How I Got Ill on a Vegan Diet and Why I Ended Up Listening to My Body
I’d been vegan for six and a half years when it happened. It was entirely unexpected, and it left me feeling completely drained and questioning my lifestyle choices. Sadly, I’m writing this essay to confess that I finally had to listen to my body.
Many people were urging me to give my body what it needed, and initially I resisted. I can be quite stubborn, and I told myself that if I pretended it wasn’t happening, it would go away. But it didn’t, and that’s because I was ignoring the obvious signals that my body sent.
At this point, I had so little energy that all I wanted to do was go back to bed and pull the covers up to my chin and sleep it off, away from everyone and everything. I was pale—almost grey—and I knew that the decision I was dreading was going to have to be made.
Let me tell you, when I made that choice, I didn’t feel good about it. I felt the weight of that guilt and worried about the knock-on effects it might have. But I did it. Slowly, I dialled the number and I called in sick. And I took the vitamin C and zinc tablets that my friends were urging. And then I had a massive vegan lunch, kept myself hydrated, and took some rest. And after a couple of days, the flu symptoms went away, the colour came back to my cheeks, and I got my usual energy back.
I can’t do much about my lifestyle choices: I work with people, and sometimes people get sick and cough in my general direction (I’d like to think it’s not an intentional attempt to infect me but rather carelessness and bad manners, but who knows?). Most of the time, my immune system is strong enough to resist, but even the strongest people get the sniffles sometimes. Yep, vegans too! And it’s no reason not to be vegan, despite what plant-based YouTubers who expect that eating fruits and vegetables will make them invincible say.
If you’re vegan, and you get sick, listen to your body: get some rest; see a doctor if needs be. Eat more fruit and veg; in fact, eat more in general. But if you think that listening to your body means participating in harming animals, then you’re mistaken. All of the major dietetic associations agree that well-planned all-plant diets are appropriate for all people in all stages of life.
Vegans aren’t invincible. Sometimes we’ll get sick. And eventually…well, I don’t have to spell it out for you. But that’s not because we’re vegan; it’s because we’re alive, and illness is, sadly, a part of life.
Truth be told, I’m stronger, fitter, and less prone to illness than I was when I was nonvegan. But even if that weren’t the case, I’d still be vegan, because instead of listening to my body I prefer to listen to my conscience. And my conscience tells me that using animals when I don’t need to is morally wrong.