A vegan YouTuber and athlete has been dropped by a vegan company he founded and is receiving a ton of backlash for announcing he would be eating meat again, after admitting last year he ate raw eggs and salmon after a 35-day water fast.
Tim Shieff is a champion freerunner who has appeared on American Ninja Warrior. He also has been prominently featured in the media for his vegan lifestyle as an athlete, appearing in the film What the Health? and contributing to Forks Over Knives. He also promotes his lifestyle through his large social media followings, with over 175,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 85,000 Instagram followers.
But earlier this month, Shieff made a stunning admission. He is no longer vegan. The admission came after Shieff admitted in November he had eaten raw eggs and salmon after completing a 35-day water fast.
In his new video called “Am I still vegan?” Shieff said he had been experiencing health issues while on his vegan diet. These problems included “digestion issues, depression, fatigue, brain fog, lack of energy,” and “waking up stiff” in his joints.
“I couldn’t do push-ups without getting injured,” he said.
To try to heal himself, he said, he tried a variety of different diets. These included a fruit and herb fast, a high-fat diet, a high-carb low-fat diet, trying different supplements, and, I’m quoting here, “drinking [his] own urine for two years.”
“But overall there was still a general, slow decline,” he said.
He then went even more extreme: He did a 35-day water fast. He then picked up his vegan diet again, but still felt bad.
So, he decided to try animal products. He ate local raw eggs and wild-caught salmon. He called the move “a huge identity crisis,” but admitted he felt better. He even said, another quote here, after eating the salmon he “ejaculated for the first time in months.”
Shieff went back to a vegan diet, and his health continued to feel off. He was forced to ask the hard question: Was veganism affecting his health?
“I made the choice to go back to consuming animal products again,” he said.
He said the improvements in his health were evidence that “there is something natural in consuming animal products” for his own body.
“I have had to come to terms with that and make peace with that,” he said.
In the video, he announced that because he is no longer vegan, he was “stepping down” from the vegan clothing brand he founded, called ETHCS. BuzzFeed News has contacted Shieff for further comment.
Shieff had already been receiving hate on his Instagram about his role in the company after his eggs and salmon admission, with people calling him a hypocrite.
“Shouldn’t really be advertising [ETHCS] anymore since you’re just hurting it. You should have just slipped away quietly rather than bringing the entire movement into disrepute,” wrote on commenter.
Another put it more succinctly: “Lol @ ‘ethics’ I’ll pass 🐣🐟.”
After admitting he no longer would eat vegan, the backlash was swift. Representatives for ETHCS told Plant Based News that Shieff’s decision left them “obviously very shocked and upset.”
“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,” the company said in a statement to the website.
In a statement on Instagram, the company said it decided that it would not be ethical for them to allow Shieff to stay on if he decided to eat meat.
“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,” they said. “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.”
The company didn’t return an additional request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
Reactions to Shieff’s change of heart are mixed in the vegan community. Some applauded the company’s decision, saying it would only to continue to support the brand if he was kicked out.
“I’ve held back from buying anything but I’m happy to support you guys again,” said one commenter.
“Sorry to hear about Tim, and the animals who’ll suffer at his expense,” said another.
However, some have supported him. On his Instagram, many praised Shieff for putting his health first.
“Thanks for the video,” said one person. “I was vegan for 3 years and had many of the same experiences as you during and coming out of it. It’s inspirational to hear someone portray what has been a hard change for them with so much care. Keep up the honest work!”