Alternatives to veganism: Should we reduce consumption of meat and other animal products?

If not vegan, how do we get these problems solved?

MeatToday I had a practicing vegan ask me some questions on Facebook, about starting to eat animal products again. I thought the answers would be valuable for other people also. So I’m going to answer the questions here.

First, let’s recap. The reason I became vegan and endorsed veganism for other humans is that I sincerely believed that all humans could thrive on a vegan diet. If there is no sacrifice to humans, why would we not end the sacrifice of animals? It seemed like a clear win/win/win. The problem is that I was wrong. As I learned myself the hard way, many if not most humans DO NEED animal products for optimal health. I cannot and will not endorse a lifestyle that entails the sacrifice of human health for a half-baked ideal.

Now, of course, at the same time I am very aware of the arguments in favor of veganism. Factory farming epitomizes everything that is not working about our disconnected, commodity-focused society. There is a severe drought in California now (where I live), and anyone who is even mildly informed knows that most of the problem is animal agriculture and – ironically – one of vegans’ favorite crops: almonds. The more animals are raised in cramped quarters with pressure to product vast quantities of “cheap” meat, the more abuses and cruelty result. It’s not a pretty picture.

On the other hand, you’ve got seven billion humans now on this planet. With most people still idealizing human procreation as a “natural” and “desirable” way of life. And I would guess only a tiny few of the humans who are already here, and those yet to be born, can thrive without animal products. My guess is fewer than five percent. There has never been a human vegan civilization on this planet, as far as we know.

So the way many people think we “should” go around solving problems is imposing linear, “rational” solutions on people like veganism. The problem is that veganism is not holistic because it has failed to account for the financial and nutritional and other practical obstacles. Vegans, in general, love to preach and protest, yet do so from a one-sided perspective that seeks to impose intense SACRIFICE on the human race. They would trade one form of suffering for another, which has not really solved anything. And therefore as a movement, unless something changes radically, veganism will fail.

So now let’s get to this reader’s questions …

First, she asked me about adding some minimal animal products to her diet:

I’ve decided to follow vegan diet during the week (not crappy french fries and vegan hot dog type vegan) healthy food. On the weekend I’m having a small pizza with half the cheese (can’t live without pizza) one oily fish and two free range eggs. Do you think this is ok, Erika Awakening?

And this is what I said about adding animal products to the diet:

My view is that we can’t really help anyone else if we don’t feel good and keep ourselves healthy. So from my perspective, if that helps you feel better and stronger, then it’s a good thing. It doesn’t mean this is the final answer. It just means we have some big stuff to sort out here, and there is no sense in any human losing their health when we don’t have good answers to those questions. Ultimately, of course, it’s how you feel that matters.

She followed up with this commentary about the best approach to advocacy, and asking what I think about REDUCING animal products:

Militant behaviour doesn’t work. I know that from personal experience. I have been downright nasty and rude and even aggressive to many people because I felt so bad for the animals that suffer. But it doesn’t help. It only makes you seem like a nasty human being. Factory farming needs to go. The only way to do that is to limit consumption. And if you’re with a vegan person don’t make the tired old sarcastic comments. That makes them livid and they *will* become militant. Just be as respectful of their choices and beliefs as you expect them to be of yours.

The other thing is : nobody needs to eat animal products every day I don’t think. We kind of expect to have them at every meal otherwise it’s not a meal. I think once or twice a week is enough? What do you think? If we all ate a third of what we currently eat I think we’d still be healthy and factory farming wouldn’t be necessary.

This is what I would say about that:

Sylvia, I may be the wrong person to ask about reducing animal products at this time. Right now I am eating animal products every day, mostly cheese that is high in vitamin K2 like Brie and Gouda, eggs, and fatty fish. I am probably going to have a cheeseburger or some other red meat at least once a week. My body seems to have depleted its reserves of many vital nutrients during my time as a vegetarian and vegan. Right now, I am focused on rebuilding those reserves.

Although I also find the idea of widespread reduction of meat, fish, dairy, and egg consumption to be an appealing one, and it seems we are on the fast track to environmental catastrophe if we don’t do that … after my time as a vegan, I am feeling very, very wary of linear “solutions” like this.

For years, I have been teaching abundance in all its forms. I am well known for teaching financial abundance, but really the same abundance principles apply to all life areas.

Now that I’ve stepped back from veganism, I see that it harmed not only my health but also my financial abundance. How could that be? Well, because veganism is a scarcity mindset. Veganism “makes a problem real” and then attempts to impose an almost punitive “solution.” There is a deep undercurrent in the vegan movement of self-sacrifice and martyrdom, which runs counter to everything I teach. The premise of veganism is that somebody has to sacrifice for another to be free. And that can never work, because the solution God has for any problem entails NO SACRIFICE FOR ANYONE INVOLVED.

I’ve never believed in dieting for the same reason. When we deny the body, we actually create intense focus on the body. This is counterproductive.

I look at areas of my life where I was able to “reduce” successfully and without resentment or suffering. These happened spontaneously. Nobody had to hold up a protest sign or angrily impose a solution on me. I simply practiced my healing method of Holistic Belief Reprogramming … and the extra pounds dropped off my body without effort. Similarly, my automobile mileage dropped dramatically (by more than 80 percent). Yet this did not require me to make extravagant sacrifices in my life. It simply happened.

I believe the planet will be healed the same way. Not by imposing an agenda of “meat reduction” or veganism on people. Rather, by a grassroots movement of people getting themselves healed and thereby having organic changes in their lives. I believe we could use Holistic Belief Reprogramming without an agenda, simply throwing all of the competing concerns into the mix, and let our subconscious mind solve the problem.

However, this is not a small project. We are talking here about addressing millions of years of human evolution, conflicting advice from the Bible and other religious documents, thousands of cultural traditions, human genetic programming and nutritional requirements, as well as all the current-day economic and geographic pressures that are faced by humans and the animals. The belief in the “cycle of life and death” and all the emotional attachment people have to human procreation and ego identities like birth, death, being a grandmother and a mother, etc., would all have to be transformed. We are talking about reprogramming millions and millions of beliefs. It’s a big, big project.

And while I am willing to embark on that project, and I have the healing method to do it … I am absolutely unwilling even to begin it without the massive financial, emotional, and technical support I would need for that project to be successful. I also would need a lot of people who have skills I don’t have to make a real commitment to working together on this. Thus far, I have seen lots of vegans who are willing to shout loudly about their grievances … and very few vegans who are willing to learn actual healing skills and put their time and money where their mouth is to get the problem solved.

So for now, I am going to consume as many animal products as my body needs. And I have simply stepped back from these issues and veganism altogether. I am going to return my focus where it can be most helpful – helping individual people resolve their individual life problems. And when vegans get serious about having this problem solved, and are willing to put their time and money where their mouth is, then we can begin organizing the group Holistic Belief Reprogramming sessions that could transform this situation without sacrifice to anyone. Most likely, the real answer is something as yet undreamed.

I hope that helps. Thanks for the questions.


erika awakening

About the Author:

Erika Awakening is a Harvard Law School graduate and former practicing attorney. She left the rat race to become a location-independent entrepreneur, holistic life coach, blogger, speaker, healer, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT tapping) expert. Erika Awakening is one of the world's foremost experts on eradicating limiting beliefs and lifestyle design on your own terms. Learn more about Erika Awakening

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  1. Of course you can believe anything you want to justify continuing to harm other sentient beings. May I say most of what is written about needing to eat animals is absolute twaddle, this is exactly the trouble with the internet any self made magic dreaming imaginary powers e person can write what they like, ramp up an acceptable website, self publish their books and become famous or infamous.

  2. Wait … hold the presses … it turns out I’m still vegan under the definition:

  3. Gina seraichyK says:

    No on has to sacrifice? Wow… You must really hate the animals, to completely disregard the thousands upon thousands of sacrifices made every day… For no valid reason. I guess human sacrifice is the only sacrifice you’re capable of acknowledging.

    • I haven’t seen you sacrifice by taking your own life. You must really hate the animals. Or else you’re just a raving hypocritical bitch, which seems more likely. Go eat some fatty fish and double up on the B12 supplements. You folks are badly malnourished and it shows.

  4. I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life, though my mom used to try and force me to eat meat. I just never liked it. Even now as an adult, I just can’t eat it. It turns my stomach and makes me sick. I just don’t like it. At all.

  5. eliz frank says:

    My personal philosophy has always been to have everything we enjoy in moderation. I don’t eat meat and I don’t miss it. I’m not vegan but eat a modified vegetarian diet; meaning I enjoy some seafood and dairy products. I read your post about the health challenges you experienced, and I’m glad you chose to make changes that were best for you.

    • Thanks Elizabeth, I appreciate your support. Those who think I should have “kept trying” don’t seem to have much empathy for how scary those last couple weeks were. Especially because I don’t carry any health insurance.

  6. katrina g says:

    i don’t eat a lot of meat but i do like it. don’t think i could go without.

  7. I will never stop eating meat although I go out of my way to only buy certain meats that are raised healthier.

  8. I think everyone must make these choices for themselves. Determining what is important to you and your health is important. I was a ovo-vegetarian for 6 years and it was the best I ever felt. I returned to eating meat as I gained a 4 year old stepson who wanted to emulate my diet. He did not live with us full time so I was uncomfortable teaching him the values of a vegetarian diet without being able to more closely monitor his dietary needs. I am considering going back to it though…I felt very healthy then, inside and out.

  9. Erika, You cannot realistically or ethcially speak for all, or even most, vegans when addressing issues of health. Most vegans are not tired; quite the opposite. In fact, chronic illnesses have been CURED or successfully managed from vegan diets. It may surprise you that there are successful vegan athletes and bodybuilders. Scientific evidence is mounting in favor of the vegan diet, and exposing the detrimental effects of animal products, especially dairy. Anyone who does poorly on a vegan diet did not know enough about nutrition, did not include the variety and amounts of foods needed to be healthy. This can happen on any kind of diet. It appears you are simply trying to sell your product. As you stated, ” I simply practiced my healing method of Holistic Belief Reprogramming.” People would be best served by taking advice from objective, scientific sources, not someone trying to sell their own program.

    • It does not surprise me, as I have done extensive research on both sides of the issue. I am no longer moved by vegan claims about health. Enough said.

      • Gina SeraichyK says:

        You are an embarrassment. You were never vegan. It’s a relief that you are no longer saying you are….as you clearly never understood the philosophy. You used to monopolize a vegan group I was in, with your reprimands of anyone or anything that didn’t represent your exact opinions. You have been far more detrimental to veganism and the eradication of exploitation- than if you had just continued on you omnivore path. Meat nor any animal products are required for optimal health. If you miss those tastes, you could have done the right thing and said, “I miss those tastes”. The medical and nutritional claims that animal products are required, are bogus. You know that. You might be able to convince some of your current PR driven opinions….but I doubt you will ever truly convince yourself.

      • Oh, you mean when I called out the blatant hypocrisy of vegans in their stances on abortion, honey, pesticides, bee killing, horse riding, and so forth? yea people didn’t handle that very well … and it was the beginning of seeing the entire vegan philosophy collapse in a pile of contradictions.

  10. Christophe Romanet says:

    i have been vegan for twenty years and am vital

  11. I love animals, and it’s such a battle within ourselves to get our their suffering for our benefit. I try to provide 2-3 meals a week hat are meat free for our family.

  12. I just don’t feel healthy with a vegan diet, does that sound weird? I felt myself feeling more tired and drained when I gave it a try; I lasted a month and strongly disliked it.

    • You’re not alone. When I did the research, constant fatigue is one of many symptoms that has been widely reported.

      • Well I have more energy than I ever did! Never tired and I go to bed at 2-3am and up for work at 8:30. I need less sleep than I did when I was an omnivore. It’s been over 15 years since I ate red meat, almost 13 since I’ve had any other meat. After blood work my doctor says I have the cholesterol of a healthy 12 yr old and all levels are great and I’m soon going to be 55.

      • Glad it’s working for you. Unfortunately that has not been the case for many other people. There are far more ex-vegans and ex-vegetarians than there are practicing ones.

  13. I have been a meat eater since I was little. As an adult, I prefer more chicken over beef. I know chickens live in the same types of cramped quarters and it’s sad. But mist chickens and other animals were breed for food. I do think I could cut down. I don’t eat meat every single meal though.

    • So because they are bred for food that makes it okay to confine them in cramped quarters and cause them suffering and pain? Do you think they know they were bred for food? They want to live just as much as a dog, cat or any other animal do! Search the W5 website for a recent undercover video at a chicken slaughterhouse where they rush the chickens through the line so fast that some are still alive when put in the scalding boiling water!

      • Lori, I’m not arguing with any of that. I have simply reached the conclusion that vegan diet is not going to solve the world’s problems. That a deeper solution is necessary.

  14. My daughter went through this too. She was vegetarian, then vegan, then vegetarian for years, but about a year ago she had to go back to eating meat because she couldn’t support her active fitness lifestyle on a vegetarian diet. She’s EXTREMELY active and has always had a super fast metabolism, so I totally understand why it went that way for her.

  15. Debbie Denny says:

    I think this is a great attitude. IA persons body always finds a way to tell what it needs.

  16. I am trying to reduce eating meat. I hope soon I will completely eliminate.

  17. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I am a meat lover and always will be. I would consider cutting down (maybe), but not giving it up entirely.

  18. Sylvia garassino says:

    Thanks Erika for your considered reply.

    I do have a tendency to oversimplify things. It’s lazy, and as you say, linear thinking.

    I feel as though I’m floundering in a sea of knowledge but don’t know which raft to clutch onto. I would love to talk to you one day, to learn from you. You’ve done the homework that many aren’t willing to do.

    I did feel deprived while I was vegan. I had in my mind a vision of a vegan world in which children would be raised vegan from birth, and would therefore not feel the deprivation. This is psychological deprivation I’m talking about, not nutritional. I’m not a nutritionist so my approach to veganism was based purely on ethics. It became a rather dogmatic mantra which doesn’t work either.

    I guess we’re all feeling our way through this crazy mess called life.

    Thank you so much for taking the trouble to write about this on your blog.


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