FORMER vegans have told how the diet ruined their life.
The vegetarian and dairy free option left them ill and close to exhaustion.
It was only when they started eating meat, fish and dairy food again that they made a full recovery.
Former vegan John Nicholson said his weight and his cholesterol level soared and his partner became depressed.
And Estelle Silver said eight years on the meat-free-dairy-free diet left her a nervous wreck.
All three said ditching the diet had an instant impact and made them feel healthy and happy again.
John Nicholson and his partner became vegans in 1984, at the age of 23, when living on a farm in the north of Scotland.
But 26 years later, the couple decided to return to eating meat for what they believed was the good of their health.
“I suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for 17 years,” said John.
“Every time I ate, my stomach would get distended and it would be like a shelf you could put your glass on.
“Anything I ate would then leave me very quickly and some days it was so bad that I couldn’t leave the house.”
He also started to put on a lot of weight – standing at 5ft 10in (1.78m) but weighing 15st – and had the “highest cholesterol in North Yorkshire”, according to his GP.
At the same time, his partner was suffering with depression and a slow thyroid, and they both wanted to make a change.
“She said to me it was not what we were eating, but what we weren’t eating, and making that change might make a difference.
“I was very cynical about it, but I wanted to support her.”
The impact was almost immediate. Within 48 hours, John started to feel better and his IBS all but disappeared, and, for his partner, there was a marked improvement.
“When you have been a vegan for 26 years, it becomes part of your identity,” he said.
“I was worried that I must have been shallow, but me and my partner had talked long into the night about it and we just came to the decision that we wanted to put our health above that of the animals.”
Estelle Silver had been a vegan for eight years before she made the switch back to eating meat.
“I went vegan because I was told I had a dairy sensitivity,” she said.
“I had already been a strict vegetarian for 20 years and had wanted to become vegan anyway due to my feelings about animal abuse and farming methods, so it was a convenient excuse for me to take that final step.”
To start with, Estelle was pleased with the effects as it helped clear up her skin – a problem she had faced since her 20s – but as time went on, she became tired, less able to cope with stress and developed anxiety.
“I became a bag of nerves whenever I went out and could barely speak to people, just clinging to my then-boyfriend all night,” she said.
Eight years on, she began craving meat and fish, and she started to have “little cheat treats”.
“It was like my body was really grateful and I felt better every time I ate a bit of meat,” she said.
Later that year, she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), and a support group told her eating meat and fish would help her symptoms.
“Since then my health has improved hugely and my anxiety has completely gone,” said Estelle.
The National Health Service in the UK has warned that without monitoring what they eat vegans could miss out on important dietary elements, such as calcium, iron and B12.