From Vegan to Meat-Based: Why I Swapped Green Smoothies for Beef and Eggs

From Vegan to Meat-Based: Why I Swapped Green Smoothies for Beef and Eggs

Updated: Jun 04, 2024Veronika Larisova


Guest post by Chief Ambassador Holistic Health & Fitness Coach, Kyle Duerden


You could say I was influenced by the 'Game Changers Documentary.' For six years, I believed I was living a healthy lifestyle with protein oats for breakfast, lentil curries for lunch, and tofu with veggies for dinner. Initially, vegan diet worked well for me; I felt lighter, experienced reduced inflammation, and had more energy. I later realised that these benefits were mostly due to eliminating low-quality foods. When  you shift from eating ultra processes foods and junk to a whole food diet, you feel amazing, no matter what diet you choose. So, at first, being vegan felt great, and I thought it was a permanent change.

As the years went on, my progress in the gym stalled. I struggled to put on muscle and increase strength and was stuck at this plateau. I also started to get sick more often than I did before. I always had the sniffles and lost a bit of the colour on my face. But I stayed on course because it was “healthy.”

In 2022, I began studying Holistic Health, and with nutrition as a core component, my ideas around a vegan diet were challenged.

It wasn’t until one day in late 2023 that I gave in to the temptations surrounding me. I went out, bought some organic eggs, and boiled up a couple for a snack. Two weeks later, my wife sent me a message saying she’d been daydreaming about steak. So, we booked in a nice restaurant and tucked into some red meat for the first time in six years. Boy, was it delicious, and I have never looked back since then!


The main changes after I started eating meat

Within weeks, my energy had doubled, there were no more afternoon slumps, my skin had its colour back, and my progress in the gym skyrocketed.

I noticed the biggest change in my strength. Vegan-me would be stuck maxing out a set of 8 dumbbell presses at 32.5kg. Within months of being back on the meat, I knocked out 10 reps with the 40’s. I felt amazing, and people around me could see it too. Life was back!

I wore a Whoop during this transition phase, and the results solidified that the decision was right for me. My average REM and deep sleep percentages increased, and my resting heart rate dropped from 50 bpm to 43 bpm in a matter of months.

My bowel movements have never been better. Plus, my wife is over the moon that I don't have gas anymore. A little too much information, but another indicator in the right direction.

My mood has changed dramatically as well. This new found energy has given me a lot more 'get up and go' in my day to day. My thoughts have been clearer, with more direction in my life & career. Food plays such a crucial role in not only how your body looks and feels, but your thoughts and mental health. Everything stems back to your input.

Since I re-introduced meat, my body is happy, and I’m happy.


A day on a plate as a vegan


A stack of oats with frozen berries, coconut milk, protein powder, and a handful of nuts. It was a gloopy mess that led to a mid-morning slump paired with an uncontrollable hunger. I wasn't fuelling myself for my day.


Tofu stir fry or a 'fake meat' Bolognese. This did very little for someone trying to get stronger in the gym. It just took me six years to figure that out.


Dinner varied from a big plate of vegetables with tempeh to lentil curry or a chilli bean mix. Often hungry an hour afterwards (because of the lack of quality nutrient-rich protein), I would find myself making the worst thing possible to fill me up before bed: peanut butter on toast.


A day on a plate as meat-based


I call it the Big Boy Breakfast. Plain and simple, grass-fed organic mince cooked in ghee with some scrambled eggs & avocado. It hits the spot and keeps me full, fuelled and focused.


Lean cut of meat with stir-fried veggies and some rice or quinoa.


Chief Biltong or Beef bar, they have been a great high protein snack that sustains me. 


Steak or fish with dark leafy greens and potatoes.

The meals might sound boring, but I've found a refreshing simplicity in returning to meat. Meals don't need to be complicated. As a vegan, I always tried to maximise flavour with spices, sauces, and curry mixes. I'm no Jamie Oliver, and you don't need to be either. The most important aspects are the macro and micronutrients, not Michelin-quality meals—though some of my Big Boy Breakfasts could certainly compete!


My top three tips for those tossing up between diets and trying to be as 'optimal' as possible:

1. Take a second to listen to what your body is telling you. It knows the answers. 

2. Quality input leads to quality output. If you want to feel good, look good, and perform well, start with your fuel. If you are feeling weak and your performance is stalling, you might not be fuelling adequately. 

3. Keep it simple: eat whole foods, prioritise protein, hydrate, move your body daily and get enough sleep.

I didn't feel good being vegan, but I stuck with it for too long, believing it was the healthiest diet I could follow. Eventually, I started listening to my body and my health, fitness, and happiness are now at their highest levels as a result. I don’t look back at those vegan years and think, "How stupid of me." Instead, I see it as a necessary transition phase to understand the importance of quality food. My thoughts, feelings, energy, and drive—all aspects of my emotional and physiological well-being—have significantly improved. My health took one step backward for me to take two steps forward, and this journey is only just beginning, one grass-fed steak at a time. What I now know about food quality means that those two words I had never heard of before, "organic" and "grass-fed," are always at 

top of my mind.



Kyle Duerden is a Holistic Health & Fitness Coach helping men thrive into their 30's by focusing on Six Foundational Pillars of Health. Movement, Nutrition, Hydration, Thinking, Sleep & Hydration. He believes that once people nail the basics, and make small but highly effective lifestyle changes, they start to realise that life is not all 'downhill' from 30.

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