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I have been looking at some of the discussion on Care2 under the 'Real Food' section.  What strikes me as odd is an argument against being vegan that comes up all the time, that people claim they have tried to be vegan and got sick so had to go back to eating meat.

Whilst I'm not a nutritionist, I am vegan and do watch my nutrition reasonably carefully. I can't think of a single thing that is a component of meat that can't be obtained as a vegan diet.

Since this is such a central theme among anti-vegans, I do wonder how much credence can be placed in these claims. With so few people in the 1st world countries in particular choosing to be vegan, it seems that veganism is always targeted as the culprit when people get sick. Compare that to the amount of serious illness among omnivores yet you never hear anyone saying they ought to give up meat, when increasingly health practitioners are recommending people eat less meat.

So what's going on here and how do you answer these critics? 

My personal view is that the majority of people who give up on being vegan are probably not well enough informed about vegan nutrition which is one reason they may get sick.

The other issue is why people become vegan in the first place. Is it possible to maintain a vegan lifestyle if people are taking it up for reasons other than animal rights?

The only thing I can think of that people consume in meat is the chemicals that are flooded into the animal at the time of death, such as adrenalin. People are essentially eating the animals fear when they eat meat. Perhaps there is a stimulus that people get an energy boost that people miss when they give up meat. Maybe it's a sort of healing crisis in giving up meat.

I'm interested to hear what your experiences have been with your vegan pathway. I'd be very interested to see if there are commonalities that perhaps we need to address in these forums if we are going to encourage more people to be vegan without fear.

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She may not need to experiment with that many foods--she may just need doctors and/or dietitians who are willing to do their jobs and respect her values.


catherine case said:

Thanks so much for the thoughtful response.  I did anticipate that it might be a very difficult situation because, as you said, she would have to be willing to experiment with a long list of possible supplement/food plans all the while feeling at risk.  I have not eaten meat in close to 30 years with no health problems & I have never before encountered anyone advised by a doctor as such.  I really appreciate your advice.  Thanks again--very kind of you.



red dog said:

Catherine, it sounds as if your friend got a bad doctor. From everything I've read, a person's ability to get and absorb enough iron seems to be an individual matter and these problems affect flesheaters just as often as they affect other people (see http://jacknorrisrd.com/?p=2581). Supplements take a long time to work but so do foods.

 

I don't know how anyone would go about proving (or disproving) that there's some group of humans on the planet who absolutely can't survive without animal products in their diets--you'd have to prove they'd tried every possible combination of vegan foods and/or supplements, something most people wouldn't be willing to do if they were sick and under pressure from families and doctors.  

Hi red dog,

I absolutely agree with your suggestion that a part of this problem is health professionals, and their attitudes. I think some doctors in particular can be a little lazy and may find it far more convenient, for themselves, to suggest their patients go back to a mainstream diet, rather than look deeper into what their real health concerns and the cause of them might be. 

I think many people are always looking for an easy "out" of something they might think is a little difficult or inconvenient, and these doctors present them with that "out." 

I kinda find it difficult to take someone too seriously who claims that going to McDonalds and eating a burger solved their health problems. 



red dog said:

No, no, absolutely not! Is that what you got out of my posts, Roger? Seriously?

 

One person I knew in university had Crohn's disease and she said her condition had gotten worse when she'd tried a vegan diet--I don't remember for how long and I don't know what specific foods she ate. She told me her bloodwork had shown some of her nutrients were depleted, but I think she was aware that better planning could have helped her solve the problem. This happened centuries ago, and I don't know exactly what her doctors said to her, but I got the impression they weren't interested in helping her solve the problem and I got the feeling they intimidated her into going back to the conventional diet she'd been raised on because they didn't have the expertise to suggest any other solution. And as I said, that person was open to trying again with a better plan and better advisors (not me). I don't know the outcome because we never kept in touch after that school year.

 

The other person was a fad-diet follower and I don't know if she had an official diagnosis or not. She told me she'd followed a vegan diet for some time in the hope of improving her health and that she felt much better after she finally went to McDonald's and ate a hamburger. Again, I don't know how long she ate vegan or what specific foods she ate. I told her there was probably some other way she could have solved the problem but she responded with statements about hormones and blood types. We had a falling out after that and never kept in touch so I don't know the outcome. I didn't mean to imply that I accepted her argument against vegan diets (at least for people with certain blood types). But I believe she was a real person who had real health problems and that misconceptions about blood types may have played a role in leading her to misinterpret her experience and never give veganism another try.

Hi Carolyn.  I'm wondering if your friend is not getting sufficient co-factors like calcium and magnesium etc that assist iron absorption?  Also, she should go to a specialist as GP's are just that, GENERAL practitioners and not specialist in diet.

If she has a lot of dairy she may be getting calcium deficient as dairy acidifies the body and calcium alkalinises it, and the body starts to leach calcium from the bones to cope.

I tend to be on the low side of iron myself and take Red Iron in liquid form which I find great.  I can only donate blood twice a year instead of 4 times because of this.  I also love onions and if you consume food from this family of foods it hinders B12 so you can get a vegan B12 supplement which is fine. 

As you have indicated, nutrition is not just a simple matter of identifying one thing.  I'd be inclined to suggest she go to a vegan friendly nutritionist.

Hi Kerry.  I started the discussion about my friend and I really appreciate everyone's comments.  Insufficient iron absorption due to co-factors, inclusion of Red Iron, the onion connection to B12, too much dairy--all possibilities which I will suggest she discuss with a vegan friendly specialist.  Thank you for the benefit of your experience.  I find that in all situations involving dealing with doctors & professionals, one's best chance at achieving their objective is to be as fully informed as possible themselves. 

Forgot also to mention.  The VEGA range of vegan health supplements is very good. 

See http://myvega.com/

Thank you.

Kerry Baker said:

Forgot also to mention.  The VEGA range of vegan health supplements is very good. 

See http://myvega.com/

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