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Why some people don’t thrive on a vegan diet.. and what we can do about it


We hear all the time about vegans or vegetarians going back to eating animal products. Whilst
it’s sad, there are some good reasons why this happens, many of which can be prevented. Let’s
look at some of the key reasons why this happens and how we can combat them.

Nutritional reasons

Unfortunately, a lot of people are getting their health advice from influencers these days,
rather than health professionals- it often seems as though the amount of followers somebody
has is deemed more qualifying than study. This means that many of the dietary patterns
people are first coming across when learning about plant-based diets are extreme, restrictive
and oftentimes downright silly.

Even when somebody’s not just binging on one food to make up their diet, what I often see in
clinical practice is that people are frequently missing out on key food groups. A whole food
plant-based diet as seen in the clinical trials that demonstrate health benefits is one that
includes legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and often ones greatly
reducing or excluding cooking oils, sugar or salt. Whilst, I choose to implement the last three
steps myself, unless you’re looking for a health transformation or are prioritising long-term
chronic disease prevention, you don’t need to be religious about being SOS (salt, oil, sugar)-free
to maintain a diet that will avoid deficiencies.

Another common thing I see is that people could be eating all the right foods but in minute
quantities. If you’re feeling hungry or fatigued, check in with a plant-based health professional
to ensure you’re eating adequate quantities of these foods. On a similar thread, it is not
uncommon to see people not meeting the caloric needs required to support their lifestyle.
When we switch from animal foods to plant-based foods we need to remember that these
foods are typically much lower in calories in comparison to the room they take up on our
plates. We often need to eat a lot more volume of food than we are used to. If you’re
struggling to get enough calories, foods like whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes are
ones to prioritise.

It is less common these days, but I still people who are following plant-based diets and not
supplementing with B12- the long-term effects of this if not caught in time are very serious.
Please supplement unless advised otherwise by your healthcare professional.

Who’s to blame for getting this wrong? None of us! The vast majority of us were not raised
vegetarian or vegan, and we certainly didn’t get taught this stuff growing up. If we got any
nutritional advice it was probably that we needed meat for protein and dairy for calcium- at least I know that’s the extent of the education I got!
Fortunately, there is a lot of great information out there when you look for credible sources, as
well as great plant-based health professionals eager to help.

Lifestyle reasons

Sometimes we get so caught up in “diet wars” that we forget that there are other serious pillars
to health aside from nutrition.
Getting enough sleep and movement, not smoking or taking toxic substances, cultivating
healthy, supporting relationships, and engaging in stress-reduction activities are all extremely
key factors to health. I know from past experience, as a vegan health professional with an
extremely balanced diet, and a regular meditation practice, that no amount of dark green leafy vegetables has been able to undo the effects of being in unhealthy social environments. Which brings me onto my next point..

Social reasons

Plant-based diets can be extremely triggering to people in our lives. Not everybody is going to
support your choice to make this transition and potentially some of the most important people
in your life may be vehemently against it. There is the potential that what can be such a
positive action for your health, the animals and the environment can leave you feeling
incredibly alone. I love Clare Mann’s book Vystopia that looks in depth at how to survive as a
vegan in a non-vegan world, and why it can be psychologically challenging to carry the burden
of knowledge.

What I would really recommend is looking for community; join vegan meet-ups if they exist in
your area, or even look to cultivate an online community if this isn’t possible. There are so
many people in the same position who would love to meet you, and other people who would
just love to support you. Whilst joining the vegan community may offer a smaller pool, it is
growing, and you may well find the depth of friendship you find is unlike anything you’ve found
before- that is something I certainly experienced. Bonding over a shared sense of compassion
is an incredible way to bond.

Other health reasons

Following on- have you heard of the nocebo effect? It’s essentially the opposite of the placebo
effect- where our health worsens because we expect it to. In a nutritional climate where the
loudest voices these days tell us we need animal protein or even more concerning that the
healthiest diet consists of nothing but animal products and that fibre is bad for us (EEK!) it can
be so easy to question ourselves. If you’re surrounded by these voices but yet a vegan diet
makes sense to you for the animals and the planet, then I really suggest that you look into the
work of vegan healthcare professionals who present the overwhelming evidence for a plant-
based diet and address much of the misinformation put out there by others. Even if you don’t
answer back out loud to what you’re hearing, it at least means you can argue against it in your
own head, which will go a great way to reducing the nocebo effect. As a current minority, it can
be hard to have the courage to believe in something that your family, friends and maybe even
your own doctor is warning you against- again, this is where seeking a plant-based health professional makes the most sense, as they’ll understand the intricacies in a way other people

Lastly, I do see certain people who are suffering from underlying digestive disorders or other
health issues that make the healthy fibre and sugars in plant foods more difficult to tolerate.
Working with an experienced health professional to resolve these underlying issues is again the
way forward. Often when these same people reintroduce animal foods they
sometimes feel better- not because they were deficient in animal protein, but because they
aren’t being triggered by the fibres or sugars in plant foods, and they conclude that it was an animal food deficiency, rather than a fibre/fruit sugar intolerance. It’s always best to fix the underlying problem
so that you can comfortably eat and enjoy the most evidence-based diet for long-term health and chronic disease risk reduction: a fibre-rich, whole food plant-based diet.

Author’s bio

Camilla Brinkworth is a plant-based naturopath, medical herbalist and nutritionist. After being
diagnosed in her 20s with hereditary arthritis andcexperiencing debilitating pain, she
transitioned to a wholefood, plant-based diet and transformed her health and wellbeing.
Camilla is the co-founder of Phytolove, a distribution company committed to bringing
innovative plant-based products and nutraceuticals to the Australian and New Zealand markets
including Ahiflower omega supplements.

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Samala Austin
Samala Austin
14:00 29 Nov 22
Camilla has been helping me with my health. She is thorough, and has a broad understanding of what the body needs and... issues we may have and not know about.She’s been super helpful in suggesting supplements for me to take, which has been great, as it can be so confusing in knowing what to buy and what I actually need. She helped get a proper blood test and was able to give me a thorough reading of it.She’s very caring and Thoughtful.She goes above and beyond. I highly recommend working with Camilla. ❤️💫read more
Chantelle Johnson
Chantelle Johnson
03:31 25 May 22
Amazing. I've worked with a few naturopaths and I've found naturopathy so very helpful on my health journey but Camilla... is next level! Such a supportive, kind and knowledgeable more
L Bratty
L Bratty
09:14 30 Nov 21
I cannot thank Camilla enough for her support and guidance helping me discover my health issues and setting me on the... path to getting my health back on track. I am so thankful I sought her advice, as I have seen drastic changes within a fortnight. I am looking forward to continuing my health journey with Camilla and would highly recommend for those seeking to improve their health in a natural more
Emma Fabricius
Emma Fabricius
22:56 11 Sep 21
I cant ´t describe how grateful I am to have got in contact with Camilla! She really has an amazing knowledge about the... body and how it all works together on a different level than anyone I´ve ever worked with. I came to her to get help with my headaches, migraines and fatigue after years and multiple visits/treatments with different doctors, experts etc. without any luck. Instead of just recommending me a "quick-fix", she worked with me to find the underlying issues.I've been working with her for a couple of months now and she never fails to give me the highest quality treatment in all aspects. She is also super quick to respond to any question or concern I might have, which I really appreciate.She is also one of the kindest, sweetest and most understandable people you will ever meet. It is so comforting and calming to finally have found a person who truly cares about your health as she does (AND is vegan!!). I can´t recommend her enough!! Thank you Camilla :)read more
Punam Mann
Punam Mann
02:02 06 Sep 21
Camilla has been absolutely amazing and I highly recommend her. She understands and respects my vegan dietary choices... which I have struggled with other doctors and naturopaths. She patiently listens and created a thorough treatment plan for me. I have been on the treatment plan for a few weeks now and my symptoms have greatly reduced and I’m already feeling much better. I’m highly impressed by her prompt response to my emails. She is very knowledgeable and helpful and has made my healing journey extremely comfortable.Thank you Camillaread more
Fabiana Loddo
Fabiana Loddo
23:10 20 Jul 21
In the past, what I found difficult with doctors was the fact that they did not listen to me; they literally finished... the sentences on my behalf all the time, rushing a diagnosis!Camilla is such a great listener, she really took all the possible information from me, she studied my case meticolously and came up with a cure which makes a lot of sense...and she explained it to me! Some other practitioners just prescribe lots of things and do not even explain what is cointained in those supplements/herbs and what they are specifically for.I highly recommend Camilla to all the ones who want a "same-level" relationship which their practitioner and not a "yes, I trust you, you are the expert" kind of relationship.Thank you Camilla!read more
Julien Fouquet
Julien Fouquet
11:31 19 Jul 21
I'm so glad I went to see Camilla, being vegan it's nice to find a naturopath who shares the same values.She asked me... a lot of questions during the initial consult, I felt that she was genuinely trying to help. After a few weeks and some tests done, she made a very detailed treatment plan which was very thorough and well explained.After only a few weeks following the treatment plan, the symptoms greatly improved as my gut health got better.I'd highly recommend Camilla as she has great knowledge combined with a caring and effective holistic more
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Charlene G
02:35 18 Jul 21
I truly wish I found Camilla earlier and I HIGHLY recommend her to anyone looking for a naturopath! I've been seeing... her for a few months now and I'm constantly impressed at how thorough, knowledgeable and passionate she is. I've had gut and hormonal issues for as long as I can remember, and from the get-go, I felt Camilla was truly invested in finding the underlying causes and helping me resolve them. She is also the warmest, kindest person - an absolute joy to work with.I've already seen such vast improvements in my health, and for the first time in my life, I'm confident that my issues can well and truly be resolved. I also really appreciate working with a fellow vegan who not only understands my values, but is equally passionate about them too.Thank you so much, Camilla! I cannot recommend her enough!read more
Libby Penney
Libby Penney
07:09 05 Jul 21
I am so grateful I have found Camilla. We hit it off straight away and she understands me. Her knowledge is second to... none. She goes above and beyond and has helped me so much, so quickly. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. Thank you more
Matt Gussin
Matt Gussin
16:41 22 May 21
I've had a pretty horrid time with gut and fatigue problems for over two years and in this time, I have seen countless... doctors, naturopaths, gastroenterologists, Chinese medicine practitioners and so on...Some of which told me to stop my vegan diet, so this was when I searched for a vegan Naturopath and found Camilla.Camilla has been nothing but outstanding since our first contact. She is the first person in my health journey who I feel is genuinely invested in my health and has worked tirelessly to help and provide answers. She is always quick to reply to my lengthy emails and although currently at the early stages of my treatment, every piece of advice and treatment given has been based off facts and logical reasoning.I really recommend Camilla. I have felt very comfortable with her from day one and you will get someone who is knowledgeable, passionate but most importantly, will do her utmost to help you through any more
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Sophie Smith
02:36 22 May 21
I would without a doubt recommend Camilla to anyone looking for a naturopath. She is so warm, caring, knowledgable and... helpful. I sought Camilla’s help to work on my severe PMS, heavy and painful periods and PTSD and mental health. From the moment I saw her she went above and beyond and is always there to help whenever I have any questions or concerns. I have just started my treatment plan and feel confident that I will see an improvement with my concerns.Thank you so much Camila xread more
Laura Harper
Laura Harper
02:59 07 Apr 21
I have been working with Camilla for a couple of months now with the aim of treating and managing hair loss, stress,... and anxiety. Camilla's process is incredibly thorough and informative and it has been amazing to not only feel better, but learn SO much in the process. My treatment plan has been very manageable, and Camilla has always made sure I understand why we are doing things rather than just telling me. This ​has really helped me to feel more in control and kept me committed to the lifestyle changes. Prior to working with Camilla, I felt a pretty overwhelmed with information, none of which I could be certain was true or even relevant to my symptoms whereas Camilla's process is so personal, and completely tailored to the individual.Camilla has been so kind, and understanding and has made the whole experience as comfortable and easy as possible. I have been shocked by how quickly I began to feel positive changes, and cant wait to see them continue!read more
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Millie Guest
02:45 04 Mar 21
Camilla is an incredible naturopath. I was recommended by a friend. I was struggling with my energy levels and needed... help to figure out why. The consults were thorough and in-depth and camilla made me feel super comfortable the whole way through.I had bloods done which confirmed i was low on iron as she had predicted. She wrote me an amazing in depth treatment plan, which included when and how to take my supplements with loads of tips & tricks on how to get the most out of them and include more into my diet. She also gave me loads of great recipes to cook to help with my iron intake.It has been over a month into treatment and i feel super energetic and full of life again. It was exactly what i needed to help get back to myself.I couldn’t recommend her enough. If you’re struggling with anything her in-depth knowledge in her field will help you.Thankyou more
Sophie Farrelly
Sophie Farrelly
03:42 29 Dec 20
Camilla is very knowledgeable, helpful and has a wonderful nature. She’s caring and goes above and beyond to help. I... can’t recommend her enough. Thank you!read more
02:07 06 Nov 20
Highly recommend. Camilla is a delight, very passionate and committed to getting clients back to their best!
Vivian Ruth
Vivian Ruth
09:03 28 Oct 20
I’m so grateful for the treatment that I received from Camilla. My results improved within a month!! She is very... attentive, knowledgeable and caring. I highly recommend her for everyone!!read more
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Chloe Compton
10:20 24 Sep 20
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Lilla Magyari
Lilla Magyari
11:16 01 Sep 20
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