Fatigue & the Ex-Vegan Phenomenon

Fellow bloggers Sayward and Matt did a talk recently about the Ex-Vegan Phenomenon, exploring some of the health reasons why up to 75% of vegans and vegetarians end up going back to eating animal products within five years. I watched it online and found the discussion absolutely fascinating, especially in light of some of my health issues including fatigue and hormone issues.

While my hormonal imbalance (PCOS) is something I’ve had since puberty and certainly years and years before I started following a plant-based diet, the fatigue has been something new in my life. It started last summer and while I initially blamed it on the intense research and writing I was doing for my master’s degree thesis, I didn’t understand why I didn’t bounce back once the project was over. The way that I really noticed the fatigue was because I would wake up tired and I couldn’t maintain my normal levels of exercise.

For someone who works hard to eat a balanced vegan diet based on nutritarian principles and who loves being active, this was devastating. Additionally, since I am still a fairly recent cancer survivor, I wondered if the process of having my thyroid gland removed had somehow thrown off my entire system and if I would ever feel like my normal self again. At times, I definitely questioned my diet, but ultimately I do not believe that adding animal products was the answer I was looking for nor do I believe that being vegan was the cause of my problems.

I’d also like to say that while I rely heavily on Western medicine to address my health issues, I did tons of research from a holistic perspective. I want to give strength to the argument that eating a plant-based diet is nutritionally adequate and complete, but because we all are different, it can take some tinkering to find out what works best for each of us based on our individual needs and history.

Here are some of the ways that I’ve been addressing some of the issues that I’ve battled. Please note that I am not a doctor or licensed health professional, and you should discuss any issues or changes you are having with your doctor. The information I am providing is not meant to serve as advice. I can say that I am feeling a lot better, not perfect, but definitely better. Here are some things that helped:

Fatigue & The Vegan Diet: Thoughts on How to Stay Healthy from Carrie on Vegan | www.carrieonvegan.com

  1. Get good quality sleep. I went through several months where I would go to bed at a normal time, but wake up only 4-5 hours lately completely awake. So, rather than toss and turn for hours, I would get up but then be exhausted later in the day. Insomnia is a horrible, horrible thing and addressing it has by far been the best thing I could have done.
  2. See professionals and/or get medical tests to identify problems. I waited too long to ask for help. When I told my doctor about my insomnia, he suggested that it might be my hormones levels so we did the appropriate blood tests to confirm.
  3. Take appropriate medications and/or supplements. I ultimately decided that there is no shame in taking prescriptions or herbs or whatever supplements I need to feel my best. After fighting the idea of taking oral contraceptives again to deal with my PCOS, I finally agreed to try it and my insomnia immediately improved.
  4. Use a plant-based protein powder supplement and eat more protein rich plant foods. While I’ve also been taught that vegans don’t need to worry about protein, I feel better when I supplement with a plant-based protein powder and eat protein rich plant foods like hemp seeds, beans, quinoa, etc. Maybe it’s because I am so active, but, like Sayward, I do have to think about where I get my protein.
  5. Practice stress management. This is right up there with getting enough sleep. I’ve made some changes in my life such as not pursuing a doctorate and following my passion instead, as well as making sure I have enough “me” time including meditation and other healthy habits like enjoying nature, listening to music, and socializing with friends.
  6. Get appropriate exercise. I’ve come to realize that there is a fine line between not enough and too much. I’m trying to balance my cardio and strength training better now, with the emphasis on strength and flexibility training, with just enough cardio to feel good. I’ll never be an endurance athlete and too much cardio exercise just makes me tired.
  7. Drink green tea. I’m not going to deny that drinking caffeinated green tea in the morning, with another cup just before lunch, has made a huge difference in my energy levels. I found some cool research on how green tea is energizing more than just from the caffeine, due to an amino acid called L-theanine. Apparently you can get the amino acid in a supplement without the caffeine (or you can drink decaf green tea), but I’m content with my routine for now, especially while it’s cold and drinking a hot beverage is just comforting.
  8. Eat a variety of plant-based foods with minimal processing. While I’ve always been pretty good about eating whole foods since I became vegan, I continue to make every effort to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and avocados. I definitely feel my best when I avoid the processed foods and just eat real food.
  9. Soak and sprout foods. This is a whole new realm for me and something I want to write more about in the future, but I’ve started soaking and sprouting a lot of my grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, to make sure that I’ve getting maximum absorption of the minerals from plant foods. I mainly got turned onto this practice after my husband started having trouble digesting oats.
  10. Consume minimal refined sugar. Ahhh, the sugar monster. I’m pretty sure I was born craving sugar and it’s a constant battle to manage those cravings. While I’ve tried abstinence and it did help, it ultimately felt too restrictive for me. So, I’m practicing moderation and using stevia in most of my desserts instead of using “real” sugar. I’m not making any recommendations here except to say that is working for me.

As we all know, finding good health is more of a journey than a destination, so I will continue discussing this topic in the future and please feel free to post your comment below or send me a message: carrieonveganATgmailDOTcom. I love learning from you!

Until next time, friends, be well and feel well.

Want more of Carrie on Vegan? Connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or Google+And, if you have an iPhone or iPad, be sure to download my recipe app, Vegan Delish, featuring healthy, whole food recipes made using minimal oil, salt, or added sugars.


  1. says

    I think that part of the problem is that a lot of people become Vegan for primarily weight-loss, rather than for health. Because of that, many of them restrict calories or restrict healthy Vegan foods too much – leading to hunger, exhaustion, and defeat. So many Vegans I see are not only Vegan but also have a long list of other things they won’t eat (grains, nuts, onions, garlic, fruit, calories, etc) – and then when they go back to SAD, they say “Veganism didn’t work for me, I was always exhausted!”

    • says

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Anna. I’m pretty sure I’ve fallen into that trap of being too restrictive with my food choices as well. I do have to be gluten-free otherwise I get a skin rash, but there are so many gluten-free grains available that I’m learning to enjoy. Plus, I’ve actually found my weight maintenance to be easier when I am less restrictive, ironically.

    • Toni says

      Thanks for talking about this topic. I too also tried to eat vegan so that I would feel better and loose weight. I have digestive issues as well as intolerance’s to dairy, cheese, coffee, beef and other foods. I tried to follow Carrie’s blog for great food ideas as well as the Eat to Live plan. I was confused about the quantity of foods on a vegan lifestyle because I was so used to restricting calories on other diets. I think vegan’s really need to teach about calories and 3 meals a day versus, smaller portions and how many fruits to eat, protein shakes and vegan dishes in a day. I still think calories are just as important if you are trying to loose weight but it’s hard to find out how many calories are in vegan dishes. I was recently searching for food plans on a vegan diet and found a few online. It would be nice to see some vegan eating plans. Thanks to Carrie for blogging about what she eats. It helps tremendously!

      • says

        Thank you for your note, Toni! I think a lot of people do gravitate to a vegan diet (or other specialized diets) to help lose weight and, while it can be a strategy, too much restriction can lead to health problems, which might be part of what I’m dealing with.

      • SusanM says

        Why do you say it is hard to find out calories in vegan dishes? Especially if you’re using whole foods in dishes, it’s easy to calculate.

    • says

      I agree Anna the vegan diet has to be done correctly. I adopted a plant based diet for health reasons and my weight loss is but a byproduct. I believe making vegetable and fruit juices is an essential part of a healthy vegan diet. I am able to get concentrated amounts of nutrients into my body that would be difficult otherwise. I don’t eat all plant based foods, as I stick to alkalizing non-hybrid foods. I do mostly eat vegetables, fruits, and nuts. I limit my grains to older grains like kamut and spelt because most of the wheat we eat today is GMO wheat and I believe is harmful. One thing, I don’t restrict calories. I am a calorie junky just because I like to eat, but I eat good whole food plant based foods. I do have a specific nutritional list I choose my food from and it has been wonderful to me. I haven’t been vegan as long as Carrie. I have only been vegan for 2 years now, so I will have to wait for the 5 year period to see how I feel then. I know right now I feel super awesome. I am 46 and I lost 25lbs and I am back to my weight when I was in my 20’s. My energy level is also back to when I was in my 20’s and my endurance is through the roof. I haven’t been sick since I adopted a plant based diet, not even a cold.

        • says

          Sometimes I do but not often. They are still nutritious without sprouting and the nutrients are available. Sprouting is good but it is not an end all if you don’t sprout. I wrote an article about soaking almonds on my site which addresses the pros and cons of soaking and sprouting almonds. I don’t want to post the link here because I don’t want it to appear that I am spamming you. Just search for almonds on the or if you want I can leave the link here.

          Also check out the nutritional list to see the foods I can choose from. Remember that B12 and D are problems areas for everyone, B12 especially for vegetarians/vegans.

    • Brea says

      I’ve also seen the problem of people eating a large amount of refined or “fake” foods, such as soy burgers or potato chips, that are just an unhealthy but are technically vegan, and of course they didn’t feel any better on that kind of diet. Nowadays there can be a huge difference between vegan food and healthy food, so I tend to describe my eating habits as “unrefined plant foods without any added sugar or oils”. I think once you say vegan, people imagine all those products on the “natural foods” aisle of the grocery store that are loaded with salt and oils and processed grains.

  2. Carolyn says

    Great list of tips! There are a couple new suggestions on the list for me. You have several variables in your health that most of us don’t have to take into account but I thought I’d add two causes for fatigue that are common for me: low iron and low B12. If I’m feeling rundown, it’s almost always because I’m low on iron and I discovered that even if I’m eating high iron foods, if I’m low on B12, my body won’t absorb the iron. Now, I’m very careful to ensure I’m getting adequate amounts of both.

    • says

      Wow, great tip Carolyn! Testing my iron level is one thing I am going to do at my next physical and that’s very interesting about the connection between B12 and iron absorption. Thank you!

      • Dawn says

        This is very interesting to me too. I try to eat whole foods plant based for my health. I recently wen through bouts of insomnia and sought medical help too. I am feeling much better when I sleep better. I supplement with plant protein powder too. I feel much better doing this. I lift pretty heavy weights two days a week and I make sure to have more protein on these days. Otherwise I feel weaker when trying to lift and I have zero energy the next day. If I am careful to consume enough protein I have a good session of lifting and feel better the next day. It seems you really have to find the best combination of foods/supplements/meds for yourself. Thanks very much for sharing what has worked for you. I am always inspired by your research and information.

        • says

          Thank you for your comment, Dawn! I did a strength class this morning and gave some thought to making sure I got a good quality protein source afterwards. I don’t think I was giving myself enough credit for how athletic I am and that that undoubtedly impacts my needs, just as you suggested. Do you have any thoughts on the best way to replenish your energy after an intense cardio workout? I find that I am the most tired the day after a long hike or a Zumba class; I’d love to hear your thoughts.

          • Dawn says

            I live in Alabama and in the summer it is crazy hot here. Consequently any cardio in the summer —–perspiration—gallons. One can become dehydrated very easily. I read somewhere–sorry can’t remember where–but it was a legit source–that dehydration, even slight can cause fatigue too. So with any cardio, hiking, or just walking, I make sure to drink plenty. I have also found that mixing juice and water helps me. I have also read that strength coaches recommend an easily digestible source of carbs mixed with protein after weight training. When I do this I don’t feel it makes me crave sugar or sweets. But that is not usually a struggle for me–just all food in general. Ha! With your nutrition/diet education you probably know about that carb thing after exercise.

          • says

            Hi Dawn, thanks for sharing! It’s so funny because even though I’ve taken tons of nutrition classes, I just never really thought I needed to be careful about my intake of protein and/or carbs. I’m giving a lot more thought to it, though, in light of how I’ve been feeling. I’m also finding that alternating cardio and weight training or even taking days off between my exercise is helping my energy levels. The trade-off is that I just to accept the fact that I can’t overtrain, which I’m sure wasn’t good for me anyway.

      • says

        Yes B12 and also vitamin D are of special concern. Most people are low or deficient in both of these vitamins and unfortunately they need to be supplemented. I alternate between a vegan B12 supplement and spirulina for B12. I try to get vitamin D from sun exposure during the summer. I don’t get out in the sun as much in the winter so I take D2 supplements in the winter. Everything else I get in more than sufficient quantities from the food I eat.

    • Toni says

      I am also low in B12 and iron. I take bcomplex everyday, but have not been taking my iron. Feeling run down again. I heard about Sirulina and might start taking this supplement. It’s an all in one for B12, iron, magnesium and more. I have not read about research on this but here is more information http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirulina_%28dietary_supplement%29
      Has anyone tried this supplement? Would love to know if you are B12 and iron deficient and have seen results. Being low in B12 has caused an autoimmune disorder in me called Frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) which is hair loss around the forehead, eyebrows. This can be caused more if my B12 is too low because I cannot fight it off. If I keep my b12 up with supplements, then my symptoms will not attack again. thanks for sharing because I really thought I was the only one with deficiencies in both these categories!

      • says

        Thank you for sharing, Toni. I know there is a lot of information about vegans and the need to supplement with B12, but, for some reason, I never thought that I could be low in iron. I’ve just started supplementing and I am going to ask my doctor about getting occasional monitoring for my iron levels in the future. I think this could have been another reason I was feeling so fatigued.

  3. says

    Thank you for this post! I have also been dealing with fatigue, and I’m going to think about some of these factors as I consider next steps. I’m a vegetarian that eats eggs a few times a week and avoids dairy 95% of the time. I hate to say that occasionally I have thought to myself “is this because I’m not eating meat?” but I do want to make sure I’m considering all the options when thinking about my health. That said, I’m taking lots of steps before actually considering that an option such as tons of research, supplements, etc. I got my vitamin B12 tested and it was in the normal range, but on the low end, with a note that some people struggle with symptoms when their levels are under 200 pg/mL so I definitely started supplementing with that. Vitamin D supplements have helped too!

    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing and it’s nice to feel like it’s not just me!

    • says

      I’m so glad you chimed in, Liz, and mentioned vitamin D. I’ve heard so much about this recently. Also, I’m pretty convinced that fatigue is something that meat and non-meat eaters have to deal with, especially considering this crazy, hectic world we live in. I thought about you when I was mentioning the sprouting thing. I made sprouted oat groats last week and they were sooooo good. I’ll write about it soon. Xoxo.

  4. Nezumi says

    What a great post! Like you Carrie, I saw a great improvement in my energy level when I started taking vegan protein powders and focusing more in strength and flexibility than cardio. I never been so in shape 🙂
    I agree, everyone’s journey is different, but I do admit some vegans do abandon to quickly. Don’t give up! There’s so much too learn and that’s the fun part.

    • says

      Well, I just love your positivity, Nezumi…we are soul sisters in that regard. 🙂 I totally agree that the learning process about healthy living is so fascinating AND fun, and I am so grateful that I have the time and interest to do so. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about the exercise stuff, too.

  5. Connie Fletcher says

    Another thing you may want to explore….candida….it is estimated that 80% of Americans have it. There is a documentary/infomercial-ish called The American Parasite…google it…it talks about the food industry and what they have done to us. Fatigue is one of the biggies they talk about. I don’t remember the name of the company that has this online, but a great deal of the info is from that book Sugar, Salt, Fat. I highly recommend watching it….

  6. Connie Fletcher says

    And the recommendation for vitamin D is that anyone who lives north of Los Angeles should be supplementing with vit D…..

  7. Gail says

    Carrie, I really appreciate your honesty about your journey, including the ups AND the downs. I am not overweight (BMI is 21) and I don’t have any health issues, but the ultra-healthy GBOMBS eating strategy leaves me tired and drained too. Most of all, it leaves me feeling defeated every time I stray. I’ve been following it for 2 years now. The first year was easy. The second year I was just plain drained. I know it all makes sense, but I have to find a better long-term plan that works for me. I don’t think a certain diet is a success OR healthy if I feel bad about myself. PS-Love your app and your posts!!

    • says

      Thank you, Gail, for your words of support. Well, since this does seem to be a topic of interest, then I suppose I’ll be writing more about it, especially about the adjustments I’m making to make sure I have the energy I demand (I say “demand” because I refuse to live my life feeling crappy…I spent my whole adolescence and early adulthood feeling crappy). I do very much believe in the principles and ethics behind a whole foods, vegan diet, but there must be some enhancements that some of us require to feel our best, and I am intrigued to continue experimenting and figuring out what those are.

  8. says

    what a great post, carrie! i think these tips are helpful for anyone, vegan or not, especially during this cold, dark winter. i’m glad you found some solutions to your problems. being vegan, it’s so hard to not think about our diet if we aren’t feeling well, if only because others judge us more.

    • says

      Thank you for your support, Caitlin. I wish I could blame my low energy on a cold, dark winter, but we’ve had the warmest, sunniest winter here in CA that I can ever remember, which, all goes to show, that at least for me, this is not a weather-related incident. Although, I should say that I bought a light box to treat the SAD that I sometimes experience living along the coast in CA in the summer when it is often foggy for days or weeks at a time. :0)

  9. says

    Carrie, I am so glad to read your post, for two reasons. 1, because I am so happy that you are on your way to feeling better and that you have found the right help and have found some solutions that are working for you. But also 2, that you are badass and brave enough to share yourself with all of us! It is so hard to put yourself out there, to show the world your *whole* health picture. And especially difficult as plant-based people, when we feel the pressure to “represent” the lifestyle in a positive light. I think this post is a beautiful and candid account of what it’s actually like to maintain health in this modern world. It may take adjustments! And that goes for everyone, regardless of lifestyle.

    I want to say I especially appreciate you touching on the all-too-common issue of over-restricting, which Matt and I see all the time in our community. I think this is one of the main reasons that people get run down or over-burdened, and then turn away from veganism. As well, it’s so great to see you acknowledging a greater need to monitor your protein! I know it’s not popular in the vegan community, but I think a lot of people don’t take it seriously enough (which you know, since I tend to shout it from the rooftops, haha). It’s interesting, but almost every single client I’ve worked with has seen an incredible difference in energy and blood sugar stability when they begin to make a conscious attempt to eat a solid source of protein with every meal.

    Anyway, thanks for being willing to be open. It means so much to our community. And also, thanks for supporting my Earth Day endeavors! I’m bummed you won’t be able to make it, but hopefully we’ll be able to get together somewhere in SoCal sometime soon. =)

    Cheers lady! So glad you’re feeling better!

    • says

      Thank you, Sayward! I so appreciate you commenting on this post, it really means a lot to me. And, of course, I think you already know how meaningful your work has been to me. Matt also left a really supportive on my FB page, which also made me feel really good.

      Anywho, the adjustments within the spectrum of plant-based living are much wider than I ever realized, and the over-restriction did me more harm than good. I do hope that this conversation continues for anyone following or interested in a plant-heavy diet. It’s taken me a long time to realize this, but I do believe people have different needs and perhaps just need help figuring out what resources are available and how to incorporate those changes into their own realities.

  10. Jenny says

    I’ve been vegetarian for about 22 years and vegan for most of the last 11. It’s interesting that you bring up the idea that vegans don’t need to think about protein. It’s always a point of debate about the vegan diet. All the debating seems to have the same underlying idea- that thinking about protein is somehow a bad thing. Really, anybody, eating any type of diet, who wants to be as healthy as possible, should be thinking about what their body needs. Admitting that we think about getting enough protein isn’t a form of defeat- it just means we’re thoughtful about what we eat. So I’m glad you brought it up and that you shared what you do to feel well. We all have different needs and there is nothing wrong with needing what we need.

    • says

      Thank you, Jenny, and I think you bring up an interesting point about not viewing protein needs as defeat or a declaration that a vegetarian or vegan diet isn’t adequate. Something that has helped me in thinking about protein in general is the scientific structure of how proteins are built using amino acids. Since I am not willing from an ethical or health perspective to consume proteins from animal sources, I recognize that the burden of responsibility lies on me to get the correct building blocks that I need. That’s where the protein supplements have been helpful to me. Lastly, although I have not done so, I do know that there are amino acids blood tests out there for anyone who might want to see exactly which amino acids he or she might be low in, which makes the supplementation process much easier. P.S. Thanks for letting me use your comment to interject my thoughts on this. 🙂

  11. says

    Those are 10 great pieces of advice! Thanks for sharing. I have struggled with fatigue, too. The biggest thing that made an impact for me was changing the landscape of my daily caloric intake. I now eat a gigantic breakfast & very hearty lunch, while dinner is something light and hydrating. Plenty of snacks in between meals of course! I never thought to connect my hour-by-hour eating patterns to that feeling of heaviness I would have in the mornings, but it’s made a huge difference. And has nothing to do with being vegan or not 🙂

    • says

      That’s interesting, Shannon, because that’s exactly what my meal plan has evolved into. Breakfast and lunch are probably equal in caloric content for me now, with a much, much lighter dinner that doesn’t leave me feeling overly full or heavy going into my rest time. Thank you for sharing.

  12. says

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. Living with mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, and secondary Sjogren’s Syndrome, I have to take traditional Western medication and doctors seriously (some say they’ve beat RA or mental illness without it; if so, I’m happy as can be, but this is where all my research has taken me); having said that, I research and use several holistic treatments in addition that, I believe, kept last year’s RA flare (yes, a year long), which was terrible, but about half as bad as my first one. This includes being vegan, of course, daily yoga, meditation, rebounding, watercuring, journaling, writing (doing what you love is always good medicine), and adequate sleep. And naps if I need one. During my last flare I’d wake up exhausted and take two long naps a day. Not a good way to live. I’m happy to report that with Obamacare (new comprehensive health insurance; I lost it when my divorce was finalized), I’m back on the medications and in therapy I need to heal my body and mind, while continuing the holistic and mind/body activities that help, too. I’m getting my life back and saving lives, too. It’s a wonderful feeling. Best wishes to you.

    • says

      Wow, Lisa, it sounds like you’ve been through quite a lot. I am so happy to hear that you are getting the resources you need and, best of all, feeling good and doing your best work. Xoxo and best wishes back to you. Thank you for your honesty.

  13. says

    Hi Carrie,

    I too have struggled with fatigue and also weight gain since my thyroidectomy. I don’t think a little pill of T4 can completely replace what our thyroids did. I think there’s a lot about metabolism that even endocrinologists don’t yet understand (and most of them will admit that). So we have to try to find ways to adapt to the new way our bodies respond, and thank you for sharing these tips to help with that!

    • says

      Hi Lisa! I can’t remember if we’ve discussed this, but I take Cytomel (T3) in addition to Synthroid and that has made a HUGE difference for me. I know you can probably identify with this, but I have on a few occasions been brought to tears wishing I had my thyroid back. Being that it was cancerous, though, I don’t dwell on this line of thinking, and just try to move forward the best I can. Sending you love and strength.

        • says

          Hi Lisa! Let me think…I believe I just started feeling really crappy about 2 months after surgery when my natural thyroid ran out of my system. I suggested Cytomel to my doctor (he was skeptical, but I had heard about it from others) and it seemed to help. I’ve had to play with my dosage since then, but I do believe it helped me.

  14. says

    I too have been experiencing fatigue. I did last year also when I went super restrictive on a clean eating diet – I only ate things I made. It was tough, but I could tell I wasn’t getting enough something because I didn’t even have the will to workout, or get up when the alarm went off. It was a force to get me out of bed. I am feeling that again now as I am on a semi-less restrictive cleaner eating, but I can feel it coming on. It is tough being vegan, eating clean or no-processed and continuing it!

    • says

      Thank you for the note, Megan. I’ve recently “allowed” myself to eat plant-based restaurant meals, and enjoy them! I went through a weird time right before and after my cancer surgery where I wouldn’t touch sugar, salt, or oil because I was convinced they would make my cancer worse or make it come back, but I’ve since gotten over that and realize that my mental health is equally as important as my physical health. So, it’s been a learning process for me to let go of the idea of being the “perfect” plant-based eater and just enjoy my life. Trying to be perfect and then feeling guilty when I’m not is a practice hereby banned from my life, dammit! 🙂

      • says

        I love this comment!! Thank you so much! Your psychological health is very important, as you say. I found that out recently as well, after living 3 years of trying to be a perfect eater/person, and then feeling guilty. I love that you emphasize that enjoying your life is more important! So true

        • says

          I’m excited this aspect resonated with you, Bo. I so agree and have just started to let go of that idea of being perfect. Being gentler with myself has made a HUGE difference, but it’s something I have to work on every single day. I decided I am worth the effort, though. 🙂

      • says

        I think this is such an important point, Carrie. I watch a LOT of vegans and vegan bloggers become so caught up in eating “healthfully” that it literally destroys their mental well-being. I always tell my clients – oftentimes the mental anguish, active self monitoring, and STRESS it takes to not eat the treat is actually WAY worse for your overall health than just eating the dang treat and moving on!

        Of course there’s a balance and that’s not carte blanch to eat whatever, whenever. But I just see so many vegans making themselves sick [literally – stress will manifest in your physical health!] over their food choices. I thikn we would all do well to relax our food rules. I know that for me and for many of my clients, it’s been the single most important adjustment for overall health.

  15. says

    Bravo for sharing your journey, Carrie. Oddly enough, I may be the only physician here and compelled not to offer any advice. I hope you are working with someone you trust who will first make sure you are not deficient in specific nutrients, protein or calorie consumption as well as your endocrine and cancer history. You are a complicated girl!!

    • says

      Thank you, Janet, for chiming in and offering words of support. I’m sure you have tons of great advice for your patients and I just love that you are doing the work you do. I do feel lucky to have wonderful resources and access to experienced medical professionals. I suppose the hard part for me was admitting that I needed help, getting several varying opinions, and then deciding which route was the best for me. The not-doing-anything and hoping-it-would-magically-get-better was NOT the answer for me and I only regret that I didn’t do something sooner.

  16. Robin says

    Great post, Carrie. It’s nice to see people like you and Sayward being open and honest. You have to listen to your body and the signals it’s sending you. That doesn’t mean you have to change your value system. What works today for your health might not work in 10 years, but you can adjust and still feel good about how you are living.

    • says

      Thank you, Robin. I have a hard time figuring out what my body is trying to tell me sometimes, but I do know what it’s like to feel tired. So, I’m trying to learn to rest more and make those adjustments that help. I’m glad you liked my post.

  17. Julia says

    I’m very much looking forward to reading more about the “ex-vegan phenomenon”! I didn’t know that was something that was actually explored. I can imagine that many vegans tire out from the extra work & effort that can often go into preparing food or ensuring there is vegan food when dining out or at parties. Although being vegan is 2nd nature to me now, I still have moments where I’m surrounded by others eating stress-free “normal” delicious-looking meals and wonder “Why am I still doing this?” And it’s quite easy to imagine eating many of the foods I’ve given up. But that’s just it, that’s the easy part. The more difficult path is not allowing oneself to become disassociated from why veganism is a choice they made. When I reconnect with why I avoid animal products, it’s easy to justify living a life that involves (minor) hassles around food. Just wanted to add a different perspective!

    • says

      Great, I’m so glad you offered your perspective, Julia! Having an ethical viewpoint has made the process easier for me as well. I am much more likely to “cheat” and have something with sugar in it than to even consider having something with animal products. I think you’re right that it’s more difficult to stick with what is truly important to us. As I get older, I’m starting to get this understanding that life is short and we all have such a short amount of time to do what we think is right. Even if nobody knew my beliefs or had any idea of what I was doing, it would still be important to ME that I live my values. Xoxo.

  18. Jennifer says

    I am always in anticipation of reading your posts and this one was no different. Great points, all of them.

    And, PLEASE teach us about sprouting! I’d love to give it a try, but I have read differing opinions on the process. I completely trust you 🙂

    • says

      Thank you, Jennifer! I am so completely fascinated by the topic of sprouting, so I will make it a priority to learn as much as I can and share it ASAP. 🙂

  19. says

    Wow, that is an interesting statistic. I’ve only been vegan for about 6 months and so far feeling great, but I have heard many stories of people who have gone vegan and not stuck with it, but I feel that I’m vegan for much more than health reasons too.

    What an interesting post!

    Robyn xx

    • says

      Thank you, Robyn, and congrats on your 6-month vegan-versary. I do think that the key to sticking with it long term is to get whatever help you need if/when that happens. I don’t necessarily think that folks on plant-based diets have any more “issues” than people on other diets, but it can be harder to find support since we are in the minority and most doctors can’t really give experienced advice.

  20. Jill says

    What a great post! I don’t think I’ve read another post that addresses fatigue and plant based diets. I experienced fatigue for the better part of a year not long ago. The reasons were complicated as I was also depressed and my anti-depressant had stopped working but additionally I realized I was trying to rely largely on low calorie vegetables. By adding whole, minimally processed starches like potatoes, quinoa, rice and other whole grains I increased my energy AND my depression has been MIA. 🙂

    • says

      Fabulous, Jill!!! I am so happy to hear this and your input is very valuable. I’ve also been eating more starchy veggies and whole grains and it has made a big difference in my satiety which of course impacts how I feel overall. For awhile, I got caught up in the idea that I didn’t need to eat grains, and I believe that was a mistake for me. Thank you for commenting.

      • Danielle says

        I am so grateful you shared your story, Carrie. I truly believe in the nutritarian plant based diet, but I have always felt extremely fatigued on it no matter how many years I follow it. I am going to add in potatoes, grains, and starchy vegetables as well as a vegan protein powder to see if that helps.

        I was curious if you took the vitamins that go along with the nutritarian program? I have discovered that my multi I was taking to save money had no iodine in it and am trying to determine if that was a source of my fatigue.

        It certainly is baffling to hear of all the people who get a tremendous amount of energy eating this way, and then there are those of us who experience extreme fatigue. I wake up every morning fatigued, despite a good night’s rest. I used to love to exercise, but haven’t exercised in years because I have no energy. Even my tone of voice is slowed, yet other times I feel anxious. It is very strange. I wish I could pinpoint what nutrient I am deficient in.

        Wishing you the best in health.

  21. Sonja says

    Carrie, thank you for being so honest and brave to address this topic. I’m really glad about you and Sayward and everyone else who is so outspoken in our community. Thanks for your great tips and I’m totally excited to read more about soaking and sprouting.

    • says

      Thank you, Sonja! I don’t see myself as brave, but I suppose it takes some courage to write about the personal stuff. I feel more weird about writing about my hormones than anything else. 🙂 I probably wouldn’t even be vegan if it weren’t for people like Sayward and the rest of our awesome community, so I feel like I want to do anything and everything I can to help the movement and make sure that everyone gets the help he or she needs to not only go vegan, but STAY vegan if at all possible.

  22. says

    Hi honey! I think I know why you are tired. You need to come to Amsterdam! hehe! Just kidding of course, but I’m sorry you’ve been feeling sluggish. For sure insomnia is horrible and makes anyone feel crappy. Love you! Miss you! xxoo

  23. Sarah says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so so so so so so much for writing this post. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. I love hearing the stories about people who have these radical transformations switching to a plant based diet, and I think they are important stories to tell, however, I am also glad that folks are opening up to share the stuggles they’ve encountered along the way as well. I too am one who is “complicated” and my health hasn’t automatically improved by “improving” my diet. But when all I hear are the great stories of transformation it leaves me feeling like I’m doing something wrong – I’m eating too much or I’m eating too much of the wrong food or you name it and I just blame myself for all my challenges. Plants do indeed have incredible, incredible healing and health promoting properties, but sometimes they aren’t enough. And sometimes we do indeed need the help of western medicine and medications – and when used appropriately they can be of great benefit.

    The protein issue is one that is close to my heart as well. Sometimes I get really annoyed by the message that we don’t need to be concerned about protein (and I find it kind of funny that it seems people are largely overly concerned about it or dismiss it as being an insignificant concern) but for some of us it is indeed an issue. And one doesn’t need to be clinically showing signs of protein deficiency to be operating at a sub optimal level. However, that being said, I’ve also come to understand that just because one is low on protein, simply increasing protein intake is not always the only way to go about increasing protein utilization in the body. This is where it seems the overly restrictive eating becomes more problematic. The more I learn about the human body, the more I come to understand what it means that we are designed to run on carbohydrates. And when we are not taking in enough macronutrients/calories to meet our energy needs the body then converts protein to carbohydrates for fuel instead of allowing them to be used for their protein needs. That certainly seems to be part of the issue for me. And when we are running so close to calories in = calories out it one needs to be even more conscious of food choices because there is less “wiggle” room. Of course other factors can be invloved as well – like inadequate zinc and even not sleeping well. I too have had that stupid insomnia where I sleep fine for a few hours but then wake up and can’t get back to sleep. I finally gave into taking melatonin and it has made a world of difference in everything from my mood to improving some of my digestive distress and I bet anything my protein utilization has improved. So I really appreciate you addressing all the various parts of our lives that can impact our health. It’s too easy to get hyperfocused on the food we are eating and forget about the bigger picture. Maybe it’s not the grains or the nuts or the whatever that are causing our GI troubles, maybe its that we aren’t eating enough of them or we aren’t sleeping well or taking the down time we need in our lives. Health and happiness come from more than just what we are or are not putting in our mouths.

    I could go on and on, but I will spare you my ramblings (that I also apologize for probably not make much sense!), but know I can identify with just about every word you wrote on this page and I really cannot thank you enough for being willing to share your struggles and what you’ve learned in the process. I think these are the conversations we need to be having so when people don’t feel well eating this way there are resources to turn to for “troubleshooting”. Not only that, it makes me feel less alone in being someone who is still trying to figure out how to make this work for me. I wish I could give you a big hug right now. You are truly one of my superheroes in this life 🙂

    And PS – I’ve been trying to wait patiently for some oats recipes but I’m not sure how much longer I can contain myself!!!

    • says

      Hi Sarah, well, thank YOU for chiming in with all of this fantastic input. I have tried melatonin in the past, but that was years ago. I might have to try it again to see if that helps. My insomnia has pretty much gone away, but it does occasionally come back for a night or two (as a result of stupid hormones, again, grrrr), and I’d love to have some over-the-counter help with it.

      As far as the oats, I JUST took a picture of the cute little oat groat sprouts I have on my kitchen counter right now. This is my second batch of sprouted grouts; I made them last week and cooked them briefly after they were sprouted to further enhance the digestibility for my husband. They were delicious and I do plan to write about it soon, although the recipe is going to be pretty boring (oats, water, cinnamon, nuts, seeds, dried fruit). 🙂

      Your input on protein usage and carbs is fascinating, as well as the stuff about taking care of ourselves. I do know that stress levels and cortisol have an impact on sleep quality, so that’s become a real priority in my life (it’s soooo hard to remember sometimes, though).

      Sending you a virtual hug back. I’ve never been called a superhero, but that makes me feel pretty darned special. Xoxo.

  24. says

    Hey Carrie! I’m so sorry to hear you have been battling fatigue and health problems beyond what you’ve already been through. I just thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. Of course, research my suggestions as you know you best but here are 3 of my immediate thoughts:

    1. B vitamins: when we are stressed, these are often depleted as a result of extra adrenal activity, etc. Taking a B50 can be so effective, and stacking a little extra B5 is great for adrenals

    2. That brings me to number 2: adrenals! Stress, including malfunctioning of other glands like your thyroid fatigue and exhaust this baby leading to huuuuge amounts of fatigue so support it! Adaptogens like siberian ginseng are wonderful, as are nutrients like vitamins B5 and C.

    3. For your problems sleeping- adrenal fatigue is huuuuge- a good indication of that is waking up at 2 am. But to help you stay asleep- magnesium before bed like natural calm, passionflower and/or melatonin.

    Hope these helped 🙂

    • says

      I’m so glad you shared your thoughts, Gabby! Your input means a lot to me. Not to get too personal with details, but I was told that when I started oral contraceptives again, that my B vitamin levels could be affected. I suppose that could be an issue. I love your suggestion about extra magnesium before bedtime. I was doing that for awhile, but then I got out of the habit. I will try it again and see if that helps. Xoxo.

  25. says

    So glad you wrote this! I’ve had health issues too and it’s natural to question EVERYTHING you do, especially if you consider yourself a healthy person and want to think that lifestyle can help you rather than meds. Anyhow, hormones make a big difference in my sleep too. It something more people need to be aware of.

  26. narf7 says

    Is anyone doing studies about how many non-vegans suffer from fatigue?! I do think our diet is scrutinised to the nth degree in order to justify returning to the folds of meat eating. I can’t believe that living on a SAD is not going to result in fatigue (along with everything else that this process would bring).

  27. says

    Fantastic post Carrie!! Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us.
    I suffer from insomnia off and on myself – it is so frustrating. It just seems to come and go… no particular rhyme or reason to it.
    I would really like to look at consuming more protein as I know this helps with energy and is just healthy in general to ensure adequate protein levels.
    I would love for you to share your experiences about soaking & sprouting. It isn’t something I have much experience with.
    I feel like I kind of hit the “vegan slump” over the past year. Basically where my veganism hasn’t been having the super awesome benefits if originally did. But it never occurred to me to stop being vegan. I know I’ve also been going through a lot of changes over the past year and I just need to be patient and continue on the path I’ve been on.

    • says

      Thanks for chiming in, Kimmy. I think we’re on similar paths and I’m also dedicated to seeing this through. I think my health isn’t as good as that of others because of my particular genetics as well as very poor eating habits during childhood and adolescence. So, I feel like I have to try extra hard just to feel good, let alone super awesome. But, it’s a learning process and it helps me a lot to share what I’ve learned, plus get tons of knowledge and inspiration from our community. I’m starting to think that I might be anemic which would account for my fatigue. Extra magnesium seems to be helping with the insomnia, although I really do think that is primarily female hormone and stress related for me. Xoxo.

  28. kriss says

    Hi Carrie! I LOVE your recipes and site. i’ve sent it to so many friends and family members and they enjoy it as well.. so THANK YOU :0) it’s too bad your app isn’t available for android phones or that would’ve been awesome!! at least i have your site :0)
    i’ve seen Dr. Furhman on tv and i’m reading the Eat to Live book. im looking to loose weight and improve health. i have noticed by eating a vegan diet – i feel less bloated and better in general so i know its the way to go for me (so far lol). i just find it hard on the variety aspect for some reason and find myself always tempted to eat something “bad”. do you have any tips or advice for staying focused and on track? i started back exercising as well (elliptical and kettle bell workouts). As an example.. here’s what im consuming in a day; do you thing its adequate nutrition or should i make changes if im missing anything? BREAKFAST: shake (kale, spinach, frozen berries, unsweetened almond milk, water, hemp or chia seeds, chlorella powder, raw almond butter occasionally), LUNCH: salad (mixed greens or romaine, other veggies), one of your dressings and topped with beans, SNACK: veggies or fruit, SUPPER: either a shake or salad or veggie stir fry.

    i’d really appreciate your thoughts and comments.

    thank you!

    • says

      Hi Kriss, thanks for the note! I wish I could offer Vegan Delish for Android as well, but the software I licensed does not offer it. Darn. 🙁 Anyway, I am seriously considering writing a cookbook which would then be accessible for everyone, although I’m probably at least a year away from publication. Do you have the Eat to Live Cookbook? It’s terrific for recipes. I do make all of my recipes free on my blog as well, as you know. My main goal is to just help provide inspiration for a plant-based journey, especially because I’ve gotten so much support from others.

      As far as your question about sticking with a nutritarian diet, I guess I would say just keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re tempted to go off your plan, the best advice I have is to either indulge and not feel guilty, but make the next meal compliant with your goals OR indulge in a non-food related treat, like taking a nap or whatever feels nurturing to you. I can’t comment on the nutrition adequacy of your diet because I’m not a licensed healthcare provider. Asking Dr. Fuhrman or another trusted provider about it would be your best bet. Xoxo!

      • Kriss says

        hi Carrie, my pleasure! yeah dont worry i had read it on Pinterest or one of your blogs lol. at least i have your site! Wow that would be AMAZING!! yes i actually just recently purchased it and havent had the chance to sit down and properly go through it. im still half way or so through the ETL book. Yes i always look forward to your new recipes for inspiration and ideas. one of my favs are the vegan rolls YUM :o) this weekend i want to try the blueberry chia pudding too.. looks delish!

        thx so much for the suggestions.. yes thats what im doing right now.. i guess its mind over matter and one step at a time.

        thx so much again and have a great day xoxo

  29. lisa says

    Thank you Carrie for your open and honest post! Im intrigued by sprouting – I have never done this and would like to learn a lot more about the technique and also the health benefits- could you please share?

  30. says

    Carrie, One of the things I love about you is that you approach everything with such a palpable sense of compassion. I loved your advice that there is no shame is pursuing whatever it is you think your body needs (be it medicine (western or eastern) or diet tweaks).

    Also – I recently started sprouting nuts because I found them so difficult to digest raw – it’s made a great deal of difference. Thank you again for such a great post. xo

    • says

      Thank you, Candace, I really, really appreciate your input. If I do anything in my lifetime, I hope it is to bring a sense of compassion and understanding to the struggles we all face, without judgment. It’s something I have to work on everyday and the biggest challenge has been to be kind to myself! Hugs across the miles. 🙂

  31. Paula says

    This topic hit home with me. I went to a natural medicine Dr. in Jan to figure out why I have been feeling so poorly. Exhausted, joint pain, mild headaches to name a few. Reviewing my diet, she felt I was restrictive to a point that brought bad health. I was very low fat and she asked that I add coconut oil in my cooking. We also decided gluten was bad for my GI that she feels has affected my thyroid that led to many of the typical symptoms of hypothyroidism. Although I am making attempts to correct my health without a Rx, I will take one if necessary. So currently I have added back some fats including avacado & black olives. I am so grateful that you share your experiences and help me to be vegan and healthy.

    • says

      I’m so glad you’re making changes that help, Paula, and thank you for sharing your experiences, too. I avoid gluten as well, but I find there are so many great options that I don’t miss it at all. I’ve recently been experimenting with amaranth, teff, millet, buckwheat, and gluten-free oats and they are all so delicious! 🙂

  32. Emily says

    Thanks for addressing this Carrie.
    I’ve been vegan (mostly) for the last 10 years. For quite some time, perhaps the last 5 years or so, I have felt like I’ve been in a bit of a slump and a small part of me has wondered if it has something to do with my diet.
    I have 3 young kids and have difficulty having the time/energy to prepare myself balanced meals. I have also been under a lot of stress and I believe that has built up and burnt me out. Things culminated for me when my husband of 8.5 years and I separated 4 months ago. I felt so blue and so drained – all of a sudden I was a single mother with a very big hole in my heart.
    I read on the internet about nettle infusions being great for energy and mood, and so many other things, being basically a liquid vitamin supplement. I eventually thought I would give it a try. I’ve been taking it for a few weeks now and I just feel like it has turned my life around completely. For me it works better than anti-depressants, I generally have more patience with my children, I find a lot more joy in the world, and I feel positive about being single. I find myself laughing more. I have much more energy as well – I used to have a nap with my 2 yr old during the day and go to bed at 8:30 and struggle to rise at 7:30. Now I jump out of bed happily at 6 every morning and feel so much more myself. Drinking nettle tea has stopped me emotionally eating to fill a void – It has literally been like flicking a switch. I now only really want to eat healthy foods and sometimes I have to remind myself to eat because I don’t feel as hungry as I used to, but that said I enjoy my food thoroughly, much more than I used to. Another bonus I noticed within days of starting nettle tea was my acne improved out of sight. I also feel like I sleep much better and deeper – that sleeping and never feeling rested is gone. I still go to bed quite early, usually around 10, but I fall straight asleep and wake up refreshed. I really feel like it’s somehow changed my attitude to be more positive too. I would recommend it to anyone feeling run down, tired, or stuck in a rut.

    To make it I put 1 cup of dried nettle leaves into 1 Litre of boiling water and leave it overnight to steep. Then the next morning I strain it and drink the liquid throughout the day, about 4 small cups. It tasted yuck to begin with but now I like it . I put a little stevia in the infusion as I think it tastes better, but other people mix the infusion with juice or add salt for a savoury drink. its strong tasting at first.

    • says

      Wow, your story of transformation is really encouraging, Emily. I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles, but I take strength from your turnaround. I will check out the nettle tea. Xoxo.

  33. Elizabeth says

    Some people use natural fruit juice as a sweetener. Pineapple, cherry, grape are all good and they provide a very real sweet fix for those with sugar addiction. But it’s not processed or refined and it causes a less dramatic blood sugar spike. I haven’t noticed this in your recipes and thought you might like to try it.

    • says

      Great suggestion Elizabeth! I don’t usually use fruit juice as a sweetener, but I might start doing that again (I have tried pomegranate juice in the past, although that was more tart than sweet). 🙂

  34. says

    Carrie – great article. I have been on a plant-based diet for almost 3 years now, and after reading books after books and seeing blogs and people who went back to eating animal foods – I realized that vegans who go back to animal foods are undercarbed. Yes, protein is SUCH an important part of being plant based and healthy, but our cells and brain runs on glucose – and we get glucose from carbohydrates. The primary form of energy that we get from food – comes from carbohydrates. Even the way we digest foods, suggests that carbs are the way to go (carbs start digesting in the mouth with amylase). And by carbs, of course, I mean whole grains, beans, legumes. Greens are amazing and should be a huge part of our diet, but if you don’t get enough complex carbohydrates, you start experiencing fatigue, low energy etc. etc. And also fats. Fats like flax and chia are super important to be healthy.

    My point is, in my mere 3 years of eating plant based, I never really felt fatigued because i “carbed” myself 🙂

    • says

      Hi Ana, thanks so much for your thoughtful words. As I continue on my journey, I’ve come to a similar discovery just in recent weeks. I had restricted my whole grain intake way too much last year, and, since adding oats and other healthy intact grains back into my diet, fatigue seems to be a distant memory for me (thank goodness!!!!!!). Of course, I’ve continued to make other healthy “tweaks” along the way, but I’m actually not drinking caffeine anymore and I’m feeling SO much better. I will probably do a follow-up post to this one to talk about these changes. Again, thank you for your great insight.

      • says

        Yay Carrie! That’s wonderful news 🙂 I’m sure all of us would love to see a follow-up post on this. I also gave up coffee, because it’s just a vicious circle of fake energy and caffeine-dependent adrenals and overall I feel better (although I do miss the smell and taste of a soy lattee…hehe).

        Anyways, thanks for all your posts and recipes 🙂

        • says

          Thanks, Ana! I was also concerned about the fake energy issue and the other not so great side effects of caffeine. I’m so happy to hear you’re feeling better, too. I think the longer days help me for sure.

      • Danielle says

        Hi Carrie,

        Wow I do think whole grains/complex carbs may be the answer. I only eat 1 cup cooked oatmeal and occasionally I will have a serving of quinoa. I can’t believe all this time it hadn’t occured to me to focus on complex carbs. I once heard that some people mix the Fuhrman-McDougall plans, and that sounds like that is what it is.

        For clarification, you wrote here that you gave up caffeine, but in an early post you said you drink green tea. I know I have “medicating” my extreme fatigue with a little coffee (stopped about 8 months ago) or with a few cups of green or white tea. I wonder if that’s what makes me anxious. Are you still drinking green tea, or did you give that up too?

        Wishing you the very best, Carrie. You’re blog has helped me a lot. 🙂

        • says

          Hi Danielle, so much has changed for me since I wrote this post. If you want to discuss this in depth, we should probably connect through e-mail: carrieATcarrieonlivingDOTcom. Thanks and my very best to you! 🙂

  35. monika says

    I think your list is missing a REALLY important factor.

    You absolutely NEED cholesterol to make sex hormones and a healthy CAN produce its own, but it’s difficult and most bodies are not exactly healthy…
    There is a way for vegans to make cholesterol…saturated fat can be converted into cholesterol.
    THEREFORE…it is IMPERATIVE for ALL vegans to add SATURATED fat to their diet (especially if they are women and moreso if they have hormonal issues).
    Sources include: coconut products, cacao butter, palm oil…

    The SATURATED FAT myth has been debunked. It is NOT unhealthy. We NEED it.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not overlook this.

    oh and cholesterol isn’t unhealthy either…

  36. Tm8 says

    I was a vegetarian for eight years. During that time I lost my ability to run or exercise. I became depressed and developed anxiety. I was cold all the time, and sometimes so weak I was breathless. I went to doctors and psychiatrists and took medications to try to feel better. I never felt like the real issue was being addressed- “why” did I feel so sickly?! I read and researched for enough years that all of the pieces came together to form a very accurate picture… When I was mentally sharp, athletic, energetic, and ALIVE- unfortunately/fortunately was when I ate as an omnivore. It broke my heart to realize this, but I was so tired of laying in bed with my head spinning and feeling so weak and ill that I went back to eating meat. I feel incredible now. My suspicions were right. And no silly formula of pair this food with this food will work when you don’t have enough iron, or zinc to utilize any of that stuff. Whey protein and soy meat made me so estrogen lopsided that my period was more painful than ever. I took supplement after supplement and my body wasn’t absorbing it. I took supplements I found online touted to “fill this void” and they did nothing. I had to ask myself- WHY am I wasting my life and energy like this?! I cannot even get out of bed to function- is being a vegetarian worth any more years feeling like death? I passionately decided “NO”. Being a vegetarian for the most sincere reasons took eight years of my life. It was no life at all. I will never go back to that lifestyle ever ever ever again.

  37. Tm8 says

    Oh, and I have one more thought. Gardening is a passion of mine- and one day it occurred to me- even these plants I eat aren’t themselves eating as vegetarians!! Research that if you’d like. 😉

  38. Anne says

    I am an ex-vegan (gasp — really just an ex plant based eater depending on how you determine who is vegan – I owned leather etc) and I actually moved to whole foods plant based for the purpose of health. Before E2 and FOK, I read “How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.” I saw somewhere here a comment about vegans going vegan for weight loss and not health – I just really disagree with that generalization and think that it is more complex then that. I am careful with my food choices, but at the end of the day I think more along the lines that no food is bad just not beneficial or not efficient. I would rather eat the beneficial foods then displace those food opportunities with less nourishing foods. I also was just convinced differently about health. I left a plant based diet for the same reason I went there: health.
    That said – I wish the best for people on the vegan diet and I cannot stress enough on the tips you gave how important it is to sleep 8 hours – or even nap. Also, I would look at sugar overall – as in glycemic index – that was actually messing with me. Finally, fats 🙂 Not all animal fats, actually avocado and cocoa are my favorite fats. I only eat whole foods and the non-animal fats are a lot less controversial as far as links to breast cancer. I eat a half an avocado on a semi regular basis and a few macadamia nuts when I really am craving a quick fix.
    Again, I wish everyone the best with plant-based diets.

    • says

      Thank you, Anne! I think your advice is really helpful for people who think that a vegan or plant-based diet is the answer to everything. I am starting to realize that it is not, especially when it comes to health, although I do think it is best for animal welfare and environmental health. For those who do consume animal products, there are more compassionate choices that can be made as well such as free-range sources. When it comes to the environment, I don’t think there is an easy answer except that overpopulation is probably part of the problem and that even if everyone ate plant-based, there would still be a huge drain on the earth’s resources…just my two cents.

      • Anne says

        What a nice response! And I completely agree – my animal products come local in the grass fed, pastured, organic way and not only is that better from an animal welfare and environmental aspect (if meat and eggs are in the diet) but it is also optimum from a health perspective. If anyone is interested in approaching a diet change from a health perspective do your own investigations and be super careful about conventional animal products, particularly fatty meats and dairy. I completely see the vegan perspective as far as animal welfare and environmental health items are concerned and respect it, but I have seen arguments both ways (I did not read it, but I think Lierre Keith’s book touched on some of those arguments – whether or not valid). Environmental issues are so complex it is hard to generalize as to one answer, besides the obvious pulls like deforestation for wheat crops or factory farming. One thing I will agree on as far as animal welfare goes is that killing an animal is killing an animal and the amount of torture that goes on in most farming is not excusable.

  39. Alison says

    I’ve been vegan for only a month now and I hardly eat any of the ‘alternative’ products but I have been so fatigued from day 1! I believe in so many principles of the vegan diet and I really don’t want to give it up but the fatigue is a killer as like yourself I’m a very active person and I love the feeling of eating healthy. I see so many people talk about how much energy they received upon adopting this lifestyle but for me it has been the opposite and im starting to think maybe there is something deeper going on. Do you have any advice on how to stop this fatigue or will the ‘detoxing’ just take longer for some?
    Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Alison, I’m sorry it took me a few days to respond to your comment. I’m also really sorry to hear about the troubles you’re running into. I don’t know if you’ve kept up with my more recent articles, but I did end up moving away from a fully vegan diet about a year ago. Most of my fatigue issues have been resolved. Let me know if I can pass along some resources/information, I’m also working on a blog post about what specific mistakes I believe I made on a vegan diet. Sending you much love for healing. P.S. I should also mention the fact that I’m not a health professional, so it’s really best if you consult a clinician about this specific issue.

  40. Malorie says

    I think we are the same person… I know you posted this awhile ago but I just happened to stumble upon it. I’m working on my masters thesis at the moment and hoping that my issues will resolve once I’ve graduated… My PCOS was bad and since I’ve been vegan it hasn’t acted up at all. However, my skin still breaks out on my back, neck and face, almost cystic-like under my ears. I also have this skin rash and I’m pretty sure it’s lichen planus. I’ve recently begun sprouting my beans and thoroughly soaking my grains, but I’ve been so fatigued lately.. I’m doing my best to avoid gluten and sugar, however, I’ve only been doing all these things for about two weeks. Maybe if I keep all this up it will get better, and focus on stress management.. How long did it take for you to notice a good change?

    • says

      Hi Malorie, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having this issue. I ended up moving away from a strict plant-based diet, along with doing extensive testing with a dietitian and functional medicine doctor to determine which supplements I needed to feel better. If you want to talk directly, feel free to e-mail me: carrieATcarrieonlivingDOTcom, and, although I can’t advise you since I’m not a medical professional, I’m certainly willing to share more of my experience. Hugs!!!

      • LavenderBee says

        Carrie, I have been reading your post and I have had problems also. My best friend is a 100% no oil vegan and has tried to convince me that I’m killing myself eating animal products. However, I have tried on two different occasions to be vegan (one year apart). The first round was in 2014, I ended up being so fatigued at the 4 month mark that I couldn’t even get up off the couch; I tried again in 2015 and supplemented with B12 this time but the same thing happened. I really want this to work, but maybe it doesn’t agree with my biology. I would love to find out more about your journey and what you discovered about your own biology; and what food plan you have currently adopted. I really like the idea of being a vegan for lots of different reasons, but haven’t been able to make it work. Thank you for sharing your experiences.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *