A vegan couple turned to meat and dairy for health reasons and have never looked back. Howard Walsh reports.
Eating meat, fat and animal products, plenty of them and nothing else, has helped one east Lancashire couple improve their health and general happiness, and as far as they are concerned, on present evidence there is no going back.
And that is the interesting point, as going back would be to a vegan diet.
This complete turnaround in their lifestyle, which is doubtless a breath of fresh air to those livestock farmers facing an increasing barrage of social media criticism from vegetarians and vegans, has not been taken on a whim.
Bob Patefield and partner Rachel carefully researched the pros and cons of a largely meat diet.
Wind the clock back a few decades and Mr Patefield, now in his fifties, had an omnivorous diet but says he did begin to have concerns about animal welfare and this was the main reason he firstly became a vegetarian around the turn of the millennium.
“However, a compounding factor was a burst appendix which, it was discovered was also cancerous,” he said.
“I had always thought I had eaten quite healthily, although I did have a liking for certain carbs. Anyway, having known people being treated for cancers by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I felt that was a horrific way of dealing with it and started looking at more natural ways and felt a plant-based diet was the way to go. That continued for 10 years or so, though I did include fish in the diet.
“It was not that I had considered meat to be bad for you in any way; it was the animal welfare concerns as much as anything.
“However, I was then led to believe the absolute healthiest diet was vegan and we did that for about two years. But during those two years I began to lack energy and was concerned I was not able to build muscle very well. I then developed goitre and was told I should be eating more animal products.”
The former paramedic is certain people have their own genetic predisposition to health problems, and their environment can effectively turn on or off that predisposition.
The goitre was successfully treated with desiccated animal thyroid and it returned to normal.
He has also tackled other health problems by first researching before taking any action, and it was the same after having gone totally vegan when he felt he was ‘deteriorating’.
Mr Patefield added: “I was aware of a ketogenic diet on which you remove most carbohydrates but still eat a small amount of plant-based food, plus a lot of fat. However, I was not able to motivate myself to do that for a couple of years but was, nevertheless, aware of people who had become totally carnivore and benefited from it.
“It was in January this year we decided to give it a try for a day initially, but then just stuck to it.”
And while some people were using January’s month-long Veganuary campaign to try a plant-based diet, how did the couple feel swapping to meat?
“When we were nine weeks into it, we felt there was no going back, and we are now effectively burning ketones as body fuel,” he added.
“Once over the initial transition I was happier, in a better frame of mind and I felt my eyesight was improving, but I plan to have it tested to confirm. I have more energy, am beginning to build muscle, and Rachel, who is in the medical profession, has noticed that on brushing her hair, there is no longer any loss. Our nails are also tougher.”
Breakfast is eaten later and might comprise bacon, eggs, cheese, bacon fat and butter.
Lunch might be home-made 100 per cent meat turkey burgers with bacon fat, and tea perhaps steaks or duck.
Mr Patefield said: “We used to buy a lot of fruit and vegetables and took supplements because we felt we needed them. But now it is all animal products, probably a little more expensive, but it has been worth it. What is interesting and what some people might be surprised at, is we do not crave any other foods and we rarely feel hungry.
“I admit it seems radical and I still do have some concerns about animal welfare, not least non-stun slaughter, but at the same time we have to consider our own welfare."
Vegans to carnivores
As to the future, he says it would be unreasonable to categorically rule out any further diet changes at some point if necessary, but for the foreseeable future, the couple are vegans turned carnivores, and feeling all the better for it.
Mr Patefield added: “A quick search of the term ‘carnivore’ on YouTube reveals many people eating this way for health, some of whom have been doing so for more than a decade with great results.”