A Confession & Apology

 

I have something I need to get off of my chest. I have been struggling with how to approach this for a while so I have held off. I have to say that I can’t wait any longer to talk about it with you.

In the past couple of months, I have started adding animal products back into my diet. It was a personal decision that I have struggled with. I’ve gone through feelings of guilt, shame, and even deceit for not talking about it sooner.

I really wanted to be a role model and inspiration for plant-based eating. I wanted to make veganism accessible, exciting, and flavorful. I wanted to prove that it was possible to thrive on a vegan diet. And I still want to prove all of the above. I did thrive on a vegan diet, but things have changed for me lately.

I started off slowly and just wanted to figure out what I was doing and make sense of it before I talked about it publicly… and then I was scared (also I am still trying to figure things out, it is ever evolving). I have seen former vegans get vilified online and called all manner of nasty names. I didn’t want to let anyone down and I certainly didn’t want any kind of backlash.

But then I realized – more than any of that – I didn’t want to portray a falsehood to my readers. I didn’t want to pretend to be something I was not and I certainly didn’t want to live my life for anyone else. In the end…my choices are mine alone. One of the things I have learned in the past few years is not to take anything personally. People will always have their opinions, someone will always find fault in the way I live, and some people will always find a way to be better than others.

I hate to think I could lose friends (in the online vegan community) but I cannot keep this to myself anymore. It has been tearing me up!! Now let me say that not all people in the vegan community are so hard on others; in fact, none of the people that I would consider to be friends or role models are the kind of people who would turn against me.

However, there are those people out there. I realized this when Healthy Ashley recently wrote a post on no longer being vegan. While most of her readers were supportive, there were a few that were downright mean. I completely and utterly understand what she meant when she said “I feel confused, challenged, embarrassed, relieved, sad and excited. It’s about my identity.” I feel like my entire identity has been wrapped up in how I eat and I do not want that to be the case any more.

Before I posted this “confession” to you I wanted to prepare myself for the things that I might hear. I figure if I address them first then it might make things easier if someone does lash out against me….

I am weak for not being able to stick with veganism – it wasn’t about weakness or strength of will…If I no longer want to do something I should not have to.

I don’t actually care for animals – I think we all know this is not the case. I have a deep love and appreciation for animals and always will. I have struggled with tremendous guilt in changing my eating habits and it is something I will have to continue to figure out.

I am irresponsible for voicing my opinions on changing my diet – I will never sit here and tell you that a vegan diet is unhealthy. If done right (not a junk food vegan) then a plant-based diet can do wonders for your health! And you can most definitely survive and thrive as an athlete. I will continue to recommend that people eat more of a plant-based diet now and in the future.

I am a hypocrite – well I wouldn’t argue there. I certainly have felt like one these past few months as I’ve struggled with how to talk about it.

I am only doing this to increase blog readership (yes I have actually seen people accuse former vegans of this) – definitely not as I don’t plan to showcase meals with animal products on the blog anytime soon.

I was only vegan for vanity reasons – absolutely not. I first became vegan to improve my health as I was going through a very difficult time (my husband had just deployed to Afghanistan the same day I had a miscarriage). Becoming vegan was an eye-opening and wonderful experience. I felt healthier, happier, and more connected to the world around me. I never actually lost any weight and it did not improve my appearance in any way (I talk about the vegan myths here).

I am just a terrible awful person (people can be quite mean online) – no I’m not. I have become strong enough in my love for myself to do things for me and no one else. If someone has a problem with that they can certainly call me anything they want and I will be confident enough to know that it’s not about me. Like my mom always says: you cannot control the wind, but you can always adjust your sails.

Questions I am anticipating:

Do I eat meat/dairy/eggs all day everyday? No!! It’s not like I went out and ate a bacon-cheeseburger or anything. In fact, I don’t feel comfortable eating pork or beef at all. I am limiting dairy greatly as it does not jive with my digestion. I don’t eat animal products with every meal and sometimes I don’t even eat them for days at a time. This whole transition is honestly less about me wanting to eat animal products and more about my overall health/balance (see below).

Have I completely abandoned vegan meals? No, I still eat vegan foods the majority of the time….probably at least 85% of the time, I can just no longer call myself a true vegan.  And when I find inspiration for new recipes they are still always vegan!! I want to continue to bring vegan meal ideas and recipes to the blog because I think everyone could benefit by eating more plant-based foods.

Have I been lying when posting daily eats? Nope, everything in my daily eats posts is truth. I don’t omit anything…that truly is the way I choose to eat.

Will I feature animal products in my recipes on MHH? Like I said, I still am only creating new vegan meals. I want Mile High Healthy to be an inspiration and resource for people who want to dip their toes in the plant-based waters and for now I only plan on sharing vegan recipes. Who knows what the future holds.

If I think this choice is okay, why do I feel the need to apologize? Ha, I wish I knew the answer to this!! Mainly because I really wanted to be a bright, shinning light for people and I feel sad that I am not. Maybe because deep down I am a people pleaser?? Who knows.

If I still eat so much vegan food anyway, why not remain vegan? This is the hardest question to answer! The main reason for my transition was from a mental/emotional standpoint, not because of health or because I care any less about animals. I recently went through a tough time and began a disordered relationship with food (note: this is different from an “eating disorder”). That is to say, I was becoming obsessed with thoughts of food and food restrictions. Things became too complicated and I suffered as a result. In trying to find balance and peace, I realized that having food restrictions or labeling the way I eat were detrimental to my overall health and happiness. In order to make myself better I removed all labels and restrictions. I decided that from now on it wouldn’t be about what I couldn’t eat but simply what I do eat. I am not saying that this is common at all. Most people who are vegans can be so without any detriment to their physical/mental/emotional health. For me it was a bunch of different factors that all combined to change my current perspective (more on this later this week).

I just talked about my food philosophy and how a vegan diet was the key to my health, how can things have changed so quickly? I don’t know. But sometimes life and the things we believe in most do change unexpectedly. Sometimes you have to forego what you want to be true in order to live how you know is true.

Will I be vegan again in the future? Well, this is hard to say. Just as if you had asked me when I was vegan if I could ever not be vegan again I simply do not know the answer. Life is always changing. My body and health are always evolving and there’s no way to know what the future holds. If things change and if I do decide to forego animal products in the future I do not think I will call myself a vegan…I actually don’t want to label myself ever again. I will just do what feels natural and right and not try and make a big deal out of it.

I hope I was able to clearly communicate my thoughts…there are just so many of them that I feel a bit overwhelmed. I don’t want to ostracize or turn anyone away from the blog. I value each and every reader and I hope that you will still value me.

Like I said, I will talk more about my recent struggles later this week – it’s another LONG post that I have been working on for months (seriously). In the meantime please feel free to ask me any questions that you have and I will answer them truthfully.

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14 thoughts on “A Confession & Apology

  1. So proud of you Shelley for staying true to yourself. Being “healthy” looks so different for everyone. It is always changing and evolving for me too. I LOVE how honest and open you are about your love for food and fitness- THAT is what inspires people.

  2. Change is life, life is change…No need to beat yourself up for making a change that’s right for you at this time in your life. As a therapist, I applaud you taking a look at your relationship with food and gaining insight into what is healthy for you, both emotionally and dietarily (if that’s a word!). As for any naysayers out there, what they think of you is none of your business! I look forward to more posts detailing your honest struggles with making good choices. You are in inspiration!!

  3. I appreciate your honesty, and I know your readers will too. You are all about healthy living and eating, and if I know you, you will still be as cautious as ever about what you fuel your body with. If everyone knew how difficult it was to go from the ‘soul food’ I fed you when you were growing up to the ‘whole food’ you eat now, they’d respect you even more! Plus, your lifestyle is not just about your diet but about exercise, too. I’m proud of you!

  4. I appreciate your honesty I was vegan for awhile and even though I still believe it is the best way to live I am not currently vegan, I have been struggling, while I will always be vegetarian, the vegan lifestyle just didnt seem to work for me at this time in my life.

    • It can be a struggle at times but I believe that any effort to reduce or eliminate animal products from the diet does wonders for your body and the environment. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

  5. Shelley, you are an inspiration! I don’t mean just diet-wise (or any one part of you/your blog): I mean YOU as a whole. I hope you know what a wonderful person you are, and that your true fans will never abandon you as a result of personal crises or lifestyle changes! You still remain my favorite wellness blogger, and I applaud your honesty. xxxx

  6. Wowza! I am shocked and sad – not sad for you – you are amazing, but feeling sad for me as I do not have any “friends” who are vegans and though I dont know you personally, I just feel like your blogs speak to me as a fellow vegan. Now that has changed. I will be okay – like I said, you are amazing and this post speaks to that. Thanks for sharing what must have been a hard post. Hugs to you.

  7. I am happy that you are open and honest about your personal decision to give up veganism. Please, rest assure that you are still my friend and that you are a shinning light and an inspiration! I don’t throw away my friends based on their food choices.

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