Letting go of vegan guilt
Many people who are considering joining the ranks of happier tummies following the gut health-focused and low inflammation lifestyle I share on my socials struggle with the idea of consuming animal products again. I have personally helped quite a few to come to terms with what I call “vegan guilt” and I thought I would share with you a few tips on how to let go of it.
Experience is a series of mistakes you learn from
Experience is the mistakes we learn from. Anything is a learning process and as long as you do it from your heart, there is no right or wrong. The reason why we live is to elevate our souls. To do so, we go through a learning process which is a series of choices that put us on a path of improvement. Choosing to be vegan was for many people a decision that came from care and wanting to do the right thing. Having learnt that this choice was not necessarily the best for your own body, does not put in question your intentions. We are all trying our best with the best of our knowledge. No one believes they are the bad guy – what can be interpreted as a bad move often comes from a place of thinking it was the right choice. Let go of guilt. This new choice you are making is most probably not perfect either. Perfection is extreme. Extreme measures lead to extreme results. Humans thrive in a space of moderation. Extremes, whether dietary, physical, political, ideological can leave us in a place of sub-optimal well-being. This is the reason why being judgemental isn’t conclusive for us, nor others. If someone judges you for your change of lifestyle, the best way to diffuse the accusation is to admit that making mistakes is part of being human: “errare humanum est” – a Latin expression from the Roman philosopher Seneca sums it up. Once you admit to being wrong, people will stop making you feel bad, it’s magic. Admitting you were wrong is a magic trick to get people off your back, but it requires letting go of ego. If you can let go of ego, you will admit to your own mistakes with yourself and others, and be able to grow for your own benefit as well as the benefit of people around you.
Why did you become obsessed with veganism?
When you start anything new (a job, a new sport, a game, using a new app etc.) you tend to become obsessed with it. This is an absolutely normal reaction and process for you to familiarize yourself with it and to have a sense of ownership over whatever is new in your life. When it comes to lifestyle and diet, it is actually one of the biggest changes you can do, because eating is a primary need in humans. Switching to being vegan, or the Eat Burn Sleep lifestyle can make you want to talk about it all the time to people around you. There is nothing wrong with the fact that you kept talking about veganism to people around you at the beginning of your vegan journey. This is a normal process but it should not stop you from questioning if that choice was the optimal choice for your health. It can feel like you have invested so much in this lifestyle and gone so deep down the line that you do not want to make a u-turn. It is important to see it as a learning curve rather than as wasted time and energy. You can tell yourself that this has brought you to my page and that you now are implementing a low inflammation lifestyle which will leave you healthier in the long run. I often apply this thought process to my diseases and to unpleasant experiences in my life. I always think “If I can turn a negative experience into a positive result, then I am winning”. Experience is the accumulation of negative events which you will turn into positives from a physical, mental and spiritual point of view.
Can you still care about the planet when transitioning out of a plant-based diet?
From an ethical standpoint, you should congratulate yourself for caring about the planet. The reality is what will save us, isn’t as clear as we previously thought. Indeed, we have seen during COVID-19 that carbon emissions, despite a huge reduction in air travel, were not that impacted. Likewise, it can be very debatable as to what is best for the planet: to consume plant-based products or to support sustainable and local farming? However, you know your truth. What makes you feel better physically and mentally is undeniable and not up for debate. It is a fact, it is truth, it is your reality. A healthier you will be less of a burden on the healthcare system, will be a more productive worker, will be a better friend and a better family member. Putting all of these things in balance can help you reallocate your will to care for others and the environment. You are not letting anyone down by making yourself feel better; in fact, you are supporting others as well as your environment and consequently, the planet. What we know for sure, is that single-use plastic does destroy the planet; maybe, make a pledge to reduce your single-use plastic consumption to support marine life. This is just an example of a positive impact you can have without it being detrimental to your health.
Treating animals better is healthier for us
Eating animals that have been stressed, fed poorly or injected with medication for growth, is bad for us. Indeed, chicken, beef, lamb, will contain higher levels of omega 6 fatty acids, which can lead to higher inflammation levels. Whatever that animal has consumed, either a poor diet or medication is passed onto us when we consume the meat of that animal. If the animals are badly treated in a farm or an abattoir and put under stress, they will contain higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which you will consume when eating that meat. Fish, which is farmed with poor methods, will also contain higher levels of heavy metals and risk heavy metal toxicity. Eating good quality animal products, which we need for optimal health, helps us and also supports support the animals as it supports better farming methods. Treating animals with respect and care, from what we feed them to how we make them live their lives allows us, in turn, to be healthier. Such products are more expensive, hence better for the environment as people waste less and eat appropriate amounts, rather than excessive quantities. Let’s put things in perspective: our grandparents used to have red meat only once a week. It generally was grass-fed lamb or beef and people would have one serving, between 150 and 220 grams. Extreme farming led to extreme consumption of poor quality and over-processed animal products. Such products are simply not in the same category as what our grandparents used to consume. We would be comparing pears and apples. Does that make it relevant to reduce low quality meat consumption? Absolutely. Can you achieve optimal health by cutting out high-quality beef, lamb, chicken, fish and eggs 100% from your diet? I do not believe so. I have spoken about the importance of essential amino acids, vitamin D, zinc, vitamin B12 for the good function of the human body. Optimal levels of such nutrients are impossible to achieve on a plant-based diet without supplementation. It seems absolutely counter-intuitive that a healthy and complete diet would need supplementation.
Let go of guilt, listen to your body and make informed choices acknowledging that no choice will ever be perfect. You are human and life is a learning process.
Find out more about the Eat Burn Sleep’s low inflammation and gut health-focused lifestyle on the 6-week plan platform by clicking here.