A former vegan YouTuber, Nikocado Avocado, just started recently to eat eggs again. In his video, he shows how upset he is and what a defeat it is for him to not be vegan anymore. He explains further that he haven’t been feeling well for a while and he wanted to see if eating animal products again would help with his condition.
Parallel while this was happening with Nokodado, a nutritionist from theveganrd.com asked for personal stories of vegans with chronic diseases. She wants to write about how it is to live with a chronic disease as a vegan. So, I decided to write to her, using the inspiring honesty Nikokado used in his video, and share my own experience about my disease. Here is what I wrote her.
Hi and thank you for reading my message,
On July 1st, 2014 I went vegan. Mainly to try and prevent heart disease since it runs in my family, but also for the animals. About nine months later I got my eyes damaged (lateral nystagmus in both eyes) due to most likely lacking thiamine. The whole “mainly raw, whole food with no oil”-advice I got from YouTube, apparently hadn’t worked. When they injected me with thiamine, my symptoms reversed almost back to normal, but I do have permanently damaged my eyes. I met up with a clinical nutritionist and she told me I should take a multi-vitamin, eat legumes and 1-2 tbs of healthy oils every day. I was shocked when she told me this, especially about the legumes and oil because no YouTuber I had been following said that this was essential. Even worse, they say oil is bad for you! I started taking her advice, except for the oil part.
About 4 months later I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Proctitis, a “prequel” to colitis if you will. I went back to the nutritionist and was told that hard fiber was not good for the colon when I was sick. Once I went back in remission, I could eat normal again.
After getting sick twice I thought to myself: “Is it worth staying vegan now that I have gotten sick twice within a year? I went vegan mainly to NOT get sick and here I am with eyes damaged and a not so fun disease…”. I told myself that I will follow my clinical nutritionist’s guidelines a 100% and if something else happens, I will go back to eating animal products again. Believe me, it was extremely tempting to give up veganism all together at that moment, but I trusted my nutritionist and so far, a year and a half later, it’s been good. I don’t take any medication for my symptoms. It seems to have been working to eat “slimy foods” like chia seeds, cooked oats and refined starches (rice, white pasta, etc). I would, however, love to eat whole grains again, but I really do need to be careful with that since it makes me sick if I eat too much of it.
These two things that have happened to me have been very difficult to talk about to other people. Even if someone in my family has gotten a heart attack, cancer or diabetes and survived, I feel like I still can’t talk about my disease. Because I know if they knew I got sick twice after going vegan, they would not look at the situation rationally. I’d hear so many mean comments and wouldn’t hear the end of it… However, if I would open my mouth about how a plant-based diet can help treat heart disease and cancer, I would probably be told to shut up and mind my own business. As a result, I just keep to myself and don’t really talk about it. I sometimes feel guilty, even like I deserve getting sick for not doing “good enough” research on veganism. But there are so many experts out there with a dr degree and you can’t possibly know who to trust or which one of them is right. You can find studies after studies supporting one claim or the other. All I know is that once I started following my nutritionist’s advice a 100% I haven’t gotten sick. That’s good enough for me… for now…
Every time I get just a little bit sick, like getting the cold or something, I’m always thinking in the back of my mind: “Is it because that I’m vegan? Should I stop now? Is this a sign of a new disease?” But I try not to think about it, hoping that my nutritionist knows what she’s talking about. I know that vegans also get sick, but I just can’t shake off the thought: “what if?”.