How Vegans Don't Work - An amazing look behind the scenes at the vegan community's dirty secret

by | Nov 23, 2010 01:53 AM ET

According to this video, there are more than 10 million vegans in the United States:

But is a vegan diet really good for the human body? According to this long discussion by a former vegan, it is not:

A Vegan No More

She points out a long list of problems that resulted from her vegan diet, including vitamin deficiencies, hair loss, depression, weakness, oversleeping, lightheadedness, cold spells, etc.

But by far the most interesting thing in her article is this confession:

I delicately broached the topic of my ill-health with several vegan friends. I even made comments on other blogs and on twitter highlighting my struggles. The response was nothing short of shocking. In the span of just a few days I received an outpouring of emails from fellow ‘vegan' bloggers, who told me in confidence that they weren't really vegan ‘behind the scenes'. They ate eggs, or the occasional fish, or piece of meat, all to keep themselves healthy, but were too scared to admit to it on their blogs. I even received emails from two very prominent and well respected members of the vegan AR community. One a published and much loved vegan cook book author, the other a noted animal rights blogger, their emails detailed their health struggles and eventual unpublicized return to eating meat. Many people sent me links to other vegans who had struggled with veganism related health problems and had been forced to return to eating animals and animal products, or had decided to stop following a vegan diet, such as: Raw Model, Debbie Does Raw, Daniel Vitalis, Sweetly Raw, Chicken Tender, The Non-Practicing Vegan, and PaleoSister, to name just a few. It was refreshing to know I wasn't the only one suffering from this problem, and the more I heard, the more it seemed I wasn't even in the minority.

Hard core vegans aren't really vegans behind the scenes. Amazing.

She describes the results of abandoning 3.5 years of the vegan lifestyle:

Every day for the past 2 months I have eaten fish or a piece of meat or eggs. To my never ending shock I have found that I digest a meat and veggie meal far, far better than I ever digested a whole grain/nut/veggie meal. I know that the lipid hypothesis is completely fallacious, these animal foods won't hurt me or cause me ill health in anyway, in fact, the vitamins and minerals they provide, along with the nutritious cholesterol and wholesome saturated fat, will restore my health. And they have. There are few things as healthy and nutritious as grass fed, organic animal products. So, for these past months, I ate animals and animal products every single day. And, I say with a huge, grateful smile on my face: I'm back! After 1 month on my new diet my blood levels were either normal, or almost normal. After 2 months every single deficiency and out of whack number was completely restored to the healthy, normal range. Not one problem. Not one.

She says: "And now, after 2 full months of non-veganism I can honestly say I feel reborn."

Is this an isolated case? Is this a case of sour grapes on her part? That seems unlikely if you do a little research. Just look at this long list of dietary issues that vegetarians and vegans have to worry about according to the Mayo Clinic:

Getting adequate nutrition

The list includes:

  • Calcium
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc

In the article she mentions that she had to get an emergency B-12 injection. Why? Because according to the Mayo Clinic:

Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B-12 on a vegan diet. Vitamin B-12 deficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called folate, which may mask deficiency in vitamin B-12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it's important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.

The problem is that B-12 supplementation becomes a big management issue. Look at these guidelines for vegans:

What Every Vegan Should Know about Vitamin B12

Absorption of B12 varies from about 50%, if about 1 mcg or less is consumed, to about 0.5% for doses of 1000 mcgs (1 mg) or above. So the less frequently you consume B12, the higher the total amount needs to be to give the desired absorbed amount.
Frequent use of foods fortified with B12 so that about one microgram of B12 is consumed three times a day with a few hours in between will provide an adequate amount. Availability of fortified foods varies from country to country and amounts of B12 vary from brand to brand, so ensuring an adequate B12 supply from fortified foods requires some label reading and thought to work out an adequate pattern to suit individual tastes and local products.

That's a lot of thought going into just a single vitamin (and if you screw it up, the results are potentially life threatening). And then you have to worry about all the other nutrients listed by the Mayo Clinic as well. All of that worry is completely eliminated by eating a little meat/eggs/dairy.

She uses a word I had never heard before in this passage:

After all, I wasn't just a regular vegan, I was a hardcore, self-righteous and oh so judgmental vegangelical. I never passed up an opportunity for some preaching.

The next time a vegangelical is encountered, this might be a good article to mention.

See also:

- How Vegetarians Work

- 5 Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Runners

[[[Jump to previous Doesn't Work - How Math Doesn't Work – a really interesting look at how we incorrectly teach math today]]]

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