Dangers of a Vegan Diet?

Vegaasparagus and tomato on platenism, a diet containing no animal-based foods including meat, fish, dairy or eggs, is a growing trend.You can find vegan recipes for just about anything including Thanksgiving turkey. Environmentalists like veganism too.

But this week, a popular vegan blogger stopped being a vegan. Tasha of Voracious Eats was always careful to take iron and Vitamin B12 supplements. But she got sick, and her blood tests showed severe deficiencies:

The results explained perfectly why I had been feeling weak and exhausted for more than 6 months. Whereas I had previously lived for working out and even an hour on the elliptical wasn’t enough for me, lately doing more than 20 minutes at a leisurely pace caused me to yearn to spend the rest of the day in bed recuperating. When I could I slept till noon, I felt lightheaded when I stood up, I couldn’t remember simple words or the names of my friends, and I was freezing cold even in the midst of a sweltering Saudi summer. Of the myriad symptoms I’ve listed here and the ones I will not be describing publicly, the absolute worst of all was my depression. This awful, lifelong foe I’ve been battling on and off was sneaking back into my life, painting the edges of my world a sickening black and stealing the joy that I had fought so desperately to regain.


Her doctor gently explained that while some people thrive on  a vegan diet, our bodies do not absorb vitamins and minerals from supplements the way they do from actual food. Fortunately, adding small amounts of meat and eggs to her body resolved every one of her problems.

Reactions from the vegan community included death threats. But Tasha also learned that many advocates of a vegan diet secretly eat some animal protein from time to time. And she is not the only one to quit veganism publicly for health reasons.

In the last part of her post, Tasha explains why veganism won’t solve global warming, because manure is the most effect and sustainable fertilizer for growing all those vegetables.

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Photo credit: Muffy

Comments

  1. I spent five years on a vegan diet due to various health issues, an inability to properly absorb animal protein being one of them. During those five years I felt great, if challenged. I was a working mother with 4 children under the age of 10 at the time, life was hectic to say the least, and it was so much easier to bung a chicken in the oven for Shabbat than to start chopping vegetables, soaking beans and marinading tofu. After 5 years of this I found I now could absorb animal protein in small amounts and went back to being a carnivore, devouring meat and dairy dishes with relish.

    I can believe that Tasha received death threats. I have never come across a more violent bunch of people than those in the vegan community. When I joined an online support group, hoping to get some fresh ideas on how to eat on a vegan diet, I found that the members were more concerned with insulting meat eaters, describing how they refused a bowl of horse’s toenails (Jello) or tossed away a plate of fried chicken abortions. I found it very interesting (and I am stereotyping here, of course, as not all vegans are like this), that a group of people, who were so concerned over their animal planet-mates, could not offer any sympathetic or likeable attributes towards their fellow humans.

  2. BookishIma says:

    This is interesting – I don’t have any experience with veganism, but I did try twice, and seriously, to become a vegetarian. I thought it would be easy for me, since I don’t like meat very much and prefer dairy meals. But, each time, after six months, I simply did not feel right, despite working to make sure I ate a balanced vegetarian diet. I would start craving hamburgers and steaks (which I normally don’t like!), and even eggs. This convinced me, and I’ve since read about this in scientific literature, that some people do need to be omnivores. I went back to eating small amounts of poultry, meat, and fish, which also allows me to buy higher quality (ethically raised, etc.). The same literature noted that before the modern era, no known society was entirely vegetarian, though most people ate significantly less meat than common in the modern world. And no society was vegan.

  3. I’ll have to tell my husband about this; he’s always wondered about the health aspect of a vegan lifestyle.

  4. BookishIma says:

    Hannah, I did eat eggs, but I still got that craving for them at the 6-month mark – I couldn’t eat enough of them! They must have something in them that my body needed.

  5. I know I couldn’t be a vegan: I’d miss eggs and fish but I have really cutdown on meat in the past few year – especially red meat – partly because of the wonderful posts and recipes I have read on the web, including yours.

  6. Ms. Krieger says:

    I was vegan for several years in college, and it was fun and no problem. I did eat A LOT though, and I was living in Montreal, which has a great diversity of high-quality, inexpensive fruits and vegetables and many resources for vegetarian/vegans. (I ate a lot of seaweed and nutritional yeast in those days…I have been told those provide easily-absorbed trace nutrients such as vitamin B12.)

    But despite my good experience (I stopped being vegan for social reasons, not nutritional) I can completely believe that not all people thrive on a vegan diet. Good for Tasha for accepting her own needs.

    I do take issue with her comment regarding manure, however. Because it is not just farm animals that produce manure. Humans produce quite high-quality manure…and until recently, Asian countries such as China and Japan collected and used ‘night soil’ as valuable fertilizer.

    Of course humanure needs to be more carefully handled to avoid passing human parasites and human diseases onthrouhg crops(animal manure is less risky in this regard) but there is no reason why we could not depend on it if we had to.

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