Q&A with Cam #4: Veganism
If you've been following me even casually, you'll know I am quite vehemently against veganism when it comes to a thriving body. I think veganism has it's place in the world as a means of achieving spiritual gains- but that it does come at the expense of physical health. Everyone's goals are different, and you will often see these enlightened little gurus in India sitting in their loin cloths with enormous belly's... their particular goal is rooted in development of Spirit- and that's TOTALLY ok. But veganism has infiltrated itself into the health industry as some kind of panacea, and it's blinding people from a greater Truth when it comes to finding health for the Body.
Veganism short term can be a great little "detox" and reset for the body. And by "can be" I mean veganism in the sense of just a simple fruit and vegetable diet. Veganism today is full of processed food-like-products, a tonne of refined sugar, and just loads of terrible quality crap in general, how can someone think that a conventional sugar-filled, deep-fried in rancid cancer-causing canola oil, processed vegan doughnut is healthier than a cut of organic, pasture raised steak is beyond me... but anyways. A short term vegan "reset" on fruits and vegetables alone are easy to digest, full of vitamins and minerals, and can offer the body a break from the extreme energy burden of digesting fats and proteins. That being said, in the long run: this type of diet is unequivocally nutritionally deficient.
Many people tie in veganism with morality, and so many people (I know personally) stay in the vegan world much longer than it is serving their health because they have entangled their notion of being a "good human" with their label of being "cruelty-free" vegan.
Wake up call: there is no such thing as living 100% "cruelty free" for multiple reasons, but most notably for me:
It takes life to sustain life.
The circle of life is the most real and beautiful aspect of Being. We cannot exist without living foods, and plants are no less "alive" than animals. We see ourselves in animals (eyes, nose, mouth) and somehow extract the idea that they have more of a right to live than plants do, but energetically and ethereally we are all creatures of life, living, breathing, growing, and dying.
It is under this pretext that veganism actually has its roots in an inability to grapple with ones own death, and projecting this onto one's diet as a means to cling to life. Life is impermanent, it is for all living things. There is beauty in this, because it enables us to find purpose in living a meaningful life. If you are using the life-force of plants and animals to sustain your existence, you have a duty to live well, live honestly, live with a heart full of love and joy: you carry the energetics of the lives that gave their to sustain yours.
That all being said, eating life does not mean killing should be done in any manner. There is still a degree of compassion and love in this transaction of death. Eating meat does not warrant a lifetime of animal torture VIA factory farms or mass produced "meat-like-products"- those realms are unnecessarily cruel and inhumane. I would without a doubt be vegan over ever consuming factory farmed animal products; not only for the sake of the animals welfare, but also the fact that energetically and physically those products are filled with poison.
Organic, pasture-raised, ethically lived lives (both of plants and animal products), playing into the circle of life- nourishing us, and eventually our own human bodies decaying into the planet and nourishing it so that it can continue to grow plants, that feed animals, that feed us- it's a beautiful thing.
Anyways since I am so open about this point of view, many people reach out to me regarding post-vegan "rehab" once they have quit the vegan cult; and so I decided it would be helpful to share some tools here instead of answering individually each time.
Ok so, first of all the most healing thing you can do for your body is to acknowledge when a habit is no longer serving you- so although you may feel like you have some work to do to reclaim your health, the biggest part is behind you. *high five*
Moving forward needless to say you have to be patient with your Self and your body as it adapts and finds balance again. Years of veganism wreaks slow havoc on the body, the hormonal system, digestion, your ability to absorb nutrients, etc- so patience but here are some things that will help.
1. Rebuild and Repopulate the Gut and Boost Digestion
A massive part of health is digestive strength and gut health, and without properly hitting your nutritional needs for a while now, it's hard for the body to properly absorb and digest food when a big part of the pie is missing. PRObiotics and PREbiotics are key right now to help rebuild the gut, there isn't "the best" brand when it comes to probiotics because there are actually SO MANY strains that your best best is to take a reputable brand, and then switch for another reputable brand when the bottle is done (to introduce different strains) at the moment I'm loving Elemental Wizdom's Super Human Probiotics- the company is next level and their products are out of this world (not sponsored, just #realtalk). Prebiotics are basically the food for the probiotics. You can look at it like the soil you're planting the seeds in: without a healthy soil, it doesn't matter how organic your seeds are- nothing will grow. Some probiotics have a built in prebiotic (like Prescript Assist) but foods are honestly a great source of prebiotics. Key ones are: asparagus, leeks, chicory, dandelion, jerusalem artichoke, garlic, and onion. Try to incorporate some of those (raw) in your diet, daily.
Food-based probiotics are also invaluable. From sauerkraut (so many different kinds), to fermented drinks (kombucha, kefir, beetroot kvass), to yogurts (sheep, goat, coconut)- there are SO MANY ways to introduce new strains into your diet. Note that these foods are powerful, and you don't want to overdo it. Eat fermented foods like condiments; an entire jar of sauerkraut will probably upset your balance too- and try to avoid things with too much sugar. Some kombucha's these days are glorified soda-pop. You can even get pre- and probiotics by eating chocolate (YES, REALLY!); my beautiful friends over at Made With Raw Love actually have an amazing raw, organic, refined-sugar free pre-and probiotic "mint biotic crisp" chocolate, that uses a fermented hemp-based pre and probiotics. Um, h-e-l-l-s yes (order some HERE!).
Your digestion is compromised right now so I would also include a tool to help your body break down food. There are a few options: digestive bitters (like THIS brand) taken before meals will boost your body's hydrochloric acid (aka stomach acid) and help you break down food. You can also take an HCL+pepsin supplement which does the same (I take Thorne brand), or you can take a high quality digestive enzyme (I have a few brands I use, but my favourite is Elemental Wizdom's Super Human Enzymes). They all work, just opt for whatever you're drawn to take.
Bonus freebie: chew + mindfulness when you eat. A massive part of properly digesting food requires you chew and eat without distractions. It's hard for most people these days, but invaluable when it comes to absorbing your food. Put the phone down, turn the TV off, spend 20 grateful minutes mindfully eating your meal.
Colostrum is an animal-based product that is extremely healing to the gut, and will do wonders to helping you repair the lining (ultimately boosting absorption of nutrients). You want to be careful with quality when it comes to sourcing stuff like colostrum/ any animal product (more on this below) but the one brand I truly trust when it comes to colostrum is by Surthrival.
2. Chronic vitamin deficiencies
The biggest issue with veganism is the lack of fat soluble vitamins that simply don't exist outside the animal-products realm of food. You will have undoubtably been deficient in vitamins A, D, E, and K now- because these are the vitamins that animals synthesize overtime through proper diets and natural (pasture raised) lifestyles- and store in abundance in their fat store. The deficiency with veganism is less about protein, and truly more about the good fats. The Omega 3's your body needs are DHA and EPA, and although many proponents of veganism preach chia and flax seeds as a source of Omega 3, they actually are the ALA branch of Omega 3. ALA is a pre-cursor to EPA/ DHA, but the conversion rate is only about 1% or so (no bueno). To get well-rounded vitamins from animal fats, you want to consume enough high quality fish (smaller, wild caught fatty fish like mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are ideal), as well as some fatty cuts of red meat (organic, pasture raised grass fed and grass finished beef).
While your body is recalibrating itself, I would try to mega dose these vitamins in your system, and even consider taking a supplement like fermented cod liver oil with butter oil (THIS brand is the only one I trust), and perhaps a vitamin D + K2 supplement (I use THIS one in the Canadian winter months, and take 5-10 drops under the tongue 1xday). Note that when it comes to vitamins and minerals, real food is the way to go, and for vitamin D, nothing beats sunshine on bare skin (learn more about this HERE).
As for protein, organ meat is your best bet when it comes to nutrient density. They contain the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals (liver can have up to 100x the nutrition than conventional muscle meats like a regular steak)- plus eating nose-to-tail is taking into account the bigger picture (reducing waste). Bone broth is another incredible way to use up the whole animal, and super charge your body with collagen, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Learn how to make your own HERE. You can also take a grass-fed beef liver supplement if your lingering veganism thinks organ meat is just too much right now.
Note: when it comes to supplements, especially animal-based products: do not go cheap. Cheap supplements in general can harm your health more than help it; you're better off completely avoiding supplements if you're trying to keep costs low. Seriously.
3. Quality of meat/ animal products you re-introduce
Related to #3- the importance of quality (not quantity) of animal products is paramount. Your animal products are only nutrient dense and healing if the animals themselves have led natural, happy, lives. Vitamin D synthesis, for example, happens as a result of animals living outside in the sunshine: their fat stores become incredible sources of vitamin D for humans, only if they had such natural lives. Factory farmed meat is not food. In fact, I like to compare factory farmed meat to swimming pools, in that just because you need water to survive: doesn't mean you should go drinking pool water. It may look the same (... although it really doesn't to the trained eye...) but it is not the same.
Organic, pasture raised, local, wild caught- you want the animal products to be of the utmost highest quality. Yes, they are significantly more expensive, but you also need significantly less. If you've been vegan for a while, you might even be a bit turned off by eating flesh- so even better: keep it small portioned, and high quality.
Don't be afraid to ask questions at your grocer/ butcher. Real labels, hop on google and educate yourself. There is a lot of information out there, but once you wrap your head around the basics- it becomes second nature.
Clean water (not tap) is massive for health in general, in particular gut health, because even the existence of chlorine alone is enough to disrupt the gut flora (literally kill it), so if you can invest in a good filter (like THIS one - with the fluoride attachments) or get spring water delivered to your house... your life will transform. Your skin also has a micro biome, invest in a cheap shower filter too (they're like 50-100$).
5. Get outside
This tip is for everyone, and truly plays a massive role in healing the body in general. Barefoot, bare skinned, in nature- as much as possible. Lay in the (pesticide-free) grass; swim in the lake, ocean, or sea; walk in the dirt, hug a tree. Exposing your micro biome to nature will introduce probiotics, release positive ions (and pick up negative ones), nourish your spirit, and heal your body. Connect with the Mother- feel yourself as part of one larger part of the cosmos. Just like your gut has a miro-biome, you are a part of the planets micro-biome. You and the animals, and the flowers, and trees, and blades of grass: we are all a part of the interconnected workings of a planet- and the planet itself a part of the interconnected micro-biome of our galaxy. Veganism ironically disconnects you from this concept- placing a hierarchy on who matters. We all matter, we are all one. Feel that, and trust the healing process that occurs when you truly unite your Body with the Soul of the Earth.
I hope some of that information resonated with you/ helps you along your journey towards reclaiming your health. Be patient and loving with your Self, your Body want to thrive.