Why I Left Veganism After 6 Years

Jessica Santonato
4 min readApr 16, 2019

It still took months to publicly share this out of shame.

“What brings you joy is sustainable.”

A little background…

I went vegan in 2012 after a super-fit professional dancer asked me why I ate so much chicken.

“Protein for all the lifting at the gym I do,” I replied. Disclosure: I was eating up to 6 chicken breasts a day.

Him: “You don’t need meat.”

Me: “Butttttt, what will I do for protein?”

Him: “Nuts and seeds.”

Me: “That’s fattening.”

Him: “Suit yourself, but you don’t need meat.”

Just like that I immediately cut out chicken.

Then dairy.

Then seafood.

I felt more energy. Hellz, I felt great!

Then I discovered raw food and flew down to NYC to get trained as a raw food chef.

I opened my own raw food catering company in Toronto.

I felt alive, vital, healthy, excited!

My IBS disappeared.

My skin glowed.

I got all my protein needs in.

Over the next few years, I sustained a healthy vegan food plan, so much so that I became a health role model others around the world.

I taught people how to make raw food.

I was selling my food at health trade shows in Toronto.

I was even featured alongside David Wolfe.

My email list exploded literally overnight.

As more vegans popped up, the more excited I got.

Documentaries came out like ‘Forks Over Knives” and Jess cheered them on!

But then…Hahaha, here we go…

Around 2017 I started to feel my energy levels dip and my joints started to ache.

Was it age?

Was it parenting 3 kids?

Was it letting the entrepreneur mind run almost non-stop?

I bumped into a friend who I knew to be raw vegan and she told me that after her bones were aching she decided to integrate a little organic chicken throughout the week, and her pain, voila, disappeared.


But I resisted.

How could I go back to eating meat??!

I’d be a LIAR, a SINNER, a FRAUD if the public found out!! I’d lose followers and “friends”!!

The seeds were planted.

Over the past year, I gave myself permission to do what feels right for my body, especially after a couple warnings from my doc that my iron levels were dangerously low despite iron supplements I was taking.

My body was calling for meat, plain and simple.

So this most recent Thanksgiving I ate turkey for the first time in ages.

Last week I had beef for the first time in about 20 years.

Zero guilt. Just plain acceptance for what my body called for.

I’ll tell you this, I feel more alive because I’m not attached to a certain way of eating anymore. I’ve released the “should” or “shouldn’t” ways of eating. AHHHHHH THE FREEEEEEEDOMMMMM!!!

What else have I been closing my life to because I’ve been attached to doing things a certain way?

To add to my decision to go The Way of The Meat, are some of the rude, vicious, condescending attacks I’d see some vegans sic on non-vegans. As a group that speaks about compassion for animals, how about compassion for your fellow human beings? It was a HUGE turn-off for me. Did I want to be part of this? I admit I made people wrong for eating meat at times, but I certainly was afraid when I saw the limits other vegans were pushing. It got scary and I didn’t align with that kind of energy.

I’m now doing the “Eat What My Body Wants” food plan. I honor my body.

I still make what I perceive as healthy choices, choosing whole foods and organic foods as much as possible, but whether it’s meat or non-meat is irrelevant.

Cheers to your health and following your bliss, WHATEVER that may be!!

About Jessica Santonato

Based in Toronto, Canada, Jessica Santonato is a TEDx Speaker and inspirational speaker who shares the message of forgiveness and finding the gift in pain. She is an award-winning author featured alongside Lisa Nicholas, Neale Donald Walsch, and SARK in a book series called “Pebbles in the Pond”. In her latest memoir “Flip The Script” (Fall 2019 release), she shares her journey of living a criminal lifestyle, assault, attempted suicide and domestic violence before the age of 30, to her rise in conscious leadership and philanthropy by the age of 35. Recognized for her leadership abilities, she was one of three people chosen by an American personal development company to help more than a thousand entrepreneurs from across all continents achieve success through the power of vivid story sharing and communication.

Flip The Script, an organization Jessica founded, is a raw and unfiltered story sharing community where everyday people inspiringly share how they’ve overcome adversity and discovered the gift in their pain. Proceeds from events support their story sharing program ‘From The Streets To The Stage’ for males who’ve been (or are currently) incarcerated and/or who are recovering from addiction.

She has been featured in media such as Cosmopolitan Magazine, Rogers TV and various podcasts, and has given talks at Humber College, Mississauga City Hall, inner-city schools and at an event for international peace activist/conscious hip-hop artist, Emmanuel Jal.

Click here for more info: http://jessicasantonato.ctcin.bio