Last year, Virpi Mikkonen, a vegan mega-influencer, became alarmed when a rash suddenly appeared on her face. She also struggled with other strange health issues, ranging from crumbling nails to a bout of the flu that she couldn’t seem to shake. Then, when her periods stopped, she got really worried. Her doctor decided to perform some tests.
Mikkonen’s blood test revealed, according to a report by the Daily Mail, that her follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels were sky high, mimicking the amounts found in women going through menopause. At the time, Mikkonen was just 27 years old and was struggling with hot flashes.
“I thought, what’s wrong with me? I am healthy, I exercise,” said Mikkonen. “I was really scared.”
Mikkonen thought she was on one of the healthiest diets possible. She didn’t consume meat, dairy, gluten, or refined sugars. Mikkonen had even built a career around her lifestyle, including amassing 164,500 Instagram followers – putting her firmly in the influencer category – and had written four cookbooks based on a vegan diet.
Ultimately, Mikkonen’s “clean” vegan diet was making her sick. While salads, smoothies, and juices were the backbone of her diet, she was being told that she needed to stay away from raw foods and should add animal protein back into her eating regimen by a specialist in Chinese medicine.
Mikkonen admits that the news came as a “shock,” but decided to forgo her vegan diet. Now, she says, she feels much better.
“I felt I had run out of fuel, totally,” said Mikkonen when describing how she felt before making the switch. “I was empty.”
She now consumes bone broth and eggs, which she previously referred to as “miscarriages of chickens,” as well as meat, though only if it is organic or “wild.”
“It’s amazing. I feel energetic, motivated. I’m sleeping better, the hot flushes and aching in my body have stopped,” said Mikkonen. When her periods returned, she was so relieved that she even danced around her home.
“I thought, ‘Okay, now I am back on track.’”
While the vegan movement continues to gain traction, Mikkonen states that it does have some drawbacks.
“It doesn’t work for everyone. It didn’t work for me,” she stated. She noted that being vegan wasn’t necessarily the entire problem, “it was the vegan diet and my stressful lifestyle.”
“I was working a lot; I had produced four books in two years,” Said Mikkonen. “It was crazy. No wonder I had burnout.”
“Some people need animal products for them to be healthy,” she added. “No one diet is going to suit everyone.”
Mikkonen also noted that many people embrace the vegan trend, but that doesn’t mean they “know how to do it right,” leading them to have a poor diet.
She was also hesitant to tell her followers about the switch, fearing the messages she might receive.
“Vegans can be really judgmental,” she said.
Mikkonen isn’t the only vegan influencer to move away from the strict diet. Tim Shieff, a YouTube star dubbed the “vegan prince,” also began eating animal products after suffering from some health issues.
“‘I had some joint issues, chronic fatigue, and mild depression,” he stated. “My whole body felt like it was shutting down.”
Once he began eating meat, he felt better. “I was shocked,” said Shieff. “My depression lifted, joints feeling better, energy back in my body.”