health

From Paleo to Plant-Based: Why I Returned to a “Vegan” lifestyle

So let me preface this post with a couple of things:

1) “Vegan” is in quotes in my title because I am NOT vegan but I am plant-based. I just didn’t want to reuse the word plant-based in the title two times :). I’m not vegan because I do eat small amounts of raw, local, organic honey and my whole life is not vegan. I eat plant-based (I don’t consume animal products besides honey) but I do still wear animal based clothing (which I hope to eventually switch out… baby steps). I believe all my beauty products (or most of them) are vegan but will be double checking as I use up a product and before buying a new one.

2) Many people follow my blog because I post PALEO recipes and some of you may have a fit that I went plant-based. But please, stick around and read this whole post to find out why! I’m still going to be posting amazing recipes and most will be paleo, I just won’t be cooking meat.

Delicious date granola with fresh fruit
Delicious date granola with fresh fruit

I want to walk you all through this.

Why did I go back to plant-based?
First, some background. I grew up eating meat but then in high school I decided to go vegetarian, for a few reasons. I stuck to it for a while and then started eating chicken again and eventually fish and all meat. Mostly because it was easier, although I did try to eat mainly vegetarian through my freshman year of college. Eventually I went paleo, almost exactly 4 years ago, actually! When I got sick I became more interested in paleo and stuck to it. About 2 years ago I decided to go raw vegan for healing. I LOVED it. I was less bloated, had less abdominal pain, and improving my digestion was a big deal because I react to almost everything I eat. I wasn’t doing it right, though. I wasn’t eating enough and felt run down (like the tired you feel when your body needs fuel) so I returned to paleo not realizing it was because I just wasn’t eating enough as a vegan.

About a month ago I decided to go back to vegan. It started with reading Skinny Bitch which sincerely opened my eyes. I then watched almost every food documentary on Netflix. I recommend Cowspiracy, Vegucated, and Forks Over Knives. I watched this speech by Gary Yourofsky. I became painfully aware of the harm every aspect of meat can cause. I learned that meat production is horrible for the environment (yes, even grass fed meat), it’s even worse for our health, especially cancer and chronic illness (Have you read the China Study?!), I learned how horribly animals are treated in slaughterhouses (yes, even grass fed, organic meat). I watched film footage from inside slaughterhouses and balled my eyes out. Yes, I did cry like a little baby.

Some quick facts (thanks to Cowspiracy):
-The meat and dairy industry use 1/3 of earths fresh water
-1.5 acres of land provides 370,000 lbs of plant based food OR 375 lbs of meat (uh, we could feed seriously more people with 370,000 lbs of food vs 375)
-You need 1/16th acre of land to feed one vegan for a whole year, you need 18x that much land to feed a meat eater for 1 year.

I want you all to understand that I have done my research. This post will be entirely too long if I provide all the specific facts, so maybe I will save that for another day. But for now, I encourage you to read and watch the above documentaries. I will point out that Skinny Bitch and a couple of those documentaries do discuss vegan junk food and vegan alternatives for non-vegan foods. I absolutely do not agree with this. Just because something is vegan (or gluten free or low fat or whatever it may be) does not mean it is healthy and should be eaten. I promote a whole-foods, plant-based diet that relies on fruits and veggies as the main source of nutrient dense food you should consume. I not believe soy is healthy or something we should be consuming on a regular basis and I believe the chemicals in processed foods (even vegan foods) are completely destructive to the human body.

Fresh, all-natural, earth-provided fuel
Fresh, all-natural, earth-provided fuel

So what do I eat?
A lot of veggies.

Here is an example of a typical day:

I start my day with a big green smoothie filled with greens, fruit, and super foods. I always top it with hemp seeds!
I start my day with a big green smoothie filled with greens, fruit, and super foods. I always top it with hemp seeds!
Sometimes this is lunch sometimes dinner. But lunch is usually raw veggies of some sort or a salad or another smoothie.
Sometimes this is lunch sometimes dinner. But lunch is usually raw veggies of some sort or a salad or another smoothie.
This is only one example of dinner. I like to make lettuce taco boats filled with veggies and sweet potatoes. Sometimes I make a big veggie soup or another big salad with potato/sweet potato fries on the side. Or zoodles with butternut squash “cheese” sauce. Possibilities are endless!

If you’d like me to do a detailed “What I Ate Today” post, let me know in the comments below! I’ll provide all my food, snacks, and recipes for that day.

So how do I feel?

I LOVE being vegan. My digestion isn’t fixed, my Lyme isn’t cured, my symptoms haven’t gone away (YET), but let me explain why I LOVE IT. First, I’m not harming the amazing, beautiful animals on this earth. My digestion has improved, again, not fixed and it still has a long way to go. BUT I have far less bloating and pain, I can handle more foods, as well. When I was paleo I felt sick every time I ate, I constantly looked pregnant and felt weighed down. I kept gaining weight and felt very inflamed. I reacted to every single food I ate.

I realized the meat and high-fat diet was causing this! It was destroying my digestive tract, I just couldn’t digest and handle that type of food. As a plant-based eater I can eat more foods, including limited beans and lentils, more (gluten-free) grains, and I don’t get a headache and stomach ache every time I eat. I’ve lost weight and inflammation. I handle raw food far better, as well. I try to make a majority of my diet raw (so many nutrients in those raw foods!) and eat cooked food in the evenings.

Raw vegan pizza from my favorite restaurant! You can eat out and you can eat amazing food as a vegan
Raw vegan pizza from my favorite restaurant! You can eat out and you can eat amazing food as a vegan

I truly do hope to inspire more people to switch to a plant-based lifestyle. Please let me know in the comments if you have questions, concerns, or are curious about any aspect of why I went plant-based.

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8 thoughts on “From Paleo to Plant-Based: Why I Returned to a “Vegan” lifestyle”

  1. Wonderful post Victoria. This has helped me alot in my own food based issues. You have embraced your decisions well.

    I just wanted to update you on my Lyme treatment as I had promised a few months back. I am months behind you in the LDI for Lyme protocol. I had my first Lyme dose (I see a naturopath so I am doing it sublingually) about 10 days ago, after having a dose for inhalants and a dose for food intolerance. Unfortunately I am still struggling with wet, weepy and itchy eyes, but I have had a few hours a couple days apart over the last 10 days with reduced inflammation pain in my body. I am on a return to work schedule and this meant that I actually could work for a few hours without the constant distraction of body pain. It’s so hopeful. Not to minimize or suggest I wasn’t still having body pain. In actual fact, I found I also had a rcurrence of pain in areas of the body I had not seen in a year. So I had some improvement but also some increased pain. My naturopath said that of her patients who started treatment in May/June, they have found substantial recovery/improvement in less than 5 months time. I am so very hopeful that I will see the same. All my best to you. Patty

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    1. Thank you for the update! Very exciting to hear you are on a return to work schedule and making some progress, even if slow. It’s not surprising old/new pains arose as things get pushed out, moved around, and some herxing occurs. I truly hope this treatment helps and you make some amazing progress in the next few months! LDI hasn’t seemed to do much for me (which isn’t the most surprising, I don’t react well to many treatments ha) but will continue to work on it!

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  2. Wondering if you have tried the sea salt and vitamin C protocol for Lyme? I knew someone who had great luck with it but that was just one person. I was Pescatarian for about two years after reading Skinny Bitch. Eventually my health became worse than before when I ate a natural but standard american diet and I switched to Paleo with the encouragement of my Naturopath. After four years it is still the best for me personally but the less treats I eat the better I feel. Anything sweet in excess bloats me and gives me extreme fatigue and body aches, I have Fibromyalgia. I think each body responds differently to food and people must find what really works for their body. Glad you found something that works for you!

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    1. I have not tried it but I have heard of it. Seems hit or miss (like most Lyme treatments). I think everyones body is different and different things (treatments, diets, etc) work for different people- so I agree with you on that! I do believe in a plant-based diet for everyone, it’s just about finding the right way to do it and vegan foods to eat that work for you. But I’m glad that Paleo is working for you and you are feeling better!

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  3. Have you already done the what I would eat post of a day, or a few days even, in your life? Been on a similar journey and yummie ideas are a must with a two year old eating with us.
    🙂

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    1. I actually have returned to a paleo diet. I share more about this on my YouTube channel if you are interested. I got very sick doing a plant-based diet and my health completely plummeted.

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  4. I’m making dinner for a friend tonight!
    Cooked turkey breasts and 2 salads: (1)grated beets on a bed of arugula with a touch of goat cheese garnish, and (2)sliced fennel and green apple with olive oil, lemon juice and olives. They both are good on Day 2 as well, so left overs are ok.

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