I get emails and DMs every day (like, literally every day) from people who are seeking advice about adding animal foods back into their diet. These messages are near and dear to my heart, as I was once in the same position.
When I was 18, I became vegetarian overnight after a friend showed me the legendary PETA video, "Meet your Meat." Growing up in a Canadian farming community, the images were sadly familiar. I was a child in the 80s, and the small mixed farms my parents' generation grew up on had converted over to agribusiness. I'd visited my friend's egg barns, confinement dairy facilities, and broiler sheds. The places are as bad as they look on film, although I will say, the farmers who manage them are kind and hardworking individuals who are just stuck in the system.
So began a seven year journey as a vegetarian and vegan. The first couple years were such a high. My body felt light, and my mind was energized by my spiritual mission to lessen suffering.
By around year three, I wasn't feeling well anymore. I was tired all the time, I got cold easily, I had severe pain and cramping each month, and I was anxious. By the time my seventh year rolled around, things had gotten worse. I had serious joint pain in my knees, so bad that I had a hard time walking up stairs. My body felt weak, tired and foggy. I had eczema on both hands, and I got cold sores regularly.
I developed a "spontaneous" abscess in one of my teeth, and had to have emergency dental surgery which included having the tooth removed and an implant placed. It was scary and expensive. My Dad bailed me out, paying almost $4000 for my dental surgery. This blow to my pride and independence was my rock bottom. I came down off my high horse and admitted I needed to change, and open my mind and heart to the fact that my body craved and needed animal foods.
The first time I ate meat I was so scared. Many say that our bodies stop making the necessary enzymes to digest meat, and that when you start again you might have terrible digestive distress. Well, what actually happened was that it was delicious and I felt fine afterwards.
I continued my journey, and as time went on I regained my strength. I ate everything from beef to goat to fish, made bone broth, learned to cook with brains and tongue, and killed and butchered my own animals. Introducing liver made the most difference. I felt truly grounded and energized for the first time since childhood.
It took me about 7 years to gradually restore my body’s energy and well-being. It felt like a long time, but I was gradually getting better each day, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re in the same position, please be kind to yourself. All us ex-vegans and vegetarians had great reasons for our poor choices. Its OK to make mistakes, in fact its an essential part of growing up and gaining wisdom.
Never hesitate to send me a message through the contact form, I love hearing from you and what you’re going through!
Warm hugs, Suuzi