(Tim during his ‘sharing a tough truth’ video)
This morning, Tim released a raw and unedited video titled ‘Sharing a tough truth’. Whilst the messaged shared in this video did no come as a surprise to me, I can imagine that many vegans and non-vegans alike were shocked by Tim’s confession.
I once again find myself asking, is Tim Shieff okay?
As some of you may know, Tim did a self-supervised 35 day water fast not too long ago. That’s right, Tim ate nothing for 35 days and only drank water. At the end of this fast he looked very unwell and was struggling to form complete and coherent sentences. This is when alarm bells started ringing for me.
(Tim shortly after completing his 35 day water fast)
Tim has gained a following for using veganism to improve his fitness and health. There is nothing wrong with that. But for me, it seemed utterly bonkers that he was starving himself for 35 days and being so public about this. Whether he meant to or not, he ended up promoting this water fast to his followers. This was an incredibly dangerous and irresponsible thing to do.
Many of Tim’s followers will have had little diet and nutrition knowledge and/or experience. Some will be battling their own mental health issues and may even be living with an eating disorder. If Tim wanted to try something this extreme for his health, why did he not do it off-screen? Sure, film what you’re doing as you go along but don’t release anything until after you’re done and know how you feel.
Why? Because now he admits that it was a waste of time. That he felt none of the benefits other people have claimed after a lengthy water fast. Yet, at the time he led people to believe that this was an incredible experience and one of the healthiest things you can do for your body (and mind).
During the fast, Tim’s social media erupted with comments from followers stating that they are going to give a water fast a go. As I read those comments, I was thinking, ‘Gosh, someone could die’. And I wondered, what makes people try something so dangerous just because someone on the internet did it?! But this is the problem with social media and with hero worshipping. People will agree with anything and everything someone with a large following says. It’s nuts, but it happens ALL THE TIME.
Anyway, back to Tim’s ‘tough truth’…
So what is the video about? Well, it has emerged that in a state of absolute desperation, Tim Shieff has gone back to eating animals products. He confesses that he has been eating eggs that he bought locally from someone with free-roaming chickens and that he purchased some wild-caught salmon. I found it interesting how he explained this. You can see that Tim is attempting to defend his actions with labels that we, as vegans, know mean absolutely nothing to the animals.
My social media is flooded with vegans who are absolutely outraged. And I get it. After all, he did create a vegan clothing brand called Ethcs – because there is no I in Ethics. But it seems strange now that someone seemingly so into veganism for ethical reasons has gone backward. I can’t help but wonder if Tim was only vegan for health and health alone. Who knows.
I do feel for Tim though. I believe he is ill and that he needs help. I also fear that an outraged vegan community could send Tim further into a dark place. Tim has said and done many things that I don’t agree with, including shaming people for eating processed food, in response to their concerns that he is promoting an unhealthy diet to people who may have eating disorders. I’m not particularly a big fan of his and stopped following him on social media a while ago. But I don’t know if this situation warrants nastiness.
In my opinion, he didn’t need to make a public video at this point. He should just come away from social media and sought help. He isn’t obliged to tell anyone about what he is doing or going through. But if he really wanted to be open he could have addressed his followers at a later date, after taking some time. But, I guess this is a cry for help, and I hope Tim will get what he needs from being open about it now.
I do hope that Tim’s return to animal products won’t be used by non-vegans to argue that a plant-based diet isn’t healthy. Not because we vegans can’t handle it, but because Tim is clearly struggling with something and doesn’t need his situation used in that way.
I really don’t know what this will mean for Tim. But I do sincerely hope that he gets the help he clearly needs.