Top 5 Reasons Why Vegan Diets Are a Terrible Idea

Woman Who Does Not Like VegetablesThere is no one right way to eat for everyone.

We are all different and what works for one person may not work for the next.

I personally advocate consumption of both animals and plants and I think there is plenty of evidence that this is a reasonable way to eat.

However, I often get comments from vegans who think that people should eliminate all animal foods.

They frequently say that I’m giving out dangerous advice, that I must be corrupt and sponsored by the meat and dairy industry, or that I’m simply misinformed and need to read The China Study.

Really… I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians.

If you want to eat in this way for whatever reason and you are feeling good and improving your health, then great! Keep on doing what you’re doing.

But I do have a serious problem when proponents of this diet are using lies and fear mongering to try and convince everyone else to eat in the same way.

I’m tired of having to constantly defend my position regarding animal foods, so I decided to summarize what I think are the key problems with vegan diets.

Here are 5 reasons why I think vegan (as in no animal foods at all) diets are a bad idea…

1. Vegans Are Deficient in Many Important Nutrients

Kale

Humans are omnivores. We function best eating both animals and plants.

There are some nutrients that can only be gotten from plants (like Vitamin C) and others that can only be gotten from animals.

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that is involved in the function of every cell in the body.

It is particularly important in the formation of blood and the function of the brain.

Because B12 is critical for life and isn’t found in any amount in plants (except some types of algae), it is by far the most important nutrient that vegans must be concerned with.

In fact, B12 deficiency is very common in vegans, one study showing that a whopping 92% of vegans are deficient in this critical nutrient (1).

But B12 is just the tip of the iceberg… there are other lesser known nutrients that are only found in animal foods and are critical for optimal function of the body.

Here are a few examples:

  • Animal protein contains all the essential amino acids in the right ratios. It is important for muscle mass and bone health, to name a few. Vegans don’t get any animal protein, which can have negative effects on body composition (2, 3, 4, 5).
  • Creatine helps form an energy reservoir in cells. Studies show that vegetarians are deficient in creatine, which has harmful effects on muscle and brain function (6, 7, 8).
  • Carnosine is protective against various degenerative processes in the body and may protect against aging. It is found only in animal foods (9, 10, 11).
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is the most active form of Omega-3 fatty acids in the body and primarily found in animal foods. The plant form of Omega-3s, ALA, is inefficiently converted to DHA in the body (12, 13, 14).

Two other nutrients that have been demonized by vegan proponents are saturated fat and cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a crucial molecule in the body and is part of every cell membrane. It is also used to make steroid hormones like testosterone. Studies show that saturated fat intake correlates with increased testosterone levels (15).

Not surprisingly, vegans and vegetarians have much lower testosterone levels than meat eaters (16, 17, 18, 19).

Bottom Line: Vegans are deficient in many important nutrients, including Vitamin B12 and Creatine. Studies show that vegans have much lower testosterone levels than their meat-eating counterparts.

2. There Are No Studies Showing That They’re Better Than Other Diets

Girl Disgusted by Vegetables

Despite what vegan proponents often claim, there are no controlled trials showing that these diets are any better than other diets.

They often claim that low-carb, high-fat diets (the opposite of vegan diets) are dangerous and that the evidence clearly shows vegan diets to be superior.

I disagree.

This has actually been studied in a high quality randomized controlled trial (the gold standard of science).

The A to Z study compared the Atkins (low-carb, high-fat) diet to the Ornish (low-fat, near-vegan) diet (20).

This study clearly shows that the Atkins diet causes greater improvements in pretty much all health markers, although not all of them were statistically significant:

  • The Atkins group lost more weight, 10.4 lbs, while the Ornish group lost only 5.6 lbs.
  • The Atkins group had greater decreases in blood pressure.
  • The Atkins group had greater increases in HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
  • The Atkins group had greater decreases in Triglycerides. They went down by 29.3 mg/dL on Atkins, only 14.9 mg/dL on Ornish.
  • Then the Atkins dieters were about twice as likely to make it to the end of the study, indicating that the Atkins diet was easier to follow.

Put simply, the Atkins diet had several important advantages while the Ornish diet performed poorly for all health markers measured.

Now, there are some studies showing health benefits and lower mortality in vegetarians and vegans, such as the Seventh-Day Adventist Studies (21, 22).

The problem with these studies is that they are so-called observational studies. These types of studies can only demonstrate correlation, not causation.

The vegetarians are probably healthier because they are more health conscious overall, eat more vegetables, are less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, etc. It has nothing to do with avoiding animal foods.

In another study of 10,000 individuals, where both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians were health conscious, there was no difference in mortality between groups (23).

One controlled trial showed that a vegan diet was more effective against diabetes than the official diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association (24).

However, a low-carb diet has also been studied for this purpose and led to much more powerful beneficial effects (25).

A vegan diet may be better than the typical low-fat diet recommended by the mainstream nutrition organizations, but pretty much any diet fits that description.

Bottom Line: Despite all the propaganda, there isn’t any evidence that vegan diets are any better than other diets. Most of the studies are observational in nature.

3. Proponents of Vegan Diets Use Lies and Fear Mongering to Promote Their Cause

Nuts

Some vegan proponents aren’t very honest when they try to convince others of the virtues of the vegan diet.

They actively use lies and fear mongering to scare people away from fat and animal foods.

Despite all the propaganda, there really isn’t any evidence that meat, eggs, or animal-derived nutrients like saturated fat and cholesterol cause harm.

People who promote vegan diets should be more honest and not use scare tactics and lies to make people feel guilty about eating animal foods, which are perfectly healthy (if unprocessed and naturally fed).

I’d also like to briefly mention The China Study… which is the holy bible of veganism and apparently “proves” that vegan diets are the way to go.

This was an observational study performed by a scientist who was madly in love with his theories. He cherry picked the data from the study to support his conclusions and ignored the data that didn’t fit.

The main findings of the China study have been thoroughly debunked.

I recommend you look at these two critiques:

Also… a new study from China came out very recently, directly contradicting the findings of the China study.

According to this study, men eating red meat had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and women eating red meat had a lower risk of cancer (26).

Bottom Line: Vegan proponents often use fear mongering and scare tactics in order to convince people not to eat animal foods. They frequently cite The China Study as evidence, which has been thoroughly debunked.

4. Vegan Diets May Work in The Short Term, For Other Reasons

Girl Who Does Not Like Vegetables

If you look at vegan message boards, you will quickly find stories of people who have seen amazing health benefits on a vegan diet.

I’ve got no reason to believe that these people are lying.

But it’s important to keep in mind that this is anecdotal evidence, which isn’t science.

You will find the same kinds of success stories for pretty much any diet.

Then you’ll also find tons of people saying they got terrible results on a vegan diet.

Personally, I think that vegan diets can have health benefits for a lot of people… at least in the short term, before the nutrient deficiencies kick in (which can be partly circumvented by supplementation).

However, I don’t think this has anything to do with avoiding animal foods!

Vegan diets don’t just recommend that people avoid animal foods. They also recommend that people avoid added sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and trans fats.

Then they suggest that people stop smoking and start exercising. There are so many confounders here that can easily explain all the beneficial effects.

These are extremely unhealthy foods, that’s something the vegans and I agree on. I personally think that avoiding these foods is what is causing the apparent benefits.

I am 100% certain that a plant-based diet that includes at least a little bit of animals (the occasional whole egg or fatty fish, for example) will be much healthier in the long-term than a diet that eliminates animal foods completely.

Bottom Line: Vegan diets also recommend that people shun added sugar, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils and trans fats. This is probably the reason for any health benefits, not the removal of unprocessed animal foods.

5. There is NO Health Reason to Completely Avoid Animal Foods

Meat

Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of years.

We evolved this way.

Our bodies are perfectly capable of digesting, absorbing and making full use of the many beneficial nutrients found in animal foods.

It is true that processed meat causes harm and that it’s disgusting the way “conventionally raised” animals are treated these days.

However, animals that are fed natural diets (like grass-fed cows) and given access to the outdoors are completely different.

Even though processed meat causes harm, which is supported by many studies, the same does NOT apply to natural, unprocessed meat.

Unprocessed red meat, which has been demonized in the past, really doesn’t have any association with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or the risk of death (27, 28).

It has only a very weak link with an increased risk of cancer and this is probably caused by excessive cooking, not the meat itself (29, 30, 31).

Saturated fat has also never been proven to lead to heart disease. A study of almost 350 thousand individuals found literally no association between saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular disease (32, 33, 34).

Studies on eggs show no effect either. Multiple long-term studies have been conducted on egg consumption, which are very rich in cholesterol, and found no negative effects (35, 36).

The thing is that animal foods… meat, fish, eggs and dairy products for those who can tolerate them, are extremely nutritious.

They are loaded with high quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and various lesser known nutrients that have important effects on health.

There may be ethical or religious reasons not to eat animals… I get it. But there is no scientifically valid health reason to completely eliminate animal foods.

Take Home Message

At the end of the day, the optimal diet for any one person depends on a lot of things.

This includes age, gender, activity levels, current metabolic health, food culture and personal preference.

Vegan diets may be appropriate for some people, not others. Different strokes for different folks.

If you want to eat a vegan diet, then make sure to be prudent about your diet. Take the necessary supplements and read some of the books by the vegan docs, I’m sure they at least know how to safely apply a vegan diet.

If you’re getting results, feeling good and are managing to stick to your healthy lifestyle, then that’s great. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

But don’t use fear mongering and scare tactics to persuade people to join your cause and scare them away from perfectly healthy animal foods. That ain’t cool.

359 Comments

  1. Candy Hardy says:

    Hi, I totally agree, I have tried the no meat diet and my iron levels dropped so low I had to have two iron transfusions. Since back on meat and I have been buying it straight from a grass fed farm with no chemicals added to the meat and I have never felt better.

    My energy is back, I feel like I can go all day. My skin looks better and I’m also eating pure butter and cream. I read the Christine Cronau book and she says exactly the same thing. Good on you

    • Aaron Brown says:

      Anyone who fails on a vegan/vegetarian diet fails to understand nutrition. I myself have gone vegan and feel better than I ever have in my whole life. Though I am not some animal rights activist I just simply follow it for my own personal health reasons. Besides that I also believe in doing what truly works for you.

      But to say that a vegan/vegetarian diet doesn’t work is simply a lack of understanding and education in nutrition/food. Do some research. There are even vegan bodybuilders that look as good and some bigger, stronger than the meat eaters.

      Don’t believe me? Research Mac Danzig, a UFC fighter – Vegan. Or how about the strong man Patrik Baboumian. Just set a new world record, which he openly admitted was stupid, but carried a yoke loaded with over 1200 lbs across a stage for 10 meters at a food festival just to prove you don’t need meat to be a tough guy!

      • That is nonsense, firstly what do you know about others understanding of nutrition? Secondly we are not all the same, what may work for one may not work for everyone. Thirdly, most people feel great on a vegan diet in the beginning. Doesn’t mean they are going to feel like that 27 years later though. Knowledge of nutrition is only going to be based on what is known, there may well be nutrients in animal products that haven’t been discovered yet. Knowledge of nutrition doesn’t get you very far in those circumstances.

        If someone “fails” at being vegetarian or vegan then that is a shortcoming in that kind of diet. Not because they “didn’t do it right” – what is right now isn’t what was right 27 years ago when I first gave up meat. Nutrition has changed since then, we’ve been through the whole fat phobia thing and out the other end for example. Suddenly cholesterol isn’t the big bad enemy we thought it was and we actually need saturated fats for optimum health. Not only that but the so called healthy fats have been shown to be the worst in the world. How anyone can do anything other than “fail” when such terrible advice is being handed out, even today, as fact is beyond me.

        • Gabrielle157 says:

          I agree with you in that our knowledge of nutrition is constantly changing. Science is constantly refining our understanding of how our bodies work and what our nutritional needs are.

          However, I’m not really sure what people are trying to express with this idea of “failing”… there are plenty of people that are “failing” the omnivore diet, suffering from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diet and lifestyle related disease. Does this mean that there is something inherently wrong with eating meat?

          It’s difficult to know what is best to eat… it comes down to finding the intersection of having the best health and the least negative impact on the world.

          Regardless of omnivore or veg, it’s good to get nutrients from a variety of foods–I, personally, was born and raised vegetarian and have never needed to include meat in my diet.

          I think the best I can do is learn to listen to my body, inform myself the best that I can, but also consider science as something constantly changing.

          • Gabrielle157, I appreciate your comments. It is refreshing to hear a vegetarian dialog without being condemning. You are absolutely right that it is best to listen to your body, get informed and consider science as something constantly changing. Right on! You are the wisest commenter I have have ever had the privilege of ever coming across. Thanks for sharing.

          • Jayckat says:

            Good point. An example is vitamin B12. If you were eating meat as a child and switched to a vegan diet, you will be fine for 10 years. That is about the amount of vitamin B12 that the human liver stores as it is such an important and relatively rare vitamin that the human body hordes this vitamin like there is no tomorrow. However after 10 years and you have not replenished your supply of B12 you are in very severe trouble.

            The real health dangers of a vegan diet is in children. Children have not had the time to build stores of minerals and vitamins in their livers. Putting a child on a vegan diet requires strict and careful monitoring. Vitamin, essential fatty acid, mineral and caloric deficiency is a very real danger.

            A vegan diet is not a diet that you can be negligent with when raising a family. You cannot feed your kid anything you want. You have to know what each vegetable has, and what antimetabolite they contain, so you can supplement the missing amino acid with another plant.

            Anti-metabolites are another facet of the vegan diet that vegans rarely address. Plants do not want to be eaten, and they have a wide array of compounds that are called anti-metabolites whose sole purpose is to stop the absorption of a particular vitamin, mineral or amino acids.

            The idea is to poison the animal eating said plant. Herbivores get around these compounds by fermentation, and consuming the bacteria that do the fermentation. Humans sadly can’t really ferment the food we eat, so we get around this problem by eating meat and to some degree cooking.

          • Carol Norwell says:

            Gabrielle 157, I disagree. You make a comment on people failing the omnivore diet, where you state ‘suffering from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diet and lifestyle related disease. Does this mean that there is something inherently wrong with eating meat?’ obesity is not connected to meat eating, it is very difficult to overeat on meat which is high protein and filling. Protein isn’t a good food for adding adipose to a human.

            Likewise, diabetes is likely brought on in large part by obesity, as mentioned, not likely to be caused by eating flesh. Heart disease is mostly caused by smoking and obesity, neither of which are down to eating meat. If you live on an Atkins type diet, then you are unlikely to suffer from any of the above.

            However, eat plenty of fried foods, processed foods, foods heavy with sugar then you will become fat, your arteries will clog, you will be more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes and an early death. All of that can be managed without touching meat in any shape or form.

        • Well, if 92% have a vitamin deficiency, that’s a pretty good indication that they lack an understanding of nutrition. I really don’t care what people do to their own bodies, I’ve seen lives destroyed because of this crap though, when people force it on their kids. Can it be done? Yes, but nutrition is key to childhood development and most people lack the knowledge to do it correctly.

          I had to stop being friends with someone after I found out (after my repeated warnings) that her child would have to wear partial dentures for the rest of his life because of her forcing her ultra-restrictive diet on him for years.

        • The “good” cholesterol that we need is entirely produced by the body. We don’t need to ingest it at all; in fact, that screws things up, as exampled by increasing rates of heart disease. Vitamin C, on the other hand, we DO need, as our bodies can’t produce it.

          Veganism CAN BE successful for everyone. But, as with any diet, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. Most people do it the wrong way – mainly, not eating enough and relying on processed foods.

          • Our bodies synthesize both HDL and LDL cholesterol, but otherwise Shannon is right, and I have argued with many-a vegans that if their family’s diet consists mainly of things fried in vegetable oil and diet coke, all the health benefits of avoiding animal products are negated. Dietary intake of cholesterol may be less important to overall cholesterol levels than the balance of fats in the diet.

            While a low fat diet has great health benefits for people who have hypercholesterolemia caused by their diet, there is no reason it has to be a vegan low-fat diet. Also, for the last few decades a lot of research has shown that having the right lipid balance may actually be more important than limiting all types of fats.

      • If man were vegetarian, and meat was poisonous to your body, then we would not be here. Our ancestors, the Neanderthal, the Anasazi, the Chichimeca, etcetera, they were hunters and gatherers, ie were omnivores. Vegetarianism is just a fad of the new age philosophy, it was not known, for example, by the Eskimos, who fed exclusively by red meat of the seals. Facts speak louder than any philosophy.

        • Vegetarianism is ‘just a fad’. It’s been around for thousands of years. Some fad!

          • Mike Scott says:

            Thousands of years? Not really. Vegetarianism has never been practiced by the masses in any society. Vegetarianism in the past has been practiced by the religious elite but that’s it.

            Also thousands of years is mere seconds in our evolutionary history. Our ancestors have been eating meat for 100,000s to millions of years.

          • Yes, in India but no more than 4000 years ago, maybe less…

        • How about part time meat eater? The problem is factory farms and we eat animal products way too much. Anyone that does’t think these factory farms aren’t ticking bio bombs waiting to happen, they are kidding themselves.

          Eating fatty meat every day for every meal may work if you’re extremely active, but not for a computer programmer sitting most of the 50+ hour work weeks.

          The dirty secret that vegans don’t tell you is they all have to take supplements. Go to any hippy vegan store selling oils and cents and you’ll find “vegan supplement” containers.

          • Donovan Woods says:

            That’s the biggest reason why I honestly detest vegans/vegetarians. They’re extremists who distract the mainstream public from the real issues. They are helping factory farms stay deregulated because Congress won’t pass anything associated with radicals.

            It’s a common practice in politics, but vegans don’t actually care about animals, they care about feeling superior and self-righteous. Thanks to them, greedy factory farms continue to torture cows and pollute the crap out of rural towns.

        • I realize this was posted a billion years ago, but if you know anything about hunter-gatherer society/nutrition you would know that they gained the vast majority of their nutrients from plants. They didn’t factory farm plants like we do, so they ate a far greater variety giving them the nutrition that they needed.

          Since gathering has greater gain for less cost of energy in comparison to hunting, it was the main tactic employed in acquiring foodstuffs. Meat was a delicacy more than anything, something they might have a few bites of every week or so.

          This ridiculous hunter-gatherer argument quite frankly annoys me. I’ve studied ancient global cultures and anthropology (go college!) I feel as if it is well within my rights to say that this argument is completely invalid. And as Rob said, vegetarianism has been practiced in India for thousands of years. Over 30% of Indian people are vegetarians still.

          • Some of the dumbest things I ever heard were from classmates while attending college.

            I have many friends who study in the field of anthropology, and they do not agree with your comment.

            Early humans ate meat any chance they could get, and they ate it raw for thousands of years.

            Until fire, and cooking was discovered. These are exactly the lies that vegans like to spread. It’s just not true.

          • Garrick – really? Every chance they got? The thing, those chances were rare and far between.

          • Nitin Jain says:

            Rob, I think the number is almost 50% that too dropped after the invasion of British and Mughals. Otherwise, it used be quite a big number.

      • Cheryl Hull says:

        I agree with you wholeheartedly. Rip Esselstyn is a former Tri-athlete and an Austin Firefighter and he’s been a Vegan for 20+ years. I am a Registered Dietitian and I don’t believe that we’re (Dietitians) expected to tell people regarding healthy diets that seems to be working towards improving peoples’ health outcomes, if it did we wouldn’t have an epidemic of Obesity, Chronic diseases, and cancers.

        I chose to become a Vegan approximately 3-4 mos. ago. It’s a challenge when you live in a Fat state and the work I do requires that I drive to small towns where finding fresh vegetables can be a challenge.

        I also agree that one diet doesn’t fit all, but I’m more inclined to believe that a Mediterranean diet that suggests consuming meat 1-2 per week is by far a healthier option that encouraging people to consume 1) low-fat dairy 3x daily, 3 oz meat 3 x daily, no differentiation between whole grains and refined grains.

        I will continue to be a Vegan primarily because I do believe there is science indicating that consuming less animal products and more whole grains and fruits/vegetables is a much healthier way to live.

        • Can people who tout veganism/vegetarianism stop name dropping tri-athletes, strongmen and other people to make their point, because it doesn’t really add to the argument. If a good percent of endurance and strength participants are eating no meat then I’ll probably consider not eating meat.

          • I agree with the name dropping Jacque – if name dropping can be regarded as “proof” then we should all go eat like Michael Phelps: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/08/13/the-michael-phelps-diet-dont-try-it-at-home/ – that being said I’m sure the percentage of omnivorous athletes far outweighs the number of vegan athletes.

          • Benjamin C says:

            It’s interesting that the “strongman” vegan enthusiasts keep referring to, Patrik Baboumian, only became a vegan in 2011 and most of his so-called accomplishments, 10 out of 11, came before that time. That tells me that veganism has not been conducive to his career.

            I know from a reliable source that he has for sure used steroids before 2011. This is a HUGE advantage. If he had started weightlifting from the beginning on a vegan diet then he would never have reached those results.

        • Robin Willcourt says:

          Amazing. Trying to “unjustify” our evolutionary past is ludicrous. Why anyone would want to eat an artificially distorted diet, such as vegan, is beyond comprehension. With no proven health benefits and with some downsides, why would anyone choose to ignore the DNA blueprint that we are born with.

          The justification re: poor treatment of animals is no answer. We could change that treatment if we wished to but not enough people seem to care (unfortunately).

          Saturated fat is great and healthy– with the exception of olive and coconut oils, there is little good that can be said for most other vegetable oils- certainly not the canola variety!

          And advocating grains is even sillier. They, of all foods, should be eliminated from the diet.

          Look at the anatomy, body and brain, of individuals 20,000 years ago (omnivores- almost carnivores) and then compare them to the diseased, puny humans of 5,000 years ago– grain fed, of course.

          The ruling classes were not dumb. They ate the wild boar, antelope, venison and elk while the poor “survived” on various forms of bread. The rich were big, the poor tiny. Look at the architecture and furniture of the last 1,000 years!

          Vegan is a fad; vegetarianism is fadish, used by a minority of people guided by religion for the most part. Using this form of eating because of stress over animal rights is a bit puerile to say the least.

      • Sean Florez says:

        That is because they supplement the nutrients found in meat that are so essential to human growth buddy.

        • It doesn’t matter where your protein comes from, your body doesn’t stop to think “oh wait this protein came from meat so I won’t process it”… it doesn’t care!

          One question… if you can only get b12 from meat, then why are so many meat eaters b12 deficient? It’s not about how much you digest, it’s how much you assimilate into your bloodstream. Unfortunately, most of us have got messed up digestive systems anyway, so digesting meat will be a hell of a lot more difficult.

          • You have no idea what you are talking about. Plant proteins are not complete proteins. Complete proteins are those from animal sources and are the only proteins that are accompanied with the essential amino acids that our body needs to perform at optimal levels. Plant proteins, also known as incomplete proteins, do not have these essential acids in the proper proportions.

          • It *is* possible to get complete proteins from non-meat sources, like combining beans and rice, a popular staple of many traditional low-income diets. But it obviously takes more work than simply eating meat.

      • Funny how you mention bodybuilders etc. as these guys are clearly on roids and peptides. If this fact proves even anything it is that in bodybuilding, nutrition and training aren’t nearly as important as hormones.

        Every honest bodybuilder or roiding gym rat will confirm this.

        Pro tip: Bodybuilders aren’t honest about the effects of hormones on their bodies because if they were, it might raise questions about the effectiveness of their ‘supplements’.Pro tip number 2: Whey shakes and creatine are not only a joke but also a waste of money. Testosterone Enanthate is cheaper and extremely effective.

        • Well, whey protein isn’t USELESS, it has its place. I drink it for easy extra calories (need more calories for muscle growth) and a bit of protein can’t hurt, only 25g. It is a great source of amino acids as well.

          Real food is always king, always eat your meat. But whey is an easy way to get that little extra protein, aminos and calories. Hence it being a “supplement” to supplement a healthy diet.

          • I agree but for different reasons. As someone who is pushing 60 (actually will be 59 in May), supplements become MORE relevant. Why? Because as you age you naturally consume fewer calories. The metabolism will slow down as you get older, no matter how you try and fight it.

      • Aaron, for the most part I do agree with you. It would have been better had you not had your first statement be, “Anyone who fails on a vegan/vegetarian diet fails to understand nutrition.” Truth is, unless you are an avid researcher, no one really understands nutrition. There are 4 year degrees and PhD programs just for nutrition. The average person knows very very little about even the basics of nutrition.

        Just because your experience is that you feel better on a vegan diet, does not mean everyone will have your exact same experience. I do agree with you that it works for a lot of people. I have vegan days, and even weeks, but I cannot truthfully say I am 100% vegan. I use vegan days and weeks to clean my body out. It is a deficient diet for many, thus requiring specific targeted supplementation. Is it worth it? Yes. Can everyone afford it? Unfortunately no – especially people on food stamps.

        People who cannot supplement, have to figure out how to eat healthy with just what is available to them at their local grocery store, which may or may not be a good one. You are right when you say people have to do what works for them. What people need to learn is to listen to their bodies. I have friends who have digestive issues and my first question is, “What are you eating?” Then I say, “…Don’t eat that!”

        I have seen many many sick vegans, so it isn’t for everyone, but it is good for people to use their experiences to help others – in a kind and nice way. Bottom line, we need to get the processed foods and sugars out of our diet and that is a great start. I just wish vegans wouldn’t be so defensive and use more constructive dialog in their responses. It isn’t for everybody, but it works for many.

      • Lim Ze Tuan says:

        I have looked up Mac Dazig. He has the face of a vegetarian alright. Tired, drowsy looking. It is a malnourished face.

        I even have had clients asking about my very sickly looking staff.

        Vegetarianism should never be practiced long term. Please… just go buy yourself some meat to eat.

        • You’re too funny. His “tired, drowsy” looking malnourished body would kick your sorry ass around the ring a few times before he knocked you out.

          • I have to agree that he does have a tired look about him along with that thin fragile look to his skin that seems so common in low fat dieters and vegans. He may well be able to kick ass now but how fit will he be 20 years down the road from now? I’ll go for Mark Sisson’s type of kick ass fitness as an inspiration and motivation for long term health and vitality and aim to eat a nutrient dense primal/paleo type diet rather than a vegan one. I used to be vegetarian and I was unfit, overweight and suffered from acne and anemia. I have been eating low carb, high fat, real food for four years now and lost weight, got fitter and no longer have the acne or anemia.

          • I like to call LCHF – “Short-term gain for long-term pain”.

            Humans don’t require and shouldn’t consume as much fat, especially saturated, as most LCHF dieters describe in these forums.

          • For some reason I can’t add a reply to your last comment but anyways I suggest you go have a looks at Mark Sisson’s website and see for yourself how the primal/paleo lifestyle can be of long term benefit and has helped many, many people.

      • Emily Reed says:

        Hi, I’m a vegan for not only the benefit to my health but also (and mostly) animals. Becoming vegan is one of the best choices I have ever made and even though veganism isn’t for everyone, if you have tried it but lacked energy and vitamins it is not because your not eating meat it’s because your not eating the right vegan foods.

        Also I would like to add how before becoming vegan I was the person who always had a cold or was sick but I haven’t really had any illness recently. I advice everyone to watch documentaries and get educated about where your food comes from and also know about your nutrition, then give veganism a go :)

    • Don’t think you ate properly on your plant diet, do some more research. I’ve been vegan for over 27 years, never been in hospital (except to visit sick friends), never even taken *any* medication, not even a pain killer, and have taken part in a few medical research programs (I’ll admit for the free tests to satisfy curiosity!) where the researchers were amazed at my stats.

      If we all ate like you do now (grass fed beef), we would have to cull 50-80% of humans because there is simply not enough land to be able to feed animals like that, which is why 90% of meat in US is from CAFOs and why rich nations have been land-grabbing from poorer nations for the last few years.

      • Couldn’t agree more Robz, too many people go vegan/vegetarian without a second thought, no planning at all and wonder why they fail. When they do fail they blame it on the food they cut out (meat/dairy) and automatically think they need to start consuming it again instead of realizing the fault is with themselves due to ill preparation when transitioning… AKA laziness and being uneducated.

        I’m sure there are a lot of vegans that will agree with this.

        • Agreed with Robz and Lee. Education, preparation and transitioning are important I’d say in the spiritual, economic and physical grounds, you could almost call it a training, nobody is born an Olympic athlete, you prepare all aspects in your life towards achieving your goals.

          So whether it is due to ‘moral’, ‘health’, ‘money’ or any other, you will have to test and explore, there isn’t a one single truth, doubt of those who state they have it, rather share and respect so we can all grow, whether it is a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle or carnivore.

          Respect and love to all.

        • Vitaliy Mityushin says:

          Excuse me Lee, but isn’t that the point of vegans? To cut out all animal based products from your diet? It would clearly make sense that the vegan diet is to blame if you start feeling sick after removing animal products, granted the individual has the same exact lifestyle and habits as before.

          What is so complicated about the transition? There is no ill preparation. All you do is remove the animal products and analyze your results. If you start feeling sick, it is because you removed vital nutrients only animal products can offer.

          You and all vegans should educate yourselves on what is ACTUALLY needed for the body to sustain life instead of jumping on some silly vegan bandwagon. And do some actual research, not that absurd pseudoscience you people actually call data.

          • Anastasia says:

            Going vegan by simply removing everything animal related is what unprepared people do. What you actually need to do is *replace* animal derived products with plants with the same overall nutritional value. It might be a difficult task to seek out various plants and supplements with adequate protein, fat and vitamin levels, but it is possible.

      • You’re funny. People only cover 25% of the land mass on the planet. Lol, no space. How crazy. I would bet my house that you exercise and take vitamin supplements. There is NO WAY you can maintain health on a strictly vegan diet. You WILL NOT have the needed nutrients. The best diet is a balanced omnivore diet. This does not mean that leaning to one side or the other more won’t be beneficial.

        My wife has a hard time digesting beef. She eats more veggies than meats, but she does consume meat. I eat more “meat” and almost an equal amount of veggies/fruits through my day (I save the meat for big meals, lunch, breakfast and dinner).

        Results. I have a better overall constitution than my wife. Does this mean anything? Who knows, it’s observational and who can tell just by looking? Promoting anything else besides a balanced omnivore diet is CRAAAAAZZZZIIEEEE!

    • I agree you’re very well off buying meat from a local farm and knowing what it is fed, but being vegan with an excellent awareness of nutrition leaves you at absolutely no disadvantage.

      Most people however don’t have this, they only have a very basic understanding and don’t have time to cut out lots of processed foods. Lots of people go vegan and are too busy to inform themselves and spend the time and attention on their diet that it requires. This does leave them at a disadvantage and significantly less healthy.

  2. Kris,
    Spot on as usual. In addition to your points, pehaps a #6 here, is that I wish many would be more honest in their reasoning. What I mean is, I think many vegans choose the lifestyle because of their feelings towards animal treatment, sustainability, etc. etc. I think those are valid reasons; however, they mask those reasons by claiming the “health benefits” and don’t want to admit they just don’t want to eat animals.

    I also totally agree that the perceived health benefits are mostly due to the healthy lifestyle choices – eliminating sugar, refined and processed foods, soda, chemical sweeteners, etc. etc. etc. It’s not so much the “diet” and what we chose to eat, it’s more about what one chooses NOT TO EAT, that can make all diet lifestyles healthy.

    • I totally agree with this a 1000%. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes in Feb. of this year. I am doing the very low carb diet thing. Not Atkins. Just low carb.

      At first I did cut out animal foods. Except for egg whites. I kept getting terrible headaches and at first thought it was just from the drastic lifestyle change, they will go away. Not so, after a month, I talked to my doctor and she advised me to go back to very small portions of animal foods because I wasn’t getting enough animal protein.

      So I did and guess what, the headaches stopped. That very night, I had 4 oz. of salmon. Headache gone… I have not had one since. And I am very proud to say that in a very short time as of August 21, 2013, I am a reversed diabetic. My blood sugar (A1C went from off the chart 11.5 to 5.2) in just four months.

      By adhering to this very low Carb lifestyle with small portions of animal foods, I am no longer on high blood pressure meds either. I had been on them for well over ten years. And now I am not on any meds of any kind and my cholesterol has never been bad but now, total cholesterol is 130. And excellent triglycerides. :) So there’s even more sound proof for y’all. :)

    • I eat a vegan diet because I have concluded it is the ethical way to eat. I make no special health claims about it, except, of course, that having a clearer conscience can contribute to better overall physical and mental well being.

      I still crave meat, and it is why I eat so many of the meat substitute products. If I could eat meat without contributing to pain, suffering, and environmental decline, I would, but until meat can be economically grown from cultures, I don’t see a way.

      There is nothing natural about the way animals are raised and processed today. Humans have acquired moral agency. I think we should exercise it.

      • Humans are animals, too. There’s no moral high ground when humans suffer instead of the animals. Eating grass-fed/naturally raised animals relieves the moral part of equation and supports local, sustainable agriculture.

        At any rate, you’re killing untold rodents, etc by relying on soybeans as your main protein source. If you think factory farming is unnatural, I tend to think the same applies to a soybean farm in Iowa as well.

        • This is and always has been a completely false and debunked claim, Guest. “You’re killing untold rodents…” – the majority of food crop in the world is grown to feed livestock. By eating meat, you contribute more to the death of field rodents and more towards deforestation for grazing.

        • “The majority of food crop in the world is grown to feed livestock…”

          Strawman argument. If you carefully read the article, you’ll note that the author supports meat from naturally-fed livestock. That means GRASS… something of which we have a LOT. Soy and corn used in CAFO feed is unhealthy for the livestock and as a result, the meat produced from those operations are unhealthy for us.

          I love how people conveniently ignore or gloss over facts to support their arguments. We are not in support of grains / corn / soy being used to feed livestock. Hell, we’re not even in support of them being used to feed humans! They’re as unhealthy for us as they are for the animals.

      • Natalie Collins says:

        I 100% agree with you, Rick.

      • Kerem Parlakgumus says:

        I totally agree with you Rick, thanks for the information.

      • “Lab meat” has been created and tested already. It’s closer to being a reality than one might think. Will this mark the end of Veganism? I doubt it because for many it is a religion (of sorts) and religions die hard.

        • I once asked a vegetarian, will he eat “lab meat” when it is commercially available in a supermarket. He said, after stopping eating meat for so many years he feels uncomfortable eating even “lab meat”. Veganism dies hard. Without veganism there will be one less platform to propagate certain religious agenda.

      • “moral agency”

        I don’t think you actually fully understands what that means, Rick.

      • Shelley J says:

        Rick, a proud cattle rancher here to clear your miseducation and ignorance.

        Over 97% of beef cattle farms and ranches are classified as family farms. Saying such UNTRUE and hatefully things towards thousands of American families that are honest, disciplined, and HARD WORKING is what should eat at your conscious. We work harder and longer hours 365 days a year than the typical American could even begin to fathom – and don’t complain for a minute. We take pride in playing a part in providing the safest food supply in the world and putting quality product on dinner tables across the country. We love our animals more than someone who is not in the livestock industry could ever understand.

        My family has operated a cattle ranch for over 100 years, we wouldn’t choose this lifestyle if it weren’t for love and an obligation to be their keeper. You might say, “you don’t love them because you raise them to be killed.” To this I say, humans are animals- omnivores- like many other species. Should the cheetah that chases down a gazelle stay up tossing and turning at night, unable to sleep because of the snack he had around high noon? NO- because he is an animal and it is natural for many species to eat meat.

        With this said, unfortunately there are instances of operations neglecting their obligation to their cattle. Irresponsible handling of animals is never supported by the cattle industry and breaks our heart each and every time an incident occurs. We are proud to run an operation that is safe, quality and ethical. Please keep in mind, all professions have cases of bad people that make bad choices and act irresponsibly. We hear of teachers who sexually abuse students, but does this make ALL teachers sexual predators? NO. Same goes for corrupt policeman, politicians, contractors, doctors, etc. There is a small minority of people in all professions that make horrible choices. The vast majority of cattle ranchers pride themselves in a healthy, responsibly raised herd.

        Next time you make such horribly generalized accusations, please be informed. If you choose to be a vegan, that is your choice and I fully respect that. I advocate a healthy balance of all types of foods. Everything in moderation. I run 4 miles, 5 days a week and have been an athlete my entire life.

        I will not tolerate your defamatory remarks at livelihood of cattle ranchers on the basis of misinformation and ignorance.

        • All Rick said was “There is nothing natural about the way animals are raised and processed today.” Which is actually perfectly true. Calling that a ‘defamatory’ remark based on ‘misinformation and ignorance’ is absolutely hysterical.

          Of course there are many farmers who care deeply for their animal charges. But, as morally abhorrent as battery farms and heavily industrialised farming methods are, they do have one significant economic advantage – they are very productive. They do provide a lot of meat and animal products with minimal resources.

          If we were to eradicate them entirely so that all our farms were ethically run and took good care of the animals, then there simply would not be enough food to meet demand. We would have to bulldoze what’s left of the Amazon for more farms, or ration/lower demand for meat.

          Also, whilst I do appreciate that you will strive for the wellbeing of your charges right up until slaughter day, the fact is that you DO still send them to slaughter. Which ethically is questionable, to say the least.

          You dismiss this saying ‘humans are omnivores’, but that is not sufficient. We can survive perfectly well on vegetarian/vegan diets – millions of people around the world do. So unlike for the cheetah, meat is not a necessity for us – it is a choice.

          Is it really ethical to take the life of an animal simply because I WANT (not need) to? Surely you can at least see the issue here?

      • Steven Lillford-Wildman says:

        I am vegan too. I think it’s so important to see animals as fully conscious beings. Most people think animals don’t suffer as much as humans, but of course they do. I fully believe in living with a clean conscience. Noone else who replied gets that. Animals get electrocuted to stun them before they are killed, which is horrific.

      • We’re animals too. To claim that it is “immoral” to eat animals is to deny your humanity, not to mention risk your own health for a moral code that most people in the world would kill to be able to have the affluence to have that kind of false guilt. Eat a burger and embrace your humanity.

      • The reason you crave meat is you are not getting the right nutrients from your vegan diet. If we were not supposed to be omnivores, we wouldn’t have Canine teeth and incisors.

        The human body is designed to process animal protein, and in fact as the article states, we actually need it to operate at our peak. You feel bad for animals. Animals are food. Period. It’s called the circle of life. Put some protein back in your diet, raise your testosterone back to normal levels, cut your soy intake, (soy products are an estrogen enhancer and disproportionately raise estrogen levels in men.) And be a MAN. Quit acting like a teenage girl on her period.

        I don’t eat meat because its cruel to kill an animal for food. Whaaaaa! Man up and shut up.

        • “Quit acting like a teenage girl on her period.”, “Man up and shut up.”

          I hope you don’t say this stuff in front of women.

          Knock it off.

      • As a devoted vegan, aside from all the obsessions I have about my own health issue and the fact I turn out to be completely healthy after five years of veganism and perfectly detailed health tests taken every 3 month and visiting doctors, I always thinks that on the darkest side, we should only be as much healthy as we deserve. I am not gonna make a life out of crushing the bones or invading the freedom of animals that all are as much rightful to live and evolve freely as I am. The fact of my intellectual superiority doesn’t give me right to use them, but the responsibility to care for them as we expect from a big brother or sister towards a younger sibling.

    • I don’t agree. Studies show that the number 1 reason for going vegan is concern for animals. Saying that vegans are lying when they say they do it for health concerns isn’t true. I’m sure a percentage tried it for a while and noted health benefits and then add that to their reasons. But to claim that we’re lying is false. I get crap from non-vegans telling me “You’ll be dead in X months/years/weeks.” I’ve been vegan for 37 years! That usually shuts them up.

  3. Thanks for the great info Kris. When I was studying nutrition at college I got so confused about what I “should” and “shouldn’t” eat, especially after struggling with my weight since the age of 18 when I started to put on a bit of weight and low fat dieting came in!

    I decided that I better become vegetarian because that’s what I was told was the best, healthiest, kindest diet. But in a very short time my energy levels zeroed and over the years I heard time and time again from people who tried to become vegetarian but they just became tired and sick – people from all walks of life and people who knew how to food combine including a doctor and many students of nutrition.

    Food is for nourishment and fun and we should all eat the way that our bodies and hearts dictate, moderate exercise, reasonable portions (as portion distortion becomes an ever increasing problem!) and occasional treats with your family and loved ones.

  4. Interesting how you glossed over the morality issue in a few blase sentences. For me, being a vegan is a moral choice. I do not wish to cause unnecessary suffering to animals. How we treat them is a direct reflection of our society. Is it ok to kill animals if they are ‘free range’? It’s no big deal to take a supplement.

    • But it’s ok to cram plants into small spaces, growing right on top of each other instead of being able to grow naturally in the wild, cover them in pesticides and fertilizer and then murder them en masse so that you can feel morally OK about not hurting animals?

      Morality is a matter of choice, not science. The arguments in the article are about the science of vegan vs. diets that include meat. And what more is there to say than that it’s disgusting how many animals that are bred for food are treated? And what about when I was growing up and we kept our own chickens, eating their eggs regularly?

      No battery farming, a healthy diet, a huge area to run around in and shelter when it was wet and cold. Why is it not OK to eat those eggs? Humans evolved to eat a diet of meat and plants. Your personal morality has no bearing on that.

      • “Evolve” is the key word – I’m sure that once it was necessary to source nutrition from whatever and wherever. This certainly isn’t the case now in developed nations.

        You might want to have a look at Dr. Milton Mill’s and his presentation The Comparative Anatomy of Eating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFROlwe-m3Y

        And that comment you made implying that plants “suffer” being crammed into small spaces – Surely you’re joking – Yes?

        Morality may not be science, but our ethical codes sure direct science. We know more now about animal sentience than we ever did before. We know more now that a plant based diet can be as nutritious if not more so than one that contains flesh. We know now that the production of meat, milk and eggs is terribly inefficient and damaging to the environment. The math of “morality” is written those who will heed.

        • Humans are animals and are sentient of the highest order.

          We suffer the least when consuming the animal products we evolved to eat. Our intestinal systems much more closely align with the cat or dog rather the herbivores. Having humans suffer (as I have on vegetarianism) so that animals don’t suffer does not make us ahead in the morality game.

          “And that comment you made implying that plants “suffer” being crammed into small spaces – Surely you’re joking – Yes?”

          Actually, no. In repeated discussion with vegetarians for moral reason, I tend to find they lack imagination on this point. Plants are life, too, and have the same importance (or greater) to the planet than the plants. They do not have sentience, but so what? They have a will to live and being denied water or adapt space must create suffering for them, even if it’s not on a level you can relate to.

          • Plants are life with no known ability to feel pain. You’re pulling hairs to struggle to maintain moral high ground, and it doesn’t work.

          • Wow, this is a bizarre comment. Your morality and imagination equate plants to humans on some level? That is absurd.

            Humans are obviously a higher form of life, and in my view, are not even animals–we have a spiritual source.

        • I concur.

        • You do realize plants have feelings too, right? I hate to say it but our understanding of sentience is far from complete.

        • I love reading this debate!

          However, I can not agree that eating a diet of just plant products is less damaging to the environment than eating a diet of meat. Huge commercial farming is awful for the environment, doesn’t matter what’s being farmed, plants or meat. Harvesting plants on a large scale has a huge negative affect on the environment, just think about the amounts of vegetation it takes to feed an adult compared to a piece of meat from one cow and how it’s grown and harvested and packaged. (Look into how it’s all done, it’s surprising.) Most of the US gets its vegetarian products from huge farmers to be made into food or supplements, it’s a huge negative effect on the environment on all levels.

          Now take a step back and look at the small local farmers, these are the people to support. Farming live stock in an ethical way, no hormones or antibiotics. When farming is done right everything is recycled and put back into the farm, completely sustainable. Everything works together, animals, plants and people, everything is important and without one thing it cannot work. If you’re really concerned with morality, you have to look at the big picture and how your food is really made and where it comes from. Only affluent nations have the opportunity to eat vegan diets and these nations harvest their vegan foods poorly. The key to a healthy life and a perfect world is balance.

          • I just never get this argument about how unethical it is to grow plants, because it doesn’t matter whether you are a meat eater or vegetarian, you are both eating plants anyway, you just can’t cut them out at all so you can’t protest the amount of damage they do to the environment by simple exclusion.

            Anyway your comment about affluent nations getting to have vegan/vegetarian diets isn’t really true. Animals aren’t just sitting around in large numbers waiting for you to kill them. Many people around the world rarely get access to meats (even if they would like to eat more) because of the environment and the cost of meat.

            India has had a social class of vegetarians going back hundreds if not thousands of years now. And many tribes in the middle east and parts of Africa live off vegetable based staple diets, because they can only afford to slaughter an animal about twice a year, which doesn’t sound like much meat to me. Otherwise they drink the milk for nutrients.

            Also I know a German lady who grew up in a village. She said over the winter they couldn’t afford to slaughter their animals, because of the snow you don’t have enough feed to simply breed up the population. If you wanted meat the rest of the year you had to invite the butcher over and make a day of it (slaughtering the animal that is) so meat was something special, you didn’t just get to eat it all the time.

          • I completely agree with Eddie’s comment.

            “Only affluent nations have the opportunity to eat vegan diets and these nations harvest their vegan foods poorly. The key to a healthy life and a perfect world is balance”.

            Well said! :)

          • “Only affluent nations have the opportunity to eat vegan diets” – that’s simply not true, in fact the opposite is true, given the extra resources it takes to grow meat, which incidentally is why America is land grabbing around the world – it can’t feed its current population eating meat with its own land already, even using CAFO’s, thus its stealing, sorry, leasing/buying land from poorer nations to use to grow feed.

            Meat is simply unsustainable. And moving to grass-fed meat would just mean even more land required, and we would have to cull about 80% of humans.

      • What a ridiculous argument. Plants don’t have pain sensors, nerves or brains. Good grief. This really is the lowest of the low arguments against people who refuse to treat animals like objects.

    • Exactly! If it were a big deal to take “a” supplement then people who munch on animals might want to consider all the supplements those animals are fed: https://www.google.com/search?q=livestock+b12+supplements&oq=livestock+b&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j5j0.6933j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

      Another point – My omnivore neighbors both had B12 injections every other month. Eating flesh has nothing to do with how the body absorbs B12. I’m meat free for almost 10 years and loving my compassionate choice! ;)

    • Moral issues? Who’s to say a plant is any more or less morally acceptable to consume than an animal? Just because plants are not “animate” in the normal sense doesn’t mean that they are less important than an animal. Plants are just as alive as animals. Making moral judgments based on how cute animals look is rather stupid.

      The people that make these arguments clearly lack any kind of rational thought process. Plants and animals deserve similar levels of respect. You vegans and vegheads are killing plants to achieve your ends. Doesn’t that bother you? The poor plants. The real way to look at this is the way many Native Americans do. We consume plants and animals to live. As long as we respect the plants and animals we consume, they are becoming a “part” of us.

      Get some perspective people!

      • Herne Webber says:

        Two things to consider:

        1) It would be pointless for plants to evolve pain sensation, since they cannot move away from sources of damage, thus, since they do not feel pain as we do, and understand it in some fashion in a brain like ours, they automatically become second-class life forms for this purpose.

        2) If you eat animals, then you are causing the consumption of tons more plants than the staunchest vegan ever could via the animal’s metabolism. Thus, vegans ARE showing more respect for plants than omnivores, because they are not eating ‘primary consumers’ (i.e., animals like cows).

        • Such brilliant rationalisations! :-P Just keep on telling yourself what you need to salve your conscience and live in a magical dreamland, rather than fess up to the realities of life.

          Or maybe take a look at the PBS documentary I linked below :-)

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjrEdv9E0yU

          • Herne Webber is correct. There is no scientific evidence that plants can feel pain, are conscious, or subjectively care what happens to them. To put it another way, there’s no one home. Plants do exhibit amazing capacities to react to their environments, but people who think that “plants have feelings too” are confusing sensitivity (reaction) with sentience (conscious experience).

            http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/07/16/plants-cannot-think-and-remember-but-theres-nothing-stupid-about-them-theyre-shockingly-sophisticated/

          • Ummm No… she’s wrong!

            Just because we (with our limited imaginations and current science) think that plants don’t experience consciousness in the same way that we do (is the human way the ONLY way?), what right does that give her to assign them to a “second-class life-form”?

            Do you also assign a greater value to a 5 year old cow than you do to a 1,000 year old Giant Sequoia? Which do you think has the greater value to our ecosystem?

            Who the heck are you to make arbitrary decisions about the worth of various life-forms on this planet? I’m certainly in no position to do any such thing but then I am not looking for rationalisations as to why eating plant life is somehow better (or even just less harmful) than eating animal life.

          • When I said she’s correct, I was referring to her point that plants cannot feel pain. If you disagree with that, then you disagree with current scientific evidence. But I would say she’s also correct in claiming that, because they are not sentient, plants do not have the same moral standing as humans or other sentient animals. That is, individual plants do not have the same moral claim on us as individual animals do. Despite your protestations, I suspect you would not hesitate to save a human being or a dog from a fire rather than save a pine tree, if you had to choose. And you would be right to do so; in fact, if you made a different choice, most people would consider you a moral monster.

            All that’s different from the ecological value of organisms. From the standpoint of the planet, one organism is not intrinsically superior to another, and these days there are, ecologically speaking, far too many humans and cows on the planet, and probably not enough giant sequoias. Because I’m not looking for a rationalization for eating meat, I can draw a rational distinction between ecological harm and the harm subjectively experienced by individuals, and recognize the real, but different, moral claims respectively entailed.

          • And this is exactly why I call BS! You are flailing about making all kinds of sounds but no sense.

            Intrinsically all life has the same value but you make a “moral” choice based on the evidence that plants don’t feel pain as we do, therefore (arbitrarily) they have a lower moral claim? WTF does that even mean?

            Many pine trees are fire resistant (some even rely on it to germinate their seeds)… I’m not a firefighter… if I were a position to offer help, a dog or human is in more immediate danger from a fire than a tree is… so what exactly is your point? Is this all just so much distraction rather than answering my simple question about which has more value? Or did you already answer that with your “moral claim” statement?

            I have NO PROBLEM with me eating animal and/or plant life…. YOU are the one that seems to have the problem with that. So why on earth would I need to rationalize my choices?

          • Everybody is equal but some are more equal than others.

            I am getting mighty sick of the judgmental, moralistic attitude shown by people who claim to be compassionate and caring, lovers of life. It smacks of the same self-righteousness found in religions, “Oh I am SOOO much more humble than you are… in fact I must be the MOST humble person in the Universe!”

            I call it hypocrisy.

    • FreedomFan says:

      Animals are not humans. Almost all animals we eat are grown for human consumption, and would not even exist in their current form or in numbers near as large.

      Where is the morality when a carnivorous animal kills another for its consumption? Predators are specialized to be predators and could not exist otherwise.

      Where is the morality when you kill a living plant for human consumption?

      This holier-than-thou morality shtick that vegans always pull does pass the logic test. Perhaps veganism also affects the brain.

      • Keep in mind what is used for “fertilizer”. Most plants that are commercially grown are fertilized with chemical products. This is not natural and definitely not healthy, many are petroleum product based.

        As a society we have lost are connection with our food source, both plants and animals are needed. The plants need the animals for the fertilizer and carbon dioxide, and the animals need the plants for food. It is not a one sided argument.

        Nature is not nice, the lion does not sedate his victim and give them pain killers before he devours them. We can argue the morality all day long, but if you spend any time in nature you will see the cycle of life.

        By not eating meat you are not doing the earth any favors, look at how much land is cleared to grow these vegan and grain crops, that takes away from the animals that live there or naturally grazed these lands.

        I don’t agree with the large farming practices, when I grew up a dairy cow would reach 10 years of age still in good health, now they are done at 5 years. Commercially farmed animals are fed hormones and antibiotics to increase profits for commercial agriculture. It’s all about the bottom line.

        Try to support smaller farmers who take care of their animals and raise them on their natural diets, it is a good life for the animals that are raised on those farms.

        • It takes more crops to feed animals for meat than it would to feed people directly with those crops. By eating animals you are supporting a “double” population growth.

          And we could adopt a vegan-organic “stock free” system of growing plants to avoid the agricultural problems you describe: http://veganorganic.net/

      • Herne Webber says:

        “Where is the morality when you kill a plant for consumption?”

        Easy question. Plants have no brain, and no pain sensation, thus eating them causes less of what we understand to be pain and suffering. Second, vegans are eating far *fewer* plants than omnivores, because omnivores are eating primary consumers (like cows), which ate tons of plants before being killed.

        I stopped eating animals due to how they are raised and killed under ordinary conditions today, but since then, I discovered all of the *other* good reasons for not eating them, including resource waste and the fouling of the natural environment. Yes, intensive plant farming with unnatural chemicals is bad. So how much worse is it when you do that times ten to eat some meat?

        • FreedomFan says:

          “vegans are eating far *fewer* plants than omnivores, because omnivores are eating primary consumers (like cows), which ate tons of plants”

          Have you eaten any grass lately?

    • Many gophers are killed plowing a field, boiling water kills many micro organisms. Even organic farming involves using non-toxic means of killing pests (i.e. lady bugs, etc.). Death is part of life, and unless you kill yourself, you will be directly involved in the killing of other organisms. If animals are raised humanely, and killed mercifully, then there is no moral issue with eating meat.

    • Plants have feelings, too. Seriously. There are many emerging studies proving that plants respond to different stimuli. I know my farmer and my hunter. They don’t torture their animals. Or their plants.

      • Yes there are studies that indicate that plants show some kind of response when they are cut, and even send signals to other plants to “warn” them. So if you are really concerned about minimising the harm to plants, you would therefore eat less meat since then the total amount of plants “hurt” would be reduced. You could also try becoming fruitarian and maybe supplement with rocks. Good luck.

    • I bet you support abortion. Not that I am pro life but I have yet to find a Vegan/Vegetarian that was not pro choice. So, it’s ok to kill babies, but not animals. That is always a baffling thing to me. You people put more weight on animals than humans. In other words, human life is not as sacred as a dumb animal.

      • I know plenty of vegans and vegetarians who are not pro-choice. Of the ones I know that are – They justify being so because “life” is not present in embryos. Without being “born” it is difficult to say an abortion is “killing” any one. There’s also a detail of the rights of the woman who is carrying this “potential” for life. All these things are not present when deciding to kill a living, sentient nonhuman.

        I suggest that if preservation of life and potential life are high on your list that you too adopt a vegan diet that we know prevents enormous suffering to innocent victims, and at the same time advocate for issues that would preserve unborn human life as well. But the end score is, that matters that involve ones physical body has to be left for them to choose. Being vegan or vegetarian does not stop anyone from advocating for human life.

    • But taking a supplement means that the supplement was made out of who knows what, who knows where, and the factory making it is unleashing unknown amounts of pollution into the air… why not take a trip to a local farm and witness how they slaughter their animals? Primal pastures in California is a beautiful operation and every life is special. Most people take care when killing an animal for food to keep its suffering to a minimum and they appreciate what they are getting from the animal.

  5. Great article Kris. I can understand why people would not want to eat animals. I was vegetarian for about 10 years because I love animals and didn’t like the idea of animals dying so I could live. My diet was far from healthy as I was eating a lot of wheat, soy and junk food. I’m now eating LCHF and by keeping the fat very high and the protein moderate I feel I am only eating the amount of meat I need to stay healthy and not taking more from the animal kingdom than I really need.

    I can see how it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain good health on a totally vegan diet but what are your thoughts on vegetarian diets that include dairy and eggs? I ask because I am trying to get a vegetarian relative to eat more healthily and to cut down on wheat and soy and to include more healthy fats in their diet. This person will not eat meat but can they get all their nutritional requirements on a vegetarian diet?

    • I think a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet can be fine if it includes some grass-fed dairy products and high quality whole eggs, but including the yolks is critical as that’s where all the good nutrients are. Omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs are best.

      It is definitely a much more reasonable choice than a full-vegan diet and can be perfectly healthy in my opinion.

      • Thanks for your reply Kris.

      • I use chia seeds and other nuts and legumes for the Omegas. They keep me healthy. :)

        • Hi Sharna,

          I am not sure that the Omegas from vegetable sources are the same as those from fish and eggs.

          Here is a quote from the article above

          ‘Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is the most active form of Omega-3 fatty acids in the body and primarily found in animal foods. The plant form of Omega-3s, ALA, is inefficiently converted to DHA in the body’

          This is something I would like to understand more about as I am not sure how effective or efficient omega 3′s from plant sources are for maintaining optimal health and well being.

          I include milled flaxseeds as part of my diet but I also include oily fish a couple of times a week.

          • Apparently Bill Clinton, who is now on a ‘vegan’ diet for his health, also includes oily fish in his diet????

          • I also use flaxseed oil. I see a qualified dietitian and she has found alternatives for me as she knows that we can survive and thrive without animal flesh and supports me with whatever I need.

            I don’t mind if people are interested in creating optimum health through nutrition, as that’s where my passion is too and I have decided that if I can be the healthiest possible and not eat animals I definitely will. Old programming from old information, advertising and tradition and habit was what kept me from living in a way that fits with my values and gives me optimum health.

            I glow more than ever and have dropped 21kg by eliminating, animal flesh, dairy and gluten. It’s good to stay open minded and up to date with new information and get inspired by others. Thanks for your info.

  6. Sam Rickman says:

    Great article as always, Kris, but there are large quantities of Vitamin C in liver.

  7. Great article! I have struggled for many years trying to find that middle ground where I could sit comfortably! I can’t have dairy, gluten or soy so I spend lots of time trying to avoid that and with the SAD, that alone is a struggle!! The thought of a vegan diet is appealing (for many reasons beyond The China Study) but as you stated, there are too many issues with deficiencies that lead me to believe it is not right. I have settled on the Mediterranean diet and am quite happy with it.

    With that said though, I do feel that if someone is suffering from a debilitating disease, switching to a raw, vegan diet can be beneficial during the healing process as part of a detox or reboot to their system. But of course, I think it should be monitored by a qualified holistic nutritionist and the use of supplements is a must. What are your thoughts?

  8. Joe Pradetto says:

    Kris,

    Thank you for taking the time to do the research and write this article. Great job as usual!

    If you would, for my sake, take a look at this web article that claims that vegan men have higher testosterone than vegetarians and meat eaters and less incidence of cancer and comment (http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/02/12/less-cancer-in-vegan-men-despite-more-testosterone/). I would like to hear your take.

    Sincerely,
    Joe Pradetto

    • Do not believe anything from this site. This guy is a fraud. Vegan men do not have higher testosterone than meat eaters.

      • Hunter gatherer societies like the tribes still existent in new guinea lacked protein in their diet because their main source of food are plant based. They practiced cannibalism as a result. Since you’re interested in a purely health based issue, is human flesh the ideal meat (hypothetical)?

  9. Kris, I’m a dietitian specializing in vegan nutrition and I found your article to be a mix of fact and fiction.

    I would agree that you don’t have to be a vegan in order to be healthy. On the other hand, you *can* be perfectly healthy on a vegan diet that is supplemented with vitamin B12. If that’s true, then it’s pretty hard to justify eating animal products which will always contribute to animal cruelty.

    The fact that *some* vegans use “lies and fear-mongering” to promote vegan diets is unfortunate, but it’s not exactly logical to say that this is a reason why vegan diets are a bad idea. Can’t veganism still be a perfectly good idea even if you don’t like the way some vegans promote it?

    I see veganism as a moral imperative. As long as there is no health reason *not* to eat this way (and you have not presented any factual argument against it), then it seems to make sense to eat in the kindest and most compassionate way possible.

    • David Jardon says:

      Moral is personal, subjective, science is objective. What many of us (meat eaters that want to have the healthiest diet possible) are interested to analyze is the diet question from a scientific analysis, taking moral totally Out Of The Question!! To include moral in any scientific discussion is rather a medieval way of thought that I find disturbing.

      I think vegan comments here do actually confirm the article’s analysis, veganism has more to do with moral and a personal choice than with scientific facts. That’s enough for me, given that premise each one can make his own choice.

      • “Choice” is fine when you’re considering a blue shirt or a white one… A four-door car or a two door… Boxers or briefs… But “choices” that involve the UNNECESSARY taking of life deserve much more critical analysis than what’s claimed by meat-eaters. There’s is overwhelming proof that a whole foods, plant based diet can be a healthy alternative to destructive “choices”.

        I honestly don’t know what type of people could make the claim that it’s “moral” to kill when there are other options not to.

        • Kill what? Animals that have cute faces as babies? Insects that get killed so your lettuce is pest free? The microbes in the soil that are destroyed by vast sterile mono-cultures? The animals and birds killed during the grain harvest? Or fish killed by run-off from the pesticides and fertilizers? The wildlife that was displaced so that you can have your field of veggies? You’ll really have to be a bit more specific and bit more realistic before you start judging others Bea.

          The “circle of life” includes us Bea. It is a massive recycling project and nothing living on this planet does so without taking life from something else.

          • Then it would be ok for me to kill and eat you… I assure you, I could… just part of the circle of life, Frank.

          • That would be against the law Bob and you know it. But my version of reality does include the consumption of humans in times of great necessity as has happened on more than one occasion in our species’ past. If my family were starving I would be willing to sacrifice myself for them… why not?

            Also as I pointed out in another comment, I daresay I am being recycled by microbes even as I type these words. Welcome to the real world Bob.

          • To expand on my response:

            It makes little sense to advocate wholesale slaughter and consumption of humans — we ARE humans and when you get right down to basics, our genetic imperative is to propagate ourselves and our species.

            But this in no way means we can judge ourselves to be “superior” or in a different “class” to other lifeforms on this planet.

            On the contrary: this basic acknowledgement of our genetic imperative REQUIRES us to respect and value ALL the lifeforms in our ecosystem. If for no other reason than: without respecting and valuing our ecosystem, we ultimately risk killing ourselves off.

            This is what I find so short-sighted about this airy-fairy view of “life” as only really being applied to animals with cute faces (awwwww). To hear plants described as a “lower form of life” is not accepting reality.

            I see one of the commenters here has a blog where she bemoans the poor treatment of veal calves — I agree and see no reason to treat any living thing with disrespect (not least because I feel that ultimately leads to the disrespect of humans as well) BUT what exactly does she think would happen to those calves if there were not a thriving demand for livestock? If people didn’t eat meat, farmers certainly won’t be keeping them on as expensive “pets” — probably the most demeaning attitude to life that I have come across so far.

          • *To hear plants described as “second-class life forms” is not accepting reality.

          • These microbes, insects and small mammals you’re concerned with… We don’t deliberately breed them to kill them now do we? My husband comes from a long line of family farmers. They’ve planted and harvested thousands of acres of grains, corn and beans. I’ve taken the opportunity to ask each generation about the “casualties” they encountered throughout the decades. Surprisingly there are very few – A few nesting rabbits, some voles and snakes… It seems these critters are VERY smart!

            Once they hear the thrashers and machines — They scat in every-which direction. There’s very little worry about the “blood on ones’ hands” from eating a plant based diet. Also, there’s a world of difference between the accidental killing of creatures in order to eat a food we MUST consume to live and the breeding of billions of sentient beings in order to eat a food that is NOT NECESSARY. Besides – Don’t you think those creatures are killed in the harvesting of grain that fattens your “food animals” too? A meat-based diet just magnifies the suffering and deaths. http://www.countinganimals.com/how-many-animals-does-a-vegetarian-save/

            And in regards to your “circle of life” assessment may I ask why it is then that humans go through such massive, environmentally DESTRUCTIVE means to “preserve” their corpses after the lavish funerals? Why the sealed vaults and impenetrable boxes? Technically the best use of our “circle of life” remains would be to feed stock fishes so we don’t have to harvest the already depleted oceans. Or better yet, we should be feeding the carnivores in the circuses and zoos that we love to see them imprisoned in.

            Honestly, your “circle of life” is actually more like a “circle of killing” for our desires – It has little to do with the other compassionate choices that many of us are making.

          • I agree completely about the wasted effort in embalming bodies and sealing them in coffins… which is why I have already opted (in my will) to donate my body to the local medical school. Hopefully it can serve some purpose for the next generation of Doctors… lawd knows it will be of no further use to me.

            That is all just to say that I do actually put into practice what I say… my life is not a series of rationalisations in order to salve my conscience.

            Justifying the death in your wake by saying “well it’s really not as bad as someone else’s” is a pretty poor reflection on your own morality Bea. It seem to me that: for you it is OK just so long as you don’t see or hear about it. And yet you see fit to sit in judgement on others who are more honest about the inevitability of death. I call that hypocrisy.

          • Oh and for the record the “food animals” that I eat are fed on grass NOT grain. They help to build topsoil — a fundamental of our food system — instead of sterilizing it, eroding it and polluting it with chemical run-off.

          • I believe you have the whole concept of being vegan wrong. It’s not about perfection. Non of us can attain this ideal. The premise is to “avoid as much as possible” the harm to other life. No hypocrisy here. Eating to survive and eating for flesh-gluttony just aren’t the same. Sorry.

            And just wondering – Your “grass fed” meat – Is there enough for the world to eat this diet of yours? Or will a few billion go on a (according to you), “inferior” diet? I don’t imagine justice is part of your scheme… That’s sad.

          • Bea… where did I say that your diet is “inferior” please point that out to me? Or apologise for misrepresenting the facts. I am defending my way of eating not attacking yours. You are the one who seem to have an issue with your way of eating… not me

            You see I don’t need to rationalize away my choices to salve my conscience.. I can live with the reality of the situation. That includes your right to eat however you darn well please.. just so long as you don’t try to force it on others.

          • Hi FrankG – If you are eating in a way that you think is the most beneficial for human health – Then it’s only reasonable to think your “free-range” meats are the best (supreme) choice. My question was – Do you think there’s enough resources to feed everyone the way you profess is the best way to eat?

            Secondly, of course I’m not able to “force” you to eat any other way than what you choose. By the same reasoning I am under no imperative to respect your choice. You simply can’t expect that from me given that I value other lives in a way you don’t. I may tolerate your “choice”… But I don’t accept it as kind or wise. And you can’t “force” me to believe differently.

          • As somebody who is interested in health and likes animals, I’ve thought about trying a vegan diet many times in the past. However, whenever I start thinking seriously about it and read articles about veganism, I read judgmental comments from people like Bea here, and that just turns me OFF.

            Seriously Bea, if you want to convince more people to become vegan, drop the “holier than thou” attitude.

          • Oh! So I get it Jen! Your choice to be kind totally depends on my not being so! Totally makes sense! I suppose that line of thinking might benefit me the next time someone doesn’t hold the door open for me – Guess I’ll just slam it on the one behind me too. You’ll see though – As this conversation advanced/digressed I have made many efforts to be polite and respectful. I also can’t help but use blunt honesty, as that’s how serious harming others is to me. I guarantee, if you were a victim… You’d want me on your side. If you see my words as offensive, a lot depends on your initial position regarding justice.

            For the sake of clarity though… Vegans aren’t the ones mulling over how other beings shall be kept, what parts of their bodies will be removed, when and how they will be impregnated, or when the proper time is to steal their babies. Vegans aren’t deciding which beings get to live or be killed or what methods their deaths will be orchestrated. Those decisions are reserved for the “nonjudgmental” omnivores, most often with the most absurd justifications and rationalizations. Many times by statements that the very edicts from the gOds allow them this privilege. FYI – Killing without cause, is ALWAYS “holier than”.

    • Do you have a Facebook page that I could LIKE? I appreciate the information you share.

    • “On the other hand, you *can* be perfectly healthy on a vegan diet that is supplemented with vitamin B12.”

      I am not sure that this is true, there certainly aren’t many randomized controlled trials (real science) to support it. If you’re aware of any that go longer than 22 weeks (that one study in diabetics by Barnard, et al), then I’d love to see them.

      I think it is definitely possible that many people could sustain good health on a vegan diet, as long as they are prudent and take the B12 supps (possibly also creatine, DHA and more). But I don’t think this applies to everyone, what works for one person may not work for the next.

      I don’t think eating animals is “cruel,” this is simply how nature works. Factory farming and CAFOs are bad, I agree with that, but I think my health is more important.

      • Kris,

        You don’t have to go too far into your article to find out you don’t have your “real” facts straight. For example:

        I am sitting here at my dinner table and looking at a carton of Organic Soy Milk. The Nutrition Facts label clearly shows 1 cup of this milk = 1 serving has 50% of vitamin B12.

        Get educated first. Then, verify again from different sources, compare the notes and make an objective call. Most of your data comes from what they call “trials”. Medical industry, Monsanto and other influential organizations that rule the world of “nutrition” in this country and the world feeding the public wrong information, supervise these trials and use people like you to further mislead the public.

    • On the question of morality I have many ideas but one of my major concerns is what impact your actions have on other humans…

      In other words: if you make your own choice as a responsible adult to adopt a vegan lifestyle and do not try to force it others — especially with pseudoscience — then live and let live!

      But what of your children? Even if you are convinced you can adequately nourish your adult body without animal products (and I daresay it is a lot more complicated to do so than the complete nourishment I can easily get from say a grass-fed rib-eye steak) are you so certain about your growing children, or perhaps even more importantly, the developing foetus in the womb?

      For example I see Dr Neal Barnard as an outspoken proponent of veganism (although he tries to hide his agenda behind the misleadingly named “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine”) — how many of you realize that he developed his tall good looks (although lately painfully emaciated) and high cheekbones, while growing up on his Grandparents stock farm? Only “converting” to veganism is his early 20s?

      For the larger “moral” question look to the genome and realize that we are ALL (plants and animals) part of the same tree of life. This “specist” attitude that some are more important that others is barmy — is a 5 year old cow more important that a 1,000 year old sequoia? Where do you draw the line… does it have to have a face and look cute as a baby? What about insects? How many of 1,000s of those are killed growing your vegetables? What about the microbes on your skin and in your gut?

      You cannot “live” without taking in some other form of “life”… I daresay I am being recycled by microbes, even as I write these words.

      And for the environmental question: it is not a done deal that raising livestock is unsustainable.. look to examples like Polyface Farms run by Joel Salatin. He is all about growing topsoil.

      Or watch this Allan Savory TED Talk, on How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change (with cattle)

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTHi7O66pI

    • Well said!

    • It’s YOUR morality Ginny, not mine.

      Nor am I alone. I am not aware of many societies throughout history that felt strict veganism was morally the only way to go. Sure some like the Hindu minimize animal products but I can tell you they love paneer (cheese), yogurt, milk etc. Also, in my experience traveling and living in India many are not even strict vegetarians eating eggs and sometimes fish–just anything except beef–hardly vegan.

      The points about eating plants ARE valid. In order for organisms such as us to live, something else lower in the food chain (closer to getting the ultimate energy from the sun) must die. Plants it has now been shown “react” to being eaten by predators by developing natural insecticides–and according to the latest research communicating this altruistically (?) to nearby plants by scent etc, not to save themselves but to save the others by increasing the other plants natural insecticides. Perhaps this doesn’t fit your definition of being sentient but so what?

      My morality looks at the best solution for humanity as a whole-and for oneself. In that context as a wealthy 1st worlder I can stick to organic food and recognize that many arguments can be made against factory farming-or for that matter against GMO food. I do eat grass fed beef in great moderation–because it tastes good and is reasonably good for me–in moderation. While I wouldn’t want to be a cow being slaughtered, you need to recognize that without farmers raising modern cows-for ultimate slaughter there would be virtually no such cows left in nature-they are utterly (udderly?) defenseless and would be torn apart by wolves, dogs, cougars , lions etc—-would this be better for their species?

      Or is your morality based on slaughtering the man made herd of hundreds of millions of these defenseless animals (or letting them starve to death since no farmer would feed them if he couldn’t make money on them) because to you they are an abomination? Or because in several very specific ecosystems progenitor creatures like buffalo can effectively compete in nature? Gee if I was one of the billion or so cows I might want at least some life–but then again your morality wouldn’t allow this.

      With six billion people on earth there is enormous pressure for efficient use of land–and some factory farms like those for fish, chicken, shrimp etc do an excellent job of converting relatively low levels of “good food”, into much higher quality food for humans, and cheaply. If insects could be converted into a palatable meal I suspect that would be a good food source as well.

      But your implicit sense of moral superiority leaves me cold–as I am sure mine does to you. That’s perfectly OK. It does not mean however that the underlying article is wrong just because Kris doesn’t embrace your particular moral code.

      • Excellent points Carl… hear hear.

        I “udderly” agree :-)

        In particular I appreciated your definition of “lower in the food chain” as “closer to getting the ultimate energy from the sun” which is stating the facts, without implying any moralistic judgement about their value — by definition: EVERY link in a chain is vital to that chain’s continued existence.

        When engaged in discussions such as this I will sometimes (perhaps a little facetiously) agree that my diet is indeed plant based but that I more often let my “food” eat the plants for me. Often then I will correct myself and (as you’ve stated) acknowledge that really pretty much everything we eat is “solar based”.

        Regarding plant behaviour, you might be interested in the PBS Nature documentary I have linked a couple of times now…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjrEdv9E0yU

        ..they explore how plants interact with each other and their environment: including how they forage, show preference to close relatives, react to threats (as you pointed out) and even a segment on parent trees nurturing their young. Perhaps we miss all this behaviour because it is not on our time-scale but that does not make it any less real nor any reason to denigrate them as second-class life-forms.

      • If you were in India… You must have encountered the Jains. They are your missing “strict vegetarians”. If nothing else, since their culture is nearly ancient – That proves a point that the human body can and does live without animal consumption – Dare I say… Even without B12 “supplements”.

        • Best I can determine from the interweb (and no doubt I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong) but “For Jains, lacto-vegetarianism (generally known simply as vegetarianism in India) is mandatory.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jain_vegetarianism
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacto-vegetarianism

          Not Vegan then…

          • I know someone who comes from a family of Jains… She says everyone she knew was “pure” vegetarian (vegan). Of course there are always exceptions – Point is though – That there are indeed folks who live fine without the butter too. ;)

          • See the citation above where it states that in India lacto-vegetarianism is “generally known simply as vegetarianism”..?

            Call me skeptical but it seems to me that the vegan diet already has a name “vegan”.

            I understand that there are Jains who do practice veganism (veganity?) but that not all do, nor is it a requirement of this religious sect.

            So please let’s dispense with these disingenuous equivalencies between the two things.

          • Nitin Jain says:

            Hi Frank,

            First of all, lacto vegetarianism is not mandatory. The whole principle is to reduce violence, so some people even avoid curd (growth of infinitely many bacterias) and vegetables which grows underground, even multi seed vegetables. Our saint keeps on giving food and I know some who only take wheat, plantain and some vegetables.

            That is it, no animal products, no salt, sugar etc. On an average, they live more than 75. Some of them even eat alternate days and only once in a day. So, I don’t quite believe in the argument of lacking in nutrients, even for vegans.

        • At the same time Jainism seems to perfectly fit an ideal (albeit extreme) of respect for ALL of life, including animals, plants, insects and microbes.

        • … except jainism DOES recommend B12 supplements.

          From the jainsamaj.org website:

          “To be on the safe side, if you are one of the few people who do not consume dairy products, eggs, or fortified foods regularly, you can take a non-animal derived supplement.”

          From jainstudy.org:

          “A diet containing dairy products provides adequate vitamin B12.”

        • You have no idea what you are talking about. Jains are NOT vegans. Even the strictest devotees drink milk and eat yogurt and cheese.

          • “For Jains, lacto-vegetarianism represents the minimal obligation: food which contains even small particles of the bodies of dead animals or eggs is absolutely unacceptable. Jain scholars and activists support veganism, as the production of dairy products is perceived to involve violence against cows.” Please wiki it.

          • I did Wiki it and you missed out this key principle…

            “Jainism, traditionally known as Jaina dharma, is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasises spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life.

            ALL forms of life :-)

          • I was replying to Amy Jain who said Jains are not vegan. The reason *why* they are vegan isn’t the issue – But that they are! And clearly if they eschew “egg” and view dairy as “violence” to cows — Then that means they *ARE* vegan.

          • Some Jains MAY be vegan… the point is that not ALL are. It is not a REQUIREMENT. Check the Wiki links I posted earlier when you were also trying (in vain) to draw the exact same false equivalency between “vegetarian” and “vegan”..

            As I pointed out then, vegans already have a word for what they do… it is called “vegan”.

            Perhaps if you focused on facts rather than trying to preach your sanctimonious and hypocritical claptrap, you might have some credibility.

            ALL life is worthy of respect but we can’t survive without borrowing life from others. If you feel that you need to justify to yourself why you are so much better than others who choose to respectfully, honestly and sustainably take life from animals that have faces and mothers, as opposed to life that that doesn’t look so much like us, then that is YOUR problem NOT MINE.

          • The Wiki you quoted from goes on to explain how the Jains rationalize their choices by building an hierarchy of life forms, based on the number of senses — this is totally arbitrary and increasingly meaninglessness as science continues to reveal how so many things that we took as justifying humans as “superior” are not so secure anymore… we used to be defined as the only toolmakers for example. There are numerous comments here pointing out recent findings about how plants react and engage with their environment — pretty much the way that animals do. Of course people like you can still rest easy at night as you can easily ignore what you fail to understand… right?!?

            Perhaps this all has something to do with the belief that we have a “soul” or some such supernatural magic-stuff. I would have hoped we would have matured beyond the need for such made-up bed-time stories by now.

            As for the Jains “hierarchy of senses” I wonder where they would place a deaf, mute and blind person? Maybe next you’ll be judging me on the colour of my skin or the size of my head?

          • Nitin Jain says:

            Hi Amy,

            Strictest ones don’t eat cheese, they do consume curd developed from milk in some time period (45mins to 1 hour I believe the time when the bacterias are still finite in number). I also think at the time of Mahavira, the milk was taken considering cow as a family member. Basically, only milking it after calf consumes it and then milk only the required amount.

            All in all, violence wasn’t involved in milking the cow. Also, the milk in our household in India doesn’t come from industry but villagers who treat cows decently. But, with the change of time, I believe jains needs to become almost vegan unless they have cows in their home, whom they treat well and milk them.

    • To Bea – ‘thousands of acres of grains’ – maybe not many small creatures were killed by thrashers and machines, but how many lost their habitats to those acres of grains?

      Grains are not particularly good food for humans and the over consumption of grains is a big reason for many of the modern disease epidemics we have today – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome.

      Grains are also not the best food for animals that are reared for human consumption – grains are not their natural diet. Grass is what they are meant to eat.

      Rather than huge monocultures of grain crops being grown I think it would be better to go back to small farms growing organic crops and keeping free range pastured animals that also serve to fertilise the soil and also don’t destroy the natural habitat for wild animals. Sustainable farming.

      • I have no problem with the farms growing organic sustainable crops and veggies like veganic gardening and permaculture… Just wouldn’t want any needless bloodshed in the mix – Thanks just the same though! ;)

        • And “needless bloodshed” I presume to mean just so long as you (Bea) don’t personally have to see, hear, or know about it?

          • Of course I don’t want to contribute, hear or see other creatures being harmed for my benefit. But most importantly I certainly don’t want to grow, breed, create, or “make” them to be harmed either. The point is not about perfection. No one can achieve that — But we ALL can reduce harm to others by not viewing their bodies as “meat”.

    • I’m just curious about the B12 supplement? Is it a totally synthetic supplement, or does it have an animal origin?

  10. Phil Nicols says:

    I’ve been off “Meat products” for about 9 years now and LOVIN IT.

    Besides the obvious health benefits of eating clean, not dead decaying things, there is a HUGE benefit to the planet as well as mental health knowing we are not part of the above problem that is plaguing the world.

    … 2500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb of meat!
    … 750 gallons of water to produce ONE quart of milk!
    … 55sf of rainforest to produce ONE 1/4lb “burger”!
    … We have less than 40 years of rainforests left.
    … Money managers of the world see it… Gates, Buffet, Rothchilds, Monsantos ALL invested money in the seed depository in Norway.
    … Currently 2.5% of the worlds population is vegan thats about 150 million all living well.

    • Smokey203 says:

      Enjoy your smug superiority and leave me alone.

    • Your statistics appear to not be accounting for animal byproducts. 64% of the animal is used for meat. 99% of the animal is utilized for meat + other products.

      But the most important contribution of the cow isn’t part of its body. It’s the fertilizer.

      When *all* the numbers are crunched, add this: that grass-fed cows are a more efficient use of space that is not good for crops (such as spaces where the soils are to thin or rocky, the growing season is too short, etc.) and it becomes plain that ruminants – if they were raised properly (that is, without the feedlot) – is *more* efficient than crop plants.

      • Webster-you are absolutely right. In many lands, raising ruminants is quite literally the only use for the land.

        I can’t get over the folks saying that growing cows use 2500 gallons of water per pound of meat. That would mean that in a 700 pound steer-1,750000 gallons of water is “lost” per cow. Maybe the water I thought they urinated on the land or the crap they excreted (which I erroneously thought stayed on the land and enriched the soil) is somehow “magically” lost?

        Nor is there any acknowledgement of your fundamental point. Virtually 100 percent of a cows final body mass is used for something beneficial – be it food, shoes, clothing, other animal feed, bonemeal for fertilization etc. If mankind didn’t use this relatively cheap form of bio engineered protein, fat, concentrated calcium etc-we would probably need to use prodigious amounts of diminishing petroleum reserves to duplicate the same in plastics or fertilizers etc. But, as usual, in the zeal of the “true believer” vegan no real analysis is done of those costs to the environment.

    • But you’re willing to cause untold suffering to yourself…? Interesting to see how NOBODY has mentioned the DEVASTATING effect eating large quantities of unfermented soy has on the body. I used to consume a near-vegan diet. It fecked up my thyroid!

      Soy is goitrogenic, meaning it interferes with the way your thyroid functions. The phytoestrogens it contains – the thing that are supposed to lower LDL cholesterol mimic natural oestrogen causing early menopause and fertility issues in women AND men. ALL baby formula contains soy protein, and babies fed formula develop much faster than children who are breastfed – this is NOT a Good Thing; there’s plenty of evidence showing causation between formula and premature puberty – girls developing breasts and starting menstruation before they’re out of primary school – sometimes before they’re out of INFANT school! I’ve even read stories of boys almost changing SEX due to the high amount of phytoestrogens they consumed as babies – developing breasts, voice never breaking, etc.. There’s not a single culture on Earth which consumes soy in the vast quantities many in the West do; Orientals consume it in minuscule amounts, as a CONDIMENT, and it’s ALWAYS heavily fermented to make it safe to consume!

      To my mind, veganism is UNNATURAL and UNHEALTHY, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s an eating disorder due to the large amounts of HEALTHY foods it removes from the diet.

      Yes, it’s YOUR life and YOUR body but if I had to choose between eating an ethically raised, ethically slaughtered cow because it was right for my body – or a ‘sausage’ made of tofu (and that’s another thing about vegans I’ve NEVER understood; if you’re avoiding animal products, why’d you want to eat something that LOOKS like an animal product…?!) then there’s no contest – my life – and health – is worth VASTLY MORE than that of a cow.

      Kris, you’re wrong about one thing, my friend, I know of PLENTY of vegans who believe veggie/seed/grain oils are healthy.

      There’s one more thing about SOME vegans which angers me – if YOU don’t want to eat animals, that’s fine, but it’s cruel and abusive to keep a carnivorous pet and force it to eat plants! I’ve a photo of a VERY sickly, emaciated mutt, with exposed ribs and vertebrae, and a raw, weeping, red right eye. He belongs to the owner of a FB group called ‘veganism is the future’ and she CLAIMS he’s 16, and that she’s had him from a pup; now, I’m sorry, but that’s BS – I can’t see there’s any way a dog could survive for 16 MONTHS, let alone YEARS, being forced to subsist on nothing but plants!

      She posted a pic of him with a broccoli floret in his mouth (it’s his “favourite”, apparently). The comments sickened me “healthy dog!” and “he knows what’s good for him!”

      Ironically her favourite animals are wolves, so I posted a photo of a family of Alaskan timber wolves – having dinner! With the comment “you’d not feed steak to a rabbit, so why feed plants to a wolf…?!” Of course she claimed she wasn’t “he’s a DOG, not a wolf, you f**king MORON!” (and dogs are related to – and descended from – cows, then, are they…?!) and then “dogs don’t NEED meat, they just need the nutrition FOUND in meat, and they can get that perfectly well from plants!” I blame the lack of B12, saturated fat and cholesterol – it’s addled her brain, and she’s unable to think straight anymore…

      There’s a fruitarian group, too – 30 bananas a day (pretty much sums up what they eat), and they’re even MORE whacko. It’s run by an Aussie calling himself ‘Durianrider’ and his girlfriend (forget her handle) and, before you can join, you have to pass a test to prove you’ve read some book – forget what it’s called, all about how eating nothing but fruit – but particularly bananas – connects you to a higher level of cosmic consciousness.

      They’ve a dog, too, she looks like a Jack Russell-type thing, and her favourite food is a banana and almond milk smoothie, apparently. She’s totally toothless, and obviously emaciated.

      I apologize for the rant (Kris, if I’ve exceeded the maximum rant level, I don’t mind if you remove this) but PEOPLE can make conscious choices about what they eat, obviously animals can’t, and to feed a dog an unnatural diet is the ultimate in animal cruelty; neither can have EVER seen a vet, because I’m SURE a vet would have removed them.

      Actually, as an aside, Pfizer DID feed steak to rabbits (well, cholesterol) and, needless to say, the rabbits died. They’d already invented statins, and needed proof that cholesterol caused CHD/CVD, so they fed cholesterol to bunnies and then doctored the results to make it look – and sound – like they’d been people! Nearly everyone believes cholesterol causes heart disease because Pfizer BS’ed the USDA! It worked, too, Lipitor is now the biggest-selling drug in the world – and it causes pain, misery and suffering to BILLIONS!

      I’d like to know what’s “clean” about shoving your body full of toxic grains and soy, full of anti-nutrients? That sounds more like treating your body as a trash-heap, not a temple!

      There’s one final, FINAL thing I’d like to point out; John McDougall (I won’t give him any credibility by calling him ‘doctor’) and Mark Sisson are roughly the same age, mid-60s. They’ve BOTH got recent photos on their websites – you CANNOT tell me that McDougall looks the healthier (well not without lying, at least!).

      • I enjoyed your rant! I especially agree with what you said about feeding carnivorous pets vegan diets. It’s definitely extreme animal cruelty. I used to work at an animal shelter, and I saw a couple of cats who had been fed vegan diets. They were emaciated and weak (they came to us because animal control confiscated them). Fortunately, they recovered when fed a proper feline diet.

        I checked out that “30 Bananas a Day” group – wow, you weren’t kidding about their craziness! I also saw their page about how pets should be fed vegan (before they went on and said they are against pet ownership). I wonder how many animals – that they claim to love – are going to get sick and die because of their nonsense? Wow.

        • There’s no mistake that feeding felines a diet void of animal flesh is challenging and risky. They are, (unlike humans) obligatory carnivores.

          Dogs on the other hand have no problem maintaining a healthy weight and a high energy level on plants alone. I know. I have two dogs whose combined weight is around 135 pounds… They are not “little” dogs by any stretch. They haven’t eaten meat in 6 years and are thriving! Their blood work is excellent, their coats glow and they run right alongside or ahead of the “meat-fed” dogs. To claim that dogs need meat for optimal health is nonsense. Either that or I have two of the most special and rare dogs on the planet. My guys are doing fine on veggies.

          • I am sorry Bea but I have to comment. I am a vegetarian/vegan mostly because I made a choice to not eat animals. I do, on the other hand, have dogs that I feed a raw diet of meat with a very small amount of veggies and absolutely no grain because that is what a dog is supposed to eat. They are carnivores obviously.

            They have teeth for ripping and tearing meat and they don’t have flat teeth which are designed to break down plant matter. From working in a vets office I can tell you that feeding a dog only vegetables or fruit is irresponsible. I am happy your dogs are healthy but it is “nonsense” to claim that dogs do not need meat for optimal health.

          • “Either that or I have two of the most special and rare dogs on the planet. My guys are doing fine on veggies.”

            You should be allowed to own dogs.

      • Nice rant. My family has owned and operated a cattle ranch for 100 years. Naturally, my main complaint with the rather frequent pro vegan delusions are the untrue and defamatory remarks on the entire livestock industry (many of who also crop veggies that end up being sauteed with the tofu).

        Getting to the purpose of my post, I can’t help but point out the obvious (or at least to us who are educated) irony of why the zero animal product use claim is so hilarious. People- animal byproducts are in nearly EVERYTHING. Clothes, furniture, cleaning products, makeup, gum, shoes, car parts… the list is endless.

        Sooo… unless you live your entire life naked sitting under a tree, you are not 100% animal product free. And thats ok, because humans as an advanced, intelligent species are logically applying our resources by using them for many things.

        If a bear in the wild uses a coyote’s remains after his supper for shelter, storage or tools, we would be impressed with this species resourcefulness by his efficient use of this other animal. Moral- you can’t be 100% animal product free, so stop claiming you are.

  11. The vegan diet is the best thing that ever happened to me. All these years and I can’t believe how healthy I got and stayed.

    People who choose to use animal products should be very careful never to use any from factory farms. That stuff is viciously cruel and very unhealthful. It also makes up about 99% of the eggs, meat, and dairy available. It is also often labeled to imply that is it not from a factory farm, with deceptive language like “cage-free”; “free-range”; “humane” etc. all just marketing nonsense and part of the fraudulent “humane myth.”

    Do your research–don’t touch anything from a factory farm. Better yet, go totally cruelty-free!

    Thanks.

    • “Do your research–don’t touch anything from a factory farm. Better yet, go totally cruelty-free!”

      …by killing rodents and other small creatures that are crushed in while harvesting soybeans and grains en masse.

      We’ve all got blood on our hands if we choose to eat from modern agriculture.

    • Could you please provide your source claiming 99% of animal products are from factory farms? It is FALSE.

  12. How plants experience life has always been a quandary for me as well. Who are we to say their life is not as important as that of animals. I have much respect for Jains who only eat fruit that has fallen from plants. My view is that plants, as they don’t have pain sensory, do not suffer like animals.

    But it’s a straw man argument to represent meat and animal product consumption as eating the eggs that chickens in your house lay. Animal farming is a for profit, not a for health business model. Add to that the enormous amounts of methane produced by cows, deforestation caused by the need for animal grazing, and the real suffering of animals.

    Lastly the obesity and health risks of consuming animal products creates a burden on society as a whole. The article mentions that a vegan diet causes lower testosterone in humans. Is this necessarily a bad thing? T levels differ naturally among different races for example. Are high T individuals superior to low T individuals? Veganism is hardly a health crisis in the US.

    • *Humans and farm animals both have nervous systems and brains to process the data received from those nervous systems. Plants do not have nervous systems, nor brains. Therefore, humans and animals can process pain data received by their nervous systems, while plants do not have any know method of processing pain data.

      • Yep.

        The vegetation point of view is a very hierarchical and unimaginative one. You see, there are life forms that count because they are like us and others to be eaten and other wise stepped on about because they are not. If you substituted races of humans in that thought pattern, you might find it to be very distasteful and not “moral” in the least. But that’s just me.

        • I agree.. it is only a short step from speciesism to racism. We see comments here openly and arbitrarily deciding that plants are “automatically second-class life-forms” because they don’t match our ideas of… what? Sentience?

          Because we can’t find a brain or nervous system; therefore they can’t possibly experience pain or their environment as we do or at all?

          Describe pain to me… objectively… in a way that I could understand without ever having felt it.

          Now describe the colour red as you see it without pointing to anything. Not so straightforward is it but why let the facts get in the way of a good story eh..?

          Just keep on building your rationalisations to salve your conscience.

          But then Bea tells me I misunderstand… it is all a question of how MUCH death and destruction we leave in our wake… not about some ideal of NONE.

          You just try your best and settle your conscience as you must. I guess by the standards of the Inuit I am positively vegetarian then?!?

          In which case cut the sanctimonious clap-trap and leave me the heck alone to make my own mistakes and successes. Because in my world view, eating local, seasonal food that is grown as close to the way it was adapted by nature, is a darn sight better for me and the ecosystem than living is some fantasy which for the life of me reminds me of nothing more than Marie Antoinette dressing up in the finest silk and chiffon shepherdess outfits to play at farmer in her Disneyland petting zoo.

  13. Hi Kris,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful argument. I agree that there is not one perfect diet for everyone, and I agree that some of the worst foods are added sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and trans fats (all vegan btw). If we can remove those, then we are well on our way to healthy diet.

    I also agree that vegans can be alarmist in there characterization of the “dangers” inherent with eating animal products, and that free range eggs and grass fed beef are likely safe for consumption and could be good additions to a well balanced diet.

    One thing I think you are missing is that these type of “natural” animal products only account for a small percentage of the overall market for animal products. Grass fed beef accounts for less than 10% of supply, free range eggs… less than that. Wild-caught salmon are dwarfed by farm raised salmon. The vast majority of animal products available to your readers are packed with hormones and other unnatural additions from their time on industrial farms, many receiving further processing for preservation (sodium nitrate). There are many additives found all types of food products that are extraordinarily unsafe, especially so in animal products.

    *(I will acknowledge here that conventional agriculture is not much better and organic vegetables are found in relatively small portions too which is part of our problem)

    I think that you also failed to address another argument made for veganism: the environment. Animal production accounts for 40% of greenhouse gas emission worldwide. That is more than all of global transport combined. Animal production has proven unsustainable, and environmentally destructive.

    Lastly, I think you bring up a great point about the lack of empirical evidence for a vegan diet. I would take it a step further, that we severely lack scientific evidence for the efficacy of ANY diet. I would challenge you to compare the number publications on the efficacy of pharmaceutical drugs vs. those that feature dietary investigations. My guess: pharma dwarfs diet, even though the AMA has named diet as America’s leading risk factor for health. Just because there has not been research correlating a vegan diet with lower cholesterol, blood pressure, cancer rates, diabetes rates, etc… doesn’t mean that a link doesn’t exist.

    I think that you have a great platform here to inform people about eating healthier. And I think that as a country, we have FAILED in respect to proper nutritional education and promotion. I think that is evident in our obesity epidemic and related disease. I think we are on an unsustainable path, and need more money and leadership dedicated to addressing these problems.

    Question to you Kris… as a medical student, how much of your curriculum is spent on nutrition? If our obesity rate is at 1/3 the population, then I would guess at least 1/3 of your curriculum would address the cause of the epidemic, poor nutrition, and ways to curb the epidemic’s growth, good nutrition.

    *One last thing, if vegan diets lead to negative effects in body composition then please explain how vegan body builders win competitions against non vegans, how a vegan just set the record for the fastest completion of Pacific Rim Trail, and how I can swim a mile in the San Francisco Bay, without a wet suit.

  14. “If you want to eat a vegan diet, then make sure to be prudent about your diet. Take the necessary supplements and read some of the books by the vegan docs, I’m sure they at least know how to safely apply a vegan diet.” I really don’t know what you mean by “supplements”? I’m only aware of B12 as an issue.

    Everything else should be readily available through whole plant foods. And B12 isn’t even a guarantee to be properly utilized by omnivores either. My neighbors are 24/7 “carnivores” and they take B12 shots 6 times a year. So for all practical purposes – your “point” almost seems pointless.

  15. Thank you for expressing your thoughts for consideration. I don’t eat any animals products at all and I am not deficient in anything. I feel happier, healthier and more aligned with my values (such as loving animals) than ever.

    I don’t feel the need to ‘defend’ my dietary choices as my health and wellbeing also speaks for itself. I’m a bit of a dreamer and idealist in that I hope that one day all beings may live in harmony and the least harm is done to the planet and inhabitants.

  16. Antihumaniste says:

    This article is full mistaken information.

    The official position of the American Dietetic Association states that :

    “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

    Full report: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

    The author agree that “processed meat causes harm and that it’s disgusting the way “conventionally raised” animals are treated these days”.

    Factory farming produce the majority of the meat, eggs and dairy sold in North America. There is NO justification for buying these products.

    By 2050, meat consumption is expected to double. There is no way your grass-fed fantasy would feed all the world population.

    To say nothing about the fact that these animals still end up being slaughter will there are still babies. (Here is the chart: http://www.compassionatecook.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/An-Unnatural-Life-Span_edited.jpg)

    Promoting meat and dairy is ecologically unsustainable and socially irresponsible in the light of the fact that we could easily feed all the world population if we reduce our meat consumption.

    Moving towards a vegan diet is the responsible and compassionate choice.

    • There is a big problem with modern agriculture as a whole whether it’s mass meat and dairy production or huge monocultures growing cereals and grains, use of pesticides, GMO’s, destruction of rainforests or release of greenhouse gases not to mention the huge cost to the earth of transporting produce around the world and the huge amount of food that is wasted every day.

      We need to change the whole system and find sustainable ways to produce our food be it meat or vegetable and start working in harmony with nature.

      Saying that not eating meat is going to solve this problem is being naive and over simplistic.

      I say it is time for vegans and non vegans who are concerned about nature, sustainability and animal welfare to put their differences aside and work together to make our whole food system better.

      • Diane, I agree with you that modern chemical based “factory” agriculture both for grains and animals has many problems, health wise or for the environment. Unfortunately, with 6 billion of us, and growing, it literally has to remain the dominant ag system, or else about 5 billion of us would likely starve to death.

        Luckily, my family and I have sufficient funds to do so, but I recognize that only a minority of others do. ON the flip side my parents and my wife’s parents had two children, as do we, so my clan is not contributing much to over population, at least not in the last 60 years, when the world pop was under 1 billion. From that perspective I can rationalize getting more than others that breed far more, but I’ll admit that this is a facile rationale.

        • You may be right Carl in that: as a species we have overreached our resources and as with any other animal, that situation can only be sustained for a short while. Animal populations wax and wane.

          The current system I see as artificially buoyed up on fossil fuels, which is a finite resource… it will run out and I am concerned that will come much sooner than we — in our blissfully unaware state — might expect.

          I am more than a little pessimistic about the global fallout from that. But perhaps it is an opportunity for change and improvement — as a species we have shown ourselves to be very adaptable and resourceful when challenged.

          We rely on relatively cheap fossil fuels for fertlisers, pesticides, farming machinery and global transportation — heck my local supermarket in North-Eastern Canada has “fresh” produce from China that is sold at lower prices than what is locally grown… and we are in a rural part of the country!

          There are (or were) small local producers and although we endeavour to support new ones, at the same time they are rapidly being overwhelmed by the deep pockets of the “big boys”, plus red-tape from policies; ostensibly designed “for our own good” but in reality written by and for the “big boys”.

          It seems to me that unless we can reverse this trend and move back to local, sustainable, seasonal farming — which provably cannot just be plants.. if for no other reason than we need livestock to build topsoil — then we might suddenly find ourselves unprepared for global food shortages. If it turns out that there are just too many of us for that to sustain, then that is the reality – let’s hope that is not the case… the current system may be keeping us alive but I don’t see how it can be sustained.

          And to stay on topic — a locavore, seasonal vegan might be OK in Southern California (assuming they can manage the fresh water supply) but as the land gets drier or colder (snow on the ground for six months of the year anyone?) either nobody could live in those areas (not really an option) or veganity is not going to feed the kids.

        • And meantime we need to address our more wasteful practices — this example might also serve to balance the opinions (NOT facts) expressed here about how wasteful meat production is:

          Jimmy Doherty had a TV series “Crop to Shop” where he examined “The Food Superhighway”. One item that really stuck in my head was the UK supermarket growing new potatoes in the Sahara Desert – actually in the dry hot sand!

          Discussed here…
          http://www.growveg.com/growblogpost.aspx?id=123

          1) Seed potatoes grown in Scotland are exported to Egypt

          2) The potatoes are often grown in desert sand, fed by huge sprinkler systems. Because the sand contains no nutrients, fertilizer must be mixed into the water that is sprayed onto them.

          3) Water is a scarce resource in the desert so they drill down over 350m below ground level to a huge water system under the Sahara, which will never be replenished. It takes a staggering 500 litres (880 pints) of water to produce just 1kg of potatoes (2.2lb).

          4) To protect the potatoes on their journey to the supermarket and to retain moisture they are packed with peat – which is bought in from Ireland!

          5) The potatoes then make a huge journey over 2 weeks by specially refrigerated container truck and ship to reach the supermarkets in the UK. [In the TV show they were actually being flown back to the UK]

          This article continues..

          Have you noticed how many non-renewable resources are being used in this process?

          Oil: The seed potatoes, peat and finished product travel an astounding 11,500 miles round trip (equivalent to almost half way around the earth), all fuelled by oil.

          Fertiliser: Largely derived from oil, vast quantities of fertilizer are required to feed crops grown in sand.

          Water: In a country where pure water is incredibly scarce it is being sprayed onto crops in the heat of the sun in a desert!

          Peat: Despite the company claiming that the peat comes from a renewable source, it takes so many thousands of years to renew peat (one of the best ‘sinks’ of greenhouse gases we have) that this can hardly be considered environmentally sound.

    • I think your name says it all, “anti-human”…

      Mitchell and Webb – Dinner Party…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63NNuG-6-hQ

      “It’s an ethical thing… I don’t think humans should be treated like this…”

  17. Great article! Glad somebody finally has the balls to confront this dangerous ideology. I’ve been worrying about the future of our species for a while now due to their manipulative propaganda. I’ve regained hope thanks to you. =)

  18. I believe that because veganism is more about the moral issue than health it is defended with far more passion than if it was just based on scientific fact. In a way it is like a religion for them and as such is full of misguided and false information.

    I say if you enjoy it and you are healthy eat anyway you want too; just don’t force it down my throat (yes you do).

    Michelle

  19. An eye-opening PBS Nova documentary on plant behaviour What Plants Talk About ..including a segment showing how “parent” trees help to nurture their young…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjrEdv9E0yU

  20. Just because you prefer to eat low-carb that doesn’t mean that vegans can’t live healthily. Most of us are way more healthy than people eating an omnivorous diet, which was also confirmed by one of the largest nutritional studies, the Adventist Health Study, published in 2013, that found significantly lower death rates for vegans than for ovo-lacto vegetarians and omnivores.

    Your allegations about vegan diets being incomplete and unhealthy are scientifically unfounded, and I hope your readers won’t follow your ill-advised statements.

    I’ve been eating a balanced vegan diet for two years. At 48, my blood work is better than in my mid-20s. I have no nutritional deficiencies, I have more energy, I’ve lost about 20 pounds of weight, my acid reflux has disappeared, my arthritis has improved and is barely hampering me anymore, and, most important of all, animals aren’t killed for my pleasure or convenience anymore. This is my evidence-based approach, and I could tell you dozens of stories of fellow-vegans who experienced the same since they switched to a vegan diet.

    If you choose to live on potato chips and coke, that’s not a vegan diet – that’s stupid, just as stupid as living exclusively on meat patties and milk.

    Even the American Dietetic Association, the world’s largest organization for nutrition professionals, states “that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

    Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” The key lies in the word ‘appropriately planned’. And that’s the same for vegan diets as well as any other diet.

    • I actually mentioned the Adventist studies in this article.

      The study you cited shows the following: “…The adjusted HR for all-cause mortality in vegans was 0.85 (95% CI, 0.73-1.01)…”

      You’re citing a study that says that vegan diets don’t lead to a statistically significant reduction in mortality. The only ones with a statistically significant reduction are the pesco-vegetarians, which aren’t vegetarians at all!

      Btw, this study has a number of flaws and is conducted by researchers with a religious agenda that use statistical manipulations to make their results show something that isn’t true. It’s also an observational study, which proves nothing. Read this article for a thorough critique of the Adventist studies: http://anthonycolpo.com/lies-damned-lies-and-vegetarianism-part-1/

      You can argue the ethical, spare-the-animals point, but the fact remains that there is no scientific evidence that vegan diets are any better than omnivorous diets when it comes to health.

      But do what works for you, just don’t try to misinform people with bogus, manipulated science.

    • I can only assume Gabi, that you do not actually read the blog post but simply went into an automatic response based on its title?

      For example…

      I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians.

      If you want to eat in this way for whatever reason and you are feeling good and improving your health, then great! Keep on doing what you’re doing.

      But I do have a serious problem when proponents of this diet are using lies and fear mongering to try and convince everyone else to eat in the same way.

    • Gabi:

      Thank you! The article’s assertions are false. I have been meatless for 25 years. I have no major illnesses, have good endurance, sleep well, am strong, have a vibrant sex life, etc. This has been accomplished without: “pork”, “beef”, fowl of any kind.

      The writer cites dubious science in order to justify and maintain his meat addiction. And eating meat is an addiction, bad for the planet, the water supply, global warming, and of course exceedingly inhumane and cruel to animals.

      Addicts do not care about the collateral damage of their addiction, either to themselves or the planet. When I hear of a stroke or heart attack victim I know it’s probably a case of the animals getting their revenge because of those high cholesterol levels. A world without meat eating is a healthier and more humane world.

      • I’m curious. What scientific proof do you have that eating meat is an addiction? In your (most likely non-medical) opinion, what constitutes an addiction? Are we not omnivores? Did we not evolve to eat both meat and plants?

        • I got a chortle out of that as well. I guess it is, in the same sense that breathing oxygen is an addiction– or more subtly, drinking coffee.

          In this sense “addiction” I suspect is simply a “put down” phrase simply designed to denigrate non true believers, rather than raise the level of discourse.

          Of course one might become addicted to meat or any other food. But overall there is simply no proof that eating moderate amounts of meat or seafood, if prepared correctly, causes any harm-that is after all the science behind the numerous studies that have found the high protein Atkins or mid protean South Beach dietary regimes can work quite well-often better than the Ornish or other high veg diets. It all depends on moderation. If you eat too much of anything to the exclusion of other things-be it avocados (which I like), beef, ocean fish etc that will likely be to your detriment.

      • Steven… should we read it as noteworthy that you describe yourself as “meatless for 25 years” and that you specifically list ‘“pork”, “beef”, fowl of any kind.’..?

        Are you perhaps loathe to use the label “vegan” — with that being the stated subject of this article/blog post?

        Are we to make our own assumptions about your consumption of fish, eggs, milk and/or butter?

        I guess “humane” must be a purely subject point of view… so long as you don’t recognise what has to “die” so you can “live”, then it is OK?

        My definition of “humane” would include animals that have lived an healthy life in nature, and I’d respectfully pull the trigger myself, rather than deceive myself with fairy stories and live a lie.

      • “. I have no major illnesses, have good endurance, sleep well, am strong, have a vibrant sex life, etc. This has been accomplished without: “pork”, “beef”, fowl of any kind.”

        Soo,,,how many colds do you have a year? What does a “vibrant sex life” actually mean? Do you find you have to take many anti-inflamatory drugs to keep allergic type reactions away? (Benadryl and the like?)

        What does strong mean? Can you do a pull up? Or a push up? How far can you run?

        Do you get tired in the afternoon? How much non-animal protein are you generally consuming?

        Bah, I thought I was fit as a fiddle when I was vegetarian. It’s nothing compared to Paleo. When I see this testimonials now, I’m nothing but skeptical. Give me some hard data as in a food/health log, I might believe.

  21. Earlier it was mentioned that Bill Clinton now subscribes to a “vegan” diet.

    Here is Tom (Fat Head) Naughton’s blog post on this…
    http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2013/08/13/bill-clintons-vegan-diet/

    …including a quote from Dr Caldwell Esselstyn (another leading proponent of a plant-based diet who grew up on a cattle ranch) “I’ll remind you one more time, I’ve treated a lot of vegans for heart disease.”

    And this fact regarding Clinton’s strict vegan diet : “Once a week or so, he will have a helping of organic salmon or an omelet made with omega-3-fortified eggs, to maintain iron, zinc and muscle mass.”

    So no Gabi… I do NOT think that you can so easily draw an equivalency between vegetarian and vegan diets.

  22. Most of the pro-vegan comments don’t really address the scientific information presented in the article. Instead, most focus on personal moral views or global food chain beliefs. If one chooses a vegan diet, more power to you. Having said that, there is ZERO chance of forcing or cajoling me to join you.

  23. The worst thing about a vegan diet is it becomes the ONLY thing the person on it ever talks about.

    • Herne Webber says:

      And the evidence for this is where? My brother and his wife are vegan, and I am a vegetarian. Other than sharing recipes, we do not proselytize. That is a negative stereotype. To the contrary, I have gotten *much* more guff from omnivores only too happy to tell me how foolish I am. I give facts sometimes in a discussion, such as the five reasons to be vegetarian or vegan (including resource use and waste, pollution, and human starvation, besides the ethics of killing a sentient creature).

      Aside from that, I do not pass judgement on others. My mother and sister still eat meat, as does my husband and his entire family. I *never* bring this up, but *they* frequently do, because it is so weird to their country asses. There is no point in casting pearls of wisdom before swine, after all.

      • I think you just answered your own question Herne :-P

      • “There is no point in casting pearls of wisdom before swine, after all.”

        LOL – And vegetarians wonder why other people think they’re smug. If this is no passing judgement on others, just wow. :)

  24. If you have to take supplements, your diet is lacking (by definition). If you have a moral, ethical, or religious reason for choosing to partake in a diet which is lacking in proper nutritional content that is your personal business/personal choice. Do not try to force or frighten/convert others into partaking in a diet, which lacks proper nutritional content.

    • Herne Webber says:

      One can choose to enjoy food and take a vitamin every now and then, knowing you are not harming a single creature capable of feeling pain, or you can choose eating animals because you like the taste, and take comfort in believing you are only following your biological nature. I would rather take a supplement than kill an animal who I do not need to kill.

      • You may believe that “you are not harming a single creature capable of feeling pain” but you are deluding yourself.

        At the bare minimum what do you think happened to the wildlife that inhabited the area where your plants are now grown? Do you think they found a nice sun-dappled glade in the forest with Bambi and Thumper to live out their happy little lives?

        Even the most organic farmer has to deal with pests. Are you OK with Ladybugs eating Aphids and Birds eating Ladybugs etc… they are after all, doing it so that you can have unblemished produce?

        Grow up and face reality will you. Reality is the ONLY way in which we can solve the World issues such as how to sustainably feed everyone into future generations.

        Your perspective is skewed… by the values you seem to hold: a 5 year old cow is more important than a 1,000 year old Giant Sequoia. Who are YOU to judge that?

        • FrankG -

          I agree with you. I am friends with a woman who is a vegetarian for the sanest of reasons. (She experienced some violence as a teenager and reacts badly to both blood and flesh.)

          But generally I find the vegetarian world view is both urban (detached from nature) and judgmental almost by definition. :(

          • Sure thing… I also know folks who are vegetarian for personal reasons — their choice and none of my business. Many people like cute animals and don’t want to see them hurt. I get that… I really do.

            I grew up in a very urban area just South of London in England, where that attitude is prevalent. When I moved to Labrador and other Northern parts of Canada, living at first in very small (300 people) isolated communities where folks (due to the cost of flying in goods) have to provide food for their families by living at least partly off the land; I opened my eyes. Not hunting for fun or sport… simply putting food on the table.

            Clearly there ARE traditional communities who have thrived and survived on a vegetarian diet, and others who have lived almost exclusively on animals… this is what being an opportunistic omnivore means. But I am as yet unaware of ANY traditional communities which were or are truly vegan.

            The issue seems to start when they jump from simply recognizing that they don’t want anything to do with hurting cute animals, to building this fantasy world of rationalizations as to why everyone should eat as they do — even trying pseudoscience to show how much better for the ecosystem and for our health it would be, if only we all ate like them. It is at that point that I call BS!

            From that point, and as we have seen here in the comments, it quickly devolves into them becoming judgmental, frankly hate-filled and aggressive. Heck I think Bob even threatened my life in an earlier comment… on the internet eh Bob?!?

            And you are right.. it is a very urban, First World type of issue. I very much doubt that the Jains in India would show me the disrespect of trying to convert me, especially none of the open hostility and disgust I have been shown by these so called lovers of peace and life.

            I wonder how those vegetarians who live in San Francisco or wherever, surrounded by fresh produce every day of the year would rationalize their choices in they had to feed their families in the cold, undeveloped North?

            So once again I will say. Eat as you want to, so long as it is harming no-one else (by which I mean humans) and let me alone to do the same.

  25. You said you have nothing against vegans or vegetarians but the whole article is written to write off Vegan diets listing reasons why vegan diets are a terrible idea. You are no better than those vegans who insist on their diets.

    1. Vegans Are Deficient in Many Important Nutrients
    > I’m a vegetarian for 17 years and 90% vegan (eggs and kefir once in a while) and I’m doing fine (and I rarely eat meat substitute).

    2. No Studies Showing That They’re a Better Diet
    > Actually there are. At least it is not harming if you eat it right.

    3. Vegan Diets Proponents Use Lies and Fear Mongering to Promote Their Cause
    > I’ve seen Meat diets proponents bullying the same way as Vegan diet proponents.

    4. Vegan Diets May Work in The Short Term, For Other Reasons
    > Based on my experience, no.

    5. There is NO Health Reason to Completely Avoid Animal Foods
    > There is no health reason to not to have vegan or vegetarian diet either.

  26. Jim Gerofsky says:

    I’m an ovo-lacto veggie getting close to vegan; this process has worked for me since 1986. Some years ago my doctor pointed out some deficiency issues, including B vitamins and calcium, but with common supplements those issues were easily resolved. I agree that DHA is important, that’s why I use algae oil (remember, fish get their DHA from algae). And somehow without creatine, I still manage a fairly decent exercise program at age 60.

    I respect those of you who feel better with a meat-based diet, but I believe that humans are extremely flexible, adaptable and clever creatures, and with enough incentive could re-engineer their bodies, food production systems and cooking/eating customs as to become perfectly healthy without meat. Admittedly, I did not just wake up one day as a vegetarian. I had been gradually cutting back meat consumption for several years prior to going ovo-lacto, and have since been slowly changing my cooking and eating habits as to reduce and mostly eliminate eggs and dairy products.

    As it is, many people in the USA eat unhealthy diets, and at the same time many Americans eat meat. The overlap between the groups is quite substantial. Admittedly, it doesn’t have to be that way; I agree that a meat-based diet can be just as healthy (or even more healthy in some cases) as an optimal vegan diet would be. Nonetheless, I believe that if our culture as a whole moved toward vegetarianism, if society over many generations worked to find optimal vegan diets and options covering a wide range of needs (admittedly, I would not want to experiment today with a vegan diet for a growing infant), average public health would improve — and not only because of an increased interest in healthy eating.

    So, although I agree that there are plenty of ways to optimize one’s health around diets that include meat, I still believe that on a societal / cultural basis, more people would be better off under a vegan diet.

    BUT — don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating vegan fascism!!!! I’m not calling for nor even dreaming of an authoritarian agency to force us all to go veg. I do think that it’s good, though, that veg-heads keep on making the argument that a vegan world would be a better world, and hope for slow, generation-by-generation movement on a voluntary basis. I know that pro-veggies sometimes stretch the truth in their preaching, but then again, what visionary faction having a voice in American society today doesn’t? Al Gore certainly overstates the climate change situation at times; and so does Rush Limbaugh regarding the evils of Obamacare and growing federal socialism. If you don’t get a bit dramatic, almost no one in modern America will listen to you!!

    What might be the specific incentives for a modern post-industrialized culture to adapt vegan diets as the norm? Well, the animal cruelty issue, of course. Sorry, but killing a pig or a steer or even a chicken (and yanking a fish out of water, for that matter) is going to cause conscious suffering, even if they had spent their days on the most beautiful grass-fed, free range farm imaginable. Whacking a head of broccoli is not in the same league, by any means.

    But here’s the big one – - – meat based diets are generally more expensive per calorie in terms of world resources needed. They use up more of our limited resources (oil, gas, minerals, etc.) and they cause more waste heat and polluting products, including greenhouse gasses. Meat becomes more efficient through industrialization, i.e through the cruel conditions through which most meat today is processed. But it still costs more per calorie and nutritional value measure than a good vegan diet does. And that resource efficiency only goes down as you move towards local, home-grown, less cruel production settings.

    In a vegan world, there would be more economic wealth left over for other welfare improvements to society (and less climate change momentum, to boot). As world population heads towards 10 billion, meat-based diets are arguably exacerbating the growing income and wealth inequality trends; the rich are going to have their steak, and the rest are going to increasingly scrounge for their beans and rice, like it or not. Giving up meat is arguably a step towards a bigger and more level wealth distribution field — in the long run, anyway. For now we have the fast food / convenience food industry to keep the poor happy and overweight with low-cost, low-quality meat and cheese products.

    But one final thing — taste!! Hey, I chomped on barbequed steak sandwiches every summer weekend as a kid. I loved my meat. I don’t remember even seeing a head of broccoli in the house that I grew up in. I remember well those burgers with brown gravy served at the diner down by the river. So, am I suffering today every time I eat a meal, knowing there won’t be any steak or bacon or pork chops or even chicken or fish in it? And no cheese or eggs? NO !!!! I love what I eat today. I look forward to every meal !!! I’ve found a wide range of food to eat, an incredible range of flavor and texture experiences, and the possibilities seem to keep on growing.

    So fine, I agree that meat isn’t (or doesn’t have to be) as evil as the veggie voices in the world make it out to be. But from personal experience based on taste and eating experience alone, I can definitely say: VEGAN DIETS ARE A TERRIBLY GOOD IDEA!!!

    • Jim G… Well I guess you are entitled to your opinion and that is really all you have stated.

      I don’t accept the ecological or economic arguments. At the very least I would want to more closely examine them, rather than accepting them as rote. I seriously question the agenda of those who drew up the magic numbers comparing grains to beef. Much of the current “green revolution” is artificially buoyed up on the finite resource of fossil fuels — and when those run out (sooner rather than later) if we have not replaced the current system with a sustainable one, then I fully expect food riots and mass starvation to ensue.

      My view of sustainable farming includes livestock as a vital element… just as it always has.

      In terms of “animal suffering” I would love all the vegantarians to spend time with the Inuit in Northern Canada, as I have, living to a large extent off the land — yes they have stores but as everything is flown in, it can be prohibitively expensive. This is not hunting for sport or for fun but simply to feed their families — it just might open your eyes, as it did mine.

      And one other point… what the heck is “an ovo-lacto veggie getting close to vegan”, or (as I recall) one other commenter described themselves as “90% vegan”..?
      Considering that this article/blog post as stated, specifically refers to “Vegan Diets” I do think this is an important distinction to draw?

      Obviously I am not “in the club” so maybe I have misunderstood but with a definite statement like “a vegans eats (uses?) NO animal products” then just like the saying “Oh she’s just a bit pregnant”… surely you IS or you AIN’T a Vegan?

    • Vic Torino says:

      I am not an ovo-lacto veggie. I am a human being and identify as such.

    • If you are an ‘ovo-lacto veggie’ then you are NOT a vegan!!!!!! Vegan’s don’t eat eggs and dairy!!!

      Kris wrote this article about pure vegan diets therefore your comments are not relevant.

  27. Really raising the quality of debate here at Authority Nutrition…

    For an article that discusses why “vegan diets are a terrible idea” and which is listed elsewhere as “why vegan diets suck”, this piece really seems to hedge itself with such profound statements as “There is no one right way to eat for everyone”, “different strokes for different folks”, and “vegan diets may be appropriate for some people…”

    While it’s obvious that you folks are just trying to drag in all of the readers you can bear, this article comes off as a pretty clear attempt to fear monger the other side, when apparently the only risk is that some vegans might forget to supplement their diets with essential nutrients not found in plant-stuffs. This sounds like a strategy better set on raising hackles then actually encouraging reasonable discussion.

    And, I say this as a guy who wonders what-in-the-world that piece of green stuff is doing on top of those two juicy steaks…

  28. Atkins works for me. 21 pounds lost since 8/8/13. Blood pressure down 10 points (upper #).

  29. Herne Webber says:

    Anthropology indicates our biology would be likelier to go toward the vegetarian/vegan side of our digestion. There is plenty of proof in the fossil record, as well as among our closest kin. Our tooth structures compared to all other animals place us at not more than 20% animal based foods. Our digestive tract length shows about the same.

    We lack the enzyme to de-cancerify rotting meat in our guts, which enzyme all true carnivores and some omnivores have. Adding the lack of enzyme to the length of our gut, one arrives at colon cancer at rates unheard of elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Also, we have both digestive and salivary amylase, to digest starches. No carnivore makes salivary amylase, and few have digestive amylase (dogs do, cats don’t). But enough of Biological Anthropology (I have minors in both Bio and Anth).

    The problem I have with this particular article is that there is a presumption that people just stop eating meat, and then eventually/suddenly have problems, period, with no understanding of why that might be. Well, here you go: It’s ignorance borne of upbringing. One of my cousins tried to go vegan, and got sick from protein and iron deficiencies. The problem was not her choice to eschew meat, but rather, in her ignorance of what to eat *instead*.

    When I was a camp counselor, I had a vegan camper once who tried to live on peanut butter and lettuce on white bread. He looked terrible! He had vitamin deficiencies, not because he stopped eating meat, but because he, like my cousin, was totally ignorant on what to eat *instead*. If the person came from a culture where a vegan diet was the norm (including some Hindus), then all of these deficiencies would be understood and remedied via proper dietary choices. Have you ever heard of an Indian vegan having vitamin deficiencies? Me either.

    If all of this boils down to occasional supplementation with artificially created B12, then so what? So I take a pill now and then, rather than slaughter fellow creatures who feel pain, and desire to live? Easy choice, because it is not a matter of health, but of ethics. I mentioned other reasons to be vegan above in comments I made to others’ comments, which include resource use/waste (such as overuse of aquifers to irrigate feed crops), ecological destruction, and human starvation.

    If you know you could feed ten people versus one, would you choose to feed the ten, or the one? Because if you eat the Standard American Diet, you are choosing yourself over nine other people based on the land and natural resources needed to feed you.

    Also, you mention various deficiencies you believe are common among vegans, with the presumption that nearly all or a majority of vegans will have these, and need to supplement. This presumes they are ignorant (as too many are, coming from omnivorous homes), and that they are incapable of learning how to eat properly. Nutritional yeast has B12. And have you checked out the nutrition labels on the various vegetable milks (like soy)? They add B12 and Iron.

    Lots of vegan products have vitamins added to overcome anything the food itself lacks, which, btw, is the same thing done to ALL food. White bread, an atrocity of foods, has *all* of its B vitamins added artificially, and you have eaten that your whole life. As for the person commenting above who had iron deficiencies so bad she had to have shots (as my cousin also did), her problem may have been the same as my cousins, which was that she did not eat leafy greens, beans, and other excellent sources of iron, because she doesn’t like the taste of them!

    When the body no longer has heme iron from meat (which simply slips across the digestive barrier, even causing illness in people with hemochromatosis), then the body has to ramp up use of an enzyme to pull in the plant iron, and to convert it. We do this without issues. As for your contention that cholesterol is a needed part of the diet (or at least is not bad for you) because it is used in hormones, I call b.s.

    While it is true that vegans have *slightly* lower testosterone than omnivores (not enough to fear, as you seem to suggest by not mentioning the figures), the human body will make *exactly* the amount of cholesterol it needs without getting *any* from the diet. The liver makes it. Feel free to fact check me.

    As for your claim that there is no connection between dietary sat fat, cholesterol, and heart disease/cancer, you are whistling past the graveyard. The AMA, ACS, ANA, and my husband’s cardiologist would disagree with you. We’ve lived together for over 16 years, and are almost the same height. He outweighs me by over a hundred pounds, and has had five heart attacks. I am living with HIV, EBV, XMRV, and had my hips replaced at 34, yet I am healthier than he is with his transplanted liver (due to HepC), because he loads up on meat when we go out, and I eat as close to vegan as I can manage.

    As for those who say you have to be all vegan all the time, or else what you have to say is moot, again, I call b.s.. Unless one has been raised in a vegan household (such as the 7th Day Adventists, a *much* better source of data than the China Study), then otherwise, to become vegetarian/vegan, one MUST read up on human nutrition, and the basic composition of a plant-based diet.

    If one does not do this, one will end up in one or more of the pitfalls you elucidated. But you are far too glibly light on some facts, and too heavy on falsely liberal-seeming opinions/assumptions. You say people should eat what they want? Then why write this article at all? Why not write one telling vegans how to fix their diets without eating meat? I bet you can’t do it, not because it is not possible based on the facts and research data, but because you don’t want to do so.

    You want to eat what you want, and want reality to conform to your desires. Don’t be shy about that: we all do this. But when you do it in public, you may be called on it. It’s logical bias, and you have a bad case of it. I had to be convinced of it being okay to be vegetarian/vegan, because I was raised that you need meat for health. Twenty-four years later, and aside from the side-effects of antiretroviral medications, I am still doing just fine. Blessed Be.

    • What was that you said just a few comments up about *never* proselytizing?!? Good lawd!

      You are defending your “Vegetarian Diet” after an article/blog post about Vegan Diets” and with facts like our teeth only suit us for a 20% animal based diet — to be frank (hah!) I didn’t really bother to read much beyond that… not that I am closed minded but I’ve heard it all before… thanks but no thanks.

      If our biology suits us for a 20% animal based diet then how is that arguing in favour of a vegan diet? Can you stay on topic?

  30. The Laurax says:

    Wow…a whole article on the supposedly superior “health” benefits of eating animal products, and yet not one single word mentioning the POISON that you are likely ingesting if you eat fish, considering that both the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are contaminated.

    Whether or not a vegan diet causes nutritional deficits that can’t be rectified by simply taking a supplement is highly debatable. However, no one in their right mind (who wasn’t paid off) would debate that foods spiked with radioactive nuclear fallout, or oil mixed with a dispersant so toxic that the rest of the world have banned it, are extremely dangerous for human consumption. The fact that you do not mention this serious health risk involved with maintaining an omnivorous diet in an article claiming that vegan diets are worse for the human body makes me wonder whether you truly are concerned with, or knowledgeable about, health at all.

    Poison will kill you much faster than any vitamin deficiency will. Just ask the residents of the Gulf region, who are now suffering from skin lesions, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage, due to exposure to these toxins. Exposure can also disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus – and are carcinogenic.

    I’d bet the farm sanctuary that vegans will outlive animal-eaters simply based on the fact that we haven’t been consuming ‘seafood’ over the last few years, alone.

  31. Kris, Thank you for the article. I knew when I read the title, it would open up a huge, ongoing debate. Both sides defending their point of view viciously. That said, I agree with you 100%, I do agree with some of the arguments of the vegans… I am just going to to try to do my best for the world by making the best choices I can. I can not always get grass fed beef, or free range chicken, but I will buy them when I can, and do my part in not supporting the cruel factory raised meats. Thanks for the factual article. I like the fact you can back up your claims with scientific proof.

    Thanks again Kris, you are helping me on this rocky road to health more than you will ever know. God Bless.

    • Well Kammy, it’s a baby step. Hopefully you will progress from free range to no range. Next time you’re at the market check out the line of veggie burgers. Guilt free and some brands are very tasty. This from a former meat eater who loved his burger.

      • Guilt… right? That is what it all seems to be about.

        If you’re the same Steven who posted above (and I think you are based on what you just wrote) there are a few questions still waiting for you to answer.

        Meantime here is another: why veggie burgers? If killing animals is morally wrong, abhorrent, unethical etc… then why make a substitute that looks and tastes like meat? It’s not as if there isn’t a vast array of other foods to choose from in this big wide world.

        None of my business what you eat of course but it seems a little sick to eat faux meat, given your feelings about the real stuff.

        But baby steps eh?!?

        • Emsiekins says:

          I make / eat veggie burgers at home quite often. They have no resemblance to meat. Why would you assume that?

          • “Why would you assume that?”

            Oh, I dunno. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that 90% of the veggie burgers on the market look exactly like meat patties.

      • Sorry Steven. I am going to eat meat. I like it, I raise my own chickens and beef and pork. I raise them humanely, and I know for a FACT what is in them. No antibiotics, no hormones, no confinement cages. They are raised naturally. When it comes time for them to meet their demise, it is done painlessly, and without any fear for them. I eat as close to Paleo as possible. I can’t ever see myself as a veggiesaurous. I would never replace meat with something that looks/tastes like meat, and is not real food. Thanks anyway. Have a good day.

  32. Do you realize that the way we eat is not good?

    Sure, humans can consume animal products, but I believe what it really is for is for survival. If you look back at our ancestors, they hardly ate animals if at all. It is more for survival than anything. And when they did, they respected the life those animals provide. In this day and age, we are raising animals for mass consumption. There are people who “cannot go” without meat each day. We would not have this argument if it weren’t for factory farms and the way animals are raised.

    It takes so much water to raise a pound of meat. Please, if you want to argue that it does not, realize that the animals have to be kept alive to be killed for their flesh. And when we overdo it, what do we do? We kill them off like nothing (think bird flu and mad cow for examples).

    The scientists already warned that we may be eating our way to becoming vegetarian by force. I for one, would be fine cause I am a vegetarian. Sure I am not yet a Vegan, but your argument talks about how bad it is to avoid meat altogether that I had to chime in.

    One thing to think about is that your mind is a powerful thing. Once I became a vegetarian, I had more energy, slept better, smiled and laughed more, and I do not get sick as often as I was. And being on the toilet? I am there like I just peed. It does not take long. When I consumed meat, I sat for a while. I know this is also an argument of fiber intake, but when you think about it, your body has a harder time breaking down the meat.

    I believe we are meant to be vegetarians and omnivores only for survival purposes. Now when it comes to vegan, I see this as the most compassionate of all diets depending on the reasoning of course. I think humans can get all the nutrition they need with this diet. Yes they will have to watch their intake, but in the end, I believe it is better for the environment.

    And talking about the mind, I do have some questions for those whom are passionate about their decision that they NEED meat or animal products:

    “When you decided that your headaches or problems started by not eating meat, are you sure you are not within your own minds, willing yourself that you ‘require’ it?” Yes, our minds are that powerful.

    I have cravings myself, but they come when I am starving.

    Also, if you think about it, if we were to be bare bones, would we be able to eat the meat without fire or the natural decomposition that comes with salts and oxygen (and time)?

    We are not meant to run out, grab a bird and start eating it raw. No matter what you decide, I do hope you think of the impact it has on the world as a whole. The factory farm system and where we are headed does not have the best of interest for our planet.

  33. Wenchypoo says:

    The one thing that determines which diet is best for us is the Apo-E gene. If we get tested, and eat according to our genetic needs, then it really doesn’t matter if it’s vegetable, animal, or mineral. It doesn’t matter what the philosophy is, or where the compassion lies, or who’s lying for marketing purposes. The genes don’t lie!

    Eat what your genetics tell you to eat. Apo-E may as well be the Holy Grail here that ends all arguments.

  34. Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories:

    http://www.animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc/

  35. Walt Willoughby says:

    Sadly enough this article is nothing but a spin on diet, a misrepresentation of research articles and a belief that the typical American diet that includes meat is healthy and that we were always intended to be omnivores. Science does not support that claim. The author has failed at supporting the thesis of the article if there really is one.

    One word of clarification here, I am not a vegan for veganism is a philosophy but I will use the term vegan to mean a plant based diet as much as I hate doing so I do it for the author’s sake.

    The article starts by using the old myth about vegans and B12 deficiency when it is a fact that many plant based food sources are fortified with B12, like plant milks and Nutritional Yeast seasoning which is found in most vegan or more correctly plant based lifestyle homes. And, besides the B12 assumption the author leads with assuming that vegans and plant based lifestyle people are stupid and his article cited does not confirm his conclusion on B12 and vegans. Most all people who do not eat meat take 5 mcg of B12 a day. We need very little B12 to be healthy. I guess that is spin one because the author left out the fact that vitamin D can be low as well in vegans or plant based life styles and I am assuming this was out of just plain not knowing about nutrition and health or the truth of a plant based diet done correctly. Actually, I think this article is more about the philosophy of veganism than it is health.

    There is no comparison between animal foods and plant foods. The author eludes eating meat provides Carnosine for a reason to eat meat when in fact the Carnosine one gets by eating meat is short lived in the body and has no effect on health. Plant foods provide heart health and cancer fighting antioxidants like vitamins C, E and beta carotene. Animal foods are either exceedingly low in or devoid of these antioxidants. Plant food provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Animal food can only offer calorie dense and concentrated amounts of individual nutrients like protein or calcium while being empty of others. That is the reason Americans consumes many more calories than needed and we have an obesity problem and our health costs are sky high.

    Only plants contain phytochemicals which protect from cancer and heart disease. Meat contains cholesterol which contributes to cancer and heart disease. The body, through the liver, produces all the cholesterol one needs for healthy cell formation.

    All minerals are derived originally from the earth and make their way into the food supply via plants. The only reason animal foods contain any minerals is because the animals eat plants, or they eat animals that eat plants but we do not consume much in the way of carnivore animals, except for fish, chicken, turkey, bear and maybe pork depending on how they are feed. We mainly eat beef and bovines are plant eaters That speaks volumes about meat versus plant based diets. Plus plants are the only source of fiber. You cannot get it from meat. Fiber binds in the intestines with fat, cholesterol, pollutants and chemicals from our environment and eliminates these from the body. Without fiber one would become ill. Also with too much meat one will become ill.

    All plant foods contain complete proteins. Animal protein is not the perfect protein despite what the FDA and USDA think. Plant food is complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. This means one does not need meat to get protein or anything else that goes with animal food like this article says. Again the author is a master of spin and seems to be confused as how to interpret the studies they referenced. We only need 5 percent of our calories from protein but when we eat animal products we not only get more calories than healthy from fat, more cholesterol and more protein than is needed and healthy. Too much protein overworks the liver and kidneys and pulls large quantities of calcium from the body causing weak bones and kidney stones.

    I could go on but will stop here because the author’s “Bottom Line” statement has just been shattered and the spin it includes is obvious. Of course Americans have always had a love affair with their meat. The author is writing about a love affair and not health. But, if meat is your thing then go for it, it can’t hurt you or can it?

    I am not a vegan for veganism is a philosophy at that is all. There are a lot of unhealthy vegans in this country. I am on the side of health and that is all. Imagine a non-vegan saying you should not eat animal products of any kind and that is what I say. Bottom line: This article is truly one for the comic books when it comes to health and animal products. Animal products are simply not needed for a person to be extremely healthy. And, the China study had not been debunked like the author says. More and more studies are proving that a plant based diet is the only true healthy eating lifestyle. The author fools their readers into thinking they are writing neutral but in fact this article is biased and says some pretty bad things about people who live a plant based lifestyle that simply are not true and mostly are misrepresentations of facts or spin.

    PS: I bet the moderator takes this post off.

    • This is an extremely misleading article. First, I should state that I am neither vegan nor vegetarian. I do, however, keep my meat consumption rather low for several reasons, including the widely recognized health benefits of a diet low in meat products. My diet is high in protein, 100-150 grams of protein daily. My problem with the article is with its hysterical and misleading approach.

      The authors first citation, ( “… one study showing that a whopping 92% of vegans are deficient in this critical nutrient (1).” ) is a complete distortion of the study cited. An accurate citation from the study would read “Among subjects who did not supplement their diets with vitamin B12 or multiple vitamin tablets, 92% of the vegans (total vegetarians)…” I was unable to locate any study that purported to show what percentage of vegans do not supplement their diet with foods fortified with B12 or that do not take a multiple vitamin supplement. She also fails to mention that the study was based on only 82 subjects-not quite a comprehensive study of vegans.

      I do not know if the author is a shill for the meat industry; I do know that the facts are severely misrepresented in this article.

    • Wow! Very informative and well formulated rebuttal. Thank you Walt Willoughby!

      The only thing I can add is that when you say “The only reason animal foods contain any minerals is because the animals eat plants”, that’s only partly true. From my research at countless animal-ag and meat-producing sites I find over and over again that most animal nutrition is supplemented anyway.

      All the minerals and vitamins humans seem to need are also pumped into cows, pigs and chickens as well. Just search for yourself “vitamins in livestock feed” and it will prove my point.

      I certainly appreciate your objectively stated reply. Thanks again for the correct information that was sadly lacking in this article.

      • Bea, you make a true statement. Feed is fortified with vitamins and minerals for the livestock with same the vitamins and minerals we humans need.

        However, there are debates on just how much is absorbed and passed via the meat eaten from the animal from the supplements. Strictly grass feed livestock seem to pass on more vitamins and minerals in the consumption of their meat from research studies and that is why I left my comment as I did.

        But you have a valid point of which I will research even further. Bea, thank you for pointing it out.

  36. The assertion that a well-planned vegan diet is deficient in any nutrients contrasts with the position paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) on this subject. Please get your facts straight. Any diet, vegan or otherwise, can be quite deficient in important nutrients if little thought is given to it. If you’re not willing to use your brain, then don’t become a vegan (but such people don’t tend to become vegan anyway).

  37. Jacob Hogan says:

    Pretty lame Kris,

    “Vegan diets may be appropriate for some people, not others. Different strokes for different folks.” Contradicting the title of your own article.

    “It is true that processed meat causes harm and that it’s disgusting the way “conventionally raised” animals are treated these days.” Again, arguing with yourself. And if you think everyone can afford to buy “happy meat” from old McDonald’s farm you need to get out more.

    “There may be ethical or religious reasons not to eat animals… I get it.” No you don’t.

    I’m the only vegan I know of in my community where carnism is the norm. So I have to deal with confirmation bias, like yours, nearly every day some times several times a day even though I rarely even mention my diet. Tired of the silliness. At least some people are honest and admit that they like eating meat and don’t care about the killing. You should try it.

  38. Wow, you want to talk about propaganda. Impressive when an article links all of its claims to scientific research isn’t it. Unfortunately, nearly all of those links are to outdated articles, and to articles with no statistical significance in their findings. For instance the 92% b12 statement is supported by an article from 1982 (30 YEARS OLD).

    These days, most vegans are well educated in their nutritional needs. What is the difference getting b12 from a supplement or from an animal? There is no difference. This article is the worst kind of scare mongering, because it is presented as fair minded and well researched, when in fact it is NOT! I suggest those of you reading this actually get off your arses and research it yourself.

    In finishing I would just like to say, that Vegans are only healthier when they eat properly, and supplement properly. I am a whole foods vegan and I see seriously bad vegan eating habits consistently. My reasons for changing my diet have been both health related and morally motivated. I believe that when you have the choice not to kill another living creature to survive, it is your obligation to do so.

    To kill something simply because you can and it tastes good, is un-evolved barbarism and many of the great thinkers of our world agree (look up famous vegans and vegetarians). I CAN live a healthy long life with supplementation and a vegan diet. Also, the argument that supplementation is somehow not natural is illogical bollocks.

    All animals supplement their diets in many ways, by licking rock salt, or occasionally eat greens, cracking nuts, scavenging seaweed, or shell fish, etc. I would rather supplement my diet than be part of the mass torture, brutality and homicide of other living creatures just for tradition and taste.

  39. My husband & I have been happily munching away on the rabbit food for 14 years now. Between us we have been to the doctor once during that time.

    Generally we eat pretty good food, but we do have treats too. Occasionally we pop a few drops of B12 down the hatch, just in case, but blood tests over the years (during pregnancy) have shown these levels to be high anyway so its not something we worry about very much. We have noticed that our need for sleep is less than many others around us and our energy levels are pretty high as well.

    We also have 3 young boys that have been raised as plant eaters and are generally very energetic & pretty healthy little chaps with big hearts and a genuine love for nature. They have been raised to value life in all forms, to question so called ‘normal’ practices and make their own judgements on how they feel about something instead of just accepting the status quo.

    We tend to avoid the ‘V’ word as it conjures up visions of hippies, incense and after hours break-ins to factory farms etc.. Not that those are terrible things, they’re just not what we’re about. It seems that we’re not alone in our choices, family members have recently opened not one but two raw, vegan cafes in Auckland in the last 12 months which have proven to be extremely popular.

    They are super busy 7 days a week and bursting at the seams with customers :) I do hope the author of this article reads through at least some of these responses, he might learn something…

  40. Interesting how you open the article by eluding to your support of bio-individuality, but yet the title of your article is a complete hypocrisy of this notion.

    Rather than refute every false claim you made, since the tone and spirit of you article doesn’t feel very ‘open’ to opposing ideas, I will just state a few stats from a research study that began in 1985. It tracked 18 subjects for 12 years. Between the 18 subjects, they had a history of 49 coronary ‘episodes’ (heart attack, bypass surgery, etc)in the 8 years prior to the study, while eating an omnivore diet. For the study, they ate a whole foods plant based diet. In the 12 years that the doctors followed them, there were ZERO coronary episodes in all 18 subjects.

    This is just one small stat of tremendous amounts of research, and personal accounts, of healing of disease through a plant based diet. The fear mongering lies in the pharmaceutical companies who stand to make money off the poorly planned diets that result in disease and the need for meds, certainly not in the folks are who are trying to help others be healthy by encouraging them to eat plant foods.

    I have cured myself from high blood pressure, digestive issues, acne, mood swings, fatigue and more through a vegan diet. I also feel at peace knowing that my dinner plate has not caused the suffering of another sentient being. If that statement feels like ‘fear mongering’ to you, I think you had better look up the definition.

  41. I lived for 26 years on no red meat. I felt great. I had tons of energy. Every time I decided to go with the flow and just eat the red meat that was served at a dinner, I got horrible diarrhea. What was that about?

    It was about my body not digesting the red meat, obviously.

    For me– if I completely give up all animal protein, I crave sugar. Lot’s of sugar. When I eat some animal protein appropriate to my body weight and muscle mass, I feel much better and have zero cravings.

    I support people to figure out what works for them. As a Health Coach in Washington, I advise clients to listen to their bodies, experiment with different diets and different cooking styles, but take note of calories regardless of WHAT you eat.

    I know too many fat angry and hostile vegans. Many end up with severe deficiencies. Others fight so hard for their opinions that they fail to recognize why they gained weight, got angry and felt awful.

    One yoga instructor is vehemently against what he calls “the carcass of dead animals.” He admonishes students who eat animal, but he is always nursing an injury and I’ve witnessed a massive weight gain in both him and his wife. These are two people who are adamantly vegan or vegetarian, sell nutritional supplements, teach yoga and meditation.

    It boils down to a personal definition of heavy. And of health. I agree that purely vegan diets require extreme studies and extreme consciousness of food components. We need enough protein more than we need enough carbohydrate. And we need to guard against processed proteins. So how, I ask people, are you going to get healthy protein if you refuse to eat animal?

    For me, eating an organic and grass fed animal protein is vastly better than a gmo soy based or whey based protein powder.

    • But the very title of this article is “hostile” and “angry”! Why can’t we all just get along instead call another’s choice “terrible” as the author did????

      I’m Veg/Vegan – for nearly 35 years. Had a GREAT pregnancy, have NEVER been low on B-12, and the ONLY time I gained weight and felt awful was a short time where I allowed a small amount of fish/seafood in my diet (my husband is omnivore.) Our daughter is also Veg/Vegan, was raised a little of each – her choice because she, too, feels better.

      For us it is NOT a moral issue and, quite frankly, I get sick to death of being told how horrible and terrible and cruel to our children, etc., our choices are!! We are NOT the ONLY “hostile” ones in this world. I just quit my 4th Dr. (MD) since moving to this area 3 years ago because they and/or their staff are openly hostile toward my choices. BTW, I have good to great “everything” health stats (I get a physical every couple of years to check blood and urine stats.)

      Eat animals. That is FINE with me! I’m okay with it. I used to do it and I was wrong – except for wrong for ME! I feel sooooo much better eating this way and, unlike implied and outright stated in this article, a GOOD Vegan has ALL the protein (complete proteins are found throughout nature in plant-life of all types!!), nutrients, healthy fats, good sugars, complex carbs, etc., in a very natural balance. “JUNK FOOD” Vegetarians are just as bad as junk-food omnivore junkies.

      I think the author needs to redouble her research. Most of what she wrote is completely disproven in the last 25 years (not new info at all!)

      Ok, my “10 cents” worth (more than 2 cents, I fear!). Getting off my high horse and going to eat my tempeh and veggie saute with sweet potato and lentil sauce….. complete meal all the way around!

      Be peaceable friends. Be peaceable.!!!

  42. You cite two examples debunking the CHINA STUDY. Here is some more context on the rebuttal by the original author, T C Campbell, to give it more context: http://www.vegsource.com/articles2/campbell_china_response.htm

  43. I am a vegetarian and this article is an excellent analysis, right on down the line, in my opinion. The main reason I don’t eat meat or fish is because of the deterioration of the quality of these due to environmental factors. An amazingly detailed nutrition book called How to Get Well, written in the 1970s, talks briefly about racial background as a factor (our ancestors ate different foods from one another; Africans, Asians, and indigenous peoples tend to be lactose-intolerant; caucasians and Mid-Easterners rarely so {think of the robust health of the milk-drinking Russians and Swedes}).

    I know that most Celiac/Gluten insensitivity sufferers today are caucasian, too. Anyway, it would probably explain the results of the China Study in part; Chinese people aren’t meant to eat animal products because their ancestors didn’t. I would assume that they wouldn’t have blocked on environmental factors in the admittedly enormous study–like toxic pollution in meat and dairy vs rice or produce–in any way, and we know China’s track record with regulation!

    • I meant to add at the end of my post above…”Perhaps meats and dairy were more contaminated than rice and produce by the pollution in China, thus producing incorrect conclusions prejudicial toward animal products”.

  44. This article has not changed my mind about being a vegan in the slightest. It is a fact that eating a vegan diet is better for the environment and better for your health. How is it that most vegetarians/vegans who eat healthy live longer than most meat eaters? If eating a vegan diet is known for its health properties then I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to turn vegan and contribute to a cruelty-free way of life.

  45. Dan Roberts says:

    The American Dietetic Association (The world’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals) has issued these statements.

    • “Well planned vegetarian & vegan diets are appropriate for all individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

    • “Vegetarian & vegan diets tend to be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals.”

    • “Vegetarian & vegan diets are often associated with a number of health advantages, including lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease (which account for 25% of all human deaths in the UK and US), lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Vegetarians have a lower BMI and lower overall cancer rates (which count for another 25% of human deaths in the UK and US)”

    • “Vegetarians and vegans (including athletes) meet and exceed requirements for protein.”

    The NHS has delivered similar statements.

    No offense – but the largest collection of nutritionists, doctors and health specialists in the world knows more and has done more to study this context.

    Here is the link for anyone who is interested.

    http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf

    • No offense but I really had to answer this comment.

      I know it is hard to believe but it is entirely possible that the largest collection of nutritionists, doctors and health specialists in the world can actually be wrong about a number of things.

      If you spend some more time reading other articles on this website you may find out more about this and the fact that there is a huge movement at the moment which is taking on mainstream nutritional advice and challenging these so called experts on subjects such as saturated fat causing heart disease and recommending that everyone eats a low fat carbohydrate rich diet.

      There has never been any proof that saturated fat causes heart disease and there is a lot of evidence that the low fat, high carb guidelines are the cause of the ever increasing rates of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes we are seeing today.

      If you look on the NHS website you will find ever increasing comments from members of the public who are pointing out that their advice is flawed and if you think that the ADA is any better then I suggest you take a look at this website by former obese diabetic Steve Cooksey who has basically cured his diabetes by doing the exact opposite of the advice given out by the ADA!

      http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/2013/01/16/listen-to-the-experts-of-diabetes-care/

      So I am sorry but I find it hard to be able to accept advice from these institutions as gospel.

  46. Aaron Brown says:

    This article sounds pretty biased. I myself am not vegan but my diet happens to be. I am also into bodybuilding and have found this diet extremely effective. Yes I agree, you can make the most of both sides and live a happy healthy life. The truth is to understand where to get your micro/macronutrients and how to balance your diet.

    As for people getting sick and fat from too many animal foods or too deficient and skinny from vegan… well that’s a simple lack in understanding of nutrition. Iron for example is the least thing you have to worry about in the vegan world. So many nuts seeds and beans contain ample amounts of this. But not to dive into specifics.

    However as for me, the vegan diet is very easy to obtain everything you need without a single animal food product. I have been trying it for 2 months and have gained 9 lbs of lean muscle mass in that time.

    Though I do not preach my “veganism” on anyone nor am I an animal rights activist, I simply choose vegan for my personal health beliefs. I simply believe in doing what works best for you. Try experimenting with various diets. And most of all get educated in nutrition before taking a stand in what you believe is right.

    • Bethany Covenant says:

      Dear Aaron,

      You say “The article sounds pretty biased” yet biased is what I find your comment to be.

      You claim you “obtain everything you need without a single animal food product” apparently from a strictly vegan diet, why did you not therefore fail to mention for example your B12 vitamin source? What about other nutrients mentioned in the article?

      Should you reply, there is of course another thing I wanted to mention – just because specific foods are rich in a particular nutrient, it doesn’t mean the form of that nutrient is accessible for our organisms. For example, spinach is rich in iron, yet spinach is a poor source of iron for humans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinach#Iron, further links to scientific studies are on the wiki). Should you reply, please do take that into your further explanations.

      Also, in another comment under the article, you mention Patrik Baboumian as a shiny example of how one can become a “titan” WHILE being vegan. Googled it. Guess what? Wikipedia claims Patrik was already a successful junior bodybuilding champion back in 1999, he turned vegetarian years later, and even a few years later on, vegan. Do you even see how failed the logic is in that example?

      And I’ll finish exactly in your way – I am not against vegans, although my diet isn’t vegan. When we’re having a discussion on a specific topic (here, vegan diet being healthy or not), in an exchange of different points of view we use arguments which we can (and do) back up with verified data. Every claim made in the article is backed up with a link to a scientific paper. If you want to be treated seriously, please do the same.

  47. If you go vegan, you are making a big commitment. You need to be aware of what you need to eat more of to make up for the lack of animal products in your diet. You can get every single thing you need as a human being from a vegan diet.

    And whoever made a comment about human beings suffering if animals don’t suffer… well, let me just say you must have never watched slaughterhouse recordings before. Unless you’re buying pasture raised grass fed organic 100% of the time, which if that’s the case, I stand corrected.

  48. Being a vegetarian for 21 years I also have some vegetarian friends and regular friends and my vegetarian friends are healthier than my meat eating friends, they seem to need less pills and are in better shape. To me it speaks loud. I’d rather spend time having fun instead of going to hospitals. I eat all I can except what comes from an animal, and I enjoy every meal.

  49. I don’t have time to get into ALL of the reasons as to why this article is so biased, thwarted, and completely void of good science. But honestly, you are far from qualified to be giving out nutrition advice; in fact I would say it’s actually poor professionalism. Speak with someone working in the field of dietetics (where knowing this sort of stuff is our job) with years of practical vegan experience.

    • As someone who has been in the business of dietetics for 45 years, I can tell you that in my experience the healthiest people out there get their nutrition from a diet including both plants and animals. I’ve also had the privilege of working with 20 women who lived past 100 over the years and every single one of them included meat in their diets. That would be my experience.

      • Agree completely. As per the Okinawans and other long-lived populations. Populations that eat a lot of meat do not generally live long lives in comparison. I laugh at the people that need controlled studies for everything. I, however, look at real-life examples. Beats a study any day.

    • Be vegan to stop cruelty to animals?!?

      If you even bothered to read the rest of the comments you would see that just about everyone here has stated they do not support cruelty to animals, industrial food production and the like.

      Sustainable and respectful production of “food” has been discussed at length — mostly by those who recognised that, as a species, we are opportunistic omnivores.

      I guess if you had your way, cows and pigs would no longer be mistreated… they would be extinct! Do you really think the farmers will keep them on as expensive pets?

      I recently watched a documentary about the Outback of Australia… a vast, arid desert but home to the second largest export of livestock in the World. What are you going to grow in that dry red sand to feed the World?

      • It really pi$$es me off… this “holier than thou” attitude that only a vegan*tarian can be virtuous, clean and show any empathy towards our fellow lifeforms.

        It reminds me of the same sanctimonious attitude from the religious fundamentalists who seem to think that: without religion, humans would devolve into violent anarchy. That we are somehow incapable of forming moral, or social codes without the influence of some supernatural overlord. Of course the insidious message behind this is that religious folks are only being “good” out of fear of eternal retribution!

        On the other hand it seem evident to me that if you look at any traditional human community devoid of a religious upbringing (Inuit for example) and you would see a social fabric and morals which mirror those that religion has co-opted (along with so many other things)…

        It is wrong to kill, it is wrong to steal, you should respect your elders (repositories of culture, knowledge and wisdom), treat others as you would have them treat you and so on…

        These rules are basic to the survival of any social animal… including humans.

        What put me in mind of this was the first comment for a wonderful illustrated version of John Lennon’s Imagine…

        http://9gag.com/gag/4881104?ref=fb.s

        …the commenter has the gall to suggest that without religion we would be mindless and directionless drones with no moral code!

        That Mitchell and Webb Look Abraham and Isaac…
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDfoJ29CR4E

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