Eating meat again ‘literally saved my life’: Ex-vegan says plant-based diet nearly killed her

EDMONTON, Alberta — An ex-vegan whose hair started falling out in chunks claims that the diet almost killed her — and that eating meat again saved her life. Kai-Lee Worsley, originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, became a vegan after learning about factory farming.

The 25-year-old stopped eating all products derived from animals and started eating protein-rich vegetables instead. She also took supplements to ensure she met nutritional requirements. However, six months into her new diet, Kai-Lee started to feel unwell.

Her hair started to fall out, her fingernails became brittle, and she found it difficult to stand up. She stuck with the diet for a few more months but her symptoms became too intense to ignore. Less than a year after switching to a vegan diet, Kai-Lee started eating meat again and she says that it literally saved her life.

“Now I eat basically the same thing as when I was a vegan except I have steak three times a week,” Worsley says in an online video. “I’ve swapped meat substitutes for meat. It has literally saved my life.”

Learning about animal abuse led to Kai-Lee’s decision

Kai-Lee, an author and entrepreneur, went vegan after moving to Santa Ana, California, in August 2018. When she arrived in Santa Ana, Kai-Lee moved in with a group of vegans who taught her about factory farming and the suffering and abuse faced by animals.

For Kai-Lee, it was a turning point and she decided to go vegan.

“What convinced me is the way animals were treated,” the 25-year-old explains. “I didn’t know how animals were treated in factory farms. I didn’t know factory farms existed.”

Kai-Lee stopped eating all products derived from animals, switching to protein-rich foods including vegetables, beans, and legumes. She also started taking supplements to make up for the lack of meat-based proteins in her body.

"Vegan" spelled out by vegetables
(© Freepik – stock.adobe.com)

Her body reacted to this diet months later

Just six months later, Kai-Lee’s skin started to break out and she suffered a bad bout of acne, something she had never experienced before. Her hair started to fall out and her fingernails were becoming brittle and broke easily. She also felt so dizzy that she found it difficult to stand.

“I was extremely tired all the time. I couldn’t form coherent thoughts,” the young woman recalls. “I would just lie in bed multiple times a week and I would spend all day in bed if I could. My nails were breaking all the time. My hair was falling out. I have thin hair anyway but my hair was just coming out in chunks.”

Kai-Lee stuck to the diet until June 2019 when her symptoms became even more intense. She just moved to Toronto when one day in her kitchen she started to feel so dizzy that she started seeing stars.

“I was sitting in my kitchen feeling so lightheaded that I was seeing stars,” Kai-Lee says. “I remember thinking, if I die right now no one would know.”

By then, Kai-Lee had been a vegan for 10 months, but she felt she had no choice but to abandon her convictions for her own well-being.

“I went to a butcher in Greek Town and bought a single steak and brought it home,” Kai-Lee says in her video. “I didn’t even know how to cook meat anymore, so it was horrible. As soon as I took a couple of bites I felt better. I could feel myself having more energy.”

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Kai-Lee still struggles with the decision to eat meat

Despite feeling the benefits of eating meat, Kai-Lee morally struggled to abandon her vegan diet.

“I really thought veganism was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I even saw myself as an activist. After I ate meat, I saw myself as a fraud. I even had a V tattoo in my ear, which stood for vegan,” the former vegan explains.

“I was at that point when I was so indoctrinated that it was really hard to go back. I didn’t tell anyone at the beginning. I was worried what they would think about me. I think when you’re so indoctrinated in something it’s really hard to back away, but I’m glad that I was able to do it in time.”

So, what can go wrong with a vegan diet?

Although there are plenty of different ways to approach a plant-based diet, a recent study found more than half of all vegans consume an unhealthy diet filled with processed meat alternatives, sweets, and snacks.

Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna (MUV) discovered that vegans tend to exercise more than the average person. However, the experts also identified two types of vegan diets: “convenience” and “health-conscious.”

Convenience vegans, who make up 53 percent of the study participants, consumed more processed fish and meat alternatives, vegan savory snacks, sauces, cakes, sweets, convenience foods, fruit juices, and refined grains. In contrast, the health-conscious group, making up 47 percent, ate more fresh vegetables, fruits, potatoes, whole meal products, vegetable oils and fats, and protein and milk alternatives.

Published in the journal Nutrients, the study aimed to provide a snapshot of contemporary veganism during the surge in ultra-processed meat and dairy alternatives. The researchers examined 516 individuals with an average age of 28 who had been vegan for at least three months at the start of the study.

“Being vegan is not inherently synonymous with being ‘healthy.’ The negative effects of industrially processed foods on health have now been clearly proven in studies,” says study director Professor Maria Wakolbinger in a university release.

“With the main consumption of ready-made food, there is a 29 percent higher risk of all-cause mortality, up to a 51 percent higher risk of overweight or obesity, a 29 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 74 percent higher risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus for people who eat a mixed diet.”

Studies still show vegan diets can provide many health benefits

Despite the possibility of choosing the wrong foods, many studies promote the great health benefits a vegan diet can provide.

In 2022, scientists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that eating a low-fat vegan diet (without any calorie restrictions) can improve joint pain symptoms in patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Even if you aren’t experiencing any arthritis pain, the research found other benefits linked to a vegan diet. Study participants also lost excess weight and saw their cholesterol levels improve.

While Kai-Lee benefitted from a switch back to meat, a recent study found that using vegan protein works just as well to build muscle as animal proteins.

“Our study demonstrates that mycoprotein is comparable to animal proteins in terms of its ability to facilitate increases in muscle mass and strength in young adults who are regularly engaging in resistance training,” says study co-author Alistair Monteyne, a researcher at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, in a media release.

South West News Service writer Leo Black contributed to this report. 

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Comments

  1. I’m so surprised that vitamin b12 deficiency or Pernicious Anemia wasn’t mentioned in the article. All animals products have vitamin b12 and is necessary for almost everything in the body.

    1. If she was taking multi vitamins I don’t understand what she was missing? I’ve been vegan 8 years, I have junk good some days and healthy othrtd- like most people. Regular blood testing is required red in my job and I’ve literally ALWAYS had perfect levels in everything when the result comes back. Saying after a few bites she felt better-you can’t digest food a few bites in?! So that bit seeks psychological?

      1. I was thinking the same. I’ve been vegetarian for over 15 years, and have only had eggs and especially milk in very limited amounts since six or seven years back. No issues. I can’t believe the hair and nail problems were due to lack of protein – that sounds like a vitamin thing to me (though I’m no expert). I wonder what vitamin supplements she was taking, but if she focused only on getting proteins and forgot about B12 and omega3, perhaps that explains it? Doesn’t explain how she immediately felt better after only a few bites of meat, though.

  2. In other words, she’s not too bright and she did not educate herself on nutrition and how to properly use a vegan diet. 🙄

    1. Exactly! Myself, my husband and my 3 girls are all vegan and very healthy! Better then we have ever been.
      Obviously she wasn’t eating the right things!
      Our bloodwork is perfect and my husband and I are in our 60’s and are not on any prescription drugs! That speaks volumes right there!
      We do it for the animals, but eating vegan has been good to us too! Vegan for life!

    2. How many die from animal fats? This is one woman losing hair…

      One woman ain’t a study

      M

  3. The headline seems to actually differ from the end result of the article since, at the end, it basically says eating vegan is fine – probably most people do a vegan “diet” wrong with processed foods. You don’t really address exactly what this gal ate and it said she was having “meat substitutes” instead of meat but felt better? Plus, just going to say, there are too many true vegans, like Joaquin Phoenix, who have been vegan for years and their health is not only fine but better, so I just think this gal didn’t know what she was doing and it is a bogus article headline for clicks.

    1. Needless and preventable suffering and death only occurs after the truth that life is most important is dismissed and stifled. “Life is Most Important in Life is The Most Important Truth in Life” isbthe truth that is the cure for all needless and preventable suffering and death. The one sharing this information with another has the authority to do so and dhares that authority to those that are shared it. That authority includes being able to judge oneself guilty of eternal soullessness. Studyfinds was shared this truth and has stifled this truth and has now exorcised itself from ever being able to be properly trusted with life of any kind ever again.

  4. Sounds like she just didnt have a balanced diet and didnt make sure she got all the nutrients she needed.

  5. How stupid is this propaganda? Plant – based diets are the healthiest you can POSSIBLY have!

  6. You’re doing it wrong. I eat very little meat or fish these days and am strong and fit. I also was vegan for about half a year with nothing but positive effects. This was while training for a jiu-jitsu tournament, in which I was performed very well in. You can be athletic with the right intake, vegan or not.

  7. In the article, the author mentioned that this women’s diet consisted of vegetables, beans, legumes and meat alternatives. So, her diet didn’t consist of eating highly, “vegan processed foods,” or “junk.” And, she was taking all the necessary supplements to ensure she was receiving proper nutrition. So, I am curious to know what went wrong in her case?

  8. If she had no clue about the cruelty in factory farming, she probably didn’t have any clue about how to eat a vegan diet. I am 78 years old and had been following a plant base diet for over 10 years. But I did research before starting it. And my hair is not going out and I’m not dizzy.

  9. I do not believe any of this story.
    “Life is Most Important in Life is The Most Important Truth in Life”
    That is the truthful reason to live, love and care for life and to not needlessly harm life, not veganism.

    Loving the animals is correct and veganism itself has absolutely nothing at all to do with why that is always true.

    Additionally, there is no such thing as a person being a vegan. That’s all made up identity disorder nonsense designed and deployed to trick people in to replacing the truth of the importance of life itself with a nonsensical belief that has no defined reason as for how, why, and how much life is truthfully important.

  10. Being Vegan doesn’t mean healthy,like any food choice regimen one has to make sensible,healthy choices.Being Vegan means you don’t like supporting industries that have a business model that condones lack of ethics,lack of empathy,cruelty and exploitation of birds and animals also trashing the environment and contributing to climate change. How can we expect or even hope for peace, civilly,empathy and compassion on Earth while most of the population are the walking graves of mistreated and exploited animals that are prematurely brutally murdered . Davo 🤔.

  11. The meat industry are REALLY pushing back at the moment. There’s been reports of them going to people and paying them to tell stories like this because they all feel extremely threatened by the surge in vegan diets. Going vegan for the animals sake is a noble cause but veganism can be as unhealthy as any diet. It requires you to actively make balanced meals, just like you should with a meat diet. You live off sausage rolls on either diet and you will be deficient!

  12. B12 is actually supplemented in cattle feed, 40% of non vegans are deficient. By eating the animal you’re getting THEIR supplement, by taking the tablet you cut out the middle man, so to speak. Everyone should be taking b12. Vegan or not.

  13. Umm, Was this article written by chat gpt? It just doesn’t hang together… What exactly were this woman’s nutritional deficiencies? Did she see a doctor? There’s no such thing as “high protein” vegetables per se. Vegetables are mostly water, fiber, and carbohydrate and are very low in protein or fat…

    First the article says the problem is vegans eating too much processed food, then it talks about non vegans also eating too much processed food. Ya lost me.

  14. There should be no shame in eating meat. Humans are omnivores. But it’s not that hard to avoid factory farms. Find a CSA with pasture raised meat and get the best of both worlds.

  15. Everyone has to tailor their diet to meet their specific needs. Not sure what went wrong with this young woman’s diet, but my family, including our children, ate a vegan diet for several years, and also ate a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet for many more years, and never had a problem. We were all extremely healthy and fit. Our kids were competitive athletes from an early age (distance running, gymnastics, swimming.) We did take vitamins to make sure we were getting all the needed micronutrients, especially B12 and iron.

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