Sometime in January (2018), I decided to change my diet completely and go mostly plant based. I did it because I was (and still am, I guess) dealing with a malfunctioning gallbladder that was giving me problems. One thing led to another and I began my so-called “plant based journey”.
It started out pretty good. I already loved eating fruits, veggies, legumes, etc., so it really wasn’t that hard for me to change my diet. I also already didn’t eat much meat, so that wasn’t a stretch for me either. I basically stopped eating eggs, dairy and although I didn’t stop eating meat 100%, I reduced my consumption drastically to only eat meat once a day and sometimes…to nothing.
I was getting my proteins from legumes and other plant sources. I was drinking almond and coconut milk instead of cow milk. I was eating only chicken and fish occasionally, e.g. when going out to dinner.
…and I was tired. No, I was exhausted.
I guess, I didn’t really connect all of the dots in the beginning because I wasn’t fully aware of what was happening. And I was too caught up in living this new, cool plant based lifestyle and getting sucked into everything that I was reading online and watching on YouTube. Besides, we had workers at our house for the longest time and were sleeping in the 2nd bedroom (in another bed) and I thought that maybe that had something to do with me waking up morning after morning feeling completely exhausted.
I’d wake up after my regular (minimum) 7 hours of sleep and feel like I hadn’t slept at all. During the day, I felt tired. I felt like someone had drained all of my energy. I didn’t have the energy to exercise consistently and as intensely as I used to. I didn’t have the energy to really focus on my work.
At one point, I thought I wasn’t getting enough proteins so I increased the amount of proteins that I was getting from plants and also bought pea protein powder to add to my smoothies. Regardless of what I did, it didn’t really help. AND I wasn’t losing any weight either …the weight wasn’t practically falling off me like I’d heard some vegans say happened to them. I don’t think I was over eating, but I wasn’t counting calories either…so who knows?
I guess, it didn’t really click until one afternoon in March when I was sitting on the couch, feeling exhausted (again) and falling asleep. We’d had workers at the house all day so I was working from home and in the middle of the afternoon…I just had to take a break because I was really tired even though I’d only been working on my computer.
So, I was taking a break (!) and sitting on the couch, staring into nothing and feeling so, so exhausted. I fell asleep… and I don’t sleep in the middle of the afternoon unless I’m sick or have a migraine. There was nothing wrong with me that day. I was just TIRED. When I woke up, I thought to myself …there is something really wrong. This is complete BS and I have to do something.
Then, it clicked.
The only thing that I’d been doing differently for the past 3 months was the diet. I realized that maybe I was feeling this way because I wasn’t really eating meat …and dairy?
So, I decided to start eating more meat again. The next day, I started eating a little meat at every meal. Then, I started eating dairy again… I was still so tired the next day, but within a few days (I’m not really sure how many), my energy was back.
I felt like I was back.
This brings me back to the “one diet doesn’t fit all” statement. I fell in love with the whole plant based and vegan lifestyles (I know they are not the same), but I now know that it’s not for everyone. As far as I’ve seen, read and heard, a lot of people who live a plant based and vegan lifestyle and swear to these diets are (I believe) sometimes very quick to proclaim that this is the absolute “truth” and only way to go…that people aren’t meant to eat meat, that we don’t need to eat animal products as far as nutrition goes, etc.
Now, I’m not a doctor nor do I have any special or professional knowledge about diet and nutrition. I’m just a person who has felt the effects of a “vegan-ISH” diet on my own body and who can personally say that it’s not for me. I never wanted to go vegan. I wanted to eat mostly plants for my health and subsequently also for the planet. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time? I gave it 3 months and it didn’t do anything positive for me. If that wasn’t enough time, I don’t know how much more time I should’ve given it before I’d start to feel good about living that way…? I guess, in the end, it just wasn’t for me.
So, I eat meat and dairy. I don’t eat a lot, but just a little to keep my energy going and I feel that’s what truly works best for me. I do have a lot of respect for people who are vegans and others who eat plant based or who are vegetarians, etc. I really believe that people should first and foremost eat healthy and secondly…people should eat what they want. If you want to be vegan, great. If you want to eat a whole foods plant based diet, super. If you want to eat a paleo diet, awesome.
Whatever works for YOU is best because we’re all different and because one diet doesn’t fit all.