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Advice from former vegans? Or those who stopped & later resumed a vegan diet?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Any former vegans willing to share what made you start eating animal products? And how it went? Were you able to digest animal foods? Did you feel better or worse? How did it affect your overall health?

I have been vegetarian for 17 years & vegan for the last 7, but a year or two into being vegan I started feeling really really sick -- especially 'chronic fatigue' type symptoms. I was pretty much non-functional after a few years, until I cut out wheat and now I am somewhat functional but nowhere near 100% and my mood is way off... I do take vitamins & supplements but something inside me thinks I need to try actually eating animal products again to see if that helps.

I'm terrified, though!! I can't imagine eating them... I love being vegan (in terms of enjoying the food itself) and part of the reason I became vegan was because I just didn't like animal products, except cheese & yogurt -- which I was addicted to. I don't WANT to eat animal products but I've tried so many other things to try to feel better and I'm desperate for a solution. I also have a lot of allergies to fruits, nuts, etc. so maybe I could expand my diet a bit??

My thought is to maybe try just a few foods if I can obtain good sources locally (i.e. no hormones etc.) I certainly intend to continue to have the bulk of my diet be vegan. I was thinking maybe trying to sneak a few eggs into dishes, or maybe a bit of cheese? I don't really believe we are meant to eat dairy but at least I'd enjoy the taste of it... Ideally I'd just go with fish but I have never been able to stand even the thought of fish (to be fair, I haven't tried it since I was 7 or something). I don't think I could tolerate actually eating animal flesh anyway, but maybe it's just a mental block.

And, would it be weird to not tell anyone about my experiment? Like secretly eat animal products??? LOL I know that sounds strange but I'm worried I'll just want to go back to being vegan & confuse people in the process. And also not comfortable with more than a small amount of animal products. But I know I'll probably feel guilty if a friend prepares a special vegan dish for me while I go home & secretly eat an egg (though most of my friends are vegetarian or eat lots of veg dishes anyway). I'd feel equally awkward making some "guess what, I'm not vegan for now" announcement though. I guess I'm just not sure how to best handle it.

So, any 'been-there-done-that's?
post #2 of 50
Yes, I have btdt, and I do not regret going back to animal products. I feel much healthier now! What caused me to start back was nursing my son through a growth spurt and my body just would not relent on the meat craves! Finally after weeks of that, I realized that I listen to my body on everything else but not this? Why when my body was giving me this message?

Gtg now, try to comeback n post more later!
post #3 of 50

I was veg. for 8 years.  I really loved it, but found that it was unsustainable for me after 3 term pregnancies + breastfeeding those babies.  My third baby was last straw, so to speak.  After a lot of research and thought, I decided to pursue a TF diet, including meat, broth, eggs, and butter from pastured animals.  It was a very hard decision, but my husband could definitely tell a difference in my outlook, energy levels, and moods within about 6 weeks. (I couldn't really tell a difference, but it was very noticeable to him, and he strongly encouraged me to continue on with TF.)  So, yes, for me it was worth it.  I am still an omnivore, although I LOVE my veggies.  I find myself functioning best on more of a paleo diet with very few grains, which is considerably different from my veg. diet. 


If you are really interested in adding animal products to your diet, I think one of the easiest ways is through broths.  They aren't overwhelming, and they are rich in a variety of nutrients.  Another way is through soups, stews, stir-frys, etc. where meat is more of a complement to the dish, rather than the main focus of the meal.  Personally, we love salmon and tilapia, but IMO, fish is harder to eat because it is such a strong flavor.  Same thing with eggs.  


Good luck!  I hope that you can find the right path for you and your family.



post #4 of 50
Thread Starter 

I did try eating some dairy products yesterday but it didn't feel right (in other words, didn't feel like what my body needs?) plus I think DS had a reaction -- I like to keep our diets all the same. I also bought a few eggs to try & will try them tomorrow. I used to be allergic to eggs but something has been telling me that's what I need, though I tried dairy first because it's a more familiar food to me. If eggs are a no-go, I'm not sure where I'll go from there. Fish seems like a good choice but I've never eaten fish in my life (aside from tuna & fish sticks as a very young child) so I don't know if I'll like it. Broths would be a good option too since I could disguise the flavor... I just don't know if I could eat an actual animal in any form though, broth or meat. I guess I'll take it slowly & see what I feel moved to try -- I'm hoping just adding eggs will be sufficient.

I do think I'd benefit from being grain-free but I also feel like it would be INCREDIBLY hard for me, I just can't imagine not eating grains ever, I definitely rely on them way too much. TF appeals to me on some level but the huge emphasis on meat & dairy scares me off. IDK. This is all so new to me & so weird, I felt strange eating dairy yesterday & have no desire to do so ever again.
post #5 of 50
I second the advice to start out with some bone broths. They are full of minerals. If you're not ready to eat meat quite yet, you can buy bones from the butcher and use those. Add a little raw apple cider vinegar to help extract more minerals.

Eat what makes you feel best, not what someone else says you should eat.
post #6 of 50
Sushi was a good bridge for me. Cooked rolls are a good place to start coz they are yummy like candy! Order an avocado roll and like a cooked eel or crab roll, and then just alternate, it can be weird at first, but I dont think you will regret adding in some animal products to your diet.

I agree with broth, I actually craved bone broth more than anything else--you can cook your veggies or rice in it to kind of disguise it.

We had a former/questioning veg support thread going for a while that was really helpful to me at the time-maybe we should get another one going!

I felt so burned out on beans and grains that my body was rejecting them, and I did dairy then, too, I felt like all I was eating was cheese, beans, bread, totally felt bloated and moody and just like those foods were unappetizing. The first time I cooked eggs after being vegan, the smell was too strong, and I couldnt handle it, but now we have yard hens, and I love eggs for breakfast.

I definitely ave a noticeable improvement in mood, energy, hair/skin. Its hard to quantify, but I do feel healthier. Plus, I just was hungry hungry all the time and could not get full.

Now I am coping with having to accept that eating grains at this time is hurting me! I am kinda addicted to crunchy chip things and warm bread, but lately my stomach hurts every time I eat them greensad.gif so my understanding of the foods my body needs is still evolving.
post #7 of 50
Thread Starter 
Well I could definitely use a support thread. This is way harder than I thought. Eggs were incredibly tough to eat -- they smelled fine, they tasted OK I guess, but the minute they hit my stomach I felt nauseous. I only got a few bites down. I suppose I could bake them into something but that kind of defeats the goal of decreasing grains. I now have half a block of goat cheese & half a carton of eggs sitting in my fridge and no desire to go anywhere near them!! I don't know how I could handle bone broth or fish (foods I've never eaten) if I can't even handle foods I used to eat. I'm torn between giving up (yes, after 3 days, pathetic I know!!) or keep trying. I love being vegan and this is hard!!!
post #8 of 50

You know, it isn't all or nothing.  You don't have do conquer the world today, lol.  If you need a break from thinking about it, take a few days, or weeks, off, and then come back to it.  And if the only way you can eat an egg is in something baked, who cares?  You may, at some point, need to back off from eating so many grains, but do you *have* to do it today?  Can you gradually ease into it?  Also, I know it isn't necessarily the best, but sometimes it's easier to go to a really nice restaurant and eat meat/eggs/dairy/broth/etc. that someone else has cooked for you.  That way, you don't have to smell it while it's cooking, deal with the prep work, or see the mess in the kitchen afterwards.  I really like what JessicaRenee said: "Eat what makes you feel best, not what someone else thinks you should eat".  I would add to that, eat it how, when, and where it works for you, not how/when/where someone else think you should.  

post #9 of 50
Thread Starter 
LOL I am very much an all-or-nothing/black & white thinker. I do feel like I have to do this now, today, because it's something I've been toying with for YEARS so I have to do it now while I'm in this mode. Once I give up, it may be several more years before I'd be willing to try again, so it's kind of now or never! I am sick of feeling like crap... I've been sick for my entire marriage. I've been sick for DS's entire life. I just want to feel well again, and I know no matter what that it will take time but this is kind of a last resort, I can't afford any more doctors or tests, this is it. I am committing myself to two weeks, trying a small amount of animal products each day. I feel like I'm on the opposite of a detox diet lol, and I just have to get through the first few days.

Someone linked me to a flax bread recipe & DH made it this morning-- I hardly tasted the eggs and it was really yummy!! And only flax, no flours or anything. Awesome. smile.gif I am thinking you're right, gardenmommy -- I need to just have someone else prepare a few things for me so I don't get overwhelmed by the whole process. Plus I've never even cooked meat, since I've been veg since I was 12, though I love learning about food so I do have *some* idea of how to cook it. I think I might go to Trader Joe's and get one of their prepared meals with meat in it or something. Then it's less of a commitment, and if I don't like it I'm sure DH will finish it for me...

DS (who has been vegan since conception!) loves the eggs and he liked the cheese too, though not as over-the-top crazy for it as I expected. He likes every food he's ever tried anyway but I was still somewhat surprised that he seemed to physically tolerate it well and liked it and all. The other half of why I want to do this now is that DS is slowly weaning... he might continue to nurse a little for another year or two, who knows, but he's definitely getting way less breastmilk than just a few months ago and that was his only 'animal' food source. I thought being vegan was healthiest and best for him but now that he's not getting much breastmilk I'm questioning my stance and wondering if he'll end up as sick as me in a few years. So I owe it to him, too, to reevaluate our diet right now.
post #10 of 50

I hear you on needing to "strike while the iron is hot", lol.  I'm rather like that myself.  If you feel you have the momentum, then go for it!  I was very strict veg. (had the occasional dairy/egg/honey treat) when I was pregnant with DS1.  He tends toward the picky side by nature, but has adapted quite well to a more TF diet.  He's not really into new things, but will usually try them.  He was nearly 8 when we made the switch, he's now 13.  I think you can do it, although it may happen more in fits and spurts then all at once.  Be patient with yourself and your family, and don't get discouraged by things that aren't happening at the speed you want.

post #11 of 50

I just started eating eggs too. I've been vegan for 8+ years, vegetarian for about 10 years before that and I feel great.  The reason for the end of my vegan-ness is my daughter (age 5).  She really wanted pet hens.  So we got some chicks for her at the end of last summer.  They just started laying eggs a few weeks ago. 


I've been finding them pretty yucky in their pure form too - rather strong tasting.  Here are some ways I've been disguising them for the section of the family who is grossed out by the eggs:


Egg dumplings - Take about 1 cup of flour (maybe spelt if you don't eat wheat), break an egg or two into it.  Add a little salt and mix.  Add water if needed to make a stiff dough.  Knead, roll into little balls (about the size of beans) and cook for a few minutes in boiling water.  Serve with Earth Balance or pesto or marinara, etc.


Pancakes (buckwheat is good)




Chocolate Pudding


Corn Muffins


 I made custard last night, and unfortunately, the dog was the only one who really liked it.  Way too eggy.

Edited by dovey - 1/9/12 at 8:27pm
post #12 of 50
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the egg ideas! I need all the ideas I can get...

I had some meat last night (chicken at Chipotle's). So I did it. It was not as weird as I thought it would be, actually, and tasted just fine, especially with lots of hot sauce! I also felt full much more quickly... I usually just eat & eat & eat and never feel full even if my stomach is in pain. So maybe this is good. I don't know. DS tried it and seemed to like it. I thought he'd gorge on it lol, he has wanted to try meat for so long -- but he just had a few bites then ate his guacamole and talked about how much he loved the guac lol.

The other thing I've noticed is that allowing myself to do this 2-week experiment feels very freeing. I became vegetarian a few years before I became anorexic, and a few years after I became vegan, and I always say being vegan 'cured' my eating disorder. I guess it was a socially-acceptable channel for my obsessive control over food? (That's not to say I didn't have lots of other reasons/benefits with being vegan!) I never 'cheated' even once, not when I started getting sick, not when I was pregnant... I think, even if I go right back to being vegan in a week or so, that this is a really good experience for me mentally. I know that probably sounds strange, and maybe only makes sense to others who've had eating disorders... but I feel like being able to try this for a couple weeks is me being TRULY 'recovered' now. Unexpected plus, I guess.

So. I went shopping and got a few chicken and salmon burgers (already cooked, not sure I can deal with raw meat just yet!) and some butter and yogurt and more eggs. Just enough to get through the next week or so. No idea what I'm going to do with these items lol!
post #13 of 50
Here's the recipe I use for quinoa burgers... obviously, they aren't grain free but they're pretty tasty. The eggs hold them together but you don't taste them. I add cumin to mine and serve them with romainew lettuce for the "bun" and sliced avocado. http://shelookethwell.blogspot.com/2009/02/frugal-and-healthy.html
post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 
Thank you, looks yummy & I love quinoa!!!

Had a few bites of salmon with dinner tonight and *gasp* it was really really good!!! I have never ever tasted a fish I liked (although I never tried much lol). I was so shocked I liked it. smile.gif
post #15 of 50

Yay, crunchymommy! I'm glad you enjoyed the salmon patty!

Some of what you are saying about the food control stuff and identity was coming up on the former veg support thread--I think its a good idea to get one going again, how bout we stick on your thread for now since its pretty active, the get an ongoing one starting in Feb? I can relate to the ED stuff, too, and I feel like allowing myself to be free from guilt r shame when I eat and accepting that the foids that nourish my body are sometimes animal products has been really healing for me redface.gif

Have you tried butter or yogurt? The Oikos vanilla honey yogurt is heavenly, and I really feel soothed in my belly and body when I eat it--it's great for dipping apple slices or grapes in too. I think often its not just the animal protein, but the fats can be really good too, so maybe just some butter on cooked veggies?

Oh, an idea for the eggs: egg "noodles"- whisk two eggs together with seasoning of choice, ie garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce then pour out thin onto hot griddle or pan, cook in big thin disk, whne cooked through, slice into long noodles and serve, especially good in broth--a kale broth or miso broth are two of my faves. Also nice to top salads!

The goat cheese could go next to hummus and olives and crackers, just a little cheese with the rest of it.

Good journey! When I started, I did like you are and just would consume some kind of animal based food daily, even if it's just a little bit or you get on a kick with one thing for a while. hug.gif
post #16 of 50
Thread Starter 
Good ideas! I bought yogurt but only tried a bite of it. I am a little overwhelmed by dairy since I literally used to survive off it years ago!! But I will try more soon. And I got some good butter, cooked green beans in it & it was decent... I am avoiding cheese for a bit, I'm afraid I will find a cheese I love & not be able to stop eating it lol! I kind of want to keep dairy minimal but at the same time I really need to replace some of the processed junk we've been eating (Earth Balance, Daiya cheese, etc.) I never intended to rely on soy & processed stuff so much when I first went vegan...
Originally Posted by craft_media_hero View Post

Some of what you are saying about the food control stuff and identity was coming up on the former veg support thread--I think its a good idea to get one going again, how bout we stick on your thread for now since its pretty active, the get an ongoing one starting in Feb? I can relate to the ED stuff, too, and I feel like allowing myself to be free from guilt r shame when I eat and accepting that the foids that nourish my body are sometimes animal products has been really healing for me redface.gif
Yes let's start another thread in Feb. I'm glad you kind of understand about the food control thing, I feel kinda nuts talking about that & can't really talk about it in real life! Something dawned on me last night too... For a lot of the last several years I've been toying with giving up veganism but I wasn't able to take the plunge. About a month ago, I officially decided to take some space from my parents, trying to deal with some childhood stuff & figure things out... and now I really think that not having them involved in my life right now has made it easier to take this step. So weird because they were against me being vegan & would have supported this transition whole-heartedly... IDK, I guess I just discovered something that I can't put into words quite yet. The timing is interesting and not as irrelevant & out of the blue as I thought...
post #17 of 50

Hey crunchy_mommy and other former veg*ns--I remember some of you from our previous support thread!


Crunchy, it sounds like you're taking a lot of great steps. Congratulations on being committed to your own health and wellness! I feel like for me, it is truly healing to give myself permission to eat the foods that make me feel good. The only ED-type behavior I ever had was binge eating (balanced with some periods of restriction, of course), so my journey has been a bit different, but so much of my relationship with food has been healed over the last year or so as I transitioned into being an omnivore. This has been one of the best things I ever did, even though it felt really tough and awkward at first.


I still have huge issues with factory farming and the way a lot of animal foods are produced, but I've mostly figured out how to only give my money to farmers I really want to support. In fact, I'm sitting here right now drinking hot cocoa made with the raw goats milk we get delivered every week. I found some farmers who are just getting started and are truly kind to their animals, and they deliver raw milk and eggs to our doorstep. It's been a big relief for me to learn that I can be omni and still really care about farm animal welfare.

post #18 of 50


Edited by birdie.lee - 5/9/13 at 7:57am
post #19 of 50
Thread Starter 
birdie.lee, do you want to say more? I am really appreciating hearing everyone's experiences.

I haven't had any more meat/fish since first trying them but I will probably have a bit more tomorrow. Have AF and just really want my familiar food for a day or two I guess, though I'm experimenting with dairy a little at least. I am trying to figure out if I want to expand to other items or just stick to the things I've tried for a bit (chicken, salmon, eggs, yogurt, butter, & goat cheese). I have to admit, I'd really love to go out & get an ice cream sundae. With whipped cream!! That's the only thing I really really want. I don't even know what else to try. I don't want too much dairy and I'm a bit afraid that trying ice cream and cheddar cheese will lead me down the path of dairy addiction lol. OK so maybe that's a bit of leftover ED mentality. I had no idea how much I was still influenced by ED thoughts. Oh well.

I am feeling pretty good mentally & not too bad physically either.
post #20 of 50
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

The other thing I've noticed is that allowing myself to do this 2-week experiment feels very freeing.

This really stood out to me.  When I first decided to make the transition to eating meat, I was really making a decision to try a TF diet.  I gave myself 6 weeks to really try it, and then I told myself I could choose to either continue it, or go back to begin veg.  I, also, found that a defined time period for experimenting gave me a lot more freedom than I had otherwise felt in moving into the realm of eating animal foods again.

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