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! :)