When you dedicate your life to being a vegan, you'd best be wholly devoted.
A slight deviation from your dietary regimen could be taken personally by an increasingly vocal minority.
Tim Shieff was a vegan and YouTube personality who was forced to change his eating habits due to health issues.
After breaking down and consuming raw eggs and salmon after a 35-day water fast in November, he announced earlier this month that he was no longer vegan.
Furious over his "betrayal," some of Shieff's social media followers turned on him and the vegan company he founded dropped him.
A vegan lifestyle consists of a diet that doesn't include animal products or by-products. While it's considered highly nutritious for its low saturated fats and can be rich in nutrients if done properly, pulling a fast one on your body by depriving it of certain proteins, nutrients and amino acids without proper preparation could lead to health problems.
And even with proper planning and education, not every person's body is the same. Some people have food allergies. Some people need different nutrient levels. Health and nutrition does not have a one-size fits all answer.
An animal-free vegan diet – which excludes consuming eggs, gelatin, dairy and honey – is not healthy for everyone.
But some who adhere to the strict diet are notorious in judging others who have withdrawn from their allegiance to veganism. Some vegans take the admission by former vegans returning to any consumption of animal products, whether for health or other reasons, as a personal betrayal.
What happened to Shieff is an example of being the subject of a severe backlash from that part of the vegan community.
In an effort to explain himself, Shieff made a video for his YouTube channel titled Am I still Vegan?.
Am I still Vegan? www.youtube.com
Shieff explained to his followers that adhering to the strict diet was not conducive to his health.
The champion free-runnner who appeared on the American Ninja Warrior reality competition show experienced symptoms like "digestion issues, fatigue, brain fog, depression, lack of energy," and "waking up stiff in my joints."
He was afraid to do anything explosive like pushups or yoga without getting injured.
Addressing his physical incapacitation led him to various options for healing within his strict vegan diet, including a fruit fast with herbs, a high-fat diet and a high-carb low-fat diet. He even resorted to drinking his own urine for two years.
But nothing corrected his "general, slow decline over time."
Ultimately, he went back to eating animal products and "felt some improvement in my life" which contributed to his identity crisis after having been vegan for six years. He went back to a vegan diet but no longer felt it was benefiting him.
"What if it's the veganism that is the limitation to my health?"
After some soul-searching, he declared:
"I made the choice to go back to consuming animal products again."
To be completely open and honest, Shieff even admitted that he ejaculated for the first time in months after having salmon.
"For me, since reintroducing animal products to my diet and the health and the healing that I've encountered that some of you have seen within me and noticed within me in my videos is evidence to me that there was something natural within consuming animal products for me."
Some vegans were very unforgiving.
One commenter wrote:
"I'm sorry but did you just say you had a 'wet dream' after eating a murdered suffocated animal?"
As a result of his switch in diet, he announced he would be "stepping down" from his role as the founder of his vegan clothing brand, ETHICS.
The company's website issued a statement that lacked empathy.
"For a long time Tim had been an inspirational example for veganism, as well as a good friend who has inspired us all, but this lifestyle change was something none of us could get on board with."
On Instagram, the company announced cutting ties with Shieff.
"In order for ETHCS to continue with the same values it was founded on, a decision had to be made for the future of the company."
"Therefore, after Tim's decision to return to eating animal products full time, it was decided that it would be best that he stepped away from ETHCS altogether."
But some expressed unabashed support for him.
One YouTube commenter posted:
"There aren't many men as ethical and forethought as you Tim. Be proud of your self, you're an inspiration to thousands."
"Mate don't listen to the detractors. You have to do what's best for your health. Period."
The latest backlash from a vocal minority didn't help the cause for vegans.
Shieff is listening to his body, which belongs to him.
Who's place is it to tell him what to do with it?