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How I Got Ill on a Vegan Diet and Why I Ended Up Listening to My Body

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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.

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  • Lodessa Esmeralda

    Damn that clickbait game is strong

    • Frances McCormack

      (wicked laugh) Thanks for reading!

  • Luis Amador

    Haha awesome

  • Belindavegan

    The title of most vegan articles in major media are so misleading. Just like this article “How I got ill on a vegan diet…,but upon reading the entire article it is pro-veganism. I have never been healthier since becoming vegan and i also lost weight. I became vegan after watching cowspiracy, earthlings, and knives over forks. If people would only educate themselves about the harm animal agriculture is doing to the environment, the people, and the planet there would be a lot more vegans. I became vegan because I could no longer be responsible for the unimaginable suffering, cruelty, and death of sentient animals. But the FACTS about the dangers of eating meat are being exposed through social media .As many Dr.s ( cardiologist at Major hospitals as well as Cleveland Clinic), have stated we need to evolve to a plant based diet.

  • Ahimsa Bräu

    “…in fact, eat more in general” , love this. Eat lots, eat plenty, carb up people! The war on carbs and calorie restricting stops so many “vegan-one-timers” from persisting to stop eating animal products long-term.

  • Dylan Wentworth

    The title’s not doing anyone any favors.

    • Stranger Things Have Happened

      The title pulls in those who are looking for excuses to continue exploiting animals… it’s a trap! 😉

  • Vee

    The title pulls in those people who are looking for excuses to NOT be vegan….and then doesn’t give them any excuses. Good job!!

    • Dylan Wentworth

      It fails. You have to get to the very last sentence to confirm the whole article is sarcasm.
      I love sarcasm. I just don’t like to have to determine what I find in my news feed is sarcasm. Had I not been familiar with the source, I would have stopped reading after a few paragraphs and discounted is as another person who was looking for an excuse to quit.

      • Frances McC

        Actually, Dylan, the whole article is confirmed as sarcasm early in paragraph four, which is halfway through the essay (rather than “the very last sentence”, as you assert).

        • Dylan Wentworth

          Not everyone may realize that if they are quickly scanning.
          They might not even read the article as this site ends up frequently on google news and people may just read the headline and stuff it in the back of their heads next time they need to reassure themselves on being non-vegan.

          • Frances McC

            Nonsense, Dylan: anyone who wants reassurance in their nonveganism would read the essay. And to tailor my headlines to the folks who won’t read the essay, rather than those who will be drawn in by the same headline, would be very silly indeed.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            I respectfully disagree. I wish you could have seen how the headline appeared in my news feed. My first reaction was, “OMG! I have to correct someone who’s wrong on the Internet!” Then I saw the source and the rest is history but quite honestly, had I not clicked on it, if the day every comes where I’m looking for an excuse to go back to the dark side, that headline would still be there in a tank full of excuses in my head.

            A Friend of mine used to be vegan for many years and he gave it up when he claims he suffered from joint pain that went away when he went back to consuming animal products. He never got an official diagnosis or saw a doctor about it and claims he ate plenty of nuts and seeds etc. His anecdote is completely without evidence however it’s sitting in my excuse tank. The excuses don’t need to be valid. nd people don’t need to be looking for an excuse. They just need to be there. Your headline gave who knows how many people an excuse.

          • Frances McC

            Dylan, the fact that you have an “excuse tank” of reasons not to be vegan when it no longer suits you suggests that we’re on completely different pages here.

            As for the rest of your unfounded >>The excuses don’t need to be valid. nd people don’t need to be looking for an excuse. They just need to be there. Your headline gave who knows how many people an excuse.<<, well, it's hardly worth responding to. One could make the same claims about anything; if people need excuses, they will find them. And if they do, one would have to question whether they were vegan to begin with, since they didn't embrace the ethical system underpinning veganism.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            If you don’t think my comment is worth responding to, you don’t have to respond. Posting comments is strictly optional and you’re under no obligation to participate. It sounds like I ruffled your proverbial feathers and sincerely apologize. We’re in a bit of a lull with non-vegan trolls and so it seems like we’re turning on each other like cannibals and we should save that fire for the trolls.

            Your remark about embracing the “ethical system underpinning veganism” is a lot like another article on here that I replied to that makes veganism sound more like a cult than it ought to in my opinion. I’m an “ethical vegan” as the kids call them nowadays. Vegan mostly for ethical reasons but also due to practical reasons and health concerns. It doesn’t matter to me why someone remains vegan, I’d just like to see people stop consuming animal products. Whether they care about animals or they’re doing it for other reasons doesn’t make them less of a vegan in my book.

            I’m in marketing. Creating and refilling “excuse tanks” is what I do for a living. They definitely do exist, I promise. Every vegan is constantly barraged with temptations to consume animal products, be them chicken nuggets or a designer handbag. Each one of them putting chinks in the armor of the most devoted ethical vegan. I know we all have to make a living and you obviously have excellent exposure in many people’s news feeds and you have tremendous reach. Please consider that when creating content and try to do no harm.

          • Alan O’Reilly

            You still haven’t quite got this, have you? This article is a cracking piece of sarcasm and is not directed at vegans, rather at nonvegans tempted to dip into their “excuse tank” to avoid going vegan in the first place. It is, in fact, an excellent and inventive example of creative vegan advocacy with over 3,500 shares to date.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            I know it’s sarcasm. sarcasm and snark and click bait headlines don’t belong in my news feed and unintended as it might have been, there’s no doubt in my mind that the article left many more negative impressions than positive ones.
            Just because things get shared on social media doesn’t mean it’s news or that it’s positive for any animal rights movement.

          • Frances McC

            More subjective impressions and unfounded assertions, Dylan. You can’t make a claim like >>there’s no doubt in my mind that the article left many more negative impressions than positive ones.<< without evidence to back it up.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            I was offering my opinion not arguing.
            Opinions are exempt from the evidence requirement.

          • Frances McC

            Might be an idea to phrase it more explicitly like an opinion, then. >>there’s no doubt in my mind that the article left many more negative impressions than positive ones. <<

          • Dylan Wentworth

            Why would that be a good idea?
            This isn’t a research paper, it’s a comment to an article using the Disqus platform. It’s implied that these are merely opinions and offered without any warranty as to their accuracy.

          • Alan O’Reilly

            There’s no doubt in my mind that over 3500 shares indicate that the article left many more positive impressions than negative ones. That’s my opinion. Now why don’t we all stop wasting one another’s time?

          • Dylan Wentworth

            Source! Show me your source!
            I demand to see references!!!

          • Alan O’Reilly

            “Opinions are exempt from the evidence requirement.” What’s good for the goose etc. However, you are clearly desperate for the last word so you may have it with my compliments, I won’t be responding further. I look forward to more of the same excellent writing from Frances McCormack.

          • Dylan Wentworth

            This is why people think we’re nuts.

  • Sunil Hingorani


  • Aaron Woods

    Damn, at the start I expected that this article was the work of the meat and dairy industry pumping out made up anecdotal claims that veganism makes you ill longterm. In the end I loved it! Good job. You should post more article with this structure as it will pull in non vegans who get pleasure from reading anti vegan articles.

  • dreyfus

    had me worried for a moment. nice hook.

  • Stranger Things Have Happened

    Love it.


    Good for you Frances McCormack. Birth, Illnesses and Death are facts of life. But leading a life of compassion and good morals is a choice (Buddhist saying).

  • Khemba

    Love it. One of the reasons I stay vegan is because I still feel okay when I do catch a cold (knock on wood not the flu yet) once in a while. Since I’ve been vegan, my cold symptoms have been milder. So much so that I don’t have to take any cold meds, which is great because they make me too groggy and I get mild hallucinations after taking them. I found out too that the symptoms don’t stick around too long. While others (omnivores) who are sick at the same time as me have residual symptoms for weeks, mine are gone after a couple of days.

    My natural remedy is lots of greens when I’m under the weather. Sometimes it’s up to 90% of my intake when I have a cold. It is freaking awesome! So while the omnivores are out for the count with just a simple cold, I’m usually up and running after a day. Just from this experience of feeling awesome even when slightly under the weather is enough for me to stay true to veganism. I can’t imagine going back to consuming animal products again.

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