Say what? Does a vegan diet make you sick? | Vegan for 40 years and looking good
Posted Dec 03 2010 8:20am
Sigh. I'm kind of an avoid-er when it comes to controversy, and I've been trying to stay away from writing this, but I have a few comments to make about the recent vegan diet-versus-health post written by a passionate and popular (former vegan) blogger I'll call XVV. When the post explaining her decision to renounce her vegan diet for an omnivore diet first appeared, I was surprised and amazed. As I read through it, I was taken aback by her ultra dramatic switch from one intense set of beliefs to another, polar opposite, set of beliefs. I respect and like XVV, so I felt compassion for her medical crisis, but still, I was shaking my head. I left a comment of support for her decision to become an omnivore, and her honesty, and wished her well. I still feel that way. But there were so many aspects of her very lengthy discourse that left my eyebrows raised, I just have to say a few words of my own or my poor eyebrows may never go back down. I will only touch on a few of the many issues that bugged me, and keep my comments brief. No long discourses or references to research — I'll leave that to others. I just need to say something. (Just in case you missed it, the original post is here. )
1. XVV has multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies, anemia and depression. I absolutely don't deny XVV's health problems, but I don't think they happen only to vegans, and maybe she should be less cavalier about implicating that because it happened to her, a vegan diet is inherently unhealthy. Her vegan diet didn't work for her, but I've known omnivores with the exact same health issues, and embracing an omnivore diet will not be a guarantee of better health for all. Most of the people I know are omnivores, and they have plenty of health problems.
2. "Animal foods won't hurt me in any way." XVV talks about "wholesome saturated fat" and "nutritious cholesterol" as she describes devouring piles of bacon, eggs and cheese. What can I say? Does she realize that health clinics and hospitals are filled with people who believe that? Did she read The China Study? I hope she will use her animal products as additives to her diet, not the main course.
3. Some popular vegan bloggers, AR activists and vegan cookbook authors are not vegan behind the scenes. She claims that many outspoken vegans eat animals to stay healthy, but keep it hush hush. I don't consider myself an outspoken and popular blogger, so I'll come right out and admit that I AM vegan behind the scenes.
4. XVV thinks it's absurd that a vegan diet requires vitamins and supplements. She feels a vegan diet is inadequate because of the need to take supplements. This doesn't seem like an exclusively vegan issue to me. Go into any supplement store and you'll have to search hard for supplements appropriate for vegans. Most supplements are geared to omnivores, because it's really not that strange for people to need or want a nutritional safeguard. For example, those living in places without adequate sun need vitamin D supplements. Lots of people take supplements to insure their health, not just vegans. Using this as a reason to eat animals seems wrong.
5. "During my time as a vegan I never stopped searching for an even better solution and a more ethical way to live." What does this mean? Was she hoping to find a reason to stop being vegan all along?
6. Raising animals for food has no effect on global warming. In my opinion, no comment is needed.
7. Veganism is anti-feminist. XVV has stated that following a vegan diet makes women weak, thus leading to their further subjugation. You know, it's easy to keep women down when they are physically weakened by their vegan diets. This seems really off-the-wall.
8. "I can no longer think that it is wrong to eat animals." I think not wanting to harm animals is my primary reason for being vegan. She also states that vegans cause as much harm and suffering to animals as omnivores.
As I said, these are but a few of my problems with XVV's statement. I'll leave you with three links to rebuttals that are much better than mine, and hope you'll take the time to read them. One, from a vegan nutritionist, is really helpful in understanding where XVV may be coming from. One is a very funny, pointed parody. And the last is angry but well thought out. I recommend them all.
OK, so a vegan diet may not be best for everyone, but what happens to those who pursue it anyway? Can it actually be healthy long-term? I'm not saying it is or isn't; I can't presume to tell people what they should eat. But here's a video you might enjoy. Maybe she just has good genes. Who knows?