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I recieved an e.mail today with the following question:
"I just wanted to ask you a few questions regarding your days as a vegan. I too am an O blood type and have tried to be a vegan for years thinking that it was good for cancer prevention, weight loss , etc. However, my stomach just can't stand all the ruffage. I hate to be too personal, but for me, it was the gas and finally going to see a doctor b/c of it. Did your problems involve not digesting the food properly? Also, I have been working out so hard this summer and have not seen the results that I want b/c my body is holding onto the fat. That is what brought me to this diet. How have you done on the ER4BT? Also, did you have any problems before with your thyroid?"
I started to answer this e.mail directly, but the answer was so long, I decided to make it a blog. In the process, I answered another comment, which was:
"Where is the research that proves "Eat Right for your Type" is the best diet?"
So here is the answer to the question of my life as a Vegan:
Becoming a Vegan was, without a doubt, one of the very worst things that I ever did for my health. I became a Vegan for animal rights issues. Long story. After obtaining an animal science degree from Cornell, I thought that I had a pretty good grip on what was going on in the animal production industries, but I was wrong. Anyway, I decided to become a Vegan.
One of the very first indications that Veganism was not for me occurred within the first day or two: horrendous, hideous gas. I am not a gassy person and I am extremely regular with my bowel movements. All of the sudden I was a gas monster and I was having huge bowel movements many times per day. My stomach was really wracked out by it.
The next thing that happened was that I started to have all of the symptoms of thyroid issues and perimenopause, even though I had only just turned 40. Over the following few months, I gained nearly 30 pounds and I lost all of my energy. All I wanted to do was sleep. It was horrible. On top of getting heavy, got “fluffy”. My body type tends towards being voluptuous, and I got very, very soft. Part of this was that I had so little energy with which to work out, but part of it was that I was eating TONS of tofu, edemame, soymilk and other soy products. Soy became one of my biggest protein sources.
Even though I was focusing on veggies and fruit and limiting my grain intake, in order to get enough protein, I was eating lots of soy and wheat gluten. This was simply and clearly a physical disaster for me. I found myself sinking further and further into all of the symptoms of thyroid problems, chronic fatigue syndrome and perimenopause. On top of this, I was always hungry and had continual meat fantasies. I was a member of the Veggie Boards at that time (http://www.veggieboards.com) and I would read post after post about how this person got so disgusted walking through the grocery store and seeing the raw meat and that person almost threw up when they were at a picnic and had to smell the meat cooking, and I’m walking through the grocery store and, LITERALLY, drooling at the meat in the display thinking that it was all I could do to keep myself from buying some and eating it raw right then and there. I realize now, that most of these people who couldn’t stand the meat were probably type A’s. I have found that many of my type A blood type friends don’t like to eat meat if it is too close to it’s real form. For instance, my type A girlfriend can’t stand looking at raw chicken and really hates being served chicken that isn’t off the bone and skinned. It’s not because of dieting, but because she, as an A, just likes her meat to be as far removed from the source as possible. I, on the other hand, prefer my meat with bones and skin and as CLOSE to the animal state as possible.
Anyway, the overwhelming urge to eat red meat was horrible. I just could never get satisfied, no matter how much tofu I ate.
Finally, nearly a year into being a Vegan, my mother found the BTD. She is an A blood type, and I was hoping that I would be, too. After all, I was still committed to Veganism, in spite of my deteriorating health. I started to follow the A diet, while waiting for my typing kit. Being a Vegan, this was very easy to do. Then I typed myself: Type O. I was devastated. How could I follow my heart if I was a type O? I finally started to get real, though. It was extremely clear that my health was suffering. I was the heaviest I had ever been. I was out of shape. I had no energy. I felt like hell every day. I was miserable with the fantasies of meat. I didn’t know what to do.
My Mom and I went on vacation together to Miami Beach. The first night that we went out to dinner, I finally was able to talk about how miserable I was. My Mom was very concerned because I looked so bad. She said that I needed to start following the BTD and that I needed to start eating meat. She told me to worry about the animal suffering later – that I needed to be healthy if I was going to do anything for anyone. She told me to order some meat and to just enjoy. I ordered a salad with steak on it. For a moment I was actually worried about eating that first bite of meat: what if I had screwed up my stomach so badly that I could no longer digest meat? My fears were groundless. When that salad came and I ate that first bite of rare steak, I nearly swooned. It made such an impression on me that I still remember that moment. It was as if every single cell in my body was celebrating the meat coming in. For the first time in nearly a year I felt satisfied. I also felt energy sweep over me. It was nothing short of a miracle.
I ended m Veganism then at there and started to follow the BTD as closely as I could.
I wish that I could say that my Vegan experience ended there, but it didn’t. Keep in mind that one of my staple foods was Boca Burgers, a Vegan burger made from wheat gluten. Over the next month of following the BTD, I started to eat really cleanly, being very careful to avoid all wheat. About a month into this, something scary happened: I started to become anaphylactic when I ate any wheat. While the symptoms were not severe, they were definitely there. If I ate any trace of wheat, I started to wheeze and my throat would start to close. I started to get asthmatic from any wheat consumption at all. Then I started to notice I was becoming reactive to nearly all grains. I worked my way through the compliant grains, and had symptoms with nearly all of them. I started to get scared. I went to an allergist and had all of the scratch tests: nothing. BUT, I then he had me eat a wheat cracker and then he measured my air: sure enough, I was getting constriction with the wheat. He talked to me and told me that sometimes when someone is not truly allergic to something, but rather “sensitive” to it, but then gets HUGE exposure to that item, after that, when that item is removed, their body then overreacts to exposure to that item again. He said that he had seen this happen many times with cat allergies. A person would be someone allergic to cats, but then would actually end up living with several cats for a period of time. If they then were removed from the cats for some times then re-exposed, their allergies to the cats would then become dangerous. He said that there was nothing that he knew to be done about this. He felt that, over time, my body might adjust itself, or I would be anaphylactic with wheat and some grains forever. He gave me a prescription for an epi-pen and sent me on my way.
About a week later, I unknowingly ate a tiny amount of barbeque sauce that must have had wheat in it and had the worst reaction yet. I nearly ended up in the emergency room and I was scared to death. My entire throat seized up and I could barely breath. I took some OTC antihistamine and tried to decide whether or not I needed the epi-pen. I didn’t have insurance at the time, and those things are EXPENSIVE. I ended up going home, but I was very scared.
I called the D’Adamo clinic the next day and became a phone patient. The Dr. at the clinic at that time – Dr. Bronner – was very helpful. I went onto a full BTD regime to help me get my body to settle down, and, over time, that is what it did.
The great news is that I dropped that 30+ pounds within 2 months of switching to the BTD, and while I still have a weight problem (I always have had one) the extra from being a Vegan is gone and has never returned. What DID return was my energy and my feeling of good health. What went away were my thyroid symptoms, my peri-menopausal symptoms and my chronic fatigue symptoms.
Speaking of which, I want to make a note here to you, also: I have found that soy is a very, very bad food for me. While wheat gluten is probably the very worst food I can consume, soy is also a bad one. I can eat soy sauce (actually I consume a lot of Braggs Amino acids), but I now stay away from tofu, edemame, soymilk and other soy products. I have found that consuming even small amounts of these – let’s say more than an ounce or so – gives me very quick perimenopausal reactions. It also triggers other problems in me: I can’t stop eating it, for one thing. It makes me fat, for another. Mostly, it makes me feel horrible.
BTW, I still struggle with grain and starch addictions. I can feel how bad they are for me immediately after I eat them. That being said, however, I don’t allow myself to ever completely give them up – even wheat – for the fear of triggering another allergic reaction. I work on consuming small amounts here and there to keep my body from overreacting again. It is always a struggle for me because I am so addicted to these foods that often a little ends up being more and more, so it is a line that I have to walk very carefully.
So, my foray into Veganism was nothing short of a disaster. It was a nightmare for me all the way around. I have decided that, instead of trying to save animals by not eating them, instead I am working on supporting alternative ways of growing and processing our animals for food. Chickens have one of the worst lives going. Since I don’t really like chicken anyway, I simply limit that amount of chicken that I eat. There’s not much of a good option in the chicken world.
I DO buy my eggs from an old man who has bunch of chickens running around his place. This is the second situation of this type that I have found. You have to look around, but eventually you can find some “real” eggs, and, once you DO find them, it is nearly impossible to eat store-bought eggs, even the organic ones, again. Keep your eyes open and talk to people. There are real eggs out there for all of us, we just have to find them.
I also purchase a whole steer once a year, have it slaughtered by a family operation and processed by the same people. I then pick it up and put it in a chest freezer. Not only do I know that the steer that I purchased was raised on pasture and grass-hay only, but also I have talked extensively with the people who own this tiny slaughterhouse about how they handle and slaughter the steer that I buy. The man who runs the slaughterhouse goes to a rancher that he knows pasture raises his beef steer and does not feed them grain and he purchases the steer from this man for me. He then hauls my steer back to his slaughterhouse himself and lets the steer be in a pen for a few hours to settle down, so that it is not stressed when it is killed. They then humanely kill the animal themselves. Because this person does it himself, he is sure that the animal is killed quickly and painlessly and does not suffer in any way. He is very aware of the fact that stress affects the meat and he does his best to limit the stress to the animal. They then age the meat for me, process it to my specifications (how I want the cuts cut up, whether I want hamburger or chili meat, etc) and deep-freeze it so that it is hard frozen when I come to pick it up. After finding this operation, all I have to do is to call him up, send him a down payment and let him know how long I want it aged and how I want it processed. He then calls me about 3 weeks later to come and pick it up. The last steer that I purchased ended up being 330 pounds of meat. I paid a total of $2.30 pound when all was said and done. $2.30 per pound for grass-fed, aged beef. Now, I pay that for the soup bones as well as the filet mignon, but it is a veritable bargain and I know that the meat that I am eating has been treated well.
I also ask the butcher to get me kid goats (cabrito), which cost me $60 each and lambs if they can get them. Unfortunately last year his lamb supplier lost his entire herd to coyotes. I can also purchase rabbits at the same place. My goal this year is to find a good supplier of game. I really want some venison steaks. I miss pheasant and wild geese, but I think that those are mostly northeastern game and are not really available here in south Texas.
I have decided that the best thing that I can do for animal rights is to try to find ways to consume animals where the animal has a decent life and a humane death. While I often cannot live up to this goal, I work at it bit by bit, with the knowledge that I am not only helping the animals, but I am making myself healthier in the process.
I am often asked why I follow the BTD. I am often told how people have seen things on TV or read articles in magazines saying that the BTD is hooey. I have read those articles, too. I know that the BTD can seem like it goes against everything that the “experts” tell us. For me, however, it is the only way to go. I have found through my own experience that the “experts” often don’t know what they are talking about or, worse yet, are in someone’s back pocket. I was never unhealthier than when I ate a completely Vegan diet. I have gained a lost the same 60 pounds numerous times in my lifetime, and I have never kept it off. Lowfat didn’t work for me. Neither did “Low Carb”. Counting calories only made me crazy and diet pills only worked for a while.
I believe that the BTD will get me where I want to be. I have had a hard time following it, but over the years, habits have been reformed, and I find myself in a better place each month that goes by.
I believe that, as a type O, if I had remained Vegan or even vegetarian, I would have ended up with a serious illness. My body simply could not function without red meat and with all of that soy and grains going in. My immune system was completely out of wack. How could I have possibly fought off a simple illness, let alone something serious like cancer? I believe that a Vegan diet would have ended my life sooner and certainly would have made my life a living hell. I could not have felt, physically, worse.
I completely understand the ethical reasons for becoming a vegetarian or Vegan. For me, however, feeling good has allowed me to make personal changes that have helped animals as much, if not more than, being a Vegan. If I don’t eat animals, the will not stop making food out of them. If, however, I DO eat animals, but support industries that treat the animals well, then I am truly bringing about a positive change by taking the money away from one source and giving it to another.
I guess that I find the BTD to be something like religion. It takes a certain amount of faith to do it. It takes a certain amount of belief that it really is the best way to go. It takes a certain amount of work to not stray from the path and to hold the course. The BTD is a matter of choice. I am a Unitarian. It seems like my whole religious life has been one of exploring the possibilities and sorting out what works for me and what doesn’t. I have experienced the same with diets, and I know, for sure, that this is the one that works for me.
Peace - Rachel