My Experience With Vegetarianism
by Chris Masterjohn
Published in 2005
Note: This is an old version of this article. You can read the latest version revised in June of 2013 here.
About six years ago, largely under the influence of John Robbin's book, Diet For a New America, I became a vegetarian. Soon after, I went vegan, meaning I abstained from all animal products, including eggs and dairy.
I thought this dietary change would lead me to a paradise of abundant health, but I was sadly mistaken.
It was my understanding that since saturated fat and cholesterol were the cause of heart disease, abstaining from both would grant me a virtual guarantee of a healthy heart into old age. Surely a cholesterol-free diet that was also extremely low in saturated fat would make me the epitome of health.
In addition, I ate a considerable amount of soy. Since the FDA recommended 25 g of soy protein to reduce the risk of heart disease, I was yet more confident that I would maintain life-long, vibrant health.
Yet over the first year that I was vegetarian, my health declined. The problems that I had with anxiety since I was an early teen aggravated to the point where I was afraid to eat the food in my house or drive away in my car.
Even performing aerobic exercise such as running stimulated anxiety. I became socially closed-off, and began having occasional irrational bursts of anger.
In the second year of being vegetarian, I began having several full-blown panic attacks per week that were becoming disabling. I was overall lethargic and apathetic. And then, I went to the dentist and was struck with the final blow.
Fifteen cavities, and two dead teeth needing root canals! How could this be? I had been sure that, since eating animal protein was what caused the body to acidify and leach calcium from bones and teeth, I would be immune to tooth decay. And the phytoestrogens in soy that supposedly help assimilate calcium should have been an extra defense, sealing shut for good the possiblity of a cavity.
Yet there it was. Tooth decay. And not just any tooth decay-- massive tooth decay.
During this time period, I was starting to lose my zeal for vegetarianism. I slowly began to add in wild salmon, free-range eggs, and some milk into my diet. None of these appeared to improve my health a great deal. That is, until I added red meat.
That Christmas I decided to partake of the meat at my family's feast. For the past couple months, I'd been suffering from cravings for red meat, including smelling it when it wasn't even there. So I gorged. I ate lots of red meat, and ate it every day.
Within two weeks, my panic attacks completely stopped. For good.
Yet I still had phobias, and some characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder, similar to what I had before becoming vegetarian. But I was soon to discover some nutritional insights that would lead to a revolutionary, anxiety-free life.
At this time, my boss, Wayne Kirley, handed me a pamphlet on the benefits of raw milk. This pamphlet led me to www.RealMilk.com, where I was introduced to the
Weston A. Price Foundation
, the work of Weston A. Price, and the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Weston Price was a dentist-turned-nutritional-anthropologist who traveled the world in the 1930s studying many different isolated, non-modernized populations, whom he often went through great lengths to contact, who were immune to tooth decay. He studied what they ate, how they maintained their soil fertility, and how that corresponded to their tooth decay rates.
Many of the groups he studied had tooth decay rates that were near zero, despite some of them having no form of cleaning teeth. He devised a diet for his patients that emphasized raw milk, bone broths with meats and vegetables, cod liver oil, a centrifuged butter oil, unrefined wheat, and cooked vegetables and fruits, and was actually able to reverse tooth decay in his patients, and provided x-ray pictures to prove it.
All of this is detailed in his epic classic,
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
Since I had such massive, vegetarianism-induced tooth decay, I felt like I had struck a gold mine. I began putting into practice the nutritional advice of Weston Price and the Weston A. Price Foundation, and used Sally Fallon's
to help me put it all in order.
Not only did my tooth decay cease after these changes, but after some time every trace of my anxiety problems disappeared! I felt like a new person, like I was a one-man revolution from the inside out.
The Weston Price paradigm puts a great emphasis on animal products. After becoming familiar with this paradigm, I began to aim at a minimum of egg yolks to eat per day rather than a maximum, now unafraid of the cholesterol. Weston Price extolled the benefits of butter and cream, which became staples in my diet. Bone broths, cod liver oil, and the inclusion of raw animal foods such as milk and even some meat made great improvements in my health.
Now, I am a new person. My tooth decay has stopped, and my anxiety problems are over. Eating foods rich in quality animal products raised with care has given me more energy, vitality, and well-being than I have ever had!
Now I lift weights, and work out with
which offer intense and challenging exercise that I can live up to with my rich and supportive diet.
I also have gained an overwhelming desire to research nutrition and biochemistry to learn the truth about how the foods we eat affect our health. I have been gravely misled in the past, and I feel a debt of gratitude to Weston Price, Sally Fallon, the Weston A Price Foundation, and everyone on the front lines, battling against what Michael Miles calls
"The War on Good Food."
The Cholesterol Myths (a book of which I have now made a number of criticisms) by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, I have come to realize how unfairly maligned cholesterol has been among mainstream health circles. I learned that cholesterol's connection to heart disease is much more controversial than it is made out to be, and that many of the claims made about cholesterol and saturated fat are dubious and not supported by research.
Thus, it has become my mission to promote the truth about cholesterol, the unsung hero of brain and body. I hope you find this website informative, and compelling, and enjoy its fresh, research-supported perspective. Thanks to Site Build It! I have been able to spread this information to over 20,000 new people per month.
I hope you enjoy the site!