How to Ditch the Plant-Based Diet to Meat-BasedAug 23, 2022
How to make the switch from plant-based to animal-based and regain your health.
A vegan diet was a huge part of my identity in my early 20’s. In fact I was vegetarian, vegan or raw vegan for nearly 8 years as I pursued the “optimal health” I so desired.
In truth, following a vegan diet helped me tremendously at first. I recognize now that this is because I was avoiding dairy for the first time in my life. According to the Carrol Intolerance Method, which I consider the premier food evaluation technique on the market, I am dairy intolerant. It makes perfect sense to me that my gut would initially do kart-wheels over any diet change that removed this toxic burden from my digestive tract.
However as time passed my energy dropped, my skin suffered, my hormones tanked and I plummeted towards ill-health. The more time that passed and the more strict I became in my veggie-only-diet, the sicker I got. And let me just pause and say, I did veganism “right” and filled up on mostly veggies, some fruit and minimal grains, beans, nuts and seeds. I almost never ate processed food. The two foods I was definitely NOT getting enough of was protein and healthy fat.
Since I was choosing a vegan diet for health reasons, it was a no-brainer for me to abandon that lifestyle when ample evidence suggested that incorporating animal foods back into my diet might benefit my overall health and move me closer to my goals of better energy, digestion, skin health and hormone balance.
But just because I was willing, doesn’t mean it was easy. In fact, it was excruciatingly difficult at first to add in animal products because my body was so deplete in certain nutrients and adapted to digesting plant fibers that I wasn’t equipped to properly handle animal proteins and fats. This is where supplements saved the day.
The body has very different ways of digesting animal foods vs plant foods and it starts in the stomach. Stomach acid gets blamed for all sorts of digestive upsets, but the acid is there to do a job and if its irritating you, its because what you are eating is not optimal for YOUR body. I can’t tell you how many case of heart burn resolved immediately after removing a simple Carroll food intolerance from a patients diet.
Your body produces much less stomach acid on a vegetarian or vegan diet than it does on a carnivore diet. So, when you begin to add animal foods into your diet after a period of eating plant-based, you will likely need some stomach acid support and maybe some digestive enzymes. Supplemental stomach acid comes in the form of Betaine HCL. I recommend working with a naturopathic physician to determine how much is appropriate for you. I also find my patients do better on a digestive enzyme that contains proteases and lipases (protein and fat enzymes) to help break down the higher levels of these macronutrients that are generally low in plant-based diets. With time your body will begin producing higher levels of these enzymes naturally and you will not need any supplements.
Finally, the key is to start small. If you’ve ever had a dog and switched it to a new diet, you probably remember titrating the old food out and the new food in. This is to allow the digestive tract to adjust to the new formula. Think of your body the same way. Instead of jumping right into a 16oz rib-eye, maybe just try a steak salad. As time goes on and you start to learn what your body likes and how much you can handle, you can increase the volume of animal-based foods and reduce your dependence on plants for fuel.
With any diet, quality matters. Think of your body as a premium car, do you want to put standard fuel in it? NO! You want premium fuel, so go organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, etc. And remember to consult your naturopathic doctor before you make any drastic changes to your diet.
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