Why an Expectant Mom Said No to a Strict Vegan Diet

by Victoria

Dear Chet,

With all the controversy surrounding the "all raw, no animal flesh" eating plans right now, I just had to write and throw in my two cents.

I have been seriously at this health thing for over two years now and, as you know, I put a plan together that I sell at my web site. When I first decided on what was an ideal plan, I really thought all raw and the exclusion of animal products was the absolute "ideal."

Although I have never been able to stick to a plan like that myself, I told others of it and let them decide if they would want to go that route. For me and my family, eating plenty of raw foods and juices along with some cooked foods including organic meat and dairy has been ideal. And I have found that over the course of watching others embark into the journey of health, this way of eating is far more livable than a completely raw lifestyle.

I want to tell you a quick story regarding how I first got involved in the all raw thing. I had a friend who was overweight his whole life. He was always referred to as big and husky. Well, he decides to get into the all raw thing and drops 70 pounds over a three-month period. I had not seen him for four years and when I saw him he looked like a totally different person. I hardly recognized him. He was so thin and gaunt. When I first saw him we hugged and when I had my arms around him he felt like a skeleton. He was pure skin and bones, I am not kidding.

Anyway, this guy who was so full of energy was into this raw thing and all excited and telling me about how it changed his life. Of course I had to try it too. So I went on a kick of eating many raw foods. But I could never stick to all raw. I just had to have some cooked food (beans, potatoes, or brown rice but no other grains) at least in the evening or I would get shaky. I eliminated all dairy and meat and got to the point where the smell of any cooked meat made me nauseous. I ate this way consistently without straying once for over five months. I have to admit that most of the time I felt pretty good, but there times when I did not feel so great and I could not figure out why. I would call my friend and ask him what was wrong and he would say, "It is just your body getting rid of toxins. Give it some time." So I kept at it.

Then I became pregnant. I did not find out I was pregnant for about six weeks, but I did notice that my appetite had changed and all of a sudden I was craving meat and liver like crazy. I gave into the cravings. I did eat meat and some cheese throughout my pregnancy whenever I felt the need. My only regret is that I was not following food combining principles and, because of this, I gained way too much weight and was chunky (putting it mildly) after I had the baby.

Anyway, after my pregnancy I put all the info together that I had learned (I read health books like mad) and wanted to come up with a plan to help other women who were trying to shed excess weight. I really struggled with what I should tell them regarding the meat issue. I had read so many controversial opinions regarding the consumption of animal products. Many experts saying you should never eat meat were basing that theory on one hot book, Diet For A New America, by the Baskin Robbins heir.

But I also read other books and other information from people that used to be vegan who were no longer vegan because of poor health. I decided to leave the eating of animal products up to the individual. I say read all the information you can with an open mind, and then decide. If you do decide to exclude animal products and your health is ailing, you must reconsider everything and make adjustments.

And most importantly, if your eating plan is making you crazy, it is not healthy! How we feel and think is HALF of our health and if your eating plan is making you some sort of slave in bondage, well, that is not a healthy eating plan in my opinion.

Chet, I cannot tell you how many people have contacted me saying they tried the all raw, animal-excluded diet and could not stick to it. And the sad part is, they actually have guilt feelings about not being able to say no to cooked food and meat and/or dairy. Quite a few people admitted that they would stick to all raw for a while and then without fail, they would end up bingeing like crazy on cheese after a few weeks. Now after reading some recent evidence that many people following vegan diets were B12 deficient, it is no wonder why these binges happen.

After being on-line and helping thousands of people try to change over to a healthy lifestyle I can say this: "There is no ONE eating plan that suits every body." I believe everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables and there is no one that can argue that, but as far as eating animal products go, people need to be open minded about it.

When I wrote the Living Well Plan, I was not eating any animal products. Then I started to eat some now and again and right now I am in a non-eating meat mode (in the summer I eat less). But when I feel I need to start eating it, I am going to and I won't feel guilty about it. Animal products are not the devil, you know what I mean, Chet? I am not telling people to run out and start eating meat and dairy. Most people eat too much of it and that is a problem. But when it comes to excluding them, especially during pregnancy, you need to really research that one.

I will close with a conversation I had with a lovely older women last year. She told me she had been following a strict all raw eating plan and never strayed. But her problem was that she just didn't feel well most of the time. By noon she was shaking and felt as though she would pass out. I told her to eat more food and she said she had tried that but she still didn't feel well. I then asked her if she was craving any food and if so, what was it? She said yes, she was craving food. She told me she would just kill for a hamburger. I cracked up and told her to go and eat it already. She was probably craving a little animal protein and that is not a bad thing. I felt sorry for her because she was brainwashed into thinking that a piece of meat would kill her but I told her to listen to her body and not worry about it.

By the way, that guy who got me first interested in all raw now eats animal products occasionally and no longer looks like a walking skeleton. : )

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