I am sure I am not the only individual with an eating disorder who finds herself subconsciously wandering into the library’s diet book section. Just like yeast thrives when exposed to the proper conditions, my eating disorder thrives when it is submersed in an environment of nothing but books that worship weight-loss. I remember though that there was one book that sucked me in the most when my eating disorder had completely consumed my thoughts. It was a book on veganism. It promised that by bidding farewell to the foods that make up our American culture (animal-based products), you would be rewarded with a stick-thin figure and years of good health. Now that my mind is working it’s way back to a healthy state, I am beginning to realize that veganism is in no way a diet that is sustainable or health promoting to the human race. If you are a vegan that last sentence probably made your face turn as red as an apple and steam come out of your ears. You probably think I am an uneducated consumer, a mindless moron, or a corrupt supporter of the dairy industry. Let me tell you right at this very moment that I am none of those things and believe me, I never will be. Just take a chill pill and give me a chance to share my point of view and maybe just maybe, it will make you change yours.
Veganism is an extreme form of vegetarianism where consuming or even wearing a product that comes from an animal is considered hairacy. Supporters of this movement have made remarkable claims like vegans have an incredibly decreased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and have even alleged that a vegan diet can REVERSE physical ailments. In order to support these fantastic assertions, many vegans turn to a well-known study that is pretty much their bible. It’s called “The China Study”. Basically this study looked at the diets of individuals residing in Chinese villages and examined how their diets affected their overall well-being. To summarize everything up, the study pointed their finger at animal products and high-protein diets as the cause for a majority of the diseases plaguing us today. Now, there is a problem with that assumption. Let’s look at the African Maasai tribe for a second. This interesting group of people live in Kenya and Tanzania and their diets are stuffed with fat and animal-based protein. Despite this high-fat, high-protein diet, the Maasai people ARE NOT pushing up daisies like The China Study suggest they would. Why is that? Maybe it’s because animal products aren’t as bad for us as plant-based diet extremists have told us.
Animal-based products contain tons of nutrients that are extraordinarily difficult to obtain in a 100% plant-based diet, especially when you are talking about zinc, B12, calcium, and iron. Now I bet a ton of vegan activists are currently shouting at me, saying that all of these micronutrients can be obtained through a plant-based diet. I am going to be the first one to say that vegans CANNOT obtain all these nutrients through their diet alone. Many of the micronutrients I listed are either not found in plant foods at all (B12) or our found in very little amounts. If they are found in very little amounts, a lot of the nutrients are less bioavailable than if they were consumed through animal-based products instead. For example, let’s look at calcium which is extremely important to bone and tooth formation, blood clotting, muscle and nerve actions, and even metabolic reactions. The recommended daily value of calcium per day is over 1,000mg and as you know, dairy products contain an incredible amount of calcium. If you were to cut out dairy products from your diet and just rely on plant-based sources, it would be rather difficult to get that amount. Though kale, turnip greens, an even beans contain some calcium, a lot of it cannot be absorbed due to the phytates and oxalates that these foods contain. When you do not get enough calcium in your diet, a lot of health problems can occur including osteoporosis.
So if you only get one thing out of reading this post, remember that animal foods are nothing to be afraid of. They contain vital micronutrients and macronutrients that support health and longevity. If you are a vegan or considering adopting a vegan diet, please remember the dangerous consequences of this choice. Though I believe a vegetarian diet can provide essential nutrients if done correctly (because you can still eat dairy, eggs, and sometimes fish), I firmly believe a vegan diet cannot possibly give an individual everything they require to thrive. To learn more about the importance of including animal-based foods in your diet, check out the links below.