I was vegan for 2 years. I stopped eating meat and dairy cold turkey after being inspired by a vegan café in Seattle – and at first I felt amazing! My skin cleared up, I lost weight, my digestive system felt healthier than ever, and I had more energy. After I was vegan for around 9 or 10 months, I started having more break outs, my clothes started fitting tighter and I had way less energy than before. I have always been slightly anemic so I started taking an iron supplement and that helped for a while. For the past year I was mostly vegan but started eating more dairy products and occasionally slipped up and ate meat. When I ate meat I felt bad about it. When I started being vegan, I immersed myself in all of the documentaries and totally convinced myself that meat was bad for you. I didn’t want to eat meat but I had low energy and just felt like I needed more protein and iron. I was taking the iron supplement and started eating more tofu / high protein plant-based foods. I still felt like I wasn’t being as healthy as I could be. I also want to add that because I’m a flight attendant I am always traveling and sometimes I’m stuck on an airplane with very limited food options for 10 hours and vegan options are not always nutritious.
My sister is a Dietitian and works for Arivale – a scientific wellness company that does blood work and genetic testing. There are many tests you can do, but the Weight Loss Insight was the one I was most interested in. I sent in my genetic sample and quickly got results. My results included my genetic predisposition for:
-Weight Gain from Carbohydrates
-Weight Gain from Dietary Fat
-Weight Gain from Saturated Fat
-Weight Gain with Low Activity
-Obesity (Increased BMI)
-High Waist Circumference
-Bitter Taste Preference
-Sugar Taste Sensitivity
These are my results from Carbs and Fat:
After getting these results back, my first thought was “I need to eat more protein and less fat / carbs”
Looking at my results, you might think I am able to eat more carbs, but after talking to my sister I learned that a lot of results are actually lower than mine. For example, here is my sister’s result for “Weight Gain from Carbohydrates”
Hers is much lower than mine. I can still eat a good amount of carbs, but on my vegan diet I ate way too many. I needed more protein. I know the “where do you get your protein” argument is old, but in my case I just felt like it was hard to get the protein I needed while trying to consume less fat and less carbs from plant-based food. I love tofu / tempeh, but I got soooooo tired of it. I got tired of protein powders and I got tired of never really feeling full for the last few months that I was a true vegan. People tend to look at a vegan diet as being low-fat, but unless you’re home all the time and able to cook for yourself every meal, the opposite is true. I don’t want to get started on how much fat is in vegan “cheese” and other vegan food replacements. There have been so many times that the only vegan option at a restaurant was by far the unhealthiest thing on the menu. Either that or it’s a salad with only lettuce and carrots and you leave just as hungry as you came. When you’re gone as much as me, this becomes an issue.
Three weeks ago I decided to start regularly eating meat again and I feel so much better. Before going vegan, I hardly ever ate fruits or vegetables and I’m sure that’s why I felt so amazing when I first changed my eating habits. I am thankful for these 2 years because now I feel off if I don’t eat enough fruits and veggies in a day. Most days I will have one meal with meat and naturally I want the other meals to be meatless because that’s what I am used to. I also believe that is what’s healthiest – everything in moderation!! A small amount of lean meat provides way more protein than I was used to getting so I am feeling full way longer. The iron absorption of meat is much higher than plant-based foods too so hopefully soon I will feel fine without taking any iron supplements. Now, there are so many healthy options everywhere I go! Lean meat with a side of veggies is a staple almost everywhere. I feel good about this change but I would never take back my 2 vegan years. In the end, it’s about learning what works best for your body – if that’s being vegan then good for you! But don’t be afraid to change up your habits and learn how to be the healthiest you can be.