Americans love grilling out and having fun together. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 79.1 million Americans reported grilling at some point in 2016. But not all those people had meat on their grills. Over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of Americans have dropped meats form their diet and have enjoyed living a vegan lifestyle.
Despite the fact that being vegan means abstaining from the use and consumption of animal products, meats are coming back into vegans’ lives.
“I felt horrible and was eating so many fake meat products that one day I sat back and realized just how horrible my diet was,” said Maria Bella, a dietitian who quit veganism after two years. “If someone decides to go vegan, it is essential to rely on real food and that is incredibly hard.”
According to the Daily Mail, though cutting out red meats and dairy products can lower blood pressure and risk of obesity, incorporating meats into a diet again can actually be good.
For strict vegans, it can be difficult to gain much weight or maintain high levels of energy. Fortunately, meat can help with both of these.
The Independent reports that omitting entire food groups from a person’s diet will lead to severe deficiencies. Cutting out dairy, for instance, results in a significant lack of calcium intake, which can lead to further health concerns. Due to the absence of red meats in typical vegan diets, these individuals are typically deficient in vitamin B12 and iron, causing dizziness, anemia, fatigue and other issues.
Bella and nutritional expert Nikki Ostrower have seen a recent surge of their clients steering away from veganism, citing negative side effects like bloating and fatigue.
“Some had a lack of energy or started to have a lot of sugar cravings,” added Ostrower. “Some were experiencing migraines.”
Though there are meatless products that provide necessary proteins, health experts warn that not all products can provide healthy alternatives to non meat eaters.
“I no longer avoid any food groups,” said Bella. “But [instead] focus on variety of protein sources and tons of colorful produce on my plate.”