wishes for 2014!

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Doug December 9, 2013 at 12:08 am

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jenna January 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I have been plant based vegan for almost 2 years. Took course at Cornell. I feel awful most of the time with stomach issues and constant obsession thinking about food. I have terrible problems with the beans and high fiber foods. I am finally adding back some fish and chicken and eggs even though I know thats not the healthiest way to go but I am tired of not feeling great on this, whole grain, beans veggies, fruit, nuts seeds diet that the plant based doctors all talk about. Bottom line is even if food is healthy, if you don’t feel good eating it or it causes stomach upsets, then stop eating it and find something else. Good luck.

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Kathy February 10, 2014 at 10:31 pm

This is a great post, one of the better ones I’ve seen about the experience of adopting a vegan diet. I have been 90-95% vegan for five months. Everything I cook is vegan but I am flexible when others cook for me. I echo the experience of “the world assumes you will consume animal products freely.” I really wish the food industry and restaurants would bring the same fervor to labeling the dairy content of their products as they do with the whole “gluten free” craze. Dairy is almost as prevalent of an allergen as wheat is for many people.

The primary reason I changed my diet was to eliminate dairy. The second was to fix a borderline high cholesterol reading in my blood work. Now that I look back, I had (almost unconsciously) been weeding out dairy out of my diet for years. I thought cheese would be a big deal to give up but to my surprise it wasn’t at all. Each day I pass on the big block of cheese in my refrigerator (I live in an omnivore household) with little thought. In fact my initial cravings were for meat which was a big surprise to me as I have never been a big meat eater. Like others that posted here, I did have some initial tiredness as well. Both of these were fixed by making sure there was good sources of protein in my diet daily. Many vegans tell you don’t need to worry about the protein, but I found that, for me at least, some focus was needed. I don’t hold much weight with the blood type diet theory, but I am type O (which is supposed to eat meat), maybe why I need the protein.

I’m happy with my diet, my skin is much better (I wish I had eliminated dairy years ago), my elimination system is working better, and as time goes, I have less and less desire to eat meat based products, especially as I discover new cool vegan recipes. Next month I’ll have my annual checkup and we will see if the cholesterol has come down.

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David Cain February 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I’d be interested to hear the effect on your cholesterol. If you think of it, and don’t mind sharing, please let us know.

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Brenda March 7, 2014 at 2:55 pm

I’m on day 3 of a vegan diet. I went a little extreme and also cut out most processed foods, sugars, sugar substitutes, deep fat fried foods, and coffee. I kept tea so I didn’t go through caffeine withdrawls. I feel great. My digestive system has been a little off, but not painfully so. Everything else feels great. I struggle with depression, but my mood has lifted the past few days. I’m not feeling nearly as tired at the end of a work week as I usually do. And I’m loving the food. Today, I had veggie stirfry with rice for lunch and black bean hummus with veggies and tortillas for a snack. I was vegetarian (lactoovo) in college but went back to meat gradually after graduating. I never tried the complete vegan thing. This was going to be just a 6 week experiment (aka lentan “fast”), but I’m not feeling deprived or hungry at all. I may just keep this diet after the 40 days are up.

I’ve never craved meat. Rarely cooked it for myself, but would eat it when I was out with friends.

How does one deal with the social thing…like going to someone’s house for a meal?

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Rox March 20, 2014 at 1:44 am

This is an awesome article, I love the way you write and engage your reader. Just something that is not easy for me to do. But anyway, I saw a video yesterday on how and it is for your body to consume meat that you can even get cancer from eating pork, beef and chicken. And Iam now seriously considering going vegan, like no animal by products at all, no meat, no dairy etc. I’m not crazy about meat, but I do have it everyday, a small portion at most. So I know that stopping it won’t be as hard, and I do like cow milk, and lost of cheeses. But also things that I can live without for a better lifestyle. I’m a young girl and I’m always tired and sluggish and my body is just blah. So I think if I change my eating habits like you mentioned, it might just help me out a bit. Anyway I’m just going on and on. Thanks for the great article, you have definitely inspired me to pursue a vegan lifestyle.

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Brooklyn March 25, 2014 at 4:53 am

I don’t think it’s necessarily his mind convincing him that he is ill from animal products… I recently turned vegan (4 mo ago) and I felt the same lightness. My digestive track has finally gotten to a good point after years of being all messed up. I have tried to eat meat/animal products and every time I feel sick 4 hours later. It’s hard for me to even eat chicken or fish because its consistency and taste. So bland in comparison now. I think most people commenting about how this is all mental have yet to become vegan and should try before they get all scientific on someone.. isn’t that the first rule of science? experimenting?

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Ash April 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Great article, I never tried a vegan diet but I did try a vegetarian diet for 2 weeks and from that alone I felt great, I woke up energized rather then sluggish, I didn’t have that afternoon tired feeling.

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MJ April 12, 2014 at 8:42 am

I appreciate your lessons learned. The responses are quite revealing about human nature, too.

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Patent Attorney April 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

Such an informative post, the fact that is made you feel better immediately makes it seem so tempting!

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Shanna Mann April 1, 2011 at 11:56 am

Hi J,

Thanks for pointing Salatin out. The problem with loca-centric producers is they’re hard to find outside of your one region.

I’d like to return favor for favor by pointing you toward Allan Savory of the Savory Institute. He’s developed a really interesting process for land management that we are in the process of implementing on our ranch. It should reduce grazing damage and simultaneously increase our grazing density, which is a very exciting development, allowing for ranchers to sustainably supply beef without having to finish them in feedlots.

The Savory Institute also has an ad at TED.com as a part of their Ads Worth Spreading initiative, where he explains very eloquently how it’s possible to reverse groundwater contamination, erosion and desertification, which more than anything else is gobbling up arable land.

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J April 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Wasn’t he doing some research about reversing desertification through intensive grazing in Africa? Or am I thinking of someone else?

Man, next time I’m blogging and want some hits I’m just going to start talking about veganism! Seems like there are no shortage of folks wanting to comment on many blogs about this topic. In earnest, though, I’m glad to see that the dialogue here has been diverse and constructive, albeit often off topic.

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Shanna Mann April 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Yeah, that’s him. He also did some work in the American Southwest. Basically the trick is to have cattle on the land for no longer than 1 month out of a year. The stress of getting cropped (once) encourages the forage to root deeper and leaf out more. The heavy animal density encourages the cattle to graze on all the plant material, not just the stuff that’s tastiest (which is what happens when you give them vast tracts of land to roam).

But the philosophy behind the tactics is particularly interesting and has implications for the global economical strategy.

Actually, this is the first thread on veganism I’ve seen that hasn’t devolved into a shouting match. But mebbe that’s cuz I’m not hanging out in the right places.

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Melissa April 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Buddy, you are talking about factory farms.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

It really can shift.

You can’t stamp out what happens in the wild. To do that you would have to cage all the animals and train them to be different than their nature.

Can a lion be vegan?!!??!?

You would have to torture the lion to make it vegan.

You guys must wake up….it must stop.

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Brian Kung April 18, 2011 at 12:17 am

Honestly, there are just too many variables to say with any certainty without large-scale research. Anyone making generalizations from anecdotal evidence should know that their experiences are completely and totally 100% valid…for the person in question.

That said, I am interested in seeing what a vegan diet does for me.

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WHY May 30, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Its like the plant rights activist groups who have “proven” plants feel pain and it is unjust to uproot them from their natural domains… so if were going to be rights activists here… “bee’s are being treated like honey slaves! this must stop!”, “plants are tortured for human taste buds this must stop”, “Cows are being raped this must stop”. In conclusion, not hating on vegetarians are vegans… but I do think this whole ethics debate thing is a little trivial as pretty much every biotic thing on the earth seems to have rights… hell, we’ll probably start giving iphones rights.

So stick to strictly eating plants and veggies if you want… maybe it does help you maybe not… but don’t make this an argument about what’s right and wrong because in that department everything just falls into an ambiguous mess.

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David May 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

The extent to which some people take this debate does not invalidate the arguments made by less-fanatical people. By your logic, because some people claim that plants feel pain, we should feel free to kick dogs and cats if it gives us pleasure. Clearly the suffering experienced by animals makes their treatment an obvious moral issue whether you’re personally interested in discussing it or not.

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WHY May 30, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Cruelty in any form is morally wrong. And no those were examples of fanaticism which some would even argue animal rights to fit into. People in western society have a bias for cute and adorable things and puts the lives of cats and dogs ahead of the wide spread killing of rats and spiders. These debates throw importance more on what we as humans empathize more with, based on our own perception of life in the universe. We feel connected, and for many individuals in society, a part of them dies when they empathize with the brutalized because we imagine ourselves in their shoes. In these “moral issues” we argue whilst ignorant to the many complexities of morality. Partially because it is incredibly hard to fathom every perspective and because in looking at every perspective we become lost in ambiguity.

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Theresa June 30, 2013 at 9:39 am

Would the China Study qualify as large-scale research? I read the book (by the same name) by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and I decided it was research enough (for me personally). Perhaps it would be for you too.

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Theresa June 30, 2013 at 9:41 am

I decided to try veganism because of stiff joints, and I was afraid of strong arthritis meds. (No agenda or ideology other than my personal health.) It’s been two months and joints are slowly improving. I was completely surprised to wake up on day 3 with complete mental clarity and high levels of energy/endurance. Wasn’t expecting that at all. I’ve been using Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution and have been totally gastronomically satisfied. I didn’t try veganism to lose weight, but as it happens I did, so another surprising bonus. For those reasons I see no reason to return to my former way of eating.

Have since read a lot to make sure I was getting all the nutrients I needed. (big shout out to Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study…) Had full before and after blood work done, etc. Everything improved. Then last night I had pizza at a family party. I didn’t crave it, but that’s all there was. I felt 100% fine. Went to bed, but was rudely awoken by stomach pains and a throbbing wrist joint …

I read many posts on here that suggest negative reactions are psychosomatic. Since I went to bed happy and comfortable, and am motivated by health not ethics, I believe my body’s discomfort was authentic. Am now 100% convinced vegan meals are best for ME.

Good luck to all in finding what motivates you and works best for your unique needs.

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