Jonathan Did The Vegan Diet for a Month! Our Thoughts and Review of a Plant-Based Diet The Hart of Health Podcast S1 E6

Jonathan Did The Vegan Diet for a Month! Our Thoughts and Review of a Plant-Based Diet | The Hart of Health Podcast

Joané & Jonathan: (00:02)
Hi, I’m Joané Hart and I’m Jonathan Hart. This is The Hart of Health. A show where we focus mainly on health and self-optimization. Here, we like to talk about our experiences and knowledge when it comes to health and biohacking. Hope you enjoy the show.

Joané : (00:36)
Hi Everyone! Today, we are going to talk about Jonathan’s vegan diet challenge that he did in February. So first tell us: Why did you do this vegan challenge in February?

Jonathan: (00:54)
Well, firstly, over the last year and a bit, so many people have come up to me and said: “Have you watched Game Changers?” Because they know I’ve experimented a lot with my diet. And they know like I’ve tried a lot of different things over the time and you know, I’ve cut out sugar and carbs and grains and you know… I’ve done a whole bunch of things. So people always seem to come to me like: “Oh my word, you need to see this.” And yeah, I watched it. And so, most of the people that asked me: “Have you seen Game Changers?” I would say “yes”. And then, I could see how excited they were about the documentary. I felt like the documentary is not very good. It misrepresents a lot of things.

Jonathan: (01:44)
Like there’s some truth to it, but it misrepresents a lot. And so, then going into this vegan month, I was like: “okay, I think it is possible to do a vegan diet”, but I felt like the documentary had overstated too many things.

Joané : (02:04)
Like what?

Jonathan: (02:05)
Like you’re going to just have a lot of energy and you’re going to be building muscle. And it doesn’t really matter who you are as an individual, as long as you cut out animal products, you’re going to be firing on all cylinders and you’re going to be doing so much better than you were before. And I don’t think that takes into account the individual. And like, what was the diet you were following before you went vegan at all? I think most of the people who noticed a big difference going vegan, probably, or even on the Game Changers documentary, one of the people said that they didn’t even know what asparagus was before they went vegan. And I was like, well, that shows you that they didn’t really have any healthy food that they’re eating before they decided to go vegan. So, it’s just an example of like, yes, you can get a massive improvement and it’s all relative. Like if you’re eating the standard American fried food diet, you’re probably gonna feel a lot better on a vegan diet. But if you’re going from like a whole foods, paleo diet, like I did (cause that was my January challenge) yeah… it didn’t… It didn’t go well at all.

Joané : (03:18)
No, you suffered quite a bit through this month. It was hard to watch sometimes.

Jonathan: (03:24)
Yeah. I got a whole list of problems that I encountered. And so yeah, that’s my main issues with the documentaries. They sort of sell it as the silver bullet for everyone and I went into it thinking it would be easier than it was going to be. It turned out to be really hard on me. I feel like, I just did worse health-wise the whole month in so many different factors that we can obviously go into if you want. But my main thing was to actually go and get first-hand experience. So many people were saying: “Have you seen Game Changers?” to me. And then I was sort of like: “okay, I’ve now got to investigate this.” Like I’ve got to go and test this out and like, see what it’s about. So I can actually have a first-hand experience-based opinion on what’s going on in a vegan diet.

Joané : (04:26)
Yeah. When you just said that, it made me think of that Demi Lovato song: “Sorry, not sorry.” Cause I was listening to it in the car today and she’s saying like: “you got to talk that talk baby, you better walk that walk, baby”. I just have that song in my head, but it’s a nice one. But that’s what it comes down to, you know, like you’ve experienced it now. Now you have the credentials to talk about it.

Jonathan: (04:58)
Yeah. I can at least say, this is what I experienced on a whole foods, vegan diet. And that’s the thing… like I got the nutritional yeast and the zinc and all the supplements that Game Changers doesn’t even tell you about. I think the only thing they mentioned was vitamin B12 that everyone should supplement, but I did additional research and I went and made sure I got all the supplements said to be lacking on a vegan diet. Yeah, I went whole-foods vegan for like the first two weeks. And that just did not work well.

Joané : (05:39)
By that. You mean you went high-carb, low-fat,

Jonathan: (05:44)
You know, that’s the only way you can really do like whole foods.

Joané : (05:49)
No, you can do high fat, whole foods, diet, vegan diet. Like you can have avocado and nuts. Like a lot of things that have high fat.

Jonathan: (05:58)
Yeah. But they also come with a lot of carbs. To get the calories I was aiming for, you’d be eating a lot of carbs.

Joané : (06:07)
But you can do a high-fat, high-carb, whole foods, vegan diet. A whole foods diet just means that it’s made from real food.

Jonathan: (06:17)
But that’s the thing: everyone is saying that if you combine carbs and fat at the same time, you’re probably going to be getting fatter. So I was like, well, that makes me feel like I have to choose between either going low-fat, high-carb and whole food or go high-fat, low-carb, and then go like more coconut oil and avocado oils and try and get the fats in there and minimize the carbs, which I must say was better. Because then in the last two weeks, I did like a keto vegan, low carb. And that made things a lot better. And it’s just because I think even just the protein sources come with a lot of carbs.

Joané : (07:09)
Like lentils and beans.

Jonathan: (07:10)
You know, so all your number-one labelled protein sources are laced with carbs. Like there’s no way to avoid it.

Joané : (07:19)
I like how you say it is laced with carbs like it’s a drug. Well, it is a drug. But it’s, like I said, addictive for people. What did I want to say now? Yeah. You also had peanut butter for protein, you had a bit of hemp protein powder, you had pea protein powder, but it does come with a lot of carbohydrates.

Jonathan: (07:48)
Yeah. And it was like the first time I had grains in a very long time.

Joané : (07:51)
Yes. I think adding grains to your diet… Maybe you should have gone more sweet potato instead, but yeah… you wanted to eat what the average vegan eats, so that you could say that you did the experiment properly, but yeah, you definitely started feeling better when you added more fat to your diet.

Jonathan: (08:18)
Yeah, I think that’s why I criticised the documentary so much because they make the vegan diet out to be a silver bullet where I don’t think there is a silver bullet diet for everyone that will work 100%. Like peanuts kill some people. And I feel like people forget that so easily and it’s like, not everyone can eat peanuts. And that’s just a basic example of the fact that not everyone can eat the same thing and be healthy. And for people on a vegan diet to expect me to be able to eat that much fibre, which was causing a lot of cramps in my digestive system and a lot of bloating and a lot of gas, and it did not stop the whole two weeks that I was eating lentils. Like it was just nonstop and didn’t even show any signs of slowing down. And then once I sort of backed off of the fibre and started just sticking to more the pea protein powder and getting my protein from a more processed source, because you know, they have to isolate the pea protein. So I’m not eating a lot of peas, I’m getting the pea protein powder and then getting some good, healthy fats. It did feel a lot better then, but it was still not very good compared to how I felt in January going into it.

Joané : (09:42)
Yes, and you lost some fat. We took a before and after photo, so that we can clearly see and you definitely lost some muscle definition.

Jonathan: (09:58)
Yeah. So now we can talk about all the things that happened.

Joané : (10:02)
Well, before that, I just want to mention that you were still eating around 3000 calories a day… Trying to eat around 3000 calories a day. So it’s not like you ate a lot less than you normally would. Which made me think that you probably weren’t absorbing a lot of the food that you were eating.

Jonathan: (10:24)
Yeah. That’s one thing I definitely did notice, is when I was eating whole foods, so the lentils, potatoes, and rice, that was the hardest to get my calories. Because I’d just be so full the whole time and I’d calculate how many calories I’ve taken in. And it was like, I hardly made a dent in my goal. So then that also made it very difficult for me to time restrict eat if I wanted to gain the calories I wanted to get. So it was like I had to eat earlier breakfast and later dinners, in order to just try and at least attain my baseline calorie goals. It’s very restrictive in a lot of ways to get very calorie-dense foods if you take the non-processed foods route because then you can’t have oil, which really helps condense the calories into a smaller volume. If you go low fat, it’s even worse. Because like you said, you can get some natural fat versions that are in whole foods.

Joané : (11:44)
But you struggled with nuts?

Jonathan: (11:47)
Yeah. And that’s why I’m so annoyed with people saying like the vegan diet is for everyone. Because some people don’t do well with grains. Some people don’t do well with nuts. Some people don’t do well with nightshades, and there are so many different plants that have these like oxalates in, like sweet potatoes and you know, everybody has certain tolerances to these things and it’s like, you can probably thrive on a vegan diet if you’ve got a high tolerance to all of those things and you can basically eat any plants and not feel any ill effects, but not everyone is that tolerant to plant foods.

Joané : (12:31)
No. That’s very true. So what other side effects did you experience? Your dandruff returned which was a noticeable thing for me. You got sick for the first time in years. How many years? Three years you got the flu last.

Jonathan: (12:54)
And I don’t think it was a coincidence… Three years of no flu.

Joané : (13:00)
I wonder if your immune system took a knock. You also had low energy. You didn’t feel like working out, where you’re usually one of the most energetic people.

Jonathan: (13:14)
Yeah. And the most upsetting thing for me was my sleep got disturbed. So yeah, I’ve been tracking my sleep because we obviously believe that sleep is like the most important pillar for health. And if you’re not getting your sleep right, it sort of has a cascade effect on all your other sort of goals. And basically, three days into doing the vegan diet, I started waking up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and I never woke up to go to the toilet. Like unless there was maybe a rare occasion like maybe three years ago and I had food poisoning and had to wake up and go throw up or something, but I’d hardly ever wake up during the night. And that was a quite consistent pattern until I’ve sort of gone off the carbohydrates and focused more on the fats. But my sleep scores were still not that great, even at that point. And I’m thinking a lack of tryptophan might be to blame.

Joané : (14:26)
I haven’t thought about that. Yes, because tryptophan is the amino acid that you need to produce serotonin and melatonin, which help you sleep. And also the high carb intake causes blood sugar imbalances. And I know waking up at night to go to the bathroom is one of the warning signs of having diabetes because, your insulin drops, your cortisol levels go up, which can wake you up when your blood sugar levels drop. So it could be a combination of low tryptophan and high carbohydrate, high blood glucose levels.

Jonathan: (15:18)
So for me, that was the biggest deal-breaker. But in my opinion, the sleep wasn’t looking good. And I mean, the sleep in January was looking really good. And then going into February, sleep just plummeted. I felt like I had to sleep an extra hour to try and make up and to get it up to where I was getting it before.

Joané : (15:47)
Come to think of it, you were sleeping quite late. Cause I usually wake up quite a bit before you. So I wake up around five in the morning and then usually you wake up at around eight, but there were a few days where you only like made your appearance around like 10.

Jonathan: (16:08)
Yeah, it was bad. And it was really taking its toll. Then the next deal breaker for me was the digestive distress.

Joané : (16:21)
Your digestive system took a knock. It is safe to say like a punch in the gut.

Jonathan: (16:29)
Yeah. I was like, I could almost always feel in my stomach area where there would be a cramp. And it looked like I got fat, if you just saw me with a t-shirt because my stomach was sticking out. So like swollen.

Joané : (16:44)
It looked like you had dad bod, but it was hilarious. I’m sorry, but you’ve never looked fat before. Well, not like fat. The rest of your body looked lean. Like you lost fat around your arms and I could see that, but around your stomach, you’d look bloated all the time. It was funny cause you have like the six pack over the bloat and you started looking like those pregnant women who still have six packs.

Jonathan: (17:19)
Yeah. It was bad.

Joané : (17:21)
I started getting worried about whether or not you were starting to gain fat around your organs because I know that with men, you’re more likely to store visceral fat (the fat around your organs). Um, and that’s usually when the bellies get like this hard look to it. So because you still had your six pack, but you could see it was being pushed out by the bloat, I was wondering if you were starting to develop fat around your organs.

Jonathan: (17:57)
I don’t know. All I can say there was a lot of gass. I mean, I think if everyone goes vegan, then we’re going to be adding a lot more methane to the environment. Cause man, it was just nonstop. Even when I went keto vegan in the second half, it was still almost like I was always waiting to be alone just so I could get some relief.

Joané : (18:24)
I heard some vegan give that advice that you should make friends with your farts. And then I was like, you’re just going to be living in the cloud of farts.

Jonathan: (18:37)
Yeah. Like I wish there was something I could do to sort of reduce the bloating, but that’s the whole thing: like I knew I was committing to a month and I was like, I want to do it properly. And my actual thing was that I wanted to prove that you could do a vegan diet healthily if you supplemented correctly and all that. But my conclusion now is that not everyone can do a vegan diet and thrive. You know, it’s not for everyone. And I think that’s kind of a nail in the coffin for people who are like, everyone’s got to go vegan because I don’t think everyone can go vegan and actually thrive and do well. It’s only a few people that have that tolerance to plants and fibre and all that stuff that are able to maintain it long-term without any negative health consequences. Because vegetarianism seems to be way more manageable. If I had the access to eggs and dairy, it would have made it very easy,

Joané : (19:42)
I would have made you a lot of cheese chips.

Jonathan: (19:46)
Yeah. I feel like vegan is one step too far for some people. You know, like, yes, if you can pull it off, pull it off and live by example and do it. But I walked the walk and it really did not work well. And yeah, I mean, there are other smaller symptoms that I noticed, like you said, the dandruff. I started getting acne or like breakouts on my forehead, which I have never really get. Like, I might get one pimple every two months maybe. I just started getting a whole bunch of small pimples, like developing on my forehead where I was just like: “Oh, that’s a small thing” But it’s a sign that the body’s not happy with what’s going on.

Joané : (20:38)
You got like a grey hair.

Jonathan: (20:41)
Yeah. I didn’t really keep track of that.

Joané : (20:44)
Well, it never was there before, but I definitely noticed that for the first time. I’m not saying that it was a vegan diet. Like it was pretty grey. It was probably there for a while. I just thought it was funny and it was a coincidence.

Jonathan: (20:58)
And yeah. The other thing that now goes back to the whole Game Changers thing is that like: “Oh, you’re going to have so much more energy and you’re going to crush it in your sport and whatever.” So like, with most sports, they kind of shut down for the holidays. So you don’t get to run around in that sort of competitive environment. For quite a bit of time in the December holidays where most people come into the beginning of the year, a little bit more on foot, but I was lucky that I was playing ultimate Frisbee for most of January and I was tracking how far I was running in those sessions. And I think one of my best performances was actually the week just before I went vegan. And it was a 48-minute game and I ran just over six kilometres. So that’s like four miles. Then the first week of going vegan, I thought maybe I’m just getting used to it because then we played for an hour and I only ran four km and I felt way more tired and dead. And then even the second week, I thought: “okay, now I’ve gotten into the swing of things.” It was still like the same thing.

Joané : (22:24)
And the next day you felt a lot more tired than you normally would after one of your frisbee sessions.

Jonathan: (22:31)
Yeah. It felt like it took me longer to recover and that I’d been playing like the whole of January, the next day, I’d be fine. You know, like you could feel that I played frisbee, but it wasn’t like my joints were stiff and it wasn’t like I was really that tired, but then in February, so that’s technically later in the season, you should actually be fitter by then, you know, you should have. And I was only playing once a week, so it’s not like it could be over-trained and my performances was decreasing. And that’s the thing, I’m busy playing ultimate frisbee. I like playing the game. I’m not thinking about diet or anything like that. I’m thinking about the games. So I put my tracker and then like my GPS tracking on and I go and I play and I get into the game and I play my heart out every time, basically.

Jonathan: (23:26)
It is not like I’m trying to set up a failure for the vegan diet. It’s just what I’ve noticed from tracking myself and trying to go on as if everything is normal. So I feel like you can’t tell people: “Oh yeah, just go vegan and you are going improve your performance.” Maybe if you have a really bad diet and then you go vegan, yeah, you could probably notice an increase in performance. I mean, just lowering your sugar intake can make a big difference. When I lowered my sugar intake, I noticed an increase in performance and that’s nothing to do with animal products or not.

Joané : (24:03)
Yeah. I mean, you’re only talking about your own experiences here. How did your hockey trials go? Because you also had your hockey trials during this vegan month, didn’t you?

Jonathan: (24:16)
Yeah, it was like the same as the Frisbee. It was like, I was gassing out quicker than normal, you know? And that’s the thing, I had a hockey match or like a practice match while I was still doing the whole foods vegan two weeks. And then, I had my trials when I was doing the more keto vegan and the keto vegan was better, but not by much. I mean, it was for an hour of hockey on the whole foods vegan and I was getting about four km in an hour. And then in keto vegan, it was like 4.7 km. Where normally in an hour, I’d run at least 6 km. But that’s the thing, I’ve been tweaking and playing with my diet for quite a long time now, you know? And I think people underestimate how many nutrients you get from animal products and exactly like how beneficial they are to your performance until you take them away.

Joané : (25:25)
Yes. Let’s talk about life after the vegan diet. What are you going to do now?

Jonathan: (25:33)
Yeah. So now that it’s done, I am going to take a break from plants.

Joané : (25:42)
Jonathan has been refusing any plant. He’s been carnivore for two days.

Jonathan: (25:47)
Yeah. So already, all the cramps in my stomach are gone. I haven’t farted once.

Joané : (25:57)
I love that about what’s been happening. Like, there were times where it got a bit, much, you know… all the farting in the house. I always say I just had to listen where you were. I just had to wait a few minutes and I could find you.

Jonathan: (26:12)
It’s not echolocation, it’s fart location. So yeah, I think I’m just going to take a break from plants for a while, just because I thought I could depend on plants like for that month of vegan and still be able to make it, but now I’m starting to like second guess that. So I want to see how things go avoiding the majority of plant products. I’m not going to be super strict. Like this month is actually more focused on like lifestyle challenges. Like I want to do red light therapy and cold shock at least once a day. And also try and get a yoga stretching practice initiated.

Joané : (26:57)
Well, my challenge for this month is to stretch for two hours a day. So you can definitely join me when I’m stretching. Yeah.

Jonathan: (27:06)
I’m not sure if I’m going for two hours of stretching.

Joané : (27:09)
It’s just because David Goggins stretches for two hours a day. And ever since I heard he does that, I’ve just felt like this thing over my head where it was like, you know you have to do this, right.? I know I was just waiting for the right time. And in February I did a collagen loading challenge where I tried to have as much collagen as I could in a day. So your bone broth and we, I got this awesome keto hot chocolate that has collagen in it. So that was pretty cool. One scoop of that has the same amount of collagen as a cup of bone broth, which I thought was really wonderful. So I just wanted to take it easy this month, have an easy challenge, not like take something away or anything.

Joané : (27:56)
I just wanted to add collagen. And then my skin definitely healed a lot quicker than it normally does. And I think my hair started looking better, but it was only for a month. And I think your skin takes like a month to regenerate completely. So if I do keep doing this for a few months, yeah. I think it’ll be an exciting outcome, but in March stretching for two hours, and then also the two meals, a day thing. Like I know I said, I only want to do one challenge a month and yes, the collagen loading is my March challenge, but I’ve also been trying to only eat two meals a day. So I’m kind of adding that to the stretching challenge, I’d say.

Jonathan: (28:44)
Yeah. And those remind me that you also did like a vegan week a while back.

Joané : (28:52)
Oh, back in the day when we first moved in together. Yeah.

Jonathan: (28:56)
You were like: Oh, meatless, let’s go meatless”.

Joané : (28:59)
Meatless Mondays. Yeah. Here’s the thing. When we first moved in together, we did not have a lot of money and I was trying to be a good girlfriend. I thought: “Well, if I don’t eat meat, then Jonathan can eat more meat. So I’ll save money by eating like lentils and beans and rice things that are a lot cheaper. And I’ll only eat meat when I’m going to visit family or on social occasions, but I won’t eat meat at home.” And in three days, I felt depressed and I never did that ever again. Yes, I still had a lot of plant-based foods and a lot of my meals (say lunches) would be lentils with rice, but then at night, I would have some meat. I felt a lot better and I will never, ever go plant-based again. And yes, it was only three days, but I felt so terrible that I just know it’s a really bad idea. I’m already a little anxious sometimes. I don’t want to feel worse just because of an experiment. I want to do experiments that will hopefully make me feel better.

Jonathan: (30:18)
Yeah, because you’re normally anxious and anxious and depressed are very different. And that was like the first time you ever really mentioned that you felt depressed. And I was just like, you are normally like maybe jittery or nervous or anxious about something, but I’ve never heard you say: “I’m depressed”. And it was interesting that it was just two, three days.

Joané : (30:55)
Yeah, I have the MTHFR gene mutation, which I think people with that gene mutation might struggle on a vegan diet because if you have more vitamin B12, I think is very beneficial. And then I also have polycystic ovarian syndrome and a lot of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome have vitamin B12 deficiency already. So I think then going to a vegan diet, if you have PCOS is maybe not the best idea. I think vegetarianism is fine, but I don’t think it’s ideal to be on a vegan diet if you have PCOS. A lot of women with PCOS have the MTHFR gene. I read a statistic that said 43% of women with PCOS have anxiety. So I already have enough to deal with, I’m not going to do a vegan diet like ever

Jonathan: (31:58)
See, that’s just another good example of it’s not for everyone. You have a specific gene that makes it difficult for you to be successful on a vegan diet. And, uh, I think you have to take this into account. Like I have no problem with people trying this because like I tried it. So I can’t say that, no, you should never try it because it didn’t work for me. But you know, be honest with yourself and look at it as an experiment. Don’t make it part of your identity because as soon as you make it part of your identity, that’s when it’s much easier to start lying to yourself because you’ve got more riding on it being successful. And yes, this is one of the examples of a diet that didn’t have a honeymoon phase for me at all. So I could sort of make my decisions pretty quickly, but some diets, especially if let’s say you’re going from a standard American diet to a vegan diet, you can have a honeymoon phase where all your deficiencies haven’t shown up yet.

Jonathan: (33:08)
And you think like: “Oh, I don’t even have to supplement. I feel great.” And then it starts creeping up on you. But then you’ve now decided that you’re now “vegan athlete”, whoever. You’ve sort of said to all your friends that you’re now vegan and you’ve almost like committed to it and you’d feel bad if you went away from it. I’d say, if you were going to try a vegan diet, look at it as an experiment for a month or two, three months, and see it as just a limited thing and not, not as: “Oh, I am now going to be this person forever.”

Joané : (33:47)
Yeah, I think basically what you’re saying is when you first try a vegan diet, don’t say from the start: “I’m going to go vegan for the rest of my life”, because you might hate it. And now if you’ve told everybody, you know, that you’re “vegan Rob” or whatever your name is, and you’re just going to be vegan for the rest of your life, as soon as you give up meat, then like, I don’t know, or that might hold you back from eating meat again because you’ll be afraid of what people are gonna think of you. If you do eat meat. I mean.. You get so many people online, like influencers who’ve built their audiences based on the fact that they follow a vegan diet and their followers are vegan. And as soon as they switch and start adding animal products again, it’s kind of like social suicide in a way. And people get really upset if you were on a vegan diet and then added animal products again. And what I do find fascinating is that I’m seeing more and more people who were vegan going to the carnivore diet. They skip omnivore and go straight to carnivore. And then, you know, like the plants really upset them. Like plants made them so angry that they were just like: “Nope, never again. We’re just going straight to carnivore.”

Jonathan: (35:21)
Yeah, I’ve seen that a few times.

Joané : (35:23)
Yeah. Such a big shift. Like they don’t even say: “Oh, I’m just gonna add meat.” It’s like, no, “I’m eliminating all plants.” I’m also wondering because I see plants as big, hormetic stressors and eating a salad is kind of like a workout for your body, that it will put some stress on your body. And a lot of the benefits can come from some of that stress. But if you’re putting a lot of stress on your body and if you’re overloading your body with oxalates, like if you have a giant green smoothie or juice every day, and you’re having sweet potatoes and all of these foods high in oxalates, and you’re pairing them with foods that are high in lectins, like beans and lentils, and now you add nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. And a lot of people are having these foods every day.

Joané : (36:22)
And it can become really bad for your body and you get leafy green toxicity. If you don’t cycle the, green leafy vegetables that you use, it can kill you. I know somebody who went on that green diet, which is probably one of the worst diets ever, where you only eat green things. And he got so sick from it that he was hospitalized and could never eat leafy green vegetables again. And my Mom met this person when she was in the hospital for something, and this woman had to have part of her stomach removed after she went on this green diet. And, I always get worried when people have green juices every day. I just think over time, it could really be doing damage to your body. A green juice now and then is fine, but if you’re having a lot of it and if you’re not cycling your greens, it can be dangerous. And I’m just trying to think, like if you’re eating something that, in a large dosage, can kill you, isn’t having it in lower quantities like slow poison? I don’t know.

Jonathan: (37:50)
Yeah. The thing is, you brought up that eating most vegetables is like a hormetic stress, which stimulates the NRF two pathway. And for those of you listening who are now considering not eating plants and thinking “Oh, you are missing out on something.” No, you aren’t actually missing out on anything because it’s the same pathway whether you do sauna, cold shock, or you exercise or whatever stress you put on your body, you’re still stimulating the same pathway. So it’s not like you need plants in order to be stressed. It’s not like they do specific stresses that only plants can do. No, any stress will stimulate the same hormesis that you were referring to. And if you are a vegan and you’re listening to this, I’d say, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time, what is the problem in experimenting with something like eggs? Because for me, that was the one that did not make the most sense when I was on the month. I was like: if you can go to someone’s house and they have their own egg-laying chickens that they treat really well and they look after, and they’re basically pets of the family that lay eggs and you have two scrambled eggs for lunch for a week or whatever.

Jonathan: (39:18)
See what happens. Be open, make it like an experiment, make it a challenge or whatever you want, but just see that you’re not missing out on something. Because like you said, there are so many things in plants that some people do not have good tolerances to. And I think the people who you see in the public eye who are thriving on a vegan diet probably have the highest tolerances to all those things. You mentioned lectins and oxalates. And that’s the thing, we use the word “tolerance” properly because it’s not like it’s a good thing for you. You know, your body actually has to be resistant to it and to have a tolerance to it and be able to handle the toxicity of it. So yeah, I feel like the whole vegan diet thing is so closed-minded about anything animal-based that that can often be the downfall if you’re not willing to include even something as simple as eggs from chickens that had no cruelty or any harm done to them. And there’s so much good nutrition in just one chicken egg.

Joané : (40:39)
Yeah. Oh, one thing I find funny is that a lot of people are vegan, but then when they become pregnant, they’ll start to add eggs and dairy during the pregnancy and maybe even some fish. And then afterwards, they’ll go vegan again. And this one girl posted that afterwards, she’ll go back to the optimal diet. And then I was just thinking: “But how is it the optimal diet if you can’t follow it during your pregnancy?” And if you have to add animal products so that your baby will grow in a healthy way, it just doesn’t make sense.

Jonathan: (41:23)
Yeah. That is a very good example of how it was not optimal in that situation. And it’s ridiculous to call it the optimal diet because everyone’s optimal diet is different. And so yes, maybe she does do well on a vegan diet and she gets all her supplements right, and then she’s making sure she’s checking her blood levels regularly and she’s not deficient in anything and she’s doing well, and then she’s only going to eat animal products when she’s pregnant, but you can’t say that it’s the optimal diet.

Jonathan: (42:06)
That’s like saying: “Yeah, I wasn’t able to have a successful pregnancy on the optimal diet.”

Joané : (42:19)
Yeah, that just does not make sense.

Jonathan: (42:23)
I feel like the optimal diet should be able to support pregnancy, in order for it to be labelled as an optimal diet. Like that’s almost like a basic human function, being able to, you know, reproduce.

Joané : (42:39)
Yes. So you took one for the team.

Jonathan: (42:44)
Yeah. I took one for the team.

Joané : (42:49)
Hopefully you informed people enough through your current experiences.

Jonathan: (42:55)
There were a few people at my office who were considering going vegan and after just telling them how many supplements you had to take, they were already sort of negative about it. They didn’t even realise you can’t have honey on a vegan diet. They didn’t know that all dairy is out. Like if you had any kind of egg or milk in a bread or cake or whatever, you can’t have it. And then It was just like: “Whoa, I didn’t know it was so strict”, but they’d seen Game Changers. And that was what convinced them that they could do it. And then I basically pointed out to them that this was not the optimal diet for me. So don’t look at it as this is the thing you’ve got to do to be the best sportsman you can be. You can experiment and maybe, you will notice an improvement, but it’s not sort of like something you have to put all your eggs into. Because putting all your eggs in one basket often leads to catastrophe.

Joané : (43:57)
Well, not necessarily your eggs… putting all your kale in one basket. I thought it was hilarious. We went out to dinner with friends and shame, you had to order nachos without cheese, because they didn’t have a vegan option on the menu. And the one guy who was with us was considering going vegan. I immediately asked: “Oh, have you seen Game Changers?” And he said, “yes”. And then you just said you’ve been feeling terrible. And he was like, okay, he won’t do it. It was like the quickest change of mind ever.

Jonathan: (44:37)
Because he obviously had this thing in his head where he saw everyone who went vegan did well. And I think he just needed that one story of it didn’t go well for someone and he was convinced he just needed that one thing.

Joané : (44:54)
Yeah. That was quite funny. I was thinking of something else that happened though. I also thought it was funny, but I forgot it now.

Jonathan: (45:09)
There was a lot of funny things, although I wasn’t finding it very funny in the moment, but now we can look back on it and laugh.

Joané : (45:18)
So you say your favourite meal on the vegan diet was the night that we had a braai, which is our word for barbecue and we all had meat, but we bought you those big mushrooms. And you had like, I think four different types of mushrooms that night, with nutritional yeast. I don’t think you would have survived without nutritional yeast, but I had anticipated this, so I bought it beforehand. And on the first day, you were already super grateful for that.

Jonathan: (45:53)
Well, how else are you going to get your vitamin B12 without supplementing?

Joané : (46:02)
Yeah. The day before yesterday, I had lunch with a friend who’s been vegan for two months now, but she used to be vegetarian for a really long time, so it was an easy transition for her. Her body was already used to not having meat. She’s been feeling okay on the vegan diet, but she was really struggling. Like she didn’t have any treats or any of her favourite foods and she didn’t have any cheese. And she only recently read about nutritional yeast. And I said: “Oh no, I know where all of the vegan snacks and foods are” And I showed her. So we had our lunch and then I went to a few stores with her and we got her nutritional yeast and we got her some coconut chips, some healthy vegan snacks. And she’s super grateful because now at least she can have more foods that she enjoys. And the nutritional yeast, because it has a cheesy taste, she can have pizza again. And that was a fun day.

Jonathan: (47:11)
As if pizza is a health food,

Joané : (47:14)
Yeah. In America, pizza is a vegetable, right? Yeah. Like I think it was in the school system. In order to keep pizza in school, they listed pizza as a source of vegetables because of the sauce. So it was like this loophole thing. I thought you knew about that. Yeah. Pizza is a vegetable.

Jonathan: (47:39)
Yeah. That just reminds me of Game Changers where they like have a bean burrito. As if a burrito is any kind of health food for anyone.

Joané : (47:48)
That experiment was the funniest for me. Because they were like measuring the fat in the blood and stuff like that. But I was just thinking: “Okay, they had this meat burrito, but everyone keeps forgetting about the wrap, the carbohydrate, the processed carbohydrates wrapped around that meat.” That influences how your body’s going to digest it. And I always think it’s hilarious when people say they gave people a burger and they had negative results from that. And then I think, okay, you’re focusing on the patty, but everyone keeps forgetting that there’s this processed bun on there, like this white flour bun.

Jonathan: (48:35)
Yeah. I’ve seen people do the exact same experiment that wait after you’ve eaten a meal, draw the blood, spin it out, and then check how clear it is. And these people ate eggs, steak and super high amounts of saturated fat. Like they had like a very fatty cut of meat. They had scrambled eggs with butter. And so, they just avoided any kind of processed carbs. They kept it pure animal product with no other vegetables or potato chips or breads or whatever. And their blood serum was just as clear as on Game Changers with the burrito experiment. Then I’ve seen someone who ate avocados and like avocado oil and olive oil on some sort of like salad. So it was a vegan meal and they did that blood test and it came out cloudy. So it’s obviously not as simple as: “Oh, eat this vegetable”. It’s a lot more complicated. And I mean, you can see these examples on YouTube. You can watch people, draw their blood, spin it, and then take it out and look at how clear the sermons do the exact same experiment and get different results.

Joané : (49:51)
What’s the documentary called? Changing Game Changers.

Jonathan: (49:54)
Yes. There is Changing Game Changers we recommend. Well, yeah, it can be a bit silly at times, but they do bring up a lot of valid points and they do try and bring a bit of balance back to the conversation because I feel like if Game Changers just stuck to the anecdote, to like the athletes that are doing really well on vegan diets, I would have had no problems. But the thing is they waited into the science and then they were very misrepresentative of what was going on. I mean, like in the beginning, James Wilkes is like: “Oh, I did a thousand hours of research.” And this paper about Gladiators is the first thing they mentioned. The first thing they mentioned is the most misrepresentative thing in the entire documentary. They were almost like: gladiators were like plant-based. So they mostly ate plants, but it is not to say that they are vegan and it is not to say that they really had a choice in what they had to eat because they were slaves.

Joané : (50:57)
Or that they were healthy. And weren’t they eating that way in order to gain fat, so that they wouldn’t die as quickly? And it would be a bigger show. And obviously, they have a higher chance of survival.

Jonathan: (51:09)
Oh yeah. They wanted to survive. So they were slaves. They didn’t get much choice in what to eat, but they would eat as much barley. Basically, they got grains. That was what they got fed. It was like feeding your dog. It’s not like they had much of a choice. It’s not like your dog could say like: “Oh, I don’t want this kibble. Give me the liver or whatever, you know, bacon or whatever you’re eating.” No, they kind of just ate as much as they could of what they were given. And it was mostly barley or beans or some sort of legume or grain. And they ate as much as of it as they could because they knew that if they could get it from the layer of fat, it could protect their organs from being hit with swords. And the fattest gladiators tend to survive longer in the arena.

Jonathan: (51:55)
And this is why they ate so much plant matter. And this is why in Game Changers, when they tested their bones. Yes, there was a lot of strontium in their bones because they ate a lot of plants. But to say that that’s an example of why it’s an ideal diet is stupid. I mean like, yes, Russell Crowe in the Gladiator really makes it look a lot more romantic than it really was. Like it was people who were slaves that didn’t have a choice in the method and were forced to fight to the death for people’s entertainment. And you’re not going to tell me that they followed the optimal diet for humans and that’s why we should all go vegan. Oh, it was ridiculous.

Joané : (52:35)
Yeah. No, that was quite ridiculous.

Jonathan: (52:40)
I feel like we should do like a Game Changers debunking podcast, where we just bring up all of these things and just let people see that they really make it look like they’ve got science on their side, but it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Joané : (53:03)
Yeah. It’s definitely what frustrates me is… how much it’s influencing people.

Jonathan: (53:11)
Yeah. Well, it’s produced by James Cameron

Joané : (53:14)
And wasn’t like Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a lot of people involved?

Jonathan: (53:19)
Yes. That, that was another thing. You just reminded me about where they were saying that Patrik Baboumian is going to carry the heaviest weight ever carried by a man. And it was like 555 kilos. And then in the Arnold Strong Man Classic, the record was 710 kilos for that yolk walk. So some man has previously carried an extra hundred and something kilos more than Patrick, but in the Game Changers documentary, they say he’s carrying the heaviest thing a man has ever carried. Like it’s like some official world record and like such a big load of.

Joané : (54:17)
It is James Wilks, right? Yes. He wasn’t like really sweating after he did that battle rope challenge for an hour.

Jonathan: (54:25)
I think the challenge, like if James Wilks ever listens to this, my challenge to him would be like post the one-hour video of you doing bell rope today, you listen to this, going to the gym, press record on your phone, and just record for an hour. And you do battle ropes. Show us, show us no interruptions, no anything, no interim, no cutting back and forth. Let’s watch you do that one hour battle rope with your vegan diet.

Joané : (54:55)
Yeah, But you survived the vegan challenge and you’re grateful that it is over. You said that you’re going to go on the carnivore diet from April.

Jonathan: (55:08)
Yeah. So that’s April’s challenge. It’s not the first time I’ll be doing a carnivore diet,

Joané : (55:13)
But this will be the first time you’re doing nose-to-tail carnivores.

Jonathan: (55:17)
Yeah. The last time I did it, I hadn’t really thought about it from a nose-to-tail perspective and I didn’t have eggs and like we just ate chicken, pork, and beef, and now I’d like to also incorporate a bit more seafood. So yeah, I’m excited to give it a go. I’m looking forward to that challenge. Especially seeing how badly the vegan went through a lot more exciting challenge, knowing I have all the foods that don’t upset my stomach to choose from.

Joané : (55:57)
Yeah. Your first meal after the vegan diet was quite interesting. I made you carnivore waffles, which is basically mince and eggs blended together and you put that in the waffle maker. And then you had some of the liver sausage where it’s liver, fat, and venison. And he was excited for that meal. It was a good way to start, I guess. Yeah.

Jonathan: (56:24)
And I had a good night’s sleep last night, straight away.

Joané : (56:30)
It was fun though, because your parents were also quite excited that… Well, everyone was excited that, you know, the month was over. You could finally eat meat again. I think everybody saw that you were struggling and we had this braai and we had some steak as well. It was for lunch. Yeah, and it was amazing. Yeah. I think it’s hilarious. Jonathan says that he’s going carnivore in April, but try to feed him plants this week… You will refuse as if you’re breaking up with them. Yeah. This is like a proper break-up. You are so done.

Jonathan: (57:08)
Not rebounding here. Clean break.

Joané : (57:12)
It’s like, somebody who gets like super, super, super drunk and it’s like: “okay, I’m never having alcohol again.” Like you just had such a bad experience. I think plants just like made you so angry this month that you’re just done with this relationship.

Jonathan: (57:33)
Yeah. Like, I mean my favourite meal was the mushrooms. You can’t even really classify mushrooms properly as a plant. Yes, they’re vegan, but I feel like they’re kind of in the middle, you know? They’re not really a plant or an animal. And the problem with mushrooms is there’s like zero calories. You could like eat a whole pack of mushrooms, boom 60 calories.

Jonathan: (58:02)
It was ridiculous. You’d have to eat so many mushrooms to get your daily recommended amount of calories.

Joané : (58:09)
That’s why you load it with olive oil or avocado oil or something. Yes, they’re a good sponge.

Jonathan: (58:17)
They’re good sponges for soaking up other calorie-dense foods.

Joané : (58:22)
Yes, I think that is pretty much it that’s pretty much it, if you enjoyed this podcast where we discussed Jonathan’s experience with the vegan diet, hopefully, you’ll make an informed decision. If you are still interested in trying the vegan diet, you can do so. But listen to your body. Don’t just do it because you feel like you have to. Like Jonathan said, set it as an experiment first before deciding if you’re going to commit to it long-term.

Jonathan: (59:00)
And yeah. I get that there’s the whole moral perspective that a lot of people are vegan or vegetarian, are bringing into it. But I feel like there is a solution to be vegetarian and still keep some sort of morals of like, you’re not really killing animals. You make sure you go to a dairy where you can see the cows and how they treated or you know, an egg farm or what, you can be ethical and vegetarian. You don’t have to be vegan to be a hundred percent ethical. I just say that’s important.

Joané : (59:38)
Okay. Thank you for listening. Hope you enjoyed it. And if you do, maybe share it with someone.

Jonathan: (59:46)
You know, you’re trying to convince them not to go vegan.

Joané : (59:48)
Yeah. If there is somebody, you know, who wants to go vegan, maybe you could share this. If you think it will be helpful and help them make an informed decision as well. And yeah. Hope you have a great day further.

Jonathan: (01:00:05)
See you next time.

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