A Vegetarian Summer In Europe: Idealistic Beginnings
I decided to become a vegetarian in the summer of 2015. I was backpacking Europe at the time. It made sense for a lot of different reasons:
- Availability: you can find fresh fruit and vegetables at every market, store, and restaurant.
- Cost: you can buy a box of 20 peaches and a load of bread for a couple of euros, and it’d feed me all day.
- Culture: I met more vegetarians during my six months in Europe than I’ve ever met in Canada.
- Freedom: you don’t necessarily have to cook or do much of anything to fruits and vegetables. You can eat them on the go.
- Health: I kept getting told vegetarianism/veganism was healthier for me. All those people couldn’t be wrong, right?
- Environmental: I’d be doing a great service to the earth (and animals) if I just stopped eating meat.
Plus, we spent most of our time in Italy, and their two main entrees – pizza and pasta – are more often than not vegetarian, not to mention carb-laden.
The Downside Of Vegetarianism: Bathroom Attacks And IBS
“Works for me,” I thought. “Not only will I save money, I will save my body from the horrors of red meat and save the world while I’m at it.”
It didn’t take long for me to start noticing my body changing for the worse.
I ignored the changes at first. Namely, I ignored the fact that since coming to Europe, when I had to go to the bathroom, I REALLY HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. LIKE, NOW.
This unfortunate reality reached its peak horrendous ness two sunny summer afternoons in a row. I was running through the Italian countryside on both days, and I was suddenly stricken with what I henceforth called a “bathroom attack,” whereby whatever was inside me was going to come out, and it was going to come out quickly.
Thank God for bushes and big leaves, eh?
As these bathroom attacks continued, I became more and more worried. Naturally, so I began researching what could possibly be wrong with me. It didn’t take long for me to find out that my symptoms were perfectly in line with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS usually makes itself known in the body in one of two ways: diarrhea or constipation. I had the former, hence the bathroom attacks.
So there I was, in European cities I’d never visited, with IBS, never knowing where a washroom was, trying to enjoy some of the world’s greatest sights with my fiancée but never being able to think anything but, “I hope I don’t soil myself at Big Ben… the Cliffs of Moher… the Colosseum… Edinburgh Castle… the Eiffel Tower…” and on and on and on those thoughts went.
Having those thoughts all the time is why doctors say IBS can often be mental more so than physical.
I’m here to tell you that it’s BOTH.
Discovering The Carnivore Diet: An Unexpected Solution
Even after we came home from Europe, I stubbornly kept asserting I was vegetarian, much to the chagrin of my meat-loving family.
Then, one day, for reasons that escaped me at the time, I was having a craving for something that was previously alive but now was dead and barbecued. So I had myself a steak, which, even when I was eating meat, was rare for me to indulge in.
I remember the burst of energy that flowed through me when I finished the last bite of that steak.
“That’s odd,” I thought. “I feel better than I have in almost a year, and it just so happens I feel this way right after having meat.”
“Don’t let facts or the way your body feels get in the way of a dogmatic ideology!” a voice inside my head screamed at me.
I kept the vegetarian façade up for as long as possible, all the while succumbing to the temptations of dead animals more and more with each passing week.
For the sake of time, let me skip ahead.
Enter: The Carnivore Diet
Listen, I truly thought I was going to be stuck with bathroom attacks and popping Immodium pills for the rest of my life. I didn’t think anything could help me, and I wasn’t disciplined enough to keep insanely detailed food journals.
Then I heard Dr. Jordan Peterson, on an episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast, talk about how his daughter, Mikhaila, cured a laundry list of autoimmune problems by eliminating everything in her diet and starting over again. Peterson then said he tried the diet, which he explained was very meat-heavy, and it cured many of the ailments that were bothering him.
This was all very interesting to me, so I visited the blog of Peterson’s daughter, mikhailapeterson.com, and I consumed as much information as I could, including her idea to try this thing called the carnivore diet.
“Sounds manly,” I thought to myself as I fired up Google to learn more about it. Almost instantly, I found my way to Dr. Shawn Baker’s podcast with none other than Joe Rogan, and from thereon in, everything changed. I went out that night and filled my freezer and fridge with meat. The next day, I became a carnivore.
Admittedly, it took me a couple of days to adjust to this way of eating, and fighting off the keto flu sucked, but once those symptoms passed, nothing was the same.
The Carnivore Diet Cured My IBS
That’s not hyperbole. I haven’t had loose stool, let alone an infamous bathroom attack, since becoming a carnivore. This might sound silly to someone who’s never had IBS but let me tell you, in no uncertain terms, this diet gave me my life back.
There were so many things I found myself avoiding because I was so petrified about how my body would turn against me. And while I am still trying to rewire the patterns I built into my brain that associate geographic unfamiliarity with IBS, I am light years improved from where I was just a month-and-a-half ago.
If you suffer from IBS, all I can say is this: give the carnivore diet a try for a month and see how your body responds.
If you are like I was and are at the edge of sanity with the way your stomach behaves, and you feel like you have no control over your health, what do you have to lose? Honestly. What do you have to lose?
Nothing. That’s what.
Jordan and Mikhaila Peterson, Joe Rogan, and Shawn Baker gave me advice to help give me my health back. I couldn’t be more grateful.
So, as I close out this post, I have pledged to tell everyone and anyone that’ll listen to this very important PSA: meat heals. It’s as simple as that. Others have the science. I (and thousands of others) have the experiences. Just saying it’s worked for us.
P.S. Those vegetarian plateaus I hit at the gym were destroyed once I became a carnivore, but that’s a post for another day.
Results are not typical. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.