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How My Primal Instincts Led Me to... Veganism

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  • How My Primal Instincts Led Me to... Veganism

    I recognize that this might not be what a lot of people here want to hear, but I've been following MDA for almost a year and a half now, and I consider what I learned on this site to be the foundation of my dietary journey.

    That said, on January 4th, I ingested my last egg. Since then, I have not consumed any animal products, and I have never felt better.

    Over the past 2 years, I've toyed around with various dietary philosophies. I had been a vegetarian for ~7 years, though during that time I ate just about the saddest SAD foods you can find: my food groups were something like soda, coffee, bread, pizza, french fries, candy, and cookies... It wasn't until my second semester away at college that I realized I needed to make some changes. I was severely depressed, anxious, doing poorly in my classes, having trouble falling asleep, trouble waking up, trouble staying awake...

    First thing I did was give up soda. Of course, I weaned myself off it slowly with sugary lemonades and "Vitamin" Water. Next, I got back into working out. Obsessively. I lost the "freshman fifteen" I'd gained and then some. I was spending at least an hour on the elliptical daily, and eating nowhere near enough to replenish the calories I'd burned. I was subsisting on coffee, protein bars (read: denatured soy, sugar, and chemicals), apples, carrots, string cheese, Odwalla juices, and bread--but I looked so good, I thought I had it all figured out. Except, of course, when I couldn't fall asleep at night and my depression became so severe that I had to take a year off from school.

    During that time, my exercising was out of control. I would get on the elliptical at around 11 P.M. and wouldn't stop working out until sometimes 1 or 2 A.M. (I should mention that in my super-SAD high school years I struggled with anorexia, compulsively comparing my "calories in" to my "calories out" since I had been taught that that was all that mattered). A counselor recommended that I change my diet to deal with my depression and anxiety, and I took her very seriously.

    Soon, I was reading all the nutritional information I could get my hands on. It started with "Fit For Life" and obsessive food combining, but eventually, trying not to mix cruciferous vegetables with seeds, etc. was making me so insane that I had to find something else. I was, by this time, a self-proclaimed nutrition expert, my mind filled with silly pseudo-science I'd picked up from Google.

    Around then, I discovered Mark's Daily Apple and realized first and foremost that I needed to kick my lifelong bread habit. Soon I had cut out all grains and become an omnivore for the first time since I was 12. I didn't yet know, of course, that the meat I was eating was disgusting, factory-farmed, hormone-laden, and chock full of antibiotics. But soon I figured that out.

    Somewhere along the line I picked up on another buzzword--"organic"--and learned about rBGH. I switched to grass-fed meat and organic eggs/dairy and even ate wild salmon despite my taste buds' complaints. I took great pride in being able to say that I was low-carb, I biked 10 miles almost every day and ate TONS of a new favorite vice: bananas, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt.

    Soon I realized Greek yogurt was creepy and denatured, especially the low-fat stuff I'd been eating daily, and I switched to whole milk stuff, and later grass-fed local yogurt. But something still felt off. This thought constantly haunted the back of my mind that the animals I was eating, and those whose milk/eggs I was consuming, were not granted things I considered necessary to a happy life: the ability to go outside at will, to run and play and go where they pleased, to NOT be constantly pregnant (laying hens) or constantly lactating (dairy cows).

    First thing I did was cut out dairy, since that was common in the primal community anyway. Easy enough. I ate more nuts, more dark chocolate, more veggies. I stopped exercising so much. I felt better. But still the thought plagued me that what I was doing wasn't "right." By eating these eggs, I was essentially saying "This other being should endure a life that I would consider lacking so that I, King Human, can eat her unborn babies." I learned about the pollution of the waterways my wild salmon swam in. I realized more and more that I could not trust the meat industry--that even if there was a stamp saying "grass fed, antibiotic free" on my ground beef, that didn't mean that it wasn't entirely made of feet/tails/other undesirable parts so the quality stuff could be sold for greater profit as steaks, etc.

    Before humanity wrecked the soil, the waterways, and the air, the earth was probably a lot different. Grok didn't have to worry that the meat he ate might have lived on a feedlot, descended from a long line of suffering at human hand. Grok needed the protein because he was chasing down said meat all day. Grok didn't have a long history of human knowledge to tell him which berries were safe, which weren't, which were high in vitamin C and anti-oxidants... He lived in a time when animals roamed free. We don't.

    This isn't an argument against meat-eating altogether--it seems, for example, that if a person lived and worked on a legit family farm, and a chicken died, that NOT eating it would be more wasteful and unethical than eating it. But I'm not that person. I don't get to see where my meat comes from. I can't trust that it's clean or that it died painlessly--I can't even trust that it wasn't strung up by its hind leg while still alive and murdered while fully conscious. After reading about the way animals' immune systems respond to stress (the same way ours do, incidentally--with masses of cortisol, adrenaline, etc. stored in their tissue), the nagging thought in the back of my mind that I was inheriting some kind of mortal pain with the chicken I ate seems truer than ever.

    My dad was diagnosed with cancer sometime before my journey to the perfect diet began. At first, I dismissed it, as many Americans do, as something that happens as we age, like a lightning strike, horrible but unpreventable. Now I see it in a different light. I have been happily subsisting on (organic) raw nuts, veggies, fruit, gluten-free grains (mostly rice and millet), and legumes (no peanuts, no soy) for some time now. I have a theory that the phytates so feared by primalites are actually beneficial--they can bind with other nutrients, but surely that means they possess some kind of cleansing effect, an ability to take with them undesirable bits and pieces when they leave the digestive tract?

    The "modern world" is based on mass cruelty and suffering. Animals are regarded as lesser beings, their suffering as just "part of the food chain," a step in between alive and on our plates that we choose conveniently not to think about. I'm not saying I'll never eat an animal product again--perhaps if one day I'm living on the savannah and starving, I'll chase down a wild boar and nourish my tired muscles with its flesh.

    But for now, I spend most of my time sitting behind a desk. I hardly think I need to. Peace everybody, keep following your instincts!
    Last edited by 2ndChance; 01-25-2013, 02:08 PM.

  • #2
    You can buy happy animals, that are treated well you know that right?
    And that are killed gently? And by hand, not machine?

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    • #3
      Mark Sisson's wife and daughter, I believe, are vegetarians. I think one could pull it off, but can't see me doing it.

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      • #4
        Grass-fed and grass-finished do not live in feedlots either. One option is to go to farmer's markets and meet the farmers themselves.

        I respect your choice even if I don't agree with it. To each his own.
        "It's a great life, if you don't weaken.". John Buchan

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ayla2010 View Post
          You can buy happy animals, that are treated well you know that right?
          And that are killed gently? And by hand, not machine?
          Perhaps, but not without great effort (for me, anyway, I live in a bit of a "food desert"--it took an hour's drive just to find the grass-fed stuff). What I've read about animal protein, IGF-1, and cancer indicates to me that the effort might not be worth it. *shrug*

          I think the thing I've learned most throughout this is not to trust anyone who stands to make a buck off me.
          Last edited by 2ndChance; 01-25-2013, 01:51 PM.

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          • #6
            You'll be back. Your health WILL fail.Its only a matter of time.

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            • #7
              Just a point of clarification- dairy cows are kept almost perpetually pregnant to support the perpetual lactation. The laying hens are just ovulating. Commercial eggs are almost never fertilized.

              I'm with Ayla. There is a lot of crap that goes on in the meat and dairy industry, but we are omnivores by nature, and you can find ethically-raised meat and dairy. In fact, buying a dozen eggs a week from a neighbor with chickens might just help that neighbor afford to keep the chickens.
              http://cattaillady.com/ My blog exploring the beginning stages of learning how to homestead. With the occasional rant.

              Originally Posted by TheFastCat: Less is more more or less

              And now I have an Etsy store: CattailsandCalendula

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              • #8
                I heard an interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in which she spoke about why people who go vegan initially feel great, and then eventually begin to experience failing health, and it made so much sense. Plant foods are cleansing. If you are struggling with illness and need to clean your body out, plant foods are great for that. So you start to feel better as your body is cleansing from illness. But she says that it's not something that you can sustain for long periods of diet and still experience good health.
                Animal foods, on the other hand, are nourishing. Ideally you have a balance of nourishing and cleansing foods.

                In any case, more power to you if you feel better being vegan. But if at some point if your health begins to deteriorate, you may want to consider adding in some nourishing foods again.

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                • #9
                  Wow. I am new to this Primal thing, this is sure food for thought - so to speak. Good post.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Happy Paleo Girl View Post
                    Animal foods, on the other hand, are nourishing.
                    I'm not trying to devalue the rest of what you said, but this stood out to me. Animal foods aren't inherently nourishing--the meat of feedlot cattle is definitely NOT, for example. I feel better not just physically but emotionally and spiritually. I don't believe in causing any more suffering than is absolutely necessary. If my health does "fail," you can be certain that I won't cling to the vegan ideology any more than I clung to yogurt when I was feeling mucous-y.

                    I don't want to force others to live a life I wouldn't want to live. Humans or animals. I buy my clothes secondhand so as not to support sweatshops. I won't force another animal to be perpetually pregnant unless I absolutely have to. Right now, it doesn't seem like I do.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Happy Paleo Girl View Post
                      I heard an interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in which she spoke about why people who go vegan initially feel great, and then eventually begin to experience failing health, and it made so much sense. Plant foods are cleansing. If you are struggling with illness and need to clean your body out, plant foods are great for that. So you start to feel better as your body is cleansing from illness. But she says that it's not something that you can sustain for long periods of diet and still experience good health.
                      Animal foods, on the other hand, are nourishing. Ideally you have a balance of nourishing and cleansing foods.

                      In any case, more power to you if you feel better being vegan. But if at some point if your health begins to deteriorate, you may want to consider adding in some nourishing foods again.
                      I would agree with this. I dont think an entirely vegan diet is completely sustainable long term without some form of animal, even used as a supplement. Even just a tsp of cod liver oil and some grassfed cheese would go a long way in a vegan diet.

                      2ndChance, what are you doing about B-12, retinol, k2 and Iron?

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                      • #12
                        I just don't want to base my diet on words anymore. It used to be that I'd eat things I didn't want to eat because I read that I should eat them. But to me, it seems more natural to trust my heart than to craft my diet to fit guidelines I read about on the internet. It's been so long since I ate processed foods that I feel confident trusting my taste buds--sometimes they seem to say, for example, GIVE ME BANANA! but they don't speak in words. Chasing down what my taste buds want seems very Grok-ish to me. Planning my meals around a bunch of numbers and letters, not so much.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 2ndChance View Post
                          The "modern world" is based on mass cruelty and suffering. Animals are regarded as lesser beings, their suffering as just "part of the food chain," a step in between alive and on our plates that we choose conveniently not to think about. I'm not saying I'll never eat an animal product again--perhaps if one day I'm living on the savannah and starving, I'll chase down a wild boar and nourish my tired muscles with its flesh.
                          Don't you forget that plants are living beings as well, that tries to protect themselves against herbivorous like you! Well, they may voluntarily let you eat their fruits though, to spread their semen…
                          "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                          - Schopenhauer

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 2ndChance View Post
                            The "modern world" is based on mass cruelty and suffering. Animals are regarded as lesser beings, their suffering as just "part of the food chain," a step in between alive and on our plates that we choose conveniently not to think about. I'm not saying I'll never eat an animal product again--perhaps if one day I'm living on the savannah and starving, I'll chase down a wild boar and nourish my tired muscles with its flesh.
                            Originally posted by Lierre Keith
                            “What do plants eat? They eat dead animals; that’s the problem. For me that was a horrifying realization. You want to be an organic gardener, of course, so you keep reading ‘Feed the soil, feed the soil, feed the soil…’

                            All right. Well, what does the soil want to eat? Well, it wants manure, and it wants urine, and it wants blood meal and bone meal. And I…could not face that. I wanted my garden to be pure and death-free. It didn’t matter what I wanted: plants wanted those things; they needed those things to grow.”
                            Enjoy your journey into self-delusion and poor health. We'll still be here when you're ready to be nourished again.
                            The Champagne of Beards

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                            • #15
                              I heard an interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in which she spoke about why people who go vegan initially feel great, and then eventually begin to experience failing health
                              Yup. I was a happy vegan for two years, until I was suddenly extremely sick.

                              It's not really worth arguing with the OP, because I remember the righteousness of youth and how awesome it felt to be absolutely sure I knew absolutely everything. The moral righteousness of veganism is pretty heady, too.

                              This quote tells me really everything I need to know about where he's at as far as life experience:

                              But to me, it seems more natural to trust my heart than to craft my diet to fit guidelines I read about on the internet.
                              *shrug* Safe travels, guy.

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