It’s been just about a year since I called it quits with my long-term vegan diet.
After initially feeling great eating plant-based, two years later it started to take a serious toll on my health and well-being.
Painful migraines, extremely low energy, crazy blood sugar rollercoaster rides, and poor digestion were just some of the long list of problems I developed after long-term veganism.
I was so set on making the vegan diet work for my body even though I knew something was wrong.
It wasn’t until I went to see my doctor in August of 2017 that I finally let go of my beloved plant-based diet. The results I received from my doctor were so upsetting that there was no way I could ignore them. I was deficient in countless vitamins and minerals.
I knew what I had to do.
I left the doctor’s office, walked straight to Whole Foods Market, bought myself a piece of wild-caught salmon, and came home to cook it.
I’d been craving fish and all kinds of seafood for months. It was certainly difficult to purchase and prepare the fish after being removed from the process for so long.
However, when I took the first few bites of salmon I knew instinctively that I had made the right decision. My body was screaming “YES! Finally, you’re giving me what I need!”
I felt a sense of fullness I hadn’t felt in years. Not only just physically — but mentally and emotionally as well.
The last thing I want to do after separating myself from veganism is jump right into another label. However, for purposes of describing my current diet — flexitarian checks all the boxes.
I would describe myself as someone who eats a largely plant-focused diet but incorporates animal protein on an as-needed basis.
There were so many aspects of a vegan diet that I loved. I am so grateful that I learned so much through veganism.
I loved eating lots of plants (I’ve always been a huge fan of fruits and veggies). I also discovered so many different types of vegetables I never knew I liked — and mastered making them taste absolutely delicious.
More importantly, I learned that humans can survive — perhaps not thrive long term in my case — on plants without needing to eat meat with every meal or even every day.
Many people focus on how much protein they’re eating, but just as concerning is the quality of the protein. Prior to veganism, I never thought twice about the meat I was consuming.
Where did these animals come from? What did they eat? Were they in confinement or roaming freely in their natural habitats?
All of these questions became extremely important to me once I started eating animal protein again. I made it a priority to purchase high-quality grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic, wild-caught, sustainable protein.
Better for me and better for the animals and environment. This was definitely a game changer for me.
The base of my diet these days consists largely of veggies — and a lot of avocados if I’m being honest. I also allow myself the flexibility to eat eggs, meat, or fish when I want them.
Right now, this way of eating works very well for me. I feel so much more balanced. I’m getting the benefits of eating lots of plants while also nourishing myself with high-quality animal protein.
Some of the most impressive changes I’ve experienced since eating this way are clearer skin, better sleep, balanced hormones, balanced blood sugar, less bloat, better digestion, and more energy.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that our bodies are always changing and we can’t be afraid to listen and adapt.
If you’re interested in trying out a flexitarian diet, check out this detailed beginners’ guide!
Based in New York City, Alexandra Ashback is the content creator behind the popular Instagram account @veggininthecity. She loves creating delicious and healthy meals and sharing them with her community. Alex is passionate about practicing yoga and mindfulness.