Animal products are not the magic bullet
Some time ago, I wrote about my time as an ex-vegan.
For those who missed it, I will give you the recap: in a nutshell, I was having a lot of stomach issues, and all vegan protein sources seemed to exacerbate the problem. After months of persistent gas, bloating, diarrhea, and general bullshit feelings coming from my intestines, I slowly started to cut out various ingredients from my diet with the goal of feeling well. Gluten was first, then grains, then beans. I tried to lower my nut and seed intake and- what do you know?- I was fucking starving. With each ingredient cut, my stomach would briefly feel better, then eventually end up right where I had begin.
I needed help, and I needed it badly. I went to a general practitioner, an acupuncturist, a naturopath, and a gastroenterologist. No one had any real information or solutions for me, aside from an IBS diagnosis, which is honestly not super helpful. In an effort to stop the triggering action of subtracting more and more and more foods, I decided I needed to start to add. After some research I determined that my addition to my diet would be pasture raised eggs.
I ate eggs for nine months, and indeed, my stomach did get better during that time. Recently, I heard through the grapevine that my admission of that fact has lead some to believe that I (or they) think that eggs cured my IBS.
Aint that some shit.
I have been vegan-again for about two years now. In my time as a re-vegan, I have enjoyed pretty excellent stomach health, at least for me. Sure, I fart now and again with too many raw vegetables or a dash of extra beans. But most of the time, when my stomach is upset I know exactly why and its manageable. It isn’t something that takes over my days. That’s pretty much all I could have hoped for, and while I do believe that my time eating eggs was helpful for that, I don’t believe that this animal product was a panacea for me or that another animal product will be a panacea for somebody else.
Let me break it down:
It is my belief that my stomach was inflamed from the amount of fiber that I was eating. To an extent, eliminating gluten and grains and beans made sense given that theory, but things would often get back to a place of discomfort after each elimination because when I got rid of one fibrous thing in my diet, I eventually replaced it with another. When I added eggs instead of subtracting another vegan food, I was replacing things that were full of fiber (grains and beans) with an item that was essentially fiberless (eggs.) Once my stomach was not in a state of pure chaos, I could eliminate eggs again and add grains and beans (of the sprouted variety) back in. My stomach strengthened with less stress on it. Of course, I only realized this retrospectively. Too much fiber is a really simple problem, but not one that most Americans have. None of my practitioners mentioned it to me as an option.
(Please understand that this whole fiber thing is a theory, one that I cultivated because something was definitely wrong, but no one could really tell me what. I think it’s important to note that situational evidence isn’t, like, science. But it does have merit, at least for me personally.)
There are so many ideas about animal products as saving graces, and it bugs me to think that my egg story could be a part of that dialogue. I think it’s important to say that had I known that fiber was what was irritating my stomach, I think I could have replaced tempeh and brown rice and raw kale with tofu and white rice and avocado and had the same result without compromising my ethics and values. I am glad my stomach feels better, but I don’t believe animal products are what fixed it. At this point, I wish I had done it another way.
There is no reason to believe that eggs did something for me that another fiber-less food couldn’t have.
And furthermore, if we want to get specific…
I don’t believe that bone broth is the only way to fix inflammation, strengthen your immune system, or soothe digestion. Turmeric, ginger, probiotics, & Oregon grape extract are all awesome ways to help yourself if you have the desire to stay vegan.
I don’t believe a steady diet of chicken is the way to weight loss. Try big salads, gorgeous smoothies, stevia-sweetened chia puddings, and low-oil tofu and veggie stir fries for nutritious and humane leaning out processes.
I don’t believe ghee is is a perfect food for energy and satiation or as a condiment in your coffee. My opinion is that actual FOOD is best for breakfast, that coconut milk gives wonderful fat and that greens provide excellent energy. Chlorella! Spirulina! Nuts! Avocado! The world is yours.
What I am trying to say is this:
I wish that I had connected the dots between stomach trouble and fiber sooner, and in a different way. To me, adding eggs to my diet was helpful, and also a mistake- because ultimately I believe that even consuming the most humane eggs possible sets itself as an example; a statement that I think eating eggs is okay. For me, I don’t believe that statement to be true. This is for ME, in My body, and My life.
If you are vegan and you no longer want to eat a diet free of animal products, I believe it is completely okay to say that is the case. But if you are vegan and are deeply struggling to maintain your diet while you feel your health is failing, that is entirely another.
I want to offer myself as a resource to those on the cusp of leaving a vegan diet if they want to stay (because ultimately, the choice is absolutely theirs and has nothing to do with me or my opinion). I don’t offer myself because I hate ex-vegans, or even because I hate myself for my time identifying as one. I want to offer myself as a resource, because I believe knowing a person who had struggled with my issues and solved them on a vegan diet would have been extraordinarily helpful to me. I wouldn’t have to look at that nine month period of my life with eggs and feel a little disappointed.
Animal products are not the magic bullet. I consider my time away from veganism to be a supreme bummer. If you want to stick around, I will help you. And if you don’t, I support you in finding your health how you need to. Your life, your rules, right? I am just one vegan with some interesting experiences.
This is not a judgement, or a winning or losing game.
This is you finding out the best way to live the richest and most compassionate life possible, and me doing the same.
We’ve got this.