The Dangers of Giving Up Meat

Well…there aren’t any…that I know of at least.

I have been SUPER stoked to get this guest post out! Seven months ago my sister and brother-in-law (Doug and Steph) chose to follow a 100% whole foods plant based diet (similar to vegan, but a little healthier).


(Can you tell we’re sisters?)

Doug and Steph researched into the benefits of eating a whole foods plant based diet. They shared with us the compelling (VERY compelling) life-saving research and I have been eager to share it with others–in hopes that it could possibly save someone’s life, or help someone avoid disease.

Before we start, I want to let you know I am not telling you to do anything. I am simply presenting facts, and allowing you to choose as you like. I don’t judge people for how they eat, and I hope you don’t judge anyone as well. I post this will all respect to everyone and their nutritional choices.

Warning: Many of you will roll your eyes at what will be said—but just give it a chance, maybe you’ll find out something you could consider, now or in the future.


So let’s get to Doug. He will explain WHY he chose to eat this way.

If you are serious about your nutritional research, I challenge you to follow every link Doug shares. Personally, these facts have slowly seeped into my brain over time and meat has become less and less appealing…which I never thought was possible. I love it.


There were a lot of questions I had when my wife and I started considering eating a whole foods plant based diet. Despite reassurances from respected people, we had concerns about adequate nutrition, like getting enough protein, and whether humans could be healthy without calcium from milk, or at least calcium-fortified food or supplements.

I soon discovered how truly ignorant my concerns were, and perhaps how influenced we are by industries set to gain from confused consumers with misinformed ideas on what the body really needs. But I went to work in the scientific literature. I’ve spent a lot of time doing so.

If I were sent back in time one year to talk to my former self, and told Early 2014 Doug that he will soon decide to completely avoid all meat, he would have laughed really hard, then wrestled me to the floor and hit me in the head to knock some sense into me.

After regaining consciousness and putting a football helmet on, I would go back and tell him that he would also stay away from all dairy. He would stare with confusion and pity. I’d tell him that he wouldn’t even pour olive or canola oil on a skillet to make fries, and he wouldn’t eat another Reese’s, Almond Joy, Twix, or Starburst.


Plant based, WHOLE food (although of course, blended up in this case), no added sugar or oil

He would then say, “So, take that dumb helmet off and tell me what I will in fact eat, because all you’ve left me is an IV-drip.” I’d take the helmet off, sit down, and explain that he would essentially just eat food made from unrefined plants, and before getting another word in, I’d throw the helmet at him to slow him down as I jumped out of the chair and started running down the street with him coming after me.

After two hours, the chase is still on, but by this time we’re in the mountains where I had led the pursuit. He gladly follows, still trying to punish me into the ground for thinking a meatless, milkless, oil-free lifestyle could beat the energy, strength, and endurance he enjoyed from his balanced, complete meals.

He puts up a very good race, but he never catches me. Every time he pushes harder, and I lengthen the distance between us even more. At last when I am gone from sight, he collapses to the ground and wonders if I had simply abandoned my values and taken stimulants or something to give myself the upper hand, because I certainly couldn’t have gone that fast that far with plants as my only fuel.

dTyZZt5 Pic

My muscles would have withered away from a lack of protein. I’d be missing essential nutrients only found in milk and meat. He wouldn’t believe I was honestly 100% avoiding some cheese or chicken now and then.

After he recovers and finds a ride home, he would find a message I left for him.

“Hey Doug, it’s Doug. The one from the future who ran off into the distance while you tried your best to catch me. Listen, you are in awesome, impressive shape, as always, but you’re not a kid anymore, and as you can see, you’re not as good as you could be. Something is holding you back.

In fact, you’re going to just keep getting worse now, unless you listen to your wife in a few months when she asks you to watch a documentary (see the trailer) with her. It will help you see something amazing that will spark your curiosity and excitement on a topic that you think you already understand well.


(Kirtley: I HIGHLY recommend watching this if you want to learn more about meat)

Caldwell Esselstyn and Dean Ornish have shown that the plaque building up in your arteries, that as you know gradually gets worse over the years, can not only be stopped, but reversed without surgery or drugs.

Heart attack proof. Yeah, it blew my mind too. Dr. Esselstyn also discusses dementia prevention as well, eliminating micro-strokes that most people don’t notice. T. Colin Campbell has shown that tumor growth can be switched on by eating animal protein, and switched off by replacing it with plant protein. Others have shown that many diseases including autoimmune types appear to have ties to inflammation caused by animal protein.

Roy Swank has shown that meals heavy in fat, including isolated vegetable oils, cause blood cells to stick to one another and form clumps that slow blood flow almost to a standstill in places and even cause the blood-brain barrier to break down, possibly leading to the lesions typical of multiple sclerosis. Type 2 diabetes has been shown to be triggered mostly by fat buildup in muscle cells.

Pick almost any disease, and even if I haven’t heard of it, I’ll be confident that for most if not all cases, eating a diet centered on minimally processed, whole plant foods will surely do you no harm, likely stop the progression of the disease, perhaps help you to reverse the disease, and work at least as well as drugs in many cases, without side effects.

Center your calories on whatever variety of plant-based foods that you enjoy and satisfy you. I recommend centering your meals around starches for most of the calories: Whole-grain wheat, rice, oats, corn, or others. Potatoes, yams, squash, beans, and lentils. Take your pick. Enjoy hearty meals of them by adding generous combinations of flavorful vegetables, and season it if you like with garlic, onions, spices and herbs.

Eat all the fruit you want, or none if you don’t like fruit. Eat all the food you want (and still lose weight doing so. More on that later). You’ll want the perfect amount, because you’re eating exactly what your body is good at measuring and using. Your body will take a sigh of relief as you stop forcing it to deal with unexpected hindrances with every meal.

I think part of the reason I perform so well without as much training is that my blood is flowing so well already. The artery plaque and especially inflammation has most likely, based on previous research, been reduced dramatically. Just as important, there isn’t that excess fat from animals or oil paralyzing the epithelial cells, or clumping and slowing the passage of fresh blood through all the capillaries. The muscles can just do their work, cleanly and efficiently without getting bogged down by so much fat and inflammation.


Be willing to try it out. You’ll feel even stronger. You’ll feel excited and happy about your discovery. You won’t see the beauty of it until you really go for it though. And after wondering how you’re going to satisfy your hunger for meat and milk, you’ll see your tastes change dramatically and a lot will begin to make sense.”

BQyyTaj “On second thought…all those vegetables…too much work.”

Click Here For PART TWO

(What about the cavemen…they ate a paleo diet right?)

People always want to know HOW they would actually go about making delicious meals based on this kind of lifestyle, and what the day-to-day food would look like. Like what my wife and I actually eat to feel perfectly satisfied without meat, milk, eggs, oil, and sugar, as unbelievable as that might sound.

Stephanie or I would love to help anyone with the details. We’re positive that we can understand and work with anyone to develop a sustainable family or personal plan that will get them to their ideal weight regardless of exercise, and relieve many health issues while eating very satisfying foods.

If you’re curious, email either one of us your story or what you think. We would love to listen, and discuss methods and perspectives with you personally as you try the promising experiment for yourself.

Doug Hawkes:

Stephanie Hawkes:


So….? What are your thoughts about this?? Could you give up meat or dairy?

Have you ever considered trying out a whole foods plant based diet?

Who do you get your nutritional information from? How do you decide what is ‘healthy’ food for you?

43 thoughts on “The Dangers of Giving Up Meat

    • I hear you Stacie! If anyone can limit their intake of candy and even oil or meat to 5% or less of their calories, I see no problem with that. More power to you! The overall dietary pattern is what matters. Most people don’t realize what 5% looks like though. Personally, it’s just easier to eliminate it as food. I get more into that, and why it is actually more enjoyable for me (even without Reese’s!) in part two, coming up. Thanks for reading!

    • I certainly agree that everything can be enjoyed to an extent without affecting health. I think you would agree though that some foods should be limited though. As I said in an above comment, I see no reason that if “less healthy” foods are limited to 5% of calories, it is unlikely to see much difference in health. You might enjoy Colin T. Campbell’s talk in my post (it’s also shown as an embedded video there). I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
      Anyone who can successfully moderate/limit their intake of foods that aren’t so health-promoting are super impressive to me. It takes regular thoughtful control. I don’t know many people who actually do it well though. In the next post I share why I choose to go 100%, and why for me personally, it’s in fact easier and more enjoyable.

  1. Awesome information! I was a vegetarian for about 5 years and got terribly sick because “vegetarian” to me was simply a crappy diet minus any form of protien. It was not pretty! It takes a lot of planning and mindfulness to be meat-free and balanced. I wish I could have been smarter! There are thankfully so many resources and blogs about it now though, that it’s not as uncommon or hard to make that a reality.
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections recently posted…4 Tips for Creating a User-Friendly Blog MenuMy Profile

    • Totally agree Melissa. Great perspective. One other obstacle people face is the idea that it needs to be complicated. Often, pictures of more plant-based food are of gourmet dishes that look complicated and fancy, and people just don’t want to spend time to do that. The reality is that simple foods are wonderful, and can taste great. I have definitely found that simplicity is key. I’ll just heat up some rice and and vegetables. A microwaved potato with chopped onion. It can be far simpler than people tend to think, especially in our day of Pinterest-perfect creations.
      On your first point — that’s awesome that you tried vegetarian for so long. I know a lot of people who replace unhealthy american food with unhealthy vegetarian food, and as you found out, it’s not much better. Whole foods without added oil etc are where the health and vitality comes.

    • Well said Melissa!

      Doug actually has a great movie about making 10 minute vegan meals–and I’ll probably be sharing more recipes like that soon. My instsgram has a bunch of food ideas too. Josh and I have figured out how to make whole foods plant based a lot easier, cheaper and faster than our previous diet!

      Thanks for your comment Melissa!

  2. I gave up meat/poultry over three years ago and absolutely agree with the health benefits. I immediately felt positive differences in my energy and running, a reduction in allergies, lingering shingles nerve pain gone and better PMS/menstrual cycles. There is truth to eating plants! I do consume eggs and dairy in limited quantities, some weeks none and some weeks more than others. It works for me.
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted…Do I Eat The Best Foods For Runners?My Profile

    • That’s an impressive list of improvements! Pretty amazing. Have you found your preferences make social situations difficult? Many people have that concern too. We did. But we were surprised that after worrying about it for awhile, it became a non-issue for the most part. A fun challenge in fact, almost a game to see how we can make it work. Unfortunately though, no matter how hard I pound on the vending machines, they won’t give me corn on the cob.

    • My wife and I certainly don’t deserve any awe, I assure you. What’s funny to me is that I feel like willpower isn’t even involved. Willpower, to me, is taking one bite of a candy bar, and then keeping it on your desk the rest of the day, trying to not finish it. That takes willpower.
      What I’ve discovered is that I have no more willpower than anyone else. Less probably, in fact. For that reason, I’ve just eliminated some things as food. They just aren’t food to me. Surprisingly, there are no temptations. I guess I’ve made the decision so clearly, that it’s not even a choice any more. Big life lesson for me.
      What would be difficult for me is if I kept things in the house that I should only eat rarely, and to just have a little every so often. Constant reminders of what I “can’t have now but maybe on the weekend” or whatever. Talk about torture. Either that or it’s indulge whenever you want. I talk more about it in the next post.

    • Hey Ashley!

      Doug was right. Once you have enough knowledge about it until your MIND changes its perspective–you don’t need will power. In this case, if you go through those links and watch the movies…any changes you make will be way way way easier than if you didn’t ‘believe’ it.

      In fact, I would suggest you don’t rely on will power to make changes. Will power wears out too fast, and often leads to binge eating or anger/bitterness…we can talk more about that if you want sometime.

      My changes that have lasted more than 4 years now came because I just changed my mind. Every time I said no to junk food I wasn’t sad…I was happy I was going toward my goals. Does that make sense?

      Thanks for dropping by Ashley!

    • Maybe you’re looking for thoughts from Kirtley (she said once that she feels it’s too easy to over eat, and she recommends caution), but I saw your comment, so I’ll give my two cents. I think whole grain bread is great. When the flour is super finely ground, it might not be ideal, but if there isn’t too much butter, oil, or sugar in it, or even none (imagine that!), whole grains are an excellent food. Ezekiel bread is excellent. The sprouted grains are good, but for someone who is already eating a healthy diet, the difference will likely be insignificant, whether from sprouted or un-sprouted whole grains. Some people (like Jeff Novick) would suggest eating whole grains in the most intact form possible, citing improvements in digestion and blood sugar. But if bread is replacing butter-filled cookies or any refined flour based foods, no question I would recommend it every time.

    • Hey Kellie!
      Doug’s response was great! I am a fan of sprouted anything, and sourdough is awesome (slower digestion, less blood sugar insulin response)! Often when you buy bread from a store it will be loaded with crap though so just be cautious and look at ingredients (the less the better). I saw a loaf last 3 months on the counter….I don’t want that in my body if you know what I mean.

      My dad makes AMAZING sourdough bread without any sugar, oil or salt. Imagine that haha, tastes the same too.
      Like Doug said, the less process/refined the better. I prefer not to make or buy breads too much because I personally start using it as a snack through out the day due to the convenience, and soon I’ve eaten too much and feel blaaa (due to lack of nutrients). Snacking on veggies is ideal and when I have tortiall stuff for dinner, I just make tortillas right there and freeze the rest.

      Great question Kellie, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Dairy is out for me, I don’t touch it. However I cannot give up animal protein. When I eat vegan for lunch, I nearly faint by 3pm. I need animal protein, but everyone is different so we all need to figure out what works best for our individual selves! I have a vegan friend who cannot stomach animal protein at all. I truly believe it has something to do with blood type, but I won’t get into that 😉
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Britney Spears is Drenched!My Profile

    • It’s funny to me that I used to scoff at people like you and me who didn’t drink milk. Interesting thought. Just curious…what does a vegan lunch look like to you? A lot of people imagine just eating a big salad. With oil drizzled all over it.
      My lunch, or any meal for that matter, is packed with calories from starches. Some examples:
      I could certainly imagine feeling faint later after eating only fruit or vegetables for lunch, but hearty soups, potatoes, mexican dishes of rice and beans…that’s what I’m advocating. A lack of beef in the bean burrito doesn’t suddenly provide otherwise missing energy.
      Definitely listen to your body though. If it truly works for you, enjoy it!

    • Haha why not Gigi? 😉

      I hear ya with the getting hungry part. That was my problem until I used more rice or roasted potatoes(I used to be scared of them, thinking I would gain weight) with my veggies and it took care of it. I make sure I get very satisfied at each meal, and that made all the difference.

      Thanks for stopping by Gigi!

  4. Awesome post Kirtley thank you!

    I’m wondering if Doug has, or has ever heard of the book called “The Macrobiotic path to Total health”, by Michio Kushi. In it, it explains many, many afflictions that can be cured with a diet of this type, (including many forms of cancer).

    • You’re welcome Jade!

      I haven’t heard of it–I’ll have to ask Doug! But wow…the research he has shown me has BLOWN ME AWAY with how many diseases can and have been cured by using plants. It’s insane. Doctors really need to start prescribing plants instead of drugs haha.

    • The diet Michio Kushi seems to advocate looks very good, and has a very similar overall dietary pattern, with some fish added. I’m not one to promote fish, nor a dietary need for them. But if everyone in the world ate the way he suggests, you wouldn’t see a fraction of the disease you see today. See my other comment here about fish (Ctrl F and type “fish” to search the page).

  5. For many reasons I don’t label myself or the way I eat. I don’t tell myself that x, y and z are totally off limits, but after lots and lots of research and trial and error to see what makes me feel my best I gave up dairy and meat. I can eat meat and yogurt if I want but it just so happens I don’t want to.

    A plant based diet with the occasional fish is what makes me feel, perform and look my best. Per doc’s orders I have to throw in gluten free too.

    I’ve given this a lot of thought. I know what all the research says, but is it possible that a plant based diet is what works for my body but that might not be the case for everyone. Do some bodies just NEED meat?
    jill conyers recently posted…Contigo Cortland Water Bottle ReviewMy Profile

    • That’s fantastic that you are paying so much attention to your body and taking good care of yourself. Always do what you feel will help you be healthiest now and long term.
      From what I understand as far as nutritional requirements, the only thing that a person is likely to get from fish that they aren’t getting enough of from diet is long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. That’s why people are told to eat fish or fish oil. The problem is that there are so many toxins found in fish these days, like mercury and industrial pollutants. These toxins just get more concentrated the higher up they get in the food chain too. The good news is, the fish don’t make omega-3’s. They get it from plants! And we can too.
      Watch this presentation from the place the link takes you until about 47 minutes. Essential information on essential fats.

      I would recommend you consider getting all your omega 3’s from plants, like greens, beans, fruits and vegetables. You can get plenty. And a great insurance policy is to add a little ground flax to your oatmeal. That will definitely put you over the top.

      So the answer to your question is that yes, if someone isn’t eating enough greens, beans, vegetables, and fruit, they will benefit from the omega-3’s found in fish. But just adding a tablespoon of ground up flax would eliminate that need for fish. Or just eating your plants!

    • I love Doug’s response. I haven’t read anywhere that people need meat such as chicken, beef etc. Most people say they need the protein from it, but again, we get all the protein we need in a day from plants. I was surprised about that when I first read into it. Thanks for stopping by Jill, great question!

  6. I think this topic was addressed perfectly — it’s not telling people you “should” do anything but it’s just giving an option for a way of life. Education/information/personal experience is never a bad thing! I just recently reintroduced meat back into my life but, as I talked about, I always get organic, cage-free, free-range, etc. etc. It might be extra $$ but it’s worth it.

    I KNOW if I watched those documentaries I wouldn’t eat meat ever again. So I won’t watch them haha
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Thinking Out Loud: Challenge YourselfMy Profile

    • Hey Lauren!

      That’s awesome! Yeah–wow those movies pretty much did it to me (plus the scientific evidence above). Who knows…maybe you’ll be bored this weekend and you’ll watch them. Let me know if you ever do, that’d be pretty sweet:) Have a great day lady!

  7. I actually am plant-based so reading this post gave me a huge smile on my face! I think this is great and putting more awareness out on the web! I started out going vegan as a “challenge” to myself and it seemed to work because I never wanted to go back to eating meat. Since then, my hubby also went vegan and we’re raising our two-year-old daughter that way, as well!
    Char @ Run Happy recently posted…Munchkin Meals: A Vegan Two-Year-OldMy Profile

  8. Pingback: The Dangers of Giving up Meat – Part Two: Carnivore? Herbivore? Omnivore? Scavenger. | The Gist of Fit

  9. I really enjoyed this article-and the one that follows! I’m interested, Doug, about what a daily meal plan looks like for you. Would you mind sharing what you eat on a normal day? The only reason I really eat meat is for the protein, but I’m open to different options. My husband HATES beans (except green beans) and LOVES meat so I’m not sure I could convince him to give it up, but I am curious about it for myself. It doesn’t have to be anything to detailed, just what a typical day looks like for you. Thanks so much for sharing all of this information!

    • I fully understand your husband’s preferences. Like I hopefully got across in my story, I would never, ever have believed someone telling me that I would some day give up meat. But I did give it up. And I honestly don’t miss it. Crazy. Any guy who loves meat now will laugh at the thought of giving it up or just eating it very occasionally. Meals felt kind of empty if they didn’t have meat, at first. But I cannot really describe how much my tastes have changed. And they changed very quickly for me personally. I guess you learn to love what you eat. Does your husband hate beans even in Cafe Rio or Chipotle type meals? Sometimes people, including myself, just don’t like things like beans when they’re prepared in certain ways with certain sauces/seasonings etc. I think most people enjoy them the most with natural flavors like garlic, onion, cilantro, tomato, cumin, chili powder, etc. The only reason I was willing to try was because the health prospects were so bad if I continued to eat “healthy” typical meals with milk and meat, and so very promising if I ate the way I now do.
      As far as day-to-day, I can share what I eat and make a best guess at what my wife typically eats. Everyone is different of course, since you’ll enjoy different things. You really can’t go wrong if you’re including a starch, vegetables, and some fruit if you like, with some nuts and seeds perhaps but just as condiments. The way you prepare the meals, the sauces, and the flavors is where the great variety comes in.
      My meals have evolved with time too. So, I would suggest just experiment for yourself, with the rules you establish of what ingredients are off limits. It really becomes simple if you just learn how to prepare meals by sticking to your rules. You just naturally have to figure it out and see what you’re left with, and what you enjoy.
      After all the advice out there, Jeff Novick has proved to be the best in promoting the most healthful, simple, sustainable nutrition. See here:
      (And for your future reference, the mother load of articles:

      A lot of our dinners look like the ones he shares here:

      But since you asked, here is probably a typical 3-day food log for me. But I am at home studying for school a lot of the time. Some days, though, it’s just oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, truly delicious dinner leftovers the rest of the day with some fruit and greens, then dinner! You really can’t go wrong. I’ve logged my food on several times, and even if you just ate sweet potatoes and some salad all day, you’d be golden. The nutrition works out perfectly every time if you get some kind of variety and eat to satisfaction. If you do drop animal products entirely, take a B12 supplement weekly or biwieekly. I would actually recommend it for omnivores too anyway.

      Other meals:
      Regular meals:
      Meals for maximum weight loss (but eat all you like!):
      The simple policy:

      Dinner is the key, because it usually is the base for the next day’s lunch. Here is a super random collection of some photos I’ve taken of meals/ingredients/snacks, which may or may not be informative.
      Other recipes:

    • Also, I should say, getting enough protein is a non-issue. If you’re getting any kind of variety at all, you’re getting plenty of protein. Unless you’re starving yourself. And even then, the body gets the vast majority of its protein by recycling it from its own tissues anyway, even when you’re eating plenty.

      The only reason it’s such a hot topic is because of good marketing. If people knew their actual needs, no one would even be talking about it. At all.

  10. I have tried this lifestyle and it only lasted for a month because I can’t help myself from eating what my taste buds used to taste. Perhaps the reason that I eat meat apart from it tastes delicious it is one of the sources of protein however we can also get enough protein from plant-derived foods. Would love to start over again with this lifestyle after reading this post. I hope that I will get to use this to have a better and healthier life.
    Felisa recently posted…Triphala – Best Herbal Remedy for ConstipationMy Profile

  11. It can take some time for the mind to adjust your taste buds 🙂 Also, it takes about a month to get used to low-salt alone if that is something you do! Watch the video by Doug Lisle in my follow up post.

    Also, you have to eat enough calories. Many people eat a bunch of fruit and vegetables which is great, but you have to get the calories in, using starchy foods like whole grains and potatoes, without restriction. Again, see part 2 🙂

    Email me if you like:

  12. I have to disagree with you at one point where there is no dangerous aspect in quitting meat. Actually going full vegan can be very hard if you do it drastically, it can lead to different health complications if not done right, and the body requires several amino acids that can only be found in meat. But at the same time I am contemplating in going vegan because of well, I don’t want cute piglets and little chicks and calves to die for tender meat dinners. Even the old ones too, I am filled with regret for eating roast beef, but at the same time i’m enjoying it. It’s crazy! But the feeling of regret mostly outweighs the pleasure.
    elle salazar recently posted…Our Body Needs This to Be HealthyMy Profile

    • My friend who has been a whole foods vegan her entire life of 49 years must be crazy-deficient in those exclusively animal-derived amino acids, because she has consumed zero and never supplemented any proteins. I better inform her of her impending sudden death.

      • I hope you’re being sarcastic. Being vegan can be very tiring sometimes, there would be a time when you’d crave eggs or milk but to think about it, I’d rather eat the guilt-free alternative. There are now newly developed alternatives in the market which is available in vegan stores. If yo think the price is too expensive in the stores, then try planting your own crops if possible.
        Randolph Hoover recently posted…Our Body Needs This to Be HealthyMy Profile

Serious! I would love to hear what you think about that!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge