Veganism

VEGANISM – HEALTH ISSUESdfasdf

Veganism is such a hot potato, we are reluctant to deal with it. However, there is so much deliberate misinformation being spread that we feel obliged.

You may gather from that remark we are not big advocates, especially with our numerous other posts suggesting that sugars and starches, whole grain or otherwise, ought to be avoided.

Let us try to separate two aspects of this topic that are frequently entangled and cause much confusion.   

One aspect is the ethical/political. Here one talks of efficient land usage, sparing animals, sustainability, religious beliefs, and considerations such as this. These are personal beliefs and we are not commenting except to say that if you are choosing to be a vegetarian, you are making a potentially significant personal health sacrifice. And if you are choosing to go on and become a vegan, you are making a dangerous one. Beyond the value issues there is little to support most of the sustainability claims; they are another in a long line of issues that commit what I call the “Malthusian Fallacy.”

However, if someone choses vegetarianism or veganism solely for nutritional reasons, they were very poorly informed. To claim it is better from a nutritional point of view is a big stretch, especially veganism. Unfortunately, this big stretch is often proffered, especially to garner support for the nutritionally unrelated aspects.

While a vegetarian may eat eggs or dairy product, veganism is a diet with animal product completely absent. It is very difficult to thrive on this diet. A variety of supplements are needed to avoid serious deficiencies and no one knows if the current list is sufficient.

Lets look at some supportable facts regarding all cause mortality and various lifestyle choices:

  • Health conscious vegetarians and health conscious non-vegetarians have about equal expected mortality rate.
  • Both groups have significantly lower mortality rate than the general population.
  • Vegans also have a lower mortality rate than the general population
  • This fact is frequently trumpeted as proof that a vegan lifestyle is better for you.
  • But here’s the rub, and it’s a big one, vegans have increased mortality compared to both health conscious vegetarian and non-vegetarian groups.

Here is some detail about the above assertions in a paper by Chang-Claude et al., which can be found here. The standard mortality ratio for the health conscious vegetarians and non-vegetarians was about 50%. This means that in a given period, only half as many died compared to the general population. (Health consciousness pays off.) For the vegans, the number was 60%. Better than the general population, but not as good as the two health conscious groups. Here are two possible headlines:

“Vegan Diet Reduces Mortality 40%.”

“Vegans have 20% Higher Mortality Rate Than Comparable Non-Vegan Groups.”

Both headlines are true. It is just a question of who gets compared to the vegans. The person writing the headline decides the spin.

dfsdafLikewise you will see claims of lower ischemia or lower colon cancer for vegans. Sorry, but if overall mortality is higher, it means people died of something else, and overall more died. That’s just how overall mortality works.

Finally, someone may throw the Book at us, the Book being the China Study, the so-called Vegan Bible. This book claims to prove once and for all that animal products are bad. We have obtained the data on which the book was based, and the data tells a completely opposite story. If you would like to see a post on that, complete with numbers and graphs, leave a comment below.

What is the reason for the higher mortality rate among vegans?. It is, in part, already known. There are certain things that we need that occur only in animal product. Particularly, most vegans know and supplement with:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 oils
  • Calcium

If vegans do not take these, they get in trouble. But there is a huge problem here. How do we know that the above four items are sufficient. Or 5, or 6? How do we know that a vegan doesn’t need to take any of the 5,000 other things found only in animal product?

Well the unfortunate answer is that we don’t, and we won’t, until enough vegans turn up with problems to cause some research to be launched.

In fact, the above supplement list wasn’t known at first either. If only became apparent when vegans started getting:

  • Osteoporosis at accelerated rates and serious dental problems, (from calcium deficiency).
  • Dementia issues and increased cancer (vitamin D deficiency).
  • Gastritis and anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency).
  • Depression and anxiety (omega 3 deficiency).

Animal products are attacked form other angles as well. Very often, the unpleasant symptoms noticed when starting a vegan lifestyle are said to be due to the body harboring ‘toxins’ from meat, and that a ‘cleansing’ period is needed. What a bit of Orwellian disinformation! The symptoms are directly due to a deficiency of the necessary nutrients found in meat. There are no toxins involved. It’s nutritional deficiency that is causing the problems.

Is meat toxic? Of course not. It can be though. So can vegetables. Vegetable or meat products raised in unclean environments, with copious use of antibiotics, preservatives, additives, or pesticides are indeed toxic. Vegans and omnivores alike need to choose their food from healthy sources.dsfsdaf

Food chosen from healthy sources is not toxic. We are designed to eat a broad variety, and will have deficiencies and problems if that breadth is insufficient. Vegetarians are right at the edge. To be healthy, substantial attention must be paid to the risks from what is essential a high carb, low protein diet. Nutritionally, vegans are beyond the edge and are taking a risk.

Vegans would be well advised to think it through. If there are concerns about the humane treatment of animals, then search for eggs and dairy products produced in humane environments. Don’t unnecessarily do harm.

  6 comments for “Veganism

  1. Tom
    October 25, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    There is so much misinformation and bad logic in this post that it’s hard to know where to start. Firstly on the subject of ethics, where “efficient land usage, sparing animals, sustainability” are involved, the “personal beliefs” argument cannot apply. It’s only a personal choice or belief if no one else is affected by your actions. If I wear a red shirt instead of a blue one today, no one is going to suffer, so it’s just a personal choice. But when you’re slaughtering animals, clearly the animal is affected. And all animals, just like us, feel pain and have the instinctual desire to avoid suffering and preserve their health. Everyone realises that their cat or dog can feel pain and emotions, and it’s the same for cows and pigs etc too. What’s more, if animal agriculture is doing tremendous harm to the environment, and it is – http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet – then a choice to eat animal products is not just affecting you, it is causing harm to the entire planet. That affects literally everyone.

    On the subject of health, it’s pretty well established now that people who don’t eat meat have numerous health advantages such as less heart disease, diabetes and bowel cancer. I’m not making the argument that eating meat is entirely unhealthy (believe it or not, there are vegans who know that The China Study is not a nutritional bible), but the evidence says that you can be completely healthy while eliminating animal products from your diet. According to the American Dietetic Association, “Well-planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian, and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy and lactation. Appropriately planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian, and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children, and adolescents and promote normal growth”. If you look at the World Health Organisation’s latest guidelines for a healthy diet – http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs394/en/ – you’ll see that fish is the only animal product recommended for its unsaturated fats, but it lists other non-animal sources from which you can obtain those.

    Furthermore, I’d like to point out that this post is completely unreferenced and needs to prove what it claims. Vegans do need to supplement for B12 (which beats slaughtering innocent animals and doing huge harm to the environment), but the post is completely incorrect on the subject of omega 3, vitamin D (really, how could you claim this one?) and calcium.

    The article’s last sentence, however, is one that everyone should take into account: “Do not unnecessarily do harm.” This is the rationale behind veganism. Given that our bodies do not need animal products to be healthy, and since killing and exploiting animals always involves pain and cruelty, it is not morally justifiable to continue to support that harm.

    • Tom
      October 25, 2015 at 7:49 pm

      Oops, I forgot about the study that was referenced in the article – http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/14/4/963 – apologies for that! I do think that article is a pretty good advertisement for vegetarianism and veganism. It shows that both represent big improvements compared to the average person’s diet and lifestyle, especially when you also take into account ethical considerations and the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.

  2. Michael
    October 26, 2015 at 5:34 am

    I do NOT like veganism and it is not what I wanted to ‘Like’. I wanted to support those who recognise that vegans are doing harm to themselves and, as a consequence, their loved ones who have to watch this deterioration. In my case it is a mid-teens daughter that is saving the planet one sausage at a time but is very obviously ill as a consequence. Trouble is everyone is wrong and she is right. This is not a fad – its an epidemic that will have long term effects on these vegans who refuse to recognise it for what it is.

    • chris
      October 30, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Michael, sorry about your daughter but it’s not the lack of meat that’s causing her to be ill but rather lack of enough nutrients…need to get sufficient greens, pulses, fruits, nuts, spices in. Also iron supplements if necessary. Do as much research on it and try to help and support your daughter in her choice rather than “those who recognise vegans are doing harm to
      themselves.”She is taking a stand for good causes and you should be proud of her. Maybe she doesnt know everything on it yet and no one does but you could help perhaps buying and cooking more beans and veggies.

  3. angelique
    February 22, 2016 at 10:38 am

    i am looking into a vegan lifestyle and needed more info on it. the way they are doing meat is hard for me to eat animal products now. but now im hearing about the vegetables and the process it goes through is no better than the meats, its just as harmful, what do you do. in place of nutrients as b12 or omega3,6,9, proteins supplements would that be a good replacement for what u get from meats. i need more information on this matter. i really choose to persue this lifestyle. if you have free links or litature can you email somethings to my address to help me along this journey. thank you!

  4. Natalie
    April 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Look up the black beans vs. beef. Black beans are higher in protein, have less fat, use less Co2 emissions to produce, don’t result in any animals killed or produce methane (even worse than Co2 that cows produce), have no carcinogens, and use far less water. Look it up:)

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