Right away I become overwhelmed with how much I can say about this topic. There are so many viewpoints to be had. Be it for or anti veganism. Like these articles. Right off the bat we have two completely opposing views. But who is "right?" is there even a "right?" and "wrong?"
K, back to the story. I have waited 4 months to write this blog post, and I think I am finally ready to explain more about why I chose to leave the "vegan community" and create my own little community.
As many of you who are reading this know, I am the girl behind "Ideal Living" on instagram. I am the girl who preached veganism hard. I began to explore veganism for health reasons back in 2014. Then, I was exposed to the other aspects of why many people transition to this lifestyle, and upon that exposure, I turned into the biggest vegan activist I knew. I "needed" to educate others on the things I had learned because I was so disgusted with what was going on. I was appalled that no one had taught me these statistics sooner. I still am. I will go more into that below, though.
Throughout my 2 years on the vegan bandwagon, I received everything from love, thanks and well wishes to hate, guilt and disgust from people all over the world. I've brought out the best in some and I've seen the worst in others. I've changed many lives with my words - and some weren't always positive.
I've decided to split this blog post into easy readable points for you all. The reason being; I am not going to tell you veganism sucks and thats why I no longer choose to live that lifestyle. I am not going to tell you veganism is the answer to all of the worlds problems, either. I am going to tell you my experience, what I have learned, and what I make of it. It's up to you to decide what to take and what to leave. What you read and what you don't read. Here goes.
1. There are environmental, ethical and health benefits to leading a vegan lifestyle.
I am not denying this. You DO vote with your dollar. Everyday. I am sorry if this offends anyone, but it's true. The environment does suffer (to an extent) due to factory farming and even unsustainable farming methods. Here are some stats that shocked me the most upon learning:
Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with 296 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, and which stays in the atmosphere for 150 years.
Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually.
2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
Sourced from the website below. So if you are weary, watch the film and do the research yourself.
TO BE FAIR: With this, there is always the other side of things. Just like with everything in life. I have read countless articles and listened to many podcasts on how these studies are written and skewed in a way to scare others into adopting a vegan diet. Maybe thats the point? You decide. I'm only the messenger.
- If you are purchasing FACTORY FARMED meat or dairy, leather, wool, etc.. 95% of the time this means that you are also directly contributing to the inhumane treatment of these beautiful beings. Accept it. I have. This is including but not limited to beak/ear cutting, artificial insemination, infection, poor living conditions, physical abuse, etc...If you don't believe me, or are more of a visual learner, see the video below.
- And finally, yes, over consumption of meat and dairy is NOT healthy for the human body. Side note: is over consumption of anything going to benefit us? In my opinion, thats a no. Balance folks. I think that this is something that we can all agree on. I am not sure that I have to go too far into it. But get your fruits and veggies, people. Please. Here are a few projections I've gathered. I'll link the pages below.
Casein is the main protein in dairy, and studies have shown that it facilitates the growth and development of cancer
Dairy is associated with increased risk of several immune-related disorders, many being life-changing and difficult to treat. The associations with type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis are particularly concerning.
Degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented—and in many cases reversed—by adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
Now, that all being said, I did not bring you here to make you feel "guilty" about what you may or may not consume on a daily basis. This is the data and where it has been sourced. Note that there are ALWAYS two sides to each story. So, don't always believe everything you hear (even with what you are reading here), and take it from me - don't let all of this ruin your day. When I first recognized all of this, and watched the documentaries, I let it ruin more than just my day. And that is NOT what life is about. Stay educated, but stay present and aware that you do not own or cause all of the problems in the world. I will actually cover this in my next few bullet points, so please, read on.
2. Veganism is not the ONLY way to save the environment, the animals and our health.
- You all confused yet? A little contradictory, huh? Such is life my friends. I just linked a ton of pages about how veganism may change the world as we know it. It may have even made you feel exceptionally guilty and extremely taken back. The Lacey 1 year ago would be proud. Yikes. The Lacey today is proud but for a different reason. I am happy to point you all in the direction of veganism, but I am even happier to tell you that veganism isn't always the answer for everyone. Veganism isn't going to solve everyones problems. Maybe veganism is YOUR answer. In the sense that it makes YOU feel good when you eat that way. Maybe it solves YOUR problems, it heals YOUR digestive issues. Hell, you might find that your one purpose in life is to spread awareness on this subject. And if thats the case, then I am so stoked to have helped you find this new found passion of YOURS. Are you noting the key words here? Y O U. Here is my point; veganism doesn't work for everyone. Simple as that. Simple as the points I listed above. And THAT is what I have found most people (including myself) don't/didn't understand in the vegan community. You simply cannot tell others what to do with their time/money/life. You can lead by example. You can inspire. You can better yourself. But you cannot physically force everyone to go vegan. It won't happen. And you cannot let it affect you to the point of where you are saying "vegan or nothing else". I mean, I guess you can, but what kind of life is that? What kind of life are you living if you are not accepting and you are judging others and their choices? In my opinion, that's not healthy. I'll get back to this later, but for now, lets revert back to the point itself of this bullet point.
- First thing's first. YES. You can still be a good person and consume a diet with animal products! You can still save the environment, you can still contribute to ending animal abuse and you can still be healthy, ALL WHILE consuming animal products on a daily basis. This point is one of the most important points I will write here. And it's something that once I was immersed in the vegan community, I couldn't even comprehend. (I'll probably touch on this again later as well. I have a lot of things to come back to, huh?) But seriously. There are so many ways to conserve water. So many ways to save animals. So many ways to save the environment. I am not going to get into them all now due to lack of time, but that is what we have the internet for. Do your research. Donate. Do what YOU can to help who YOU can if this is something you're passionate about. Here are a few links below to help you get started.
- So, in my opinion, it is sooo important to know the facts on why many people go vegan. I am thankful for my years spent without animal products because it caused me to create a bond with these animals that I never had before. It caused me to create a bond with Mother Nature. It caused me to really research and understand the detrimental effects of the industry I supported my whole life. As I came full circle, and as I began really craving animal products again, I realized that I could do this in a humane way. Did I at first? No. I definitely did not. And it's taken me a long time to realize that that is OK. I am human. Does hating myself save animals, and the environment, and my health? No. Does hating anyone else for eating meat & dairy save animals, the environment, or their health? No again. So what do you do now? What you should do now is learn. Be proactive. If you feel you want to make a difference, then make a difference. Source your ice cream. Make it yourself. I'll link my recipe page below.
- I can and I wil add these products back into my diet with a conscious effort now to source my meat and dairy from farms who raised their animals ethically. From people who used sustainable methods to conserve the most water, food and energy. I learned that a healthy organic cut of fish or meat does have countless benefits on my body. That actually brings me to my next point.
3. There ARE benefits to consuming animal products.
- Vegans, please don't take this personally. I mean that. I know how my blood used to boil when I would read a statement like this. But that's just the thing. I was so one-sided and naive to think that veganism was the only answer. To think that the way our ancestors grew eating and living was all wrong. To think that the "circle of life" is BS. It isn't. Just like the "Paleo diet" isn't the only answer. Just like the "ketogenic diet" isn't the only answer. Just like the "atkins diet" isn't the only answer. Each of these diets may be the answer for certain people at certain times in their lives, which is incredible, but people change! We are all so unique. We all thrive off of different foods/locations/lifestyles. How can we be so ignorant to assume that one diet works for everyone? I touched on this before and I will touch on it again. Just as I provided links with why people may want to explore veganism, I will provide links with why and how other diets work for the human body. Nutrition is the only field in the world where two theories can both be proved correct. When I first took my course via IIN (I will link below for an option to sign up with a discount) I was introduced to the term "bio-Individuality" which essentially means, no one diet fits all. It means that we as humans are all different, requiring different foods to nourish us accordingly. Check these articles below that prove Joshua Rosenthal's theory (The founder of IIN), and express why it's OK to transition back into a diet that includes animal products.
What are a few benefits to consuming grass fed organic beef & locally caught fish?
1. Two words; Healthy. Fat. OMEGA 3's baby.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of:
- coronary artery disease
- other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders
DHA and EPA are the active forms of omega-3 in the human body and found primarily in animal foods. The body is inefficient at converting ALA (the plant form of omega-3) to the active forms. These active forms are abundant in fish and (always make it grass fed) organic beef! Omega 3 and omega 6 fats are important components of most all cell membranes.
2. Grass fed beef in itself is an excellent source of vitamin B12, a great source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc and phosphorus. It is also a good source of choline, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, and vitamin B2
3. Carnosine, a mineral found only in animal products functions as an anti-oxidant and provides protection against many degenerative processes.
4. Animal protein contains the complete list of all essential amino acids - building blocks that our body cannot create itself but are essential for survival, therefore we must find them in our diet.
Honestly, I could go on, but are you seeing a trend here? I am supporting two OPPOSING VIEWS! With claims as to why each are healthy and beneficial - in their own ways. I am supporting the consumption of meat AND the consumption of a plant based diet. So which one is the right call? That is for you ALL to decide. On your own. Test out the theories. It's not for me to tell you what you should do or how you should live.
Vegans! Don't believe me? Click the links below. Again, don't shoot the messenger.
4. You made it! My personal story. PS, I am human. (Which means I am not perfect) Go easy on me.
- Dear lord. I have to be honest in that I have never in my life been immersed in a community that has brought so much to my life. Good and bad. Here's a short and sweet synopsis of what went down. Or at least I will try and make it quick.
It all started when I began to dive deep into my own personal health journey. I began doing lots of research, testing out different foods and finding what worked well for my body. I gave up dairy and gluten and lost a ton of weight. Ok, maybe not a ton, but in my opinion, I looked and felt pretty incredible. I started doing more research, I moved to Oahu, and before I knew it, I was a "raging vegan." I used to call myself that hahaha. Because after watching Cowspiracy, Earthlings and Forks over Knives, I was transformed into someone who made veganism their life. (Don't regret it) On top of it, I felt incredible. I was living!!! I was still working out. I was preaching. I was inspiring. I was loving it.
Unfortunately, this was pretty short lived. As time went on, I started getting random symptoms that I just attributed to "detox." That's what all of the famous youtubers would call it. So I was OK with dealing with my "detox," even though, I had never "detoxed" like this when I began my veganism journey. I was breaking out, constantly. These small little pimples, everywhere on my face and even on my arms. I was so low on energy. I felt like I couldn't workout even if I wanted to. My hair stopped growing as fast as it used to. I started gaining weight fast. Even though I was eating cleaner than I ever had before. Now, I had promised myself and others that I would never ever eat animal products again, so this caused me to try other options. I tried raw veganism, high carb/low fat, high fat/low carb, etc.. Basically all of the different ways you could change macros while still being vegan. I traveled and while it was difficult to keep my vegan diet, I did. I wound up getting exceptionally sick in Indonesia. I genuinely felt like I was on my deathbed. Which is ironically what they were telling me on that little island off the coast of Bali. This is where my first cravings for animal protein and dairy began. I quickly shut that thought off. I was DISGUSTED with myself.
I flew back to Hawaii, then to NY for the summer. I began getting stronger. Started a running routine and continued my vegan diet. Things were good. The cravings were still there but they were being silenced by the sunshine and love in my life. I have to admit, I was confused by these cravings because
1. I genuinely believed veganism was the only answer
2. I loved these animals. I would never contribute to their pain/suffering again.
So, I let it go, ignored the cravings and stayed vegan.
As I started diving deeper into spirituality and reading more, I realized how one-sided I was actually acting in regards to veganism. I may have been inspiring tons of people with my posts, but what about the people I was hurting with my posts? For example; what about the meat eaters in india who didn't have access to films like "Cowspiracy?" Who had no idea about animal abuse and who are eating meat, yet doing it in a humane fashion. Did they deserve the hate I was spewing towards anyone who chose to consume meat and dairy? What about the people in the US doing it this way?! Life in general is not black and white. Its grey. It's all grey. You can make a claim and that exact claim can be proved right and proved wrong all within the same article. Hint: If you haven't noticed, that's what I have been attempting to prove in this post. So why is it that I felt entitled to tell everyone how they should eat. How they should live? Why did I feel it was OK to judge?
I have to say, just posting a photo today on social media about my switch to veganism instantly caused an uproar. I have upwards of 60 comments, mostly support, but some people really hating on me. Calling me "gross," "uneducated," "disloyal," etc... I've been bullied before, but never as much as I have been upon my transition to eating meat again. Maybe it's because I created this following of people just like me. I can only speak for myself, but I know that I put my life into veganism. And the more I invested, the more I lost myself along the way. The more I was in it for the wrong reasons. I stopped listening to my body. I thought I was being compassionate towards animals, but where was my compassion towards my fellow people? Where was the humanity? Since when did instagram and facebook become an outlet for us all to talk crap to and about each other and our opposing lifestyles?
To be honest, in my opinion, that is the one thing a lot of people tend to lack these days (vegan or not); humanity.
the human race; human beings collectively.
I am not a murderer because I eat meat. My friends, we are humans. WHY IS THERE SO MUCH SEPARATION? We are ALL humans. WE ARE ONE. Where's the humanity? Where's the love for one another? If you have so much love for the animals and the planet, why not have love for our brothers and sisters the same? Where is the acceptance? Why is there so much judgement? Letting go of the things I cannot control has been one of the major struggles I have had in my life. As I learn to do so, I find so much eternal peace. I hope you do as well. Let's get back to my story.
THE FINAL STRAW
The final straw was when I went and got blood tests taken. It wound up that for whatever reason after being two years fully vegan, my TSH levels were elevated. Potentially later on leading to Hypo or Hyperthyroidism. The doctors were worried, they told me to come back in a few months and if the levels were still elevated we would have to start medication immediately. I was craving animal protein. All of it. Beef, fish, eggs. I said screw it. And I started listening to my body again. I exhausted all options with a vegan diet. It was time to listen to me and honor myself. WITHOUT GUILT. I began experimenting and I have felt absolutely incredible ever since. I even attempted dairy again with no side effects. Side note: I sorta went off the deep end at first. Ice cream, pancakes, waffles, dairy, gluten, the whole 9 yards. It wasn't the healthiest, but I had absolutely no negative symptoms. I did realize however that I have to keep it humane. I have to keep it healthy. For myself and for what I was fighting for for so long.
I jumped into a healthier position on including animal products in my diet. Cut most all dairy, and resorted to only high quality beef/fish/chicken. This is currently how I am eating. If I had to compare it to anything, It would look like a low fat version of the paleo diet. I think. Is that even a thing? I don't know. The thing is, I don't call it a diet. And if I did, it would be the "Lacey Diet." Why? Because I eat intuitively when and what I want. Some days are completely vegan. Some days not so much. I've followed this type of diet for about 4 months now. I went back and got my blood drawn to test for TSH levels in order to get the medication I needed. Guess what? The levels went back into normal range. Magic? Maybe. Diet and lifestyle changes? Probably. Either way I am stoked. I am not guilty. I am happy that I don't need to be on a pill for the rest of my life. I am happy with my plant based lifestyle (with the addition of some animal products.) I love the animals. I love myself. I love you all. Even those of you who choose to hate me for this. I have nothing but love for you, and wish you nothing but success and happiness. I am stoked veganism works for you, I hope you can accept and understand why it does not work for me.
If you made it this far, you deserve a medal. Thanks for bearing with me, my friends. I'll wrap it up with one last thing:
Good mental health, in my opinion, surpasses any secondary food you can put into your system. Because at the end of the day, life is about moments. And how they make you feel. It's about aiming to live happily and stress free with those who make you feel that way. Do what you love and love what you do. Don't succumb to absolutism with anything in your life. Remember - there's always room for questions. There's always room for growth and change. Nothing is ever permanent. There will always be grey areas. Embrace them.
Life is about the journey. And it's an everlasting one. Remember to smile as much as possible. And don't sweat the small stuff. I know I won't.
All of my love,
Want more? Here's my daily journey below!