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What's going on outside isn't always pretty, either. "Vegan clients have walked into my office with scaly skin because they reduced their fat intake too much," notes Volpe. Dental health may suffer, too. Vitamin deficiencies speed up tooth decay, and overconsumption of carbs produces a highly acidic environment in your mouth, damaging gums and weakening enamel, explains Chicago dentist Dr. Rana Stino. That may explain why after almost two decades sans cavities, Floyd had four. Worse, Farrell was shocked she needed seven fillings--all in one visit. "It was terrifying," she says.

There's no problem with trying veganism, but go in without a game plan and you could put your health in danger. "Meet with a registered dietitian or your doctor first, preferably one who specializes in vegan diets," says Volpe. Then follow up with them if you don't feel right, as they can help make adjustments.

Eventually, Crosby Helms, Stubbart, Floyd, and Farrell all tried eating meat and/or dairy again, this time conscientiously dining on grass-fed, organic fare. "I felt deeply satisfied after my first bite of fried eggs and cheese," says Floyd, who no longer deals with crazy cravings and now has "awesome" cholesterol--which she links, ironically, to a return to eggs and bacon. A year after forgoing veganism, Farrell revisited her doctor. "My thyroid was running normally again, my nervous system was balanced. I felt like myself again. Why didn't I stop sooner?"

Originally published July 24, 2012

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