By Alyce Collins
THIS MUM of three is adopting a “carnivore” diet after she claims being vegan for six years gave her wrinkles, tooth decay and a low libido whilst her non-vegan twin sister seemed to defy age.
Speech pathologist, writer and keto coach Mariela Stewart (39) from Texas, USA, has transformed her health and physique after veganism left her feeling bloated and older and she turned to the controversial keto diet.
Before being vegan, Mariela consumed a low-carb diet for over a decade but eventually became plant-based to improve her digestive problems after seeing a documentary about how veganism could help digestive issues.
Mariela was vegan for six years, including raw vegan and fruitarian, but this resulted in her losing a lot of muscle and having no definition. A vegan diet also led to poor digestion with complications including excess weight, mood swings, tooth decay, low libido, fragile hair and even losing eyelashes.
Mariela has a twin sister, Mariana (39) who wasn’t vegan, and she began noticing that her twin seemed to be defying age, whereas Mariela’s skin became wrinkly and worn. Mariela decided she’d had enough, and it was time to listen to her body.
In June 2018, after doing some research into the various options, Mariela started the ketogenic diet which emphasises foods which are low in carbohydrates and high in fat. These foods include meat, eggs, fish, avocados and nuts.
“Before veganism I was on a low-carb diet with a lot of success for twelve-years which helped me bounce back from three pregnancies,” said Mariela.
“I went vegan for digestion issues because my digestive system couldn’t work on its own. I watched a documentary on veganism and they talked about better digestion, so I decided to give it a try.
“At first I felt better, but after some time all of my previous issues returned and got worse.
“I did every vegan variation out there: raw vegan, high carb low fat diet, fruitarian and everything in between. I focused on a lot of fruit, vegetables, greens, nuts, sprouts and I lost a lot of muscle and got soft and flabby.
“Eventually I added some tofu sporadically, quinoa, rice and beans but my digestion had a hard time with the vegan diet.
“I was constantly bloated, lost muscle, became skinny fat despite doing resistance training. My hair was frizzy, and I began losing a lot of it, including my eyelashes, so I had to get eyelash extensions. My nails became brittle and my skin was aging so much due to a high sugar diet with low fats.
“I compared how quickly I was aging compared to my twin sister who wasn’t vegan and I had more wrinkles and looked so much older than her. My weight fluctuated, I had mood swings and I had to severely restrict calorie intake to see very minimal change.
“Veganism led to increased inflammation in my body, I developed irritable bowel syndrome, tooth decay, migraines lack of energy and libido. I didn’t like how I was feeling or looked, so I had to do something about it.
“I ended my vegan diet in June and went back to a low carbohydrate life, but this time adopting a Ketogenic diet after researching the benefits. After relearning everything I knew and opening my mind to new research, I realised why I lacked so many nutrients with a vegan diet and why my body was breaking down.
“I am being intuitive and listening to my body, but everyone’s body is different.”
Mariela has noticed many benefits since starting her keto diet, including losing weight and gaining muscle despite exercising less, no cravings, improved sleep, mental clarity, improved digestion and stronger hair.
Mariela wants to educate others on the importance of understanding nutrition after realising that veganism wasn’t a sustainable diet for her to follow.
“I always choose whole foods and reduce all sugar, and I’m still listening to my body as I’m trying to heal my gut and digestion. It’s still a work in progress,” said Mariela.
“I’m more intuitive with how I feel after I eat a certain food and I see how my body responds.
“I don’t get hungry until midday, so I have a meal like keto waffles with shredded coconut butter, protein bread with tuna and mayo, or avocado stuffed with tuna and salad. I snack on nuts, pork and rinds.
“In the evening I usually have a protein, like salmon, chicken, steak, ribs or pork, with vegetables sautéed in coconut oil and a salad.
“I’ve lost fat and gained muscle, I sleep far better, my digestion is better, I feel satisfied and I have mental clarity. I’ve got more energy which is stable throughout the day, without caffeine. My skin also appears clearer and plumper, and I just feel happier in myself.
“I actually work out less, but I do resistance training three to four times a week now. I’ve remained a size XS but I’ve lowered my body fat and I’m leaner and stronger now. My body re-composition is completely different now.
“I urge people to educate themselves and relearn everything they think they know about nutrition and health. Veganism isn’t a sustainable way of eating.
“I’m not the only one who feels this way. I know so many vegans who have also stopped being vegan for the same reasons I had. Many people feel better at first but over time the vegan diet starts causing all sorts of issues.
“Children should never eat a vegan diet as so many articles express the dangers of veganism in children.
“You should understand how your body works and what it needs to survive and thrive. It was very hard to detach from the vegan label, but what is a label worth if it destroys the very thing you’re trying to attain?
“The information you need is out there, you just need to be unbiased and realise you may be wrong. Give your body time to heal and allow it to trust you again and you’ll reap the benefits of a keto diet. It’s not always about the scale, it’s about changing how you feel.”