• Alex Bovell

Why I'm No Longer Vegan

Updated: Feb 10, 2019

I’ve been really hesitant to write about this topic because it can be extremely controversial. It’s overwhelming the amount that can be said about this topic, and there’s sooo many viewpoints. Whether or not these views are right or wrong is debatable and I personally don’t believe there is a black or white answer. I’m not writing this to criticise anyone or any particular way of eating, this is purely my feelings based on my personal experience.

I was previously vegan for 2 years, which meant I ate no meat, no poultry, no fish, no eggs, no butter, no milk, basically anything that came from an animal was off limits. I think I stumbled across veganism through YouTube, which is not exactly the best place for nutritional advice lets be honest. I was young and impressionable and without much convincing decided this was the road for me to follow.

I’m extremely open about the reason I went vegan, which was to learn how to eat again without feeling ‘guilty’. My eating disorder had created a mind set where I no longer saw food as a necessity but as a treat. I had created this mind set where I had to work for the food I ate. Completely wrong of course and I look back now and just cringe at how destructive I was to myself.

There’s an abundance of health benefits associated with veganism including a possible decrease in the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer. Personally, eating vegan really helped me learn how to nourish my body again and gain weight without feeling horrible or guilty. It helped me develop a positive relationship with my body again. So many people believe eating vegan means you’ll become extremely thin and lose weight. However, I actually gained around 5-10kg eating this way. I began eating more then I ever had in the form of porridge, buddha bowls and smoothies. I loved it at the time, it served such a healing purpose for me in that stage of my life.

In true alex style, when I went vegan I made sure I was eating everything in the correct amounts. Honestly, I spent about a day researching macronutrient requirements and how much of what foods I’d need to eat to reach these intakes. I was eating an extremely balanced vegan diet and I never followed the crazes like ‘raw till 4′ or high-carb, low-fat’. I just made sure I was eating enough of the macronutrients to fuel my body. I do believe you can maintain MOST nutritional needs and requirements through a vegan diet. However, there’s really no denying it’s difficult to consume enough nutrients such as iron and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA & DHA) on a vegan diet. Yes omega-3’s can be found through chia and flaxseed amongst others. However, the body converts very little ALA to EPA and DHA, and the main sources of EPA and DHA include fish and fish products.

A lot of people asked me, “would you ever eat meat again” or “will you be vegan forever”. I always replied saying, if my body needed animal products again I’d listen to my body and do what I felt was right. At the beginning of this year, my naturopath and I were speaking and she said she’d tried many herbs and supplements to stimulate my period again and suggested perhaps I should try eating animal products again. Remember this was after over 2 years of trying. This honestly really frightened me and I felt extremely guilty but I realised I had sort of turned this into another form of an eating disorder where animal products became the enemy and the devil. I was petrified of what they’d do to my body. She suggested incorporating small amounts into my weekly diet and just noticing how I feel. This was challenging but I was willing to give it a go because I did feel as though my body was lacking something and I couldn’t put my finger on it. For example I’d literally fall asleep at the drop of a hat and constantly felt lethargic, weak and drained.

In the beginning I primarily ate fish and then moved onto chicken/beef, ensuring it was always grass-fed and organic, as when it’s not a whole other range of issues can occur. I was asked how weird it felt but in complete honesty it went down fine. The hardest part was definitely cooking the animal products as the guilt came flooding back. I still don’t eat a lot of animal products and I rarely eat dairy because I find it causes my skin to break out. My diet remains highly plant-based with the majority of my plate being made up of nutritious whole plant foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Mentally, I’ve found there’s a lot less anxiety over eating and I’m not so controlling and scared to eat various foods. Sometimes this anxiety and stress around eating can cause issues with foods that wouldn’t normally cause problems because of our sympathetic nervous system running on overdrive.

The bottom Line

Everyone’s bodies vary and require different focuses at particular times. I’m now a strong believer in listening to what your body wants and needs and following that intuition. I became quite strict being vegan and I wasn’t listening to what my body required towards the end of my journey despite signs it wasn’t working. However, going vegan was a huge part of my recovery, I learnt how to nourish my body with food and restore that relationship with eating. I’ll never deny that it was extremely healing for me during that time of my life.

I think for many of us we want to belong to a group… we want that title, a label, a box to fit in that connects us with others. Unfortunately, our bodies have different ideas. We’re not a one size fits all person and we need to tailor our eating habits to suit us, not what society labels us as. Just like life which is a constant fluctuation of eb and flow, our bodies also transition and require different eating styles occasionally. I still 100% believe we should be eating a highly plant based diet, at the core of every diet this is the foundation and requirement to eat more PLANTS, natural whole foods. Don’t place yourself in a box always listen to what your body is telling you, there’s no black and white answer for what eating style you should follow everyone’s unique!