I recently received an e-mail from a woman who was asking me if the hostility she perceived in vegan people she’s met could possibly be related to vegan deficiencies. She participates in forums where vegans blast her for having a different perspective on nearly everything. As a nutritionist, I face the same thing every day. Interestingly enough, the people who object the most to my message know the least about nutrition, so I had a lot to say. I ended up writing her such a long response about the dangers of vegan diets, I decided to post it here. Enjoy!
I’ve found that I do much better psychologically if I don’t engage too much with vegans. I state my case and then move on. Otherwise, they’re so self-righteous I’ll lose my mind! You can’t rationalize with the insane. And yes, the lack of proteins and cholesterol in the diet along with B12 deficiency is associated with the hostility and violent stance so many of them take. The funniest, most ironic thing I find about adherents to the vegan diet is that they consider themselves so enlightened about what meat does to the planet and the course of disease, but in fact, the data they base it on — especially where health is concerned — is based on the info the government and food processing companies want them to know.
The vegan movement has little to do with altruism and more to do with satisfying the insanity of the ego. Otherwise, they’d be able to live and let live. Inform people of what they think they know and allow them to make the decision. Find true solutions instead of simply avoiding. Life isn’t black and white and neither is the issue of eating meat.
I don’t believe that any humans are designed to be strict vegan. Some may do “OK” on a vegetarian diet, but I have never met anyone and haven’t read any data that indicates it to be true that they would thrive as vegans. For example, Hindus in India survive on a vegetarian diet that includes plenty of dairy, but when they move to places like London where the vegetation is seemingly hydroponically grown, they develop pernicious anemia and other deficiencies. In effect, the vegetables (and probably water) they had in India contains microscopic bugs that seem to satisfy their need for complete protein. Milk is also probably not pasteurized (except in cities).
Buddhist monks may be the closest to a real vegan group, but they are not part of society and they do not reproduce so their needs are different. Protein is a stress balancer and I feel that the more you live in that real world (with jobs, children, heavy metals and other pressures), the more you need flesh to come back to center unless you are able to completely remove yourself from real life on a daily basis. Even so, I know many people who are vegan and meditate and such, but they don’t look healthy at all. Many of them show signs of neurological illness or end up with cancer.
We should really take into consideration where we live now as well, not just where our ancestors come from. It is said that it takes 10,000 years for the human body to adapt to new foods, so we never know for sure where we came from ultimately. One thing is for sure. Humans never ate processed foods and sugars like current generations. Otherwise, just eat foods as seasonally as possible predominantly from the region where you live.
I only eat fish that has been tested for low mercury and PCBs. I fear that most fish live a life far worse than farm animals with only chickens faring worse. Lamb is probably the most ethically raised even if you don’t go officially organic or pastured. Beef, surprisingly, is next as those animals at least see some daylight and grass at some point. While I understand why you would want to be pescatarian, I think this is what got Jeremy Piven in trouble with his mercury toxicity. At least if you’re getting protein from a variety of places, your body will better be able to chelate the metals, plus you’d be offsetting the amount of metals and PCBs you consume. I’m fortunate to live near Amish country (well 2 hours away) where I know my farmers who raise my food ethically. My favorite is a woman who does raw goat milk. She does pastured goat, pork, chicken, beef and has a neighbor doing lamb. — all soy and corn free!!! But there are some mail order sources of meat that I find to do the right thing.
In my neighborhood, many women have taken up a detox diet based on a book by a local author. It has some good points and in many ways mirrors the diet I recommend, but it is basically a starvation diet that does nothing to put good stuff back into the body. As a result, all the people I know who have done it look worse and end up with horrible allergies that didn’t surface before. I call it the pro-aging diet. Detox is good, but if you don’t put in some healthy foods, the bad guys will take over the body leaving you wrinkly, bloated and hostile. Interestingly enough because she presents her material in a simplistic way and is local, many of the women around here adore her teachings — yet come to me to sort them out.
When we start cutting out real foods, we can easily start overconsuming fake ones and we can damage our guts which ends up causing more foods we must avoid.