Very conflicted - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-10-2016, 09:17 PM
Ember Ruby's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: England
Posts: 65
Very conflicted

Since around the time I went vegan in April, having been a vegetarian and slowly reducing all animal products for several months prior to that, everything's gone downhill. My depression and anxiety is worse than it's ever been, I feel weak and tired, and I appear to be having more reactions to food. My family keep telling me a vegan diet is not for everyone and showing me articles against veganism. I am not sure what to believe. Are any of the articles scientifically accurate? They claim things such as "vegans don't get creatine, carnosine, or animal protein, which has a negative effect on health", "there is no reason to avoid meat"

I do think sleep may play a role in it, however. Since November or so, I have been forcing myself to get up early (my sleeping pattern is all over the place) a few times a week because I have something I need to be up for, no matter what time I went to bed. This means I am also more sleep deprived than ever, and may be why I feel so terrible, and nothing to do with veganism. The food reactions also started sometime after then.

I went vegetarian in October, and at the same time made sure I went to bed and got up early every since day, not sleep deprived at all, felt better than ever, then suddenly felt weak and tired after I got up in the middle of the day and messed up my sleeping pattern. Haven't been the same since.

I'll be seeing a professional soon about my depression and anxiety. My family is convinced my diet is the cause of it, however.

I just... I don't know. What do you think? I do not wish to start consuming animals again. Is my depression and anxiety causing feelings of weakness and being tired, not the other way round?

I should also add I had to stop talking to a possessive jerk in February, which was around the time of my depression and anxiety getting worse. That could also have been a trigger. It didn't hit rock bottom until the end of May though.

Last edited by Ember Ruby; 08-10-2016 at 09:19 PM.
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#2 Old 08-11-2016, 02:31 AM
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I'm sorry you are struggling so much! Depression can very well have physical effects on the body and it's ability to function well, so I am glad to hear you are getting that checked out.

I see from your other posts you are eating gluten free? That's a lot to change over the last six months, both going vegan and gluten free. Are you sure you are getting enough calories? What is a typical days worth of meals like for you? How do you manage gluten free and vegan? It is totally doable but does take some more diligence. Do you live with your family? It must be stressful to manage as a vegan living with unsupportive people, especially as you are very young.

Also, have you been checked for low vitamin D? That can cause depression, body aches, fatigue. How about iron? Have you been checked for that? What about other allergies besides gluten? Have you ever had allergy testing? Is there some foods or other products you consume or use more of since becoming vegan? I had a hard time with tofu and cashews when I first went vegan, had to avoid them for several years, then slowly reintroduced them and now am totally fine with them. Prior to becoming vegan they were not staples.

Long term vegans do exist, quite a few of them in fact, and it is entirely possible to live a healthy and long happy life as a vegan. Donald Watson, the founder of the Vegan Society, lived well into his 90s and was a vegan over half his life. Nutritional deficiencies are quite rare in the developed world for vegans, with the exception of B12 if not supplemented or gotten from fortified foods. I have never had trouble with iron (last hemoglobin reading was 13.7 a few months ago during a routine blood test), or proteins, or other supposed nutrients vegans "lack". Heck, my 44 year old body kicked some serious butt yesterday morning at the fitness center lifting weights among women half my age.

It's good that you are getting things checked out. It might be helpful for you to read some vegan nutritional materials or books to make sure you are meeting your needs. I really like this book:

This site looks like it might be helpful too (gluten free vegan nutrition):

Best wishes and I hope you feel better soon!

In the end, only kindness matters. - Jewel

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#3 Old 08-11-2016, 12:38 PM
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Hi Ember Ruby,

I'm sorry you've run into this difficulty. We want you to take care of yourself. None of us wants to log into VeggieBoards and read that Ember Ruby is in the hospital!

It's true that there are dozens of online articles and blogs which claim that vegetarian diets are unhealthy. However, all mainstream health organizations have stated that properly-planned vegetarian diets are healthy, and that vegetarian diets may reduce the risk of certain health problems.

The UK National Health Service's webpage on vegan diets:

The British Heart Foundation's webpage on vegetarian diets:

The American Diabetes Association's webpage on vegetarian / vegan diets:

The American Heart Association's webpage on vegetarian / vegan diets:

Maybe you might consider the option of starting your vegetarian transition again, but do it more slowly this time.

I want to strongly encourage you and your parents to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian (RD) who specializes in vegetarian nutrition. A Registered Dietitian can quickly help you to analyze your diet, and identify/correct any nutritional shortcomings.

Because you're experiencing health problems, I wouldn't spend any more time trying to solve this nutrition problem by yourself, or by asking us here at VeggieBoards. Although many of us at VeggieBoards are experienced vegetarians / vegans, it's difficult for us to fully understand the details of your diet and health status. A Registered Dietitian is an expert at these things - they can work with you, your family, and/or your physician to quickly get things sorted out.

You can ask your physician to refer you to a Registered Dietitian, or you and your family can choose one through the website of the Association of UK Dietitians:



Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization

Last edited by David3; 08-11-2016 at 12:45 PM.
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#4 Old 08-11-2016, 04:01 PM
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I take the Vegan Society multivitamin which contains vitamin D2, iodine, b12, and I think a couple of other b vitamins, as well as a sublingual 1,000 mcg methylcobalamin b12. I also had a blood test about a month ago, and the results didn't show any nutritional deficiencies.

I don't know, maybe I'm not eating enough calories. I usually only have two meals a day because of my weird sleeping pattern. And I should probably incorporate more vegetables into my diet. I'm just nervous about cooking/preparing new things. Probably because of anxiety.

Breakfast is usually gluten free oatmeal (or a gluten free grain mix consisting of brown rice, buckwheat, and millet) with almond or rice milk, ground flaxseed, fruit, nuts/seeds, and usually a cup of coconut water or smoothie. I often put a tablespoonful of blackstrap molasses into the smoothie, too. It's the only way I can handle eating it, can't stand the flavour, the smoothie does a good job of masking it.

If I do have lunch, it tends to be falafel and hummus on gluten free vegan bread and stuff like peanut butter on rice cakes.

Dinner varies a bit. Normally a couple Amy's Kitchen meals (lasagne, curry, korma, mac n cheeze, breakfast sandwich, bean wrap; all gluten free and vegan). Or we might have an Indian takeaway and I order a curry with rice and a side of spicy chickpeas which is very substantial, tofu or rice noodles from Chinese takeaway, or homemade tofu scramble or gluten free pasta. I might also eat lunch items listed above, as well as one or two Nakd bars. Oh and 70% dark chocolate, although not much or it triggers panic attacks or nausea.

My meals are always fairly large, as I have a huge appetite. I tend to keep eating during the meal until I feel satisfied. I could still be undereating, however, due to the frequency of my meals.

I don't know if going back to vegetarian would do much. I became very sensitive to dairy, and I might not be able to eat it at all now, so the only difference would be the fact I'd eat eggs. Do I start eating small amounts of meat and fish and slowly ease back into veganism?

I have been looking into seeing dieticians. However, I might just not be eating enough.
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#5 Old 08-11-2016, 04:16 PM
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I'd guess it's sleep deprivation, as long as you're getting B12, and I would also suggest watching iron because of the weakness. Making sure to get Omega 3s can also help nervous system issues - walnuts, flax, hemp or Chia seeds, as well as flax or hemp oil and hemp milk are great natural sources, though you can also get algal vegan DHA in a supplement, in fortified DHA soy milk, Gardein fishless filets, and Francisco Rinaldi pasta sauce.

B vitamins and fats are crucial for brain and nervous system health, there's no reason why you can't get them from a vegan diet, unless you eat poorly.

Still, it could be your sleep issues and relationship troubles, and not be related to diet at all. A medical doctor can easily confirm if you have any deficiencies or health problems with normal functions, and rule that out very quickly. I just had a blood test the other day myself.

When people say vegan diets aren't for everyone, I tend to complete that thought with "yes, they're not for people who don't like to think" because you can get everything from a vegan diet with proper knowledge of the right foods and approaches to balanced eating, instead of being overly restrictive or simply not knowing where to get certain nutrients now.

"Thinkers may prepare revolutions, but bandits must carry them out"~
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#6 Old 08-11-2016, 06:46 PM
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Some good responses here. I don't want to add too much because it sounds like your own judgement is quite sound, and you are already getting some good advice from those more experienced than me.

Perhaps if you try to focus on a regular sleep, and eating more as good first step, and then see how you go. However the idea to schedule appointments with a professional re depression and also re nutrition is a good one. If eating a little more (including at lunch), and sleeping better does not show an improvement quite rapidly, then I think it may be fair to say that this is too complex and difficult to solve with this thread alone.

If people are saying vegan diets in general are unhealthy, if that is more the angle, then it is wrong, but the question of whether your specific issues have been caused by diet or not is going to be harder to answer without a professional.

I have also read the Becoming Vegan book linked above, which is a book about vegan nutrition. It's pretty thorough, even the express edition which I got. I think talk of creatine and carnosine, which you mentioned being deficient in vegans is likely scare talk designed to try and create the impression that vegan diets are deficient in all sorts of things we've barely heard of. It doesn't crop up much in mainstream articles from serious professionals as a major vegan issues, and is the kind of thing that gets thrown about on anti-vegan blogs. I am not worried about it. That being said, I haven't looked it in a huge amount of depth so I can't say this with a high degree of confidence, that is just my gut feeling. The Becoming Vegan taught me that in a balanced vegan diet that includes legumes and vegetables you should get or be able to synthesize all the amino acids you need. I think getting obsessed with something like creatine and carnosine may be counter productive. Of course, I could be wrong since the evidence to completely dismiss such concerns doesn't exist.

Really best of luck and for sure we will all hope things work out for you.
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#7 Old 08-16-2016, 08:33 PM
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Hi Ember Ruby! This sounds terrible for you to experience, and I'm glad you're not throwing in the vegan towel because things have gotten rocky. When I am exhausted for whatever reason, I tend to eat more processed foods because of the convenience factor. There's a strategy that may help if you have freezer space. On those days when you do have energy to cook nutritious food, make a LOT more than you'll eat that day and the next day. Freeze the majority of this dish in individual-size containers. Then when you're feeling awful and can barely get out the door to work, all you have to do is throw a frozen container in your lunch bag and off you go. Almost anything you make at home will be healthier and cheaper than any processed vegan freezer meal you can find in a grocery store or HFS. One thing I like about this strategy is that after I have done it 5-6 times, I have 5-6 meals to choose from in the freezer, so I don't get bored with one thing. Also, label everything. In a month you won't remember what you put in which container and then you're guessing.

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#8 Old 08-18-2016, 08:55 AM
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Hi there, I hope you are feeling good today. People have given you some great advice and I hope it really helps you. I had a period of anxiety and low spells the first few months on and off after going vegan too. I did wonder at the time if it was cutting out the dairy, and worried I wasn't getting enough nutrients etc.. For me now, I know it wasn't the diet and I am glad to have stuck with it. The advice I read on these boards on what to eat was just what I needed. I was struggling with seeing the world through vegan eyes, knowing the truth and thinking deeply about all these things I had learned, which I think set my anxiety off big time, as it was going around in my mind all the time. I joined a yoga class and doing meditation, which has really helped, especially with getting a good quality nights sleep and damping down the anxiety. It sounds like the person you were talking to triggered the anxiety too, so it's good that you have cut off from there. People on this board give such great advice on diet, and I hope when you see your professional for anxiety and depression problems, and they can help you too. Very good luck to you Ember Ruby.
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#9 Old 08-19-2016, 11:26 AM
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I also agree with what was said earlier. Here is my experiences from my life, with what my doctors had me do.

1. I got my Vitamin D and B vitamins checked. I do know that with mental health issues, we tend to need more B and D vitamins. I find that if I take a B-Vitamin Complex and 3000 IU Vitamin D every day, I tend to avoid depression. Even though I was eating lots of Vegetables, adding the B-Vitamin complex on top of the multivitamin I was taking, really helped!

2. Relationship issues will always over rule diet. No amount of good diet is going to solve these issues. Worrying about the peanut gallery can make it worse. What I was told to do (as my parents were vehemently against food allergies in general and 100% against a Vegetarian diet. We haven't even gotten to the Vegan bit yet!) - was to right positive affirmations and warm fuzzies about myself and about my diet. If I had to hide these in a journal, then so be it. Just read that journal through out the day. He also told me to hold my head up high and to believe that I am doing the right thing. He did caution me to be sure I am eating as many veggies as possible and to get as wide variety of vegetables as I could. We need 5 servings of vegetables every day.

3. Both doctors suggested adding a vegetable smoothie to my snacks. I would suggest adding in Kale, spinach, wild strawberries to it and raspberries. Pineapple is also good, and brings it sweetness. Spinach and wild strawberries have been proven to fight colon cancer. Broccolli is good against breast cancer. (They won't cure cancer, but rather helps prevent cancer.) I say this to give you more fuel as to why Vegan is better and is the right diet for you. My primary doctor told me to find as much good research about the health benefits of going Vegan and then add that to my journal to help motivate me. The more facts you have about what health benefits the Vegan diet gives you, the easier it is to feel good about being Vegan. My primary doctor, a devout Christian, actually supported me in going Vegan. I was surprised, because my experience in the past has been that the only people who supported a Vegan diet was not a believer. I then found an organization that I did not know existed that supports believers who are vegetarian or vegan. Which leads me to the last sugggestion, that both of my doctors encouraged me to do...

4. Find like minded people who will support and encourage you. They told me to find people I can just hang with and do things with that are supportive of my diet, if I can find Vegans to hang with, the better.

One caveat, it is normally, easier to get support for a Vegan diet, if a doctor proves you are allergic or intolerant to a non-vegan diet, and I do have my allergies. In my case, I had to fight for this as my dad thought that somehow, I faked the allergic reaction to poultry. He no longer thinks this way, thankfully!

Best Wishes!
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#10 Old 08-22-2016, 11:12 PM
Join Date: Sep 2014
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Smoothies are a good idea. They can bring your calories intake up. But your main problem is sleep deprivation. If you know you are sleep deprived, then you should look at all your problems there. Sleep deprivation is more dangerous than you think. You should give yourself a rest. Try to sleep without alarm.

I have read some articles where they say that meat can bring your aggression, anxiety and even fear up if you consume too much meat. That why you see an average vegan person be more at peace than heavy meat eaters.
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