Exploring Dietary Changes

Recently we’ve been experimenting with adding some dairy back into our diet. It started with Kesa not wanting to eat many of the foods that we all ate and wanting to eat cheese and yogurt. She always wanted them whenever we would go to either of the grandparents places and so sometimes I would buy those foods for her on occasion too because I wanted her to eat and if that is what she wanted, I felt as though I shouldn’t deprive her because of my dietary choices. I always have believed in following what works for the individual and not forcing my beliefs on others or my children so I let her have what she was craving.

Autumn has always been my good eater. She eats everything I make and likes everything I make too, whereas Kesa has always been picky and not very into the whole vegan thing. I feel like I have to beg and plead with her to try anything and it is like pulling teeth to get her to ado something that she doesn’t want to do. When we first went vegan when she was a baby, she ate different things and was going along quite well on the vegan diet. Still, often times when we went to my parents place or Craig’s parent’s place, the girls would have some dairy or foods that contain dairy, even though we never let them have meat. I never wanted them to have the dairy either and would feel so sad inside and worried about how bad those foods were for them and for the animals. I was fresh into my vegan regime and was determined to never have any animal products ever again. I was convinced that this was the healthiest diet and that because my reasons for doing this were ethical and spiritual and for compassion, I would never “cheat” or have animal products again. Even Craig would have some cheese or milk or sour cream, but me, never, ever.

I put a lot of information in my head about veganism and convinced myself that I was doing the right thing for my body, mind and spirit and for our whole family’s well-being too. On my vegan journey, learning and experimenting, I have gone raw, done a macrobiotic approach and even this last winter in 2012, I was on an  raw fruitarian diet for 3 months. Although, I never did mention that on my blog, I felt extremely light and expansive eating that way and it made me very out of my body, almost high. I had to come off of that and add back in cooked foods because I noticed myself getting more wrapped up in my ego and more isolated and feeling different than everybody else.

I am realizing more and more these days how extreme I have been with my vegan diet. I will have been vegan for 4 years this September and for the past 2 years have felt really unhealthy. Ever since 2010, when I was approaching my 2 year vegan anniversary, I was beginning to notice that the way I was eating was not satisfying me. I would need to eat a lot and lot of food just to feel satisfied or normal. The bulk of what I was eating was baked things, like banana bread, or things with oats and nuts and foods that were heavier and that made me feel more grounded. I would often wonder why I need to eat so much and felt like I was binge eating. The other vegan blogs I would look at all seemed to mostly be veggie dishes with some grains, salads or smoothies. Whenever I would try to follow that way of eating, I felt deprived and too light, I needed to eat a lot if I ate those types of meals and still, I would need to eat again in a few hours, usually a lot of bread or cereal, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I was consuming a lot of calories (thousands and thousands a day), but still I never felt satisfied. I felt light and airy and so often in my head, over-analyzing and thinking so much, believing that this was all very good and healthy, even spiritual of me.

I got pregnant in the winter of 2010 and started having cravings for animal foods, cheese, eggs and even meat too. I felt so guilty for wanting those things and would search around the internet for answers, wondering why I felt this way. Surely, it couldn’t be my body wanting those foods that I had convinced myself were so unnecessary and only selfishly desired. I let myself have some dairy and meat in the first few months of my pregnancy and I got really sick, mucousy and low feeling, but in another way, I was feeling more satisfied, balanced and grounded. At the fourth month into my pregnancy, I went back to a vegan diet because I felt so guilty for not sticking to a vegan diet and also I was still feeling sick. The remainder of my pregnancy was healthy and I felt really good again sticking to the vegan diet. I exercised moderately and ate enough to keep me satisfied. It was working again.

Ever since Serafina was born and I was breastfeeding her I have felt completely and utterly exhausted. For the first few months, I was even feeling pretty depressed and isolated. I would need to eat a lot and lot of vegan foods (especially baked things) to get that satisfied feeling, again consuming upwards of 3,000 + calories a day, but still I never felt truly satisfied. I still feel tired all of the time and I have no energy for anything, even though she has been weaned for 5 months now. I thought that my low energy had a lot to do with the fact that I had been breastfeeding her all the time and that feeling that way was just normal. Being so low on energy has also made me feel more depressed again. I feel so bad for feeling this way and so frustrated  that nothing I have done has helped. I moved more into the raw direction again this summer to try and get more energy, eating 5-6 small mostly raw, vegan meals a day and I have also been exercising more and more to try and see if that would help (I even lost 20 lbs), but the truth is my body is telling me that it is tired and that it needs something different. I am still not exactly sure what that something is, but I am now at a place where I am willing to listen and be open to trying a new approach if that means I can feel healthy again.

I still feel in my heart that taking foods from animals is wrong and I feel that compassion for the animals well-being and freedom inside of myself. I don’t want to have to do this, but in the past week of having even just a little bit of milk and cheese (all the while at war with myself and trying to not feel guilty about it), I am feeling more energetic and the way I remember feeling years ago. I am less depressed feeling and more able to be a better mother and wife too. I am still not exactly sure what I am going to do, but we are just going to take it slow and I am going to see what is working for my body, by getting in touch with those messages again, rather than ignoring them and trying to follow some rules about living and eating and feeling guilty for not doing things “right” or perfectly according to the vegan or health things that I have read.

I never ever would have thought that I would come to this point where I felt a vegan diet could possibly unhealthy and unsustainable. I know from the vegan perspective there is a lot of judgement on people who say that they can’t stick to it any more and they try and tell them that they just “aren’t doing it right” and give them suggestions on what they should be doing and how they really should be eating. I used to pass those judgements on people too when I heard that they are giving up trying to be vegan. The thought of someone deciding to add animal foods back in their diet, especially going paleo or eating meat again after knowing that they could go without it made me feel really sad and confused for them. I really did feel so good at first on the diet that I was convinced I could stick with it forever and I can’t say that I didn’t try. I’ve always been a very “good” vegan. I never did cheat or give into cravings, except in the case of my pregnancy, where I had to see if it was what I needed and was afraid for the health of my growing child. I never let myself have any slip-ups otherwise and always kept myself convinced that this was the way to live and to eat.

The truth is though, that the more I read of other people’s stories who have discovered that a vegan diet didn’t work for them, the more I see how it is the ones who actually stick to it 100% that fail and go paleo or give up on a vegetarian diet altogether because the ones who claim to be perfectly vegan for years and years have admittedly had some animal products behind the scenes on occasion. The people that I have observed in life who are more balanced and not so out there, do have some animal products in their diet that help to keep them more grounded and able to live a harmonious existence, not feeling isolated or different from other people the way vegans often do. When I look around me at the people that I love and the ones who are so good to me, loving and accepting, all of these people are not so restrictive about their diet. They allow themselves to eat things and not feel guilty about it. They are not trying so hard to maintain such a high ideal or be so perfect all the time. The ones who are striving to live up to the vegan ideal and be so perfect, are often self-righteous and harbour a superior attitude over others, which is something I believe is not at all about compassion at all. Most vegans don’t even realize that they are becoming so estranged from reality and enshrouded in their egos because the initial reason why most people choose this diet is to help them become better, more loving and compassionate people. They would never want to admit that it could be accomplishing exactly the opposite in regards to their family, friends, fellow men and even themselves.

Diet is not the only high ideal I place on myself and I know that there are many more things that I can do too, messages that my true self is trying to tell me, that I ignore. I have always been a perfectionist and have always had a very big heart. I believe that the vegan diet for me was all about my heart and wanting to do the right thing for the suffering of the animals, that I completely ignored my own suffering and the suffering of my family. The fact that we can never go to family dinners, or to a restaurant or a movie or a birthday party. The fact that I never allow myself any enjoyment and was even depriving my kids of some enjoyment makes me have to ask how compassionate I have been to my fellow men? I have been so concerned with my diet and with doing the right thing for the animals, that I have no time or energy for anything else, but to think about food, make recipes and cook all of our food. There is no grabbing convenient foods when you want to stick to a healthy vegan diet, everything has to be from scratch and homemade. All of our food is made with natural ingredients and by me in our kitchen. I put a lot of time and energy into trying to make this work, but in doing so, I have no time for much else in my day. I feel isolated and lonely and have for a long time now.

I do still think that a diet high in vegan foods is very healthy (and perhaps a strictly vegan diet can work for some people) so I am going to leave my recipes up for people to enjoy. I am also still passionate about choosing healthy, natural, organic foods. I do not plan on going to the other extreme or adding meat back into our lives. Craig does not want that either. He likes the way he feels on a vegetarian diet and is supportive of my decision to add in some organic dairy if that is what I want to do. I used to be so scared of telling him too about how I feel my bad feelings could be from our diet because I felt he liked me on this diet and cooking so many natural, homemade foods for our family. I wanted to please him and everyone else too who looked up to me for recipes or inspiration to be a vegan mom and raise their kids vegan. I have felt a lot of pressure on me for a long time to have the answers for everybody or to be a leader or an example to people, or some living proof that this could work for them and their families. We are still going to enjoy a mostly vegan diet with some dairy only when we feel is necessary. I do not plan on even having it everyday, but I do feel like I should be open and honest about it on here because I know that is why so many people come to my blog. Others are here because they have a connection to me as a person and other aspects of my life and so I am hoping too, that there will be not so much judgement and maybe even a little love and support from those of you who feel like they know me and can relate to my suffering, confusion and the inner turmoil I feel about having to let go of something that really does mean so much to me. I know that there are a few ladies out there too who have gone through the vegan diet experience and had it not work out for them either who can probably relate.

I have always strived to be me in this space and be open and honest with myself and others, so that is what I have attempted to do in this post. I am humble enough to admit that I am human and that I am not perfect and cannot stick to these high ideals that I have placed on myself, without breaking under the pressure. I am also eager to explore what other things I can let go of in my life so that I can live more free and allow myself to enjoy my life to the fullest. I still want to blog and share my life, but I feel as though I have to do so honestly. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal any more for being a vegan guru or some ideal perfection. I don’t want people to idolize me and my family because we are vegan or homeschool or seem to have everything together. I don’t even want the labels any more. I want to feel free to be myself and accept that there is a time for everything and that things change and people change. I don’t want to feel as though I have to fight against those changing seasons in my life in order to maintain any image, for anybody, even myself. I just want to give myself permission to be me, whoever that is, at whatever point in time and to know that it is perfectly acceptable to be whatever I am and feel however I am feeling.

I hope that there are some people out there reading who can understand this too and relate to what I am writing.

With an open heart,

tiffany6

49 thoughts on “Exploring Dietary Changes

  1. I think it’s great that you’ve posted this. The more I read about different diets and talk to different people, the more convinced I am that not everyone can have the same diet. I have friends who truly cannot get the iron they need from plants, their body doesn’t process it, so they eat some meat. I get that. We need to find a balance hat woks for us. I know what you mean about convenience foods, parties, etc. I can’t even buy non dairy yogurt, cheese, etc. here, I have to make it all from scratch. It can get tiring. I do eat dairy on and off, but both my girls are allergic so I am off currently due to breast feeding. When I am pregnant I crave dairy like crazy (and oddly when I am pregnant I get headaches from nutritional yeast!). We eat eggs also, now more so since it’s almost impossible to find organic tofu here. I choose to eat free range eggs instead of gmo tofu, gotta get some easy protein from somewhere. I discovered in the past year that I also need to take DHA supplements, which means fish oil for me. Flax isn’t ‘strong’ enough for me and I can’t get the algae based ones here. My knees hurt like a 90 year old lady if I don’t take fish oil. Don’t ask me why. But as much as I feel sorry for the fish, despise overfishing, and cringe at the amount of toxins that are in fish due to ocean pollution, I choose to be able to walk upstairs without cringing in pain and be able to kneel on the floor next to my children which means taking fish oil for now. Anyway, I think we all need to find a balance that we are happy with and that works for each of us. I hope you will still continue to offer recipes when you come up with new ones, whether they are vegan or vegetarian. I hope you find a diet balance that works best to help you feel good. Do you also take a multivitamin? I just ask because before I started taking a daily multivitamin a few years ago I felt so exhausted all the time. I think it was the B vitamins for me that I needed.

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    • Thanks Honey! I agree that there is not a one-size-fits-all way to eat and that we need to listen to our bodies and our hearts about what we feel is right. Your comment has relieved me because I am glad to know that you don’t do it all perfectly either. We have to be open to adapting if we need to, even if vegan is what we find important. It can add stress too when you feel you can’t socialize because of your dietary choices. That is always hard for me too. I never wanted my diet to alienate us from others, yet it does at times and that is hard. We have to do what we can in order to be the best versions of ourselves, especially for our children. Craig and I do take a multivitamin and so do the girls. Thanks again! Much appreciated!

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  2. CRAZY!! I just posted on your last post 🙂 and than reading this, I feel like I was reading my story a year ago LOL! the part about eating meat while you were pregnant haha and feeling guilty THAT WAS SOOO ME!!! I read alot about the “anti-vegan” diet cause I felt JUST like you and saw that these people’s symptoms, were MY symptoms. Lack of energy, depression, pale skin (I’m naturally dark) my period only lasted maybe a day, I could go on but I think you understand! I also was breastfeeding and was on a high protein (legumes) diet and could not understand why?? Why am I feeling like garbage!!! my husband was never really a fan of vegetarian diet but I cooked and he enjoyed my food so never really complained. SO he took matters in to his own hands, got his hunting licence and started getting local game. I was born and raised on game so I knew a little about cooking it, and that is when I started eating meat again! I can not tell you (this is not to convert you either) how amazing it felt to let go, and do what “my body” wanted me to do. Humans are designed to eat meat, and I was lacking a lot of vitamins/nutrients that I wasn’t getting from being a vegetarian and I wasn’t a fan of supplementing. It took awhile and going through a VERY dark time in my life (post partum) for me to get back to “normal” it wasn’t just one day of eating meat again haha. We probably eat atleast 2 vegetarian meals a week still which I love! Its refreshing to do that 🙂 I also went through this faze where I felt guilty about going back on “my word” on all the research I did and all the talking I did to get my friends/family to eat vegetarian. That was a good humbling block for me though.
    Anywho I hope YOU find your comfort zone and feed your body what it needs, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. You will find it and that may mean eating mostly vegan but also allowing yourself to let go once and awhile to give your body what it needs 🙂
    Thank you for another raw post! I enjoy reading those!!

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    • Thanks for the encouragement Steph to listen to my body and allow myself to feel normal again, even if that means adding back in some dairy. I think it might take a while to find out what works for me just because I have been all over the place with my eating and been pregnant, then breastfeeding, then weaning and all the while running after my girls all day and trying to cook, keep a clean home and homeschool too. Oh and making a cookbook! I am way exhausted and think I just need some time to relax and recharge my very low battery. I appreciate your comment and am happy that you can relate and share a bit about your journey too. Thanks!

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  3. I try to limit my dairy intake because my stomach and skin can be sensitive to it. Not to mention I felt the way our society has exploited dairy production etc seems more cruel than slaughtering for meat. But I can never cut it out completely and I have tried but it makes me either crave it more, or gives me a snotty attitude toward people who consume a lot of it without a thought.
    So in the day to day I don’t eat it (though I feed it to my kid and my highly carnivorous partner) but I use it as a “treat” for myself.

    It is frustrating though that we don’t have access to organic dairy products out here and we have to go out of our way to get them. I have been wondering if its possible to buy dairy from the Hutterites? If so you probably have to buy large quantities but in that case if a few people go in on a large quantity of something it is manageable. I dont know about their farming practices but i imagine they are far more ethical than the mass produced labels?? I am going to look into that..

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    • I know what you mean about dairy, it is scary to add back in for me too because it does put weight on me, make me mucousy, breakout and I know that it can mess with my hormones too. I am hoping organic dairy will be different. I also feel guilty about the dairy farming industry too. Don’t remind me! 😦 Milk products (and a vegetarian diet) seems like a balanced approach between all the way vegan and eating meat to me. It enables you to still be sociable, but you are not consuming death. That is how I am thinking anyway. It could perhaps be a middle way. I don’t like cow’s milk, ice cream or yogurt, but I enjoy cheese or sour cream.

      If you find out about getting some more natural form of dairy, let me know too. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment.

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  4. Also it is impossible to be perfect with your diet or anything else, but it is amazing how veganism and its associated principles have spread so rapidly in recent years because of inspired people like you! And I think with this increasing awareness affecting younger generations, society’s outlook and production standards will change out of necessity to meet the needs of the changing market, and more organic, ethical, natural products will be available to us in future years.

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  5. I am currently going through something similar. I feel like I need to eat more for preventing my chronic migraine but I really enjoy the vegan diet. My teenage children don’t eat vegan because my husband said the same thing about how this was our choice not theirs. My husband is really strict like you whereas I cheat a lot. Lately the migraines are coming back and from what I read some of my favorite vegan foods can be migraine triggers…so I’m not sure what to do. Like you said you feel like you spend lots of time thinking about, planning, and preparing food; I feel like I am obsessed with food/nutrition. Especially when it comes to wanting to treat my medical conditions with diet.
    I made a beef patty for my lunch today and I did not enjoy it. I spend hours and hours exploring how to eat to feel better…there are so many who say they have the answer to health…I feel lost and frankly helpless, which is another reason I don’t know who I am, not really.
    I am glad that you recognize what your body is telling you. I feel like mine is trying to communicate but the mute button is stuck.
    Relaxing the rules on your diet can make life more flexible and relaxing. Be well my friend.

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    • I hope things get better for you Wendy and that you can experiment a bit and find what works for you! I imagine the migranes must be so awful to have to deal with. It can be tough too when you feel like you are always reading about food and diet and trying to just find what makes you feel best. Don’t stress too much about it or be too hard on yourself, but enjoy your journey to health and happiness. I too, do not enjoy meat at all and do not plan on eating it ever again. I think I do need to be more in tune with my body though and stop experimenting with so many different vegan ways of eating, like raw foods, food combing and macrobiotics, et. or reading any more information on what others do and I know what you mean about the mute button being stuck. I think if I can stick to one way long enough I will see some changes for the better and hopefully feel less exhausted. I am raising a family too and that alone is exhausting me. Thanks for your comment! Wishing you much luck and success! 🙂

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  6. I can really relate to this post, thanks so much for your honesty! I was a strict vegan for 5 and a half years. At first I felt so healthy and it was really working for me. Then I got pregnant and I just really struggled. I was craving eggs and even dreaming about eggs. I was getting really light headed and felt like I could never think clearly and my head was always fuzzy, I actually started to think I was going a bit crazy. I had blood work done and found that my cholesterol was too low which was causing the fuzzy thinking. Also I was vitamin D deficient despite living in a really hot country and getting plenty of sun on a daily basis. Turns out that cholesterol is necessary for absorbing vitamin D. I decided to add eggs back into my diet and within days I felt so much better and could think clearly for the first time in what felt like forever. Gradually since then I’ve added a bit of dairy and chicken back into my diet. I also struggled with feelings of guilt and isolation as you mentioned in your post. My baby is now 5 weeks old and I feel I’m doing the best thing for her by breastfeeding her with my current diet. I think some people can go though pregnancy and maintain a vegan diet but it just didn’t work for me. Thanks so much for sharing your story and I really hope you don’t receive any negative judgements.

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    • Thanks for your comment Val! I think that when we are pregnant it is important to listen to those cravings! I too, always have that fuzzy headed feeling and almost like a confusion, coupled with exhaustion nearly all the time. It would be a good idea for me to get checked out and see what sort of deficiencies I could have. I appreciate you sharing your story with me and helping me to not be so hard on myself for feeling this way. We, as mothers have to take care of ourselves first too, so that we can give them our best in life. 🙂

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  7. I think it’s great that you are becoming less obsessed with food: planning it, preparing it, eating it, blogging about it. Sounds like it was becoming another type of eating disorder. Like you said, it leaves little time for anything else. Your family is getting their mommy/wife back! yay 😉
    We started out doing vegan and now do a little dairy and sometimes fish. My 3 year old craves animal protein too, so I felt like that was a good compromise. For whatever reason I don’t feel as heartbroken when I see fish being caught for food. Just where I am right now…could possibly change.
    Good luck! I think you are doing great things 🙂

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  8. this deeply touched me, feeling happy for you to free yourself, knowing that you’re going the right way – your way.
    in everything, not only food choice, I believe that the good balance and following your own heart makes it.

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  9. What a beautiful post!

    I had to step out of the realm of veganism a few months back because of health complications and struggled with including animal products in my diet, too. It really is so hard to change when you condition yourself to be a certain way, especially when it comes to eating, since it’s such a personal act.

    Thanks for sharing with us. It’s comforting to know that others have struggled with this too. 🙂

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    • Thank you Cassidy! It is hard to undo the conditioning, but it is silly too in a way because often we are the ones conditioning ourselves and setting such high standards for ourselves. We are also the ones who have to then realize what we have done and let go, which is not an easy thing to do. I am encouraged by your comment and am glad that you can relate to what I have written.

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  10. Tiffany, I can understand and relate to all of what you feel and have shared. I think it is wonderful that you continually search for balance in your life. You have a good kind heart and that is all that matters! xxx

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  11. Dearest Tiffany,

    Thank you for sharing this sweet, honest post! I for one, can relate wholeheartedly to what you’ve been going through. Reflecting back on my vegan path; I’ve realized how I’ve manage to force my diet choice on my husband and kids. Back then, I believed it was the best option for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and over the years, I’ve learned otherwise.

    You are so right! We cannot force our beliefs/values on others especially our kids as it only leads them to feel deprived, frustrated and guilty. Ironically, I experienced frustration and guilt myself when I discovered that some individuals in my family were eating dairy and eventually fish and meat. Even though this happened occasionally when family members or friends were present ; I felt crushed and betrayed when I found out. Consequently, I have learned to accept that we are all individual beings with our own set of unique values, beliefs, etc. Likewise, we all have our own lives to live with the choices we make whether good or bad…who’s to say or make that judgment call. It has been a difficult learning process for me; but I’m slowly getting there as I release and let go. For the most part; my family eats what I cook which is all plant based; but will eat some dairy products or fish when we’re out with friends.

    I quite agree with you! Cooking vegan foods from scratch is time consuming, and eventually wears you down. At times, I would feel guilty just wanting to throw caution to the wind and eat out for a change without having to be concerned about animal products being present in the food. I found myself spending so much of my valuable time and energy on grocery shopping, visiting farmer’s markets; planning meals, preparing them,and all the while trying to make sure that there was enough food to keep everyone satisfied (which usually wasn’t the case); and the end result left me tired and frustrated especially since there wasn’t enough time left for me to do the things I personally enjoy. On a similar note; being invited out to a holiday get-together or birthday party became a chore or guilt trip. I usually would have to either decline the invitation or prepare dishes so that my family would have something to eat without feeling left out. Sometimes we would eat at home before going out; but that made others feel as though their food was not good enough especially when you said you weren’t hungry or already ate. For the most part; family members or friends didn’t know how to prepare plant-based meals without the inclusion of dairy and/or meat. Besides, there’s usually the uncomfortable comments/questions that seem to come up regardless if I”m cooking or someone else is helping….it’s always an issue for some one. While some people have been understanding and would try our dishes; they are others who would make a face and downright refuse. How can it be tasty if there’s no meat or dairy? It does become irksome after a time; so I have opted to keep the invites to a minimum.

    Personally; I’m learning to refrain from diet labels as it creates negativity and I just want to be at peace with myself and my loved ones. I want to be able to enjoy meals with loved ones even if there’s some dairy or meat products present in the foods especially when dining out. I cannot control the food preparation but can choose to enjoy a meal with my loved ones. Hey, I’m all for compassion and by no means wish to harm animals; but I also understand the need for some to eat animal products on occasion especially if they find that eating a diet that is 100 % plant based isn’t working for them. Thanks again for sharing such an uplifting post. I appreciate all the remarkable work you do and wish you all the peace; love, and happiness you richly deserve.

    Best of health to you and your family

    Allana

    p.s. I apologize for the long comment; had to release 🙂

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  12. Hi there 🙂 I am in my 50’s now and have been vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan at different times over the years but have never felt particularly well eating that way despite my well thought out reasons for doing so and much research into how to maintain health on every diet. I often feel there is just too much information out there….no other animal needs to research what to eat, they just eat what they eat 🙂

    An interesting post, an open and honest one and I hope you find a happy medium you can relax with.

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  13. I totally agree with you. I went completely vegan for about 2 months and felt like crap. I added more fat into my diet through butter in biscuits and more nuts and that helped a ton. I also allow myself to have fast food, or protein bars with a little dairy. It can really make a world of difference. I don’t actually drink milk, but now I don’t worry about the milk in baking chips, or in a protein bar, etc. Definitely try listening to your body for a while…I’ve found it has helped me a ton!

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  14. Amazing! I have been reading your blog for several months now and you’re are so inspiring to me! This post really grabbed my attention because it is something that I have been dealing with recently. I was once a very outspoken vegetarian and at one point vegan. I became so invested in the ideal and label that I caused myself a lot of stress. Once I let go of that label and ideal I felt more free to explore and expand myself. Thank you so much for your honesty and recipes. Your posts always make me think and reflect on my own life. Thank you for sharing your life with us! I hope you have a wonderful week 🙂

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    • Thank you so much Juliet! That means a lot to me. 🙂 I was always very cautious about being outspoken or activist-like about my vegan diet, knowing that we can never think we know what is the right way for ourselves or others because life changes and we are all different. I also made sure to never talk too much about the why’s of veganism with my kids because I never wanted them to feel guilty or concerned for the animals. I tried instead to make being vegan about health and I made their food fun and appealing. It is great to let go of the label and just be a human, isn’t it? With the label, you always have to feel fearful of losing it, like it somehow becomes your identity. That label also makes us feel separate from others too. Unfortunately when choosing a vegan path, that is the trap we can all too easily fall into if we are not careful. Glad that you enjoy my blog. Comment any time!

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  15. So there with you. After 5 years without dairy, we have added a little bit of raw milk cheddar back into our lives. Little man doesn’t like it, but hubby and I are happy to have it back in our diet. Like you, not a lot, but enough. We were never completely vegan as honey as always been a part of our diet and we do enjoy our eggs, but only from our own hens 🙂 Happy to see you listening to your body, we can sometimes tune out those messages when in fact we really need to hear them. Good luck!

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  16. I totally understand, Tiffany! The only way for your family to eat is whatever way works for you. Before I had kids, I planned on feeding my kids what I ate, a mostly vegetarian diet with some fish. But my son has severe food allergies in addition to being super picky, and he didn’t have a lot of options. So he does eat some meat. And my daughter has been underweight her whole life, and I want to make sure she gets enough calories. I don’t label the way I or my kids eat or follow any restrictions except for my son’s allergies. I have felt guilty at times, but family has to come first. Thank you for having the courage to be so honest with your blog! And congrats on raising three happy, healthy kids. 🙂

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    • Thank you Amy. It is good to remain flexible in our approach to all things in life, especially with our children. I think that if Kesa wants dairy, then I am going to let her have it and not feel guilty about it anymore. I agree that tossing the label is the best way to go. Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing a bit of your life with me too. Family and love and compassion in the home must come first. 🙂

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  17. I find it interesting that i have the same thoughts the last weeks! My head says “Go vegan”, my heard says NO! I think it is a lesson to see life can be – a spiritual discipline maybe. But all the time of my vegan jouney, my 3 year old son told me, that it is ok to eat dairy and eggs and so on. I could´nt understand him becouse i told him that animals must die for his hot dogs,…. But i let him as he were! I´am still confused about my thoughts to eat animal products again. But YES your are right, now at this time i feel free! Carry on tiffany, do what you are doing, find the right balance for you and your family! love and light alexandra

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  18. Hej Tiffany!
    Wow, this is really hard and difficult, I can totally feel you on that. I myself never went back from my vegan diet because I first and foremost Chose it since animal products made me feel sick. One time I “slipped” and ate dairy ice cream (early into the vegan diet) and was “rewarded” with horrible stomach cramps, so I just can’t do anything different.
    With the Kids it’s different though and I don’t know what the future will hold for us in this matter. I’ll see. As Long as the Kids are happy and it doesn’t break your heart – I think it’s good and being judgemental is not the Thing anyway.

    Hugs (and thank you again for your wonderful wonderful and inspirational cook book)!

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  19. Good job at being open and not too attached to the ideals. That’s a hard thing to do. I know I have major perfectionistic tendancies as well, in different areas. And, it always feels good in the end to let go… NOT EASY, though! You’re doing good, Tiffany. I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to evaluate your choices and the path your compassion has taken you. I think it’s good to not get too set in the life our choices bring us because growth and change are actually really important and often necessary. I was really encouraged by this post.

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    • Isn’t it hard? I think all of us women are perfectionists in some area or another and to some degree. I have always been that way and so it is good for me to observe these things (non-judgementally <— I am working on this one) and make adjustments to the way I do things so that life doesn't have to be a struggle. Letting go is definitely not easy, but it always feels so good that you wonder why you fought it for so long once you step into that peace. Glad that you were encouraged through my sharing! 🙂

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  20. Tiff, Good on you for opening your heart and mind to what truly might be best for you and your family. I absolutely commend you for sticking to a strict vegan lifestyle for all this time for your heart reason, it would be a huge effort and become tiring constantly making things from scratch especially with kiddies. I do think just letting go of that pressure and simply listening to your body is really the happiest way to live and nourish your body!

    Don’t ever feel pressured or like you have to live up to what we /your readers think about you – we are all the same… you just kindly share your love, spirit, thought and inspiration over the net, and we all really really appreciate that! 🙂

    Love Always.

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  21. HUGS to you Tiffany. This is why i love coming to your space, your honest and put your heart right out there. I am not vegan, I come here to find different recipes that i feel good about (mostly baking ones) for my family to enjoy. I really believe that you should listen to your body, it will let you know what it needs even if your heart and brain are telling you otherwise. In the end being a healthy Mama, and wife is what is important. Those sweet girls look up to you so much and your doing a ROCKIN job. Stay positive. ❤ Lots of love and light your way!

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  22. I am pretty new to you and your blog- but enjoy what I have read so far. I too homeschool-love Dr. Seuss and healthy eating. It is so much a journey. I was raised on the SAD (standard american diet) and dealt with allergies for a long time. Changing my diet has eliminated them. I have made a commitment to healthy eating-having eliminated dairy at times- done vegan for 6 months-etc. I have found the total vegan thing to be too much- I have 7 kids- and want more with them than just healthy eating.It took so much time. None of my kids have allergies-were breastfed-not vaccinated-very little milk,etc. Not sure what has really made the difference- but we eat whole grains-smaller amounts of meat-lots of salads-leafy greens- the kids love collards. I think the world is so full of amazing and different foods to experience and that variety is the key.We love trying new things-We do the best we can- as Christians I believe eating meat is allowed-but try to get it from grass fed-well kept sources. Keep up the good work.

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    • Thank you Bonnie! I appreciate you sharing a bit about your family’s journey. It good to get to see that we are all different and finding what works for us and each of our family’s.

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  23. Hi!

    I don’t think I’ve ever posted on your blog before, but I’m a long time reader and I think it’s awesome that you posted this! So many people feel as if they have to choose between being strictly vegan and eating meat, and it’s sad that those labels make us feel as if we can’t change our minds. It’s important to give your body what it needs and I’m happy that you’re doing what you need to do to take care of yourself.
    I’m a Vegetarian and have been for awhile now, but when I first started I did it for 2 years straight and then stopped because I was gaining weight. Some of my friends and family teased me and said I “cheated” on my chosen lifestyle, but how can you cheat if it’s a decision you made? I became a Vegetarian voluntarily and I decided at that time to start eating meat again voluntarily. It wasn’t cheating, it was a lifestyle change. However, I am once again a Vegetarian and I love it lol. Everyone has the right to change their minds and switch things up if they feel like it. I’ve always been a firm believer in getting rid of the labels and living freely and happily, so I’m really happy that you’re doing that! Good luck to you!

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    • Thanks so much for the encouragement to just be whatever I want to be at any time Ari. It is funny how we are the ones who create the labels and yet we can feel so stuck under them. The important thing is to be happy and to be free.

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