Recently, I’ve received a few emails from readers who’ve asked me, “I’m so confused about a healthy diet!
Is vegan healthy?
I’ve seen The Game Changer promoting a vegan lifestyle, but I know that we eat many animal products.
What Is a Vegan?
Let’s start with the most basic vegan definition.
A vegan is someone who chose not to consume dairy, eggs, or any other products of animal origin, in addition to refraining from meat, as do vegetarians. You won’t see a vegan sporting a leather belt or using soaps made from animal parts.
A vegan is someone who likely cares about his or her health and has concerns about animal welfare. Someone can be vegan also for reasons of protecting the climate and conserving the Earth’s resources.
After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, 2019 is set to be the year the world changes the way that it eats. Or at least, that’s the ambitious aim of a major campaign under the umbrella of an organisation simply called VEGANISM. The core message is to discourage meat and dairy, seen as part of an “over-consumption of protein” – and specifically to target consumption of beef. And across Asia, many governments are promoting plant-based diets.
Food is complicated, but let’s start with the many aspects of a balanced diet on which everyone agrees – even the vegans and paleo!
• Enjoy an abundance of freshly prepared vegetables
• Minimized processed foods and instead cook meals from scratch
• Eat mindfully and slowly
• Source local, organic foods and support small farms
But what about the question of eating animals products?
I firmly believe that properly-sourced animal products are essential to both the health of the human race and the health of the planet.
This blog post is all about your reasons NOT to be vegan. I combined the usual stuff people tell me on the reg PLUS my own transition to veganism hasn’t been very easy either and I tried out many different ways of following plant-based diets – some were more successful and enjoyable than others.
Possible Side-Effects of Going Vegan
I don’t want you to fall into the same traps and neglect the idea of following a vegan diet very soon – so here’s what I have found can be the biggest reasons that might hold you back: NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES
Vegan diets do not provide fat-soluble vitamins A and D
Contrary to popular belief, vegetables provide carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, while animal sources such as the liver and pastured egg yolks provide true vitamin A. Many people believe that carotene can be converted into vitamin A, but this conversion is usually insignificant.
First, it takes a huge amount of carotene to convert to a moderate amount of vitamin A. Second, when there is poor thyroid function, impaired digestion or a lack of healthy fats in the diet, this conversion won’t happen.
In the same way, useable vitamin D (natural vitamin D3) is only found in animal products such as pastured egg yolks, cod liver oil and dairy products from grass-grazing animals. The myth that we can obtain vitamin D from mushrooms is false… mushrooms contain vitamin D2, which is extremely poorly absorbed.
Vitamin A and Vitamin D are particularly essential for immune regulation, digestion, fertility and hormone balance.
Vegan diets often rely heavily on soy
Soy, the magical fruit! The more you eat, the more… your hormones go berserk!
The health problems with chronic soy consumption are becoming more mainstream and many vegans have reduced their soy consumption. Even so, a vegan diet often relies on a moderate amount of soy products – especially soy protein powders and soy protein bars.
The primary concern with consuming soy in any form is the phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogens can mimic estrogen in the body, causing a chain reaction of hormone imbalances. Although studies showing the hormonal effects of consuming soy are controversial, I believe the research indicates that we should play it safe rather than sorry.
Here is a thorough guide to About eating soy? The Good and the Bad
Vegan diets do not provide vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is the shuttle that transports calcium into your bones. You can eat as much calcium as you want but it won’t strengthen your bones unless it is accompanied by vitamin K2. This is one reason why calcium supplementation has been shown to increase the risk of plaque formation – the body can’t use the calcium for building bones so it stores it in the arteries.
(The one and only exception to this rule is natto, a fermented soybean product. One problem, however, is that natto is, for the majority of humans and animals, repulsive to eat). Like other fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin K2 is found in fatty sources. You’ll get vitamin K2 in pastured egg yolks, milk and cheese from grass-fed animals, liver, beef, and chicken.
Natural Food is Greater than Processed Vegan Food
How do you create cheese, milk and meat without cheese, milk and meat?
With a slew of non-foods including stabilizers, gums, thickeners and highly processed protein extracts. Yummy.
Let’s consider the example of vegan butter, a non-dairy butter often used in vegan diets.
• Ingredients in a Vegan Butter: Palm fruit oil, canola oil, safflower oil, flax oil, olive oil, salt, natural flavour, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, annatto colour.
• Ingredients in butter: butter.
Humans have been eating butter for thousands of years. We only started producing canola oil in the last century. Butter is real food, but canola oil is a freak of nature. Similarly, pea protein and natural flavours are highly processed non-foods.
Vegan diets are deficient in vitamin B12 and iron
Testing with the most up-to-date methods shows that 83% of vegans are B12 deficient, compared to 5% of omnivores.
Like vitamin A, D and K2, the readily-absorbed form of vitamin B12 and iron are found only in animal sources (are you seeing a pattern here?).
A common myth amongst vegetarians and vegans is that it’s possible to get B12 from plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewers yeast. But plant foods said to contain B12 actually contain B12 analogues called carbamides that block the intake of and increase the need for, true B12.
While plants such as lentils and leafy greens do provide some iron, it is not as well-absorbed as animal-based iron. Vegetarians and vegans have lower iron stores than omnivores, and vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce non-heme iron absorption by 70% and total iron absorption by 85%.
Vegan dieters have Energy and Weight Issues
When you switch to a more plant-based diet, you automatically consume fewer calories because plants have a lower calorie density than animal-derived foods.
This means that you actually have to eat a larger volume of food in order to get all the calories you need. Whereas it’s easier to eat a lot more micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – all of which will make you healthier and more easily satisfied – we shouldn’t neglect the necessity of getting enough energy as well.
Track your food intake for a few days to see if you eat around 2000 calories from plant-based foods.
Many people claim that they feel very sluggish when switching to a vegan diet, but this can only mean that they either undereat or choose a lot of vegan junk food which doesn’t have any more nutrition than a mock meaty burger with fries.
Weight loss can also come easily when you don’t eat enough – either because you don’t really know what to eat or because you skip meals.
The opposite is true for people who get excited about all of the new vegan convenience foods they can try. By falsely assuming that these foods are much healthier than “regular food”, they allow themselves to eat more and more of it – which is followed by energy crashes and weight gain from both fat and increased salt intake.
Here is a Salt Guide: What are the different types of Salt
Vegan dieters have irritable bowel syndrome
Have you ever experienced an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach after eating a salad or some beans? Well, it’s not the food’s fault.
Our bodies adjust to the types of food we eat and our gut bacteria will be optimized for whatever it is confronted with the most – whether that’s healthy produce or processed junk.
So when you start replacing animal products with healthy plant-based foods like grains, vegetables and legumes, you suddenly get a whole different composition of the food. Changing too much too fast can result in constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating. But why?
One word: fibre. It is an indigestible part of plants that cannot be found in animal products and most processed foods, but which is crucial to our health and ability to digest food properly.
It literally helps move out the junk and bulk up our food so we can be regular. Furthermore, it helps ensure nutrient absorption and even lowers the risk of chronic diseases. The result is that you have to poop a lot more – if you’re lucky. Many years of improper eating habits might have caused you to get used to less fiber and therefore, your bowels will be pretty overwhelmed with the extra work they have to do.
Plant-based diets often rely on a steady intake of fibre-rich vegetables, fruits, and dairy substitutes that can aggravate the symptoms of IBS in some sufferers.
Here is a thorough natural food guide to dealing with constipation
Not only will smooth digestion help you feel lighter and have no stomach pain, but it can also clear up your skin and build up elasticity, boost your energy, and keep you healthier overall.
To Conclude All :
Our Ancestors weren’t vegan
This is the number one reason people shouldn’t be vegan. It’s not necessary.
Like okay, being vegetarian makes sense -you love animals and have heard about bowel cancer, but veganism?
Allow me to paraphrase: “Cows and chicken don’t actually care about being milked or laying eggs. And as for not eating honey… bees don’t care!! Actually, by eating honey we’re helping the bees!!
Eggs and dairy just aren’t good for your body one egg contains over 50% of your daily cholesterol needs.
So… the reason I choose vegetarian instead of going vegan
A vegetarian diet is associated with many health benefits because of its higher content of fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals and a fat content that is more unsaturated. Compared with other vegetarian diets, vegan diets tend to contain less saturated fat and cholesterol and more dietary fiber.
However, eliminating all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies.
Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed.
In any case, even if plant-based diets can, in theory, provide the nutrients people need, as long as they are supplemented with critical micronutrients (such as vitamin B12 and certain long-chain fatty acids), that is not to say that in practice shifting people towards them will not result in a great many people following poorly balanced diets and suffering ill health in consequence.
And when a vegan diet fails, for instance, due to poor supplementation, it may result in serious physical and cognitive impairment and failure to thrive.
The long-term health of vegetarians appears to be generally good, and for some diseases and medical conditions it may be better than that of comparable omnivores.
By Priyanshi Bhatnagar