The Surprising Reason I Gave Up Veganism After 6 Years

When I told my parents nearly seven years ago that I had decided to adopt a vegan diet, the declaration instigated an argument that ultimately ended in a vow from me. "I'll only do this as long as it serves my health," I told them, adding that I'd make good on the promise with regular blood testing to monitor my nutrient levels. I still remember the haughtiness that flashed through me as I appeased them. I was several weeks into my new lifestyle and feeling so energized—so well—that I couldn't imagine this hypothetical dilemma ever crossing into reality. For the first time in three brutal years, I finally felt empowered rather than controlled by food.

My parents weren't wrong to be concerned. I was in tentative recovery from my eating disorder at the time, and any kind of restrictive diet was bound to raise red flags. But veganism would ultimately become the first life raft I found during that impossible chapter in my life, as it taught me to listen to my body and find gratitude in the food I was consuming. With every nourishing meal—crafted around seasonal produce sourced from my local farmers market—I realized I was piecing myself back together.

Over the next several years, I'd come to use the terminology "plant-based" instead of "vegan." I learned more about the ethical and environmental ramifications of our global food systems. I climbed out of recovery into a mostly comfortable remission. But the evolving circumstances around my way of eating only bolstered my enthusiasm for it.

Then, at the beginning of this year, I was forced to confront the sole non-negotiable I had so naïvely thought I'd never have to face. After several weeks of feeling consistently drained, moody, and just generally "off"—all while maintaining my otherwise healthy lifestyle—I knew it was time to consider that perhaps my diet was playing a role.

Ultimately, that would mean following my own protocol and undergoing blood testing with Arivale, a personalized wellness program that utilizes nutritional, genetic, and hormonal markers to navigate your way to optimal health. But first, I found myself toying with a more unscientific strategy: cravings.