Updated: 9 hours ago
In a world where vegan diets have gained in popularity, it's essential to uncover the truth behind the glossy social media portrayals and delve into the long-term implications of this dietary choice.
In 2017, as the rest of my family gradually transitioned away from meat, I found myself questioning the necessity of it in our diets. Inspired by the documentary "The Game Changers," which showcased the remarkable results achieved by athletes on a vegan diet, I became intrigued. Faster recovery, reduced bloating, improved sleep, and a lighter overall feeling intrigued me as an athlete constantly seeking ways to enhance my physical and mental well-being. With a desire for an upgrade, I embarked on my plant-based journey, albeit with occasional setbacks due to cravings for meat.
Thriving on Plants (2019)
To break a habit, they say you need to abstain from it for 30 days. Surprisingly, three months into my plant-based lifestyle, I was thriving. My energy levels soared, sleep deepened, skin cleared up, and digestion improved. It was during this time that Powered by the Sun Health came into existence, central to this is the belief that everything is powered by the sun, the core connection through plant-based foods and the process of photosynthesis. This new way of respecting Mother Earth while optimising my health aligned perfectly with the values of my business: Happiness, Health, and Knowledge.
Spreading the Message (2019)
In 2019, my enthusiasm for the plant-based lifestyle overflowed. I felt compelled to share my discovery with the world, urging everyone to give plant-based eating a try for at least a month. Delving deeper, I explored the concept of food alkalinity, studying the pH and acidity levels of different foods.
This led me to enroll in an alkaline course to expand my knowledge, ultimately becoming a dedicated practitioner of plant-based alkaline living.
My social media feeds became saturated with plant-based and vegan content. The more immersed I became in this lifestyle, the more my reasons for abstaining from meat evolved. It shifted beyond personal health to include ethical considerations. I became acutely aware of the butchery and death involved in the meat industry, which disturbed me deeply. The ability to casually purchase meat from supermarkets without confronting the true cost troubled me. I believed that at the moment of an animal's death, fear and cortisol flooded its bloodstream, leaving behind an energy I wanted no part of in my being.
Thriving Business (2019)
Amidst this personal transformation, my Powered By the Sun business flourished.
I began offering Seamoss, medicinal organic herbal teas, health consultations, and personal training sessions. The plant-based lifestyle I embraced aligned perfectly with the ethos of my business, empowering others to prioritise their well-being through natural and sustainable means.
2020 Lockdown: A Year of Growth
The year 2020 brought about significant growth and transformation in my life. It was a time when the world stood still, and amidst the lockdown, I found opportunities to further develop my business. Whilst we were confined within our homes, I established a routine that nurtured my mind, body, and soul. Each morning, I dedicated 20 minutes to a rejuvenating yoga session, this practice, combined with a warm cup of burdock and dandelion root tea or elderberry with manuka honey. This coupled with a barefoot walk in the lush surroundings of my local park set me up for the day. It was during these walks that I really began to feel a profound connection with mother nature. I felt alive, thriving, and filled with gratitude, and I wanted to share this experience with others. In the afternoons, my family and I engaged in regular exercise in our backyard. I would record 30-minute workout sessions and post them online, hoping to inspire and motivate anyone in need.
My love for fruit grew stronger, and I regularly emphasised the importance of daily hydration to my Instagram followers, often highlighting the benefits of consuming large black-seeded watermelons and coconuts for natural hydration.
2021: The Decline and Discovery
As the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, I noticed a growing sense of fatigue within me. Juggling two jobs and running a business took its toll. The fatigue felt different, and it affected my training routine. From exercising four times a week, I gradually reduced it to twice a week, struggling to find the energy and motivation to continue. I thought that this decline was just a normal phase and believed I would bounce back soon enough. However, my energy levels continued to plummet. Eventually, I found myself only able to manage one training session per week, lasting a mere 20 minutes. It became increasingly challenging to perform intense exercises like lifting heavy weights, sprints, or explosive box jumps. Winter arrived, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) hit me harder than ever before. I went weeks without engaging in any form of exercise. The cold of winter seeped into my bones, making it difficult to shake off. My nights grew longer as I struggled to sleep, averaging only 4 to 5 hours a night, occasionally experiencing sleepless nights. Meanwhile, I tried to maintain my work ethic, but my mental and physical well-being was compromised. Social media began to trigger anxiety within me, and even the smallest changes in my routine became sources of unease. I felt mentally and physically unstable without fully comprehending the reasons behind it. I carried on, hoping that things would improve soon, remaining in this state for an entire year.
2022: Rock Bottom and a Reevaluation of Health
You could call this 'The Illusion of Health and Success on Social Media'. I posted a picture on Instagram that got a lot of praise, with many commenting on my apparent well-being. I attributed it to my plant-based diet, but behind the facade, I didn't actually feel as energetic as I should. Despite still performing well, I was unaware that my diet was playing a role in this disconnect, leaving me yearning for true vitality
As the year 2022 began, I found myself hitting rock bottom. Despite the usual hopes and aspirations that accompany the start of a new year, this one seemed to bring nothing but challenges and setbacks. The inner turmoil I had been experiencing intensified, and sleepless nights became more frequent. It became clear that if there was ever a time when I needed meditation, it was now.
I made a commitment to incorporate daily meditation into my routine, primarily before bedtime, in an attempt to calm my restless mind. While it provided temporary relief on some occasions, it wasn't a foolproof solution. Seeking additional support, I started receiving acupuncture treatments on a weekly basis. Initially, it helped improve my sleep, but unfortunately, my symptoms soon returned.
By March, a plethora of symptoms had taken hold of me. I was going days without sleep, experiencing numbness in my limbs, enduring belting headaches daily, and grappling with loss of appetite, heart palpitations, and breathlessness. Other signs of my deteriorating health included weight loss, pale skin, bouts of diarrhea, shaking, and severe fatigue. My bones and muscles felt weak, and even simple tasks like walking became arduous. It felt as though my entire skeletal frame had become fragile and hypersensitive. My nervous system was shot.
I found myself unable to work and spent months confined to my sofa. During this time, I genuinely believed that I was facing the prospect of death (sounds dramatic now to write it and of course this is not what doctors were saying but I felt so unwell that I couldn't imagine feeling better at this point). Each night, as I attempted to fall asleep, it felt as though my central nervous system was shattered and glitching, subjecting me to a form of torment.
Then, one day, a pivotal moment occurred. My partner suggested that I try a B12 shot. Initially, I was skeptical, but I decided to research B12 injections and deficiencies and eventually sought out a private doctor. Walking to the clinic, I stumbled and faltered, my coordination compromised, and the breathlessness forcing me to take frequent breaks. At this point I really knew I was unwell.
As I sat in the doctor's chair, I listed all the symptoms I had been experiencing. I also made a point of mentioning that I had been following a plant-based diet for four years, abstaining from all animal products. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. The doctor inquired about my family's dietary habits growing up, which revolved around a meat-based approach, including organ meat, chicken, red meat, and fish.
As I removed my shirt to receive the B12 shot, the doctor observed my athletically lean physique and posed a rhetorical question that struck a chord: Could someone like me sustain the same level of intensity in training and overall well-being without consuming any animal products for four years? It was a moment of vulnerability that prompted me to question everything I thought I knew about health. What damage have I done to myself? Could I recover from this? How long would it take? The doctor proceeded to take my blood samples to check for any deficiencies, administered the B12 shot, and explained that everyone is different. He emphasised that some individuals, particularly those who lead highly active lifestyles, may utilise and deplete their B-complex vitamins at a faster rate. The fact that the doctor hailed from Sri Lanka seemed to bring a deeper understanding of cultural and dietary factors into the conversation.
With a renewed perspective and a newfound sense of hope, I left the doctor's office, determined to embark on a journey of rediscovery and healing. It was time to re-evaluate what true health meant to me and explore the path to recovery, one step at a time.
Shot! Shot! Shot! The Power of B12
I tried the B12 tablets, then I tried a B12 spray and I soon realised that none of these were bringing me back to life. After receiving the B12 shot, the effects were immediate and astonishing. I felt a surge of energy coursing through my body, and the colour returned to my skin. Intrigued by the impact of B12 shots, I delved into research to learn more about others who had experienced similar struggles. It was during this exploration that I stumbled upon a forum where someone shared their experience of needing a series of B12 shots to begin repairing their central nervous system.
As the weeks went by, I started to feel better. I had received multiple shots in a week, followed by weekly shots for a month, and even had a B-complex drip administered at the doctor's office. I began to regain my health and vitality. The results of my blood tests revealed severely low levels of B12 and vitamin D, with B12 being the most deficient. I couldn't help but recall the doctor's earlier statement about B12 being stored in the kidneys for 3 to 4 years before being depleted, and here I was, in my fourth year of being vegan.
Although I was improving, I still experienced lingering headaches, and my sleep remained erratic, though I was now getting around 3 to 4 hours of light sleep, which was progress. My anxiety toward the night started to ease, and my central nervous system seemed to be stabilising during sleep. However, there was still something missing. While I was grateful for the progress I had made, I couldn't ignore the fact that the journey to full recovery could take several years. It made sense, considering it took four years for my health to decline; it was only fair that it would require time to rebuild it.
The turning point came when I seriously considered reintroducing meat into my diet. I started with a few breakfasts that included eggs, followed by bone broth incorporated into homemade pasta sauce. Then, one lunchtime, I made a spontaneous trip to Nando's and ordered a hefty portion of 12 wings. I devoured them like a ravenous carnivore, shocked by the lack of remorse. And once I had finished, something remarkable happened—something that had been absent from my life for years. It was a surreal experience, as I finally understood what ex-vegans had been talking about when they mentioned feeling full and satisfied after a meal. It was as if a missing puzzle piece had been found, and it felt amazing.
From that moment on my cravings for meat were uncontrollable. The profound impact on my well-being was undeniable. I felt immensely better on multiple levels, genuinely enjoying food again. While I thought I had appreciated meals during my plant-based phase, the experience of eating meat was entirely different. I began to pick up my gym sessions, initially starting with one session per week. Surprisingly, my weight increased dramatically, despite not training extensively. It was as if my body was eagerly absorbing and utilising the nutrients it had been lacking during my plant-based years.
It took a couple of months for my gut to adjust to consuming meat again, but as my body adapted, the benefits became even more apparent. I resumed regular training, and this time, there was a notable difference. I felt stronger, with denser bones and muscles. The increase in strength was tangible—I could lift heavier weights more quickly and sprint with greater power.
The disparity between training on a plant-based diet and incorporating meat was striking. While I was certainly fit during my plant-based phase, the physical intensity I now experienced was on another level. Approaching the bench press with a 100kg on it, I experienced a revitalised surge of assertiveness and determination I hadn't experienced in a long time.
It was through this transition in my diet that I realised the profound impact food choices can have on overall health and performance. Changing my diet had resulted in an unexpected illness, but rediscovering meat allowed me to reclaim my strength and vitality. The journey was far from over, but with each passing day, I continued to rebuild my physical and mental well-being, grateful for the lessons learned along the way.
The Beginning of a Personal Journey
In starting my business, Powered by the Sun, and embracing a vegan lifestyle, I adopted core values of happiness, health, and knowledge. This journey has taught me invaluable lessons, and I have come to appreciate the connection I feel with Mother Earth and the calm outlook it brings to my life. However, as I faced deficiencies, I turned to lab-produced solutions like B12 infusions, only to realise that they felt superficial and provided temporary fixes.
I have always had a distaste for unnatural substances, believing they have no place in the human body. Yet, I also recognise the remarkable advancements of science in creating and mimicking natural alternatives. While I avoided processed plant-based products like vegan burgers and cheese, I learned that the dangers of my strict plant-based/vegan lifestyle lay in the inability to obtain sufficient protein for my active lifestyle and high intensity training, leading to deficiencies, particularly in the B-complex vitamins.
The foods I consumed as a vegan advocate, such as chickpeas, black beans, hemp seeds, tofu, and kale, were considered high in iron and protein. However, I discovered that consuming steak, chicken, bone broth, and organ meat provided superior levels of nutrients that my body craved, especially during times of stress. These power foods became the building blocks for my body, and I experienced their profound impact firsthand.
Nowadays, I strive to consume organic grass-fed meat consciously, recognising its superior health benefits compared to supermarket options. This shift in perspective has fostered gratitude and a deep understanding of how meat can optimise my body's functioning. It feels like an act of honouring and respecting my body, as I operate at an optimal level. But, while also honouring the gift that mother nature gives to us every day, respecting the bounty and never without considering the impact that meat consumption has on the planet.
This journey has taught me many truths. Prior to becoming vegan, I maintained optimal health. As a whole food vegan, my health further improved. However, after years of following a whole food vegan lifestyle, my health declined. Returning to meat has helped restore my well-being. This experience has highlighted the importance of listening to my body and paying attention to how it responds to dietary changes. Deficiencies manifest in everyday life through persistent and intermittent tiredness, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, and numbness in limbs. These symptoms didn't happen all at once it creeps on the borderline of your health, yet not serious enough to go to the doctors until you end up how I was. Ignoring these signs can make us vulnerable to sickness or a crash, as I experienced firsthand.
In conclusion, my personal journey has been a roller-coaster of discovery, growth, and navigating the confusing and challenging world of nutrition. While there are individuals who thrive on a vegan diet, it is crucial to listen to our bodies and connect the dots. In my case the beginning of my vegan journey acted as a detox, an unsustainable detox to say the least, and in my case it lead to mineral and vitamin deficiencies. I am grateful for the lessons learned and the restoration of my health. As I sign off, Powered by the Sun, I embrace health, happiness and knowledge and continue to explore the path that best serves my well-being. I invite you all to do the same.
If you are ready to take control of your health journey and explore the transformative power of a personalised approach to nutrition and well-being Powered By The Sun Health could help. Discover our range of organic, sustainable products, personalised consultations, and tailored fitness programs designed to optimise your vitality (whether you choose an omnivore or plant-based diet). Together, let's unlock your true potential and live a life powered by the sun. Contact us now to get started. And stay tuned for further (shorter!) updates.
Take Charge of Your Vegan Journey Today
Vital nutrients like B12 are the building blocks of your vegan vitality. Don't wait for symptoms to rear their heads; act now to ensure you're meeting your nutritional needs. Fortify your diet with sources of B12, or consider supplements under the guidance of Powered by the Sun Health. Your health is far too precious to leave to chance.
If you want a consultation to build a personalised supplement and meal plan, our experts are here to help. They'll tailor a plan that aligns perfectly with your unique needs.
As you make mindful choices about the foods you consume, opt for whole, unprocessed options that not only sustain your body but also nurture your soul. Find the right balance of macronutrients to fuel your journey with sustained energy.
But remember, your vegan journey is as unique as you are. What works for one person might not have the same effect for another. Tune in to your body's signals, and be ready to adapt your approach as needed.
The choices you make today have a profound impact on your health and the well-being in the future.