May 23, 2017 was the day I stopped eating vegetables. When I think back to when I was 16, those words would have never left my mouth. At the naive age of 16 I became a vegetarian. Why you ask? Because at the time I believed I was saving the world and being a good human by abstaining from eating “flesh”. Flash forward some 20 plus years and now I have been on the opposite side of this debate for almost as long as I was a vegetarian. In hindsight, I had to experience both to truly see and live the difference. There is no way you can truly know anything for certain until you walk a mile in “their” shoes. And diet is no exception.
Living a la meat free
Like I mentioned before I was a vegetarian that lived on potatoes, salads and fruits with the occasional tofu thrown if for good measure. Not to mention almost nightly visits to the bathroom from indigestion, heartburn, body aches and menstrual pains like I was birthing a whale. All in all, I wasn’t very smart in my younger years and I will be the first to admit I probably wasn’t “doing it right” so perhaps my experience was set to fail from the start. Either way, I did what I did and I have lived to tell the tale. This is my own anectodal evidence of why abstaining from animal based products for 6 years created an internal and external tsunami I am still recovering from.
When I originally started my vegetarian ways, I was 16. I also drank like a fish. Smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day and the “occasional” indulge in recreational drugs. Either way I was young and dumb and not using my head most of the time. By the time I was 17 I had terminated the drinking, cut back on the drugs to a few times a week and kept the smoking habit. By 18, I had quit drinking and all drugs but kept the smoking as my last vice. Between the ages of 18 and 22 I was making a consciousness effort to be “healthier” as much as possible. The drugs and drinking were easy to throw away but the smokes were by far the hardest to quit. It was a hard road but I did manage to quit it all by the time I was 22. Coincidentally, that was also the time I started eating meat again. Since I was 16 I have struggled with food addiction, chronic fatigue, lethargy, painful menstrual cramps, skin acne, keratosis pillaris, chronic yeast infections, indigestion, weight gain, mental fog, chronic outbreaks of strep throat, bouts of depression, and an overall sense of low self esteem. I hated my body. Plain and simple. I hated how I felt in it. And what it looked like
Typical of an any teenager I’m sure. However, this continued well into my 30’s even after loosing weight, getting fit, healing some aches and pains but somehow still feeling unwholesome. Like something was always missing. It was more than just the physical aspects, it was deeper than that. Beneath the layers I was lost and trying to find shore but always drowning in bad habits and a food addiction that I could not get away from. I was an addict. I would gorge myself on pasta, breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, rice, bagels, “heart healthy” chips, nuts and my vice, Nutella. I lived with a spoon in my couch and would eat it by the spoonful when no one was looking. Then I’d go do HIIT classes, Zumba, beach body programs, running, weight training, spin classes, barre classes, anything that was the “in the moment” new craze. I did it all. And although I would loose the weight temporarily, the inner demons would always re-surface.
How it started
What I learned from my own experience as a vegetarian was that I did no self study or self work during those years. I simply took the accountability factor out of the equation and did it aimlessly with no thought to what I was doing. My need to feel like a “good human” outweighed what my body was telling me. And what my body was telling me was that I was drowning in my own ego. I was feeding the wrong beast. At the time however, my internal compass was hijacked by the powers that told me abstaining from meat was good for the planet. I was saving the animals by not eating them. Over and over this was the lie that I kept like a mantra close to my heart. And like mentioned before, I created an internal tsunami that took me years to overcome.
However in 2018 I started what most people close to me thought was a death wish. I threw away all the nutritional dogma and went fully animal based. You can read all about that here. That was the catalyst that set everything in motion.
How it’s going NOW
This past May I reached a pivotal milestone in my carnivore journey. I have abstained from eating vegetables, grains and sugars for 5 years. And in those 5 years I have learned many lessons. But most of all I found myself buried under decades of misguided advice. The most important benefit of this journey so far has been the ability to truly learn to listen to my body and tune into parts of my being that have been repressed for years. I take full accountability for my health and my life. That is a freedom that I cannot express with words because that is a space that you can only find through experience. Our limited and narrow land space of human existence prevents us from truly feeling alive and in tune with our bodies and our daily lives. What we eat is more than what we consume. It is an all encompassing wholesome approach to living.
Furthermore, consuming an all animal based diet has taught me that when we give our bodies what it needs life, just becomes easier to navigate. We are no longer living constantly engrossed and fixated on our next food venture. There is an ability to move throughout your day with ease because we are no longer fixated on that next meal. When you no longer have to overthink your food, your mind expands. This expansion leads to a calmer state of being. Your mood stabilizes because your primitive mind isn’t fixated on that meal. You are satiated and no longer clinging to the inner demons that feed on your emotions. In the past I would rummage through my pantry anytime an uncomfortable emotion would rise to the surface. Anytime I was faced with a challenge I would cling to my food like an anchor. A part of me always found solace in food. And unfortunately that food was never anything good for me. It was always fast, quick and easy and most likely always filled with sugar. Perhaps it was the dopamine and the rush of instant gratification. Something that most of us are all very familiar with.
During this period of experimenting with my food, I have developed an inner awareness that I whole heartedly believe stems from becoming aware of what your food does to your body. The inner workings are not visible to our sense of sight but when we are open to exploring the more subtle nuances, we discover a world untapped before. We learn to discern how the food we consume affects our physical space. We even begin to look at the world with a fresh pair of eyes. This new sense of awareness also expands to other areas of your life. Being able to tackle emotional eating was one of the biggest hurdles I have overcome. And in so doing, I have overcome other personal hurdles that go beyond just the physical plane of my existence.
Things I have learned
Interestingly, everything that I have experienced first hand for myself has been pivotal in my growth. From a malnourished, depressed and angry vegetarian teenager to a nourished, happy and calm forty something year old, this journey has been my own. I have walked through an addiction to food. A depression that spanned over three decades. Numerous skin and gastrointestinal conditions that left me with body dysmorphia. Lost relationships that left me dealing with deep rooted abandonment issues. And a plethora of unmasking toxic relationships, which I was a part of cultivating. In the end, what I have gained far outweighs what I have lost.
My passion for living this way stems from my own transformation. Seeing the changes within myself I feel compelled to share my story with others. There is a way out and it doesn’t involve pills or surgery. It doesn’t even involve years of therapy. It simply requires a sense of curiosity and an eagerness to change. That need for change however has to be cultivated on an individual level. This isn’t about anyone but yourself. You are your only saviour. No one is coming to save you. And your health is your responsibility. How you choose to show up day in and day out rests solely on your shoulders. Once you take accountability for how you live and take charge of your health, the world changes. And the only reason the world changes is because you become the change.
Only the discipled are ever truly free
The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passionsStephen Convey