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Probably not the title that you'd expect from my blog, huh? Well, I was being a bit facetious. I came across an article in the US News Health section yesterday that literally made my blog boil and I felt obligated to post on it.
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I want to premise this post with a few statements:
1. There is a severe lack of education in this country in regards to what constitutes proper nutrition. This is ESPECIALLY true when it comes to women's health during their pre-conception and conception time frame, as well as pregnancy, birth, and then the postpartum period.
2. Anything the mainstream medical community tells us is good should be examined closely (see low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-salt fads from the past). Since mainstream medicine is now starting to hop on the veganism bandwagon, then I think we need to review the basics.
3. I do understand that there are times when a vegetarian/vegan diet may be necessary, but those times are going to be during a serious illness or healing crisis and are typically only done for a short amount of time. There's a lot that goes into obtaining all the nutrition you need when you're on a vegan diet and it is not something to be done lightly. You're talking a full-time job just to make sure you get everything you need. It is a huge responsibility for the sake of your health.
4. I am not telling you to eat meat every single day, for every single meal, despite what some people might think. I sometimes go several days without eating meat. But I do eat grass-fed butter, cultured dairy, pastured eggs, coconut oil, etc., daily. These are all items that vegans do not eat, yet they are powerhouses of nutrition, especially for growing children and pregnant and nursing mothers.
5. Put your money where your mouth is. I advise making sure you only eat grass-fed, pastured meat, butter, milk, and eggs for the biggest nutritional bang. Believe me, I know that these items are more expensive. Believe me, I know times are tough right now — my grocery budget is just as tight as everyone else's. However, if you look at the long-term benefits of eating higher quality foods, it's worth upping the grocery budget now and cutting back elsewhere. You will not regret it. And frankly, if you shop around and make friends with your local foodies, farmers, and ranchers, you'd be surprised how well you can eat on a budget. There are ways to eat very nutritiously on a small budget. Cooking Traditional Foods recently wrote a fantastic article about how not to go into debt for food.
6. I support personal choice, but I think that people are uneducated and misinformed as to the dangers of these diets. I cannot stress the importance of certain nutrients for women who are trying to conceive, who are pregnant, and who are nursing that simply CANNOT be obtained from a vegan diet. The same goes for children, both in the womb and out. I also understand that people often choose veganism because of moral and social issues regarding animals, but I am not going to delve into that aspect in this post.
Nutritional Problems With Vegan Diets
Sheth added that research has found vegan diets to be appropriate for people at all stages of the life cycle — even people at crucial stages, such as growing children, pregnant or lactating women, and highly active athletes.
There are NO vegan societies in the world (there are vegetarian), past or present, because a vegan diet is not healthy long-term. This is exceptionally scary that they are advocating its safety for pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as growing children. You can read material by the Weston A. Price Foundation, Nina Planck, Write on Jana!, Nourishing Treasures, Cheeseslave, The Healthy Home Economist, Nourished Kitchen, Mercola, The Food Renegade (here and here), Holistic Kid, Mommypotamus, etc., that will all establish the serious issues that come along with this lifestyle, especially for women and children (but men are greatly affected too).
Sheth and Giancoli also noted that certain vegan “super foods” like soy products and quinoa have been found to contain proteins that break down all the essential amino acids.
Quinoa is awesome, soy is not and is most certainly not a super food. Unfermented soy (which is pretty much everything that mainstream society eats) is NOT safe, no matter what people say. Read my soy dangers series, Part 1 and Part 2. You can also read countless articles from the Weston A. Price Foundation, Cheeseslave, Mercola, Food Renagade, Nourished Kitchen, etc.
Nutrients that vegans do have to keep careful track of in their diets, according to Sheth and Giancoli, include vitamin B12, a key nutrient in cell metabolism, nerve function and blood production, and calcium, which is needed for healthy bones. Animal products are rich in vitamin B12, and dairy products contain loads of calcium.
However, vegans can get B12 and calcium from fortified cereals and fortified dairy substitutes such as soy or rice milk. “You need to be a smart consumer and read labels to make sure you're buying products that are fortified,” Giancoli said. Dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, collard greens or kale also are good sources of calcium.
GAH!!! If you have to buy food that says “fortified” then something's wrong. First, it's not real food. Second, it's overly processed in a factory, hence the reason it's “fortified”. “Fortified” simply means that it has no nutritional value without the important stuff, like vitamins and minerals being added back in. REAL FOOD DOES NOT REQUIRE YOU TO ADD THINGS BACK IN! In addition, most of the time, these “fortified” nutrients are not assimilable because they don't come in their natural form with all of the other stuff that they need to be absorbed by your body. Vegans are chronically deficient in fat soluble (i,e. they need fat like butter or coconut oil to do what it needs to do in your body) vitamins A, D, E & K, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), iron, stearic acid, zinc, B vitamins, and more, and they pass these deficiencies along to their children, whether it be through the food they put on the table or the food the mother puts in her body. Again, countless articles on the deficiencies that vegans face from Nourished Kitchen (here, here, here, and here), the Healthy Home Economist (here, here, here, and here), Kitchen Table Medicine, the Weston A. Price Foundation, etc.
OK, that's enough. Pretty sure I made my point.
It is truly scary what is happening in this country. We have such a fundamental loss of the basics of nutrition and with articles like this, I am nervous to see what the future as a race is like. There is a reason that there are no vegan-based societies now or in history. There is a reason that animal products like roe, raw dairy, cod liver oil, organ meats, etc., were prized in traditional cultures and given to women before they conceived, during and after pregnancy, as well as to growing children. There is a reason that historically, certain animal products were reserved for pregnant and nursing women and growing children, if quantities were scarce. There is a reason that tribes who lived in the high mountains would send their young men on a trek to the ocean to get fatty fish, roe, etc., for their young women. History is our best teacher. It's time that we start looking at the history books to save us from the sickly, malnourished future that we are setting ourselves up for.
Let's discuss – what are your thoughts?