I know this post is long overdue but I didn’t know quite how to write it until now. After I started eating meat again I was so nervous to make it public because I didn’t want to offend any of my vegan friends and followers. I almost felt like I had failed them, like I had failed myself. I had guilt and shame for putting my health above my compassion for animals. Still, I think it’s important for me to be real with you and share my story.
Let me begin with why I became vegan in the first place. It was around six years ago. Now that I look back this is where I remember my fibromyalgia symptoms had first started, although I didn’t know it at the time. I had taken a break from competing, had gained around 10 lb, was feeling exhausted, and my IBS was in a bad state. I stumbled upon the plant-based movement after watching a series of documentaries. After doing lots of research I decided to give plant-based eating a try. Before long I became full vegan because it became so much more to me than my health…it was now also about animal cruelty and the environment. I was fighting for a cause that I cared about.
In the beginning I felt amazing. My energy had increased and I was able to lose some weight. I took a plant-based course from Cornell University and before long I was helping others with their plant-based and vegan diets. I felt so great I decided to celebrate my one year vegan-anniversary by stepping back on the competitive stage as a vegan athlete. It was probably the easiest competition prep I’ve ever had because I got to eat so much food! I couldn’t help but share my beliefs with others.
The Turning Point
Unfortunately it wasn’t long after my competition that my health started to decline again. This is when the chronic fatigue started to impact my daily routine and I started developing new conditions including eczema, interstitial cystitis (overactive bladder), and chronic pain. My IBS progressively got worse as well and my skin and hair lost their glow. I didn’t blame my vegan diet for this of course, but I knew something didn’t feel right.
I continued as a vegan for another year while experimenting with an elimination diet to find out my triggers for interstitial cystitis and IBS. I discovered that grains, soy, legumes, citrus fruits, whole almonds, and night shade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant) made my symptoms worse so I had to cut these out as well. This obviously eliminated huge staples of mine as a vegan. It wasn’t an easy choice but this is what caused me to add eggs and dairy back into my diet. Then after a year as a lacto-ovo vegetarian I got blood work results back that showed I had low iron and vitamin D. I tried supplementing with high doses of iron but it didn’t help. Still I was determined to keep trying because of my love and compassion for all animals.
Up until this point I hadn’t had any cravings for meat. My husband was not plant-based and I prepared many of the non-vegan meals for him and our guests. It didn’t phase me at all that I wasn’t joining them. That is until 2 summers ago when I noticed myself starting to crave meat again. One evening he was grilling hamburgers and for the first time in four years I had an intense desire to eat one. I wasn’t even a fan of hamburgers. So I decided to listen to my body and ate a hamburger. It honestly tasted amazing and I had such crazy energy afterwards! I was afraid my digestive system wouldn’t be happy with me but it didn’t bother me at all. I had so much energy that I had a hard time falling asleep that night, when I was normally zonked by 8 pm. It was at that point that I decided that my body must be telling me something, so I officially added meat back into my diet. It was only a few months later that my iron levels had risen back to normal again, and in turn my energy increased.
Taking Back My Health
When I first added meat back into my diet I told myself it was a temporary thing. Unfortunately I couldn’t deny how much better I felt. Since my diet was already so limited without eating grains, legumes, soy, whole almonds, and nightshade vegetables I just couldn’t imagine cutting out another food group again. I decided I needed to listen to my body, and as much as my conscience bothered me, I knew it was time to take my health back into my hands again.
Now I am not saying that a plant-based diet caused my fibromyalgia, IBS or Interstitial Cystitis, but unfortunately it didn’t help my symptoms. I have massive respect for those who can eat a vegan or vegetarian diet and thrive. Sadly that was not the case for me no matter how much I supplemented, food paired, tried different macro nutrient ratios, etc.
I am now following an anti-inflammatory eating protocol that is almost the exact opposite of vegan (high fat/low carb) and I am finally starting to feel like myself again. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve been eating this way, and while I am eating meat again I have to say I have a whole new appreciation for the animals who provide me nourishment. I source my meat locally so that I know where it comes from and we try to only buy free-range and grass fed. Even so I only eat a small amount of meat a day and never take more than I need.
If you are a vegan or vegetarian reading this I want to say thank you for listening to my story. I respect your cause and I truly do understand your position. Keep doing you girl (or guy), and I hope you can respect my decision in return.
I understand food is very personal and what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for the next person. We are all individual and have unique needs. These needs also change as we age and deal with health issues. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your body and be in tuned with how food makes you feel.
Feel free to leave me a comment below if you have questions and stay tuned for more details about my current eating protocol.
Naturally, Krissy – xo