Recovering From Veganism and other "Isms"

Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” When I was diagnosed in 1997 with incurable thyroid disease, I began my healing journey by changing my perception of food.

I got off the crap, began cooking for myself, and incorporating wholesome “healing foods” as my medicine.

The first diet I tried was Macrobiotics – its origins were steeped in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the principles of yin and yang. It’s a food philosophy that teaches about eating food that is naturally raised, pesticide free, and lovingly prepared. I ate that diet for many years, and it was a HUGE catalyst to helping me understand food. But, it was not complete for me.

The next healing diet I tried was “veganism.” With macrobiotics I was still eating small quantities of fish once per week. So, I removed fish entirely. I read in few books that I could enhance my spirituality and connection to the universe by NOT eating animals.

Veganism worked great for me for about a year. But, I soon began feeling weak and exhausted, and my immune system kept crashing. My blood pressure was scarily low (80 over 50!), and my muscles ached all the time. I was suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.

Plus, when I was vegan I was judgmental of myself and others. I believed if I ate animal products I was harming my soul in some way, and would probably go to hell. And, if you were eating a hamburger in front of me … well, you were surely going to hell because I was the witness and the judge to that crime!

It wasn’t until I sat quietly one day listening to another vegan friend that I began understanding my error. We were in Louisiana on a swamp tour in the bayou. As we were floating down the waterway a dragonfly with blue and green iridescent wings landed on the boat.

I said, “Wow, look at that beautiful dragonfly.”

She said, “ugh! I HATE dragonflies!”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because they eat other flies. They’re disgusting cannibalistic creatures. And, I’m glad we haven’t seen any alligators yet, because they are horrible. They eat innocent little animals!”

I said, “Isn’t that just a part of nature?” And, my idea of veganism began shifting.

Besides, I had to listen to my body. I was feeling weak and exhausted, and needed to honor my body with the food it was craving; which was animal meat and fat. A similar way the crocodile eats the water rat, the bear catches salmon from the stream, the bird eats a worm, and the snake eats a frog.

Those animals are not going to hell – they are just living a natural life, eating what nature provides for them… without judgment.

And, besides the meat-eating alligator is no less important to this world than the grass-eating deer.

I also dabbled in raw foods when I was vegan. I went to Hippocrates Institute in Florida. Upon arrival, I was given a “live” blood test.

The gal administering the test said, “Your blood is very good, how long have you been raw?”

I said, “I’m not really raw. I eat cooked food.” At that time I was macrobiotic/vegan.

She said, “Well if you are going to take on a raw foods diet you will need these supplements and digestive enzymes.”

She pulled out a sheet of paper and checked off 15 different enzyme supplements that would enhance my raw foods experience.

Once again I looked into nature and saw there are NO herbivores or ruminants taking supplementation to digest their food. I lasted one week on a completely raw foods diet. All raw, all the time, and came to the conclusion that it didn’t feel good inside my body.

The various ways of eating I experimented with helped me gain insight into my body and how it can be affected physically, emotionally and spiritually by my daily food and lifestyle choices.

I’ve learned so much, and I’m still learning, as I continue to live well and eat healthfully while here in this body, on this planet. Understanding food seems like a never ending and delicious process.

And, sometimes it’s a not so delicious process. Like noni juice for example. For me it tasted like fermented dirty sock water packaged in an expensive bottle. I had the same reaction to noni juice as I had the first time I tried scotch whiskey: a gag reflex.

Once again I looked into nature. That same gag reflex happens when a snake eats a poisonous tree frog.

I know that noni juice and whiskey are not the right drinks for me, personally. Now beer, on the other hand, is smooth and creamy with a nice silky finish. I have to honor that!

After experimenting with various healing foods and “isms,” I found something that works best for me. It’s essentially what the ancient sages and philosophers taught thousands of years ago to help us attain health, vitality and a connection to the universe.

Ancient healing arts advise that human beings are a part of the whole universe and are not separate from nature, but are part of nature.

We human creatures need to figure out what nature provides for us (animal, vegetable and mineral) in the climate and environment that we live in, just like all other creatures on the planet.

An easy way to understand what type of food is available in your area starts by shopping at a farmer’s market. You’ll discover with each season that the produce and products change.

I believe we need to trust the wisdom of the universe and let nature provide for us. With the help of the farmers that are naturally and ethically raising these foods, of course.

As famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

Want a deeper understanding about food and healing? Listen to this audio recording from my talk at the NOFA conference. You’ll discover, without any judgement, how and why connecting with the cycles of nature can enhance health on many levels; physical, emotional & spiritual.

The Ancient Wisdom of Seasonal Eating



  • Deborah Miles

    Andrea, I understand what you are saying. I have never been a vegan, but was a vegetarian for a while, even though I always ate wild salmon. I eat organic chicken now, but I do not eat red meat, never really liked it and refuse to eat pork. It is great to buy from local farmers and buy organic in the stores. Many people can not do that, especially in the economic times. Many of us wouldn’t feel quite so bad if someone like yourself could work with others to stop all the torture in the commercial farms. This is not nature in any sense of the word. There is a humane way to put an animal down and then there is pure cruelty. That is one reason why those that eat animals are beginning to pause and stand back because some, including myself, never realized all this was going on. So, for all of us to enjoy nature as it was or was not intended, something else has to be done for those that can not speak for themselves, except to maybe scream. With the energy and the force of nature voice that you have been given, I think you could help everyone including the animals. Thank you for all you do. Oh, also, I would never be vegan.

  • I so resonate with what you are saying. I, too, experimented with veganism for a while. During that I made a comment on a blog (I don’t even remember what it was about) and it unleashed a hate-storm against me. I got hate email, hate facebook, hate twitter. All of it because I had ‘liked’ a place called Oakridge Acres Country Meat Store on Facebook and someone had noticed it. I love shopping there – they have an extensive line of locally produced vegan foods, vegetarian foods, and gluten free foods, sold alongside their sustainably raised, hormone free and oftentimes organic meats that come from small, independent, local farms. Essentially, the hate campaign was waged against me because if I were ‘truly vegan’ I wouldn’t even shop at a store that sold meat. It was ludicrous and made me look at what I was doing.

    It coincided with health challenges – unexplained weight gain, weakened and brittle hair and nails, lack of energy, etc. A wee bit of animal protein (mainly fish, seafood and chicken) fixed me right up. Although unpleasant, it was a great experience that taught me to be careful about jumping on any ‘ism’ bandwagon.

    Thanks for shouting out the truth so beautifully!

  • Catherine

    I like the idea of eating a well-balanced, variety of foods rather than adhering to strict rules. That feels better to me. Andrea, enjoyed your heart health class last night, making the watermelon salad today! I am signed up for the NOFA conference, looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks.

  • Well said! Totally agree. It’s like anything else: if it’s too hard, then you’re probably doing it wrong. I’ve never contemplated veganism for that reason. It just doesn’t seem like we were intended to eat that way.

  • Love the Frank Lloyd Wright quote. Great post, Andrea. Thanks.

  • Terri

    I believe that whatever anyone decides to do in regards to eating animals or not, is be willing to stand up to your convictions and what is true for you. I am a vegan and I am because of the animals, not because of diet reasons, however, it just happens to be that I have never felt as great as I do right now. I make sure I get what my body needs, I exercise, do alot of outdoor activities and do my best to live a healthy lifestyle while thinking about doing what I can do for the good of all animals, be it wild or domesticated. Nature provided a means for animals to survive in this world and that means doing what they need to do, kill and eat and provide for their young. To make a statement about a dragonfly eating a fly, in my opinion, is just a wee bit over the top, which could be why some people look at veganism as being extreme. Whether people decide to stop eating animals for health reasons or for moral reasons, shouldn’t matter. If people are interested in why I became vegan, then I’m happy to answer their questions, but I don’t preach, try to convert or judge anyone who chooses a different lifestyle… on any scale. My daughter used to say she was vegan until I went vegan, and she will now tell people she is a very strict vegetarian, because she still buys and wears leather. She understands the difference in the word. Veganism in my opinion takes in the whole picture of not harming animals for the sake of food, entertainment, clothing, and experiments. I personally do my utmost to adhere to that lifestyle and I feel great physically and mentally for having chosen to go this route.

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  • Organic Olivia

    I LOVE THIS POST! So fair and well thought out. Really resonated with me.

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