Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet Vegan for Life discussion

Not Everyone can make it on a Vegan Diet

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message 1: by Elton (new)

Elton But for those who make a personal choice to, whatever the reason, I wish you luck. About 1/3 of the Human Race can make it on a pure vegan diet; they don't need meat to keep in top peak performance.

For those that want to try it, however, you need to examine the reasons why you want to. And if you believe or know you will be healthier to do it, I say go for it. Give this book a try.

message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin Haven't read the book, even though my daughter is claiming she is vegan. We have cut back on eating meat, and I don't notice anything.

Rachel Hi Elton.

I like this topic. I've often wondered whether there are some people who can't thrive as well on a vegan diet. Where did you find the info that 1/3 of people can make it on a vegan diet, and the other 2/3 cannot? Or was that just a generalization and/or gut-feeling?

Even if it is only 1/3 of the human population that can thrive on a vegan diet and the other 2/3 that cannot ... I wonder if among the other 2/3 ... there might be a good portion who can thrive on a mostly vegan diet .... for example, maybe some portion of them can eat 10% of their calories from meat and eggs, etc, and the other 90% from plant foods. I bet there's A LOT of people who could thrive on that diet. And who knows, maybe there are people out there who need 20% or 40% of their calories from animal foods to survive.

But ... some of the people who could be thriving on that 90% vegan / 10% animal food diet ... they may be eating 40% animal foods right now ... and not realizing that all the extra animal foods are not needed for their health. Who knows, maybe Person A needs 40% animal foods in his diet to be healthy, and Person B only needs 10% animal foods, and Person C only needs 0% animal foods ... but they are all eating 40% (as a random example percentage), just because we are all sitting at the same table, eating the same thing.

Well, it's just something I'm curious about. If it is true that some people thrive on a 100% vegan diet (Elton is saying 1/3 of the human pop.), and other people don't (Elton is saying 2/3), and if it's true that in the 2/3 group, different people require various percentages of animal foods .... how do you find out which camp you're in?

I'm coming at this from the perspective of an environmentalist who is always trying to reduce her environmental footprint, but NOT at the expense of people's personal health. Imagine I was a mom and I had five kids. (Okay, ADOPTED kids if I'm a mega-environmentalist.) As an environmentalist, I would want to feed each of these adopted kids the diet that would cause the least amount of harm to the environment, without hurting the kids' health and well-being. So I would want to know ... is each one of these kids a 1/3 kid or a 2/3 kid? And if it's a 2/3 kid, what is the lowest percentage of animal products that would allow that kid to still be healthy?

How would I know the answers to these questions? It's a hypothetical scenario--I'm not a mom, but it's the kind of philosophical question I want to know more about. Any ideas? Elton, you've really piqued my curiosity with your 1/3 can-do-vegan, 2/3 no-can-do hypothesis.

message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin My daughter is making a conscientious effort to go all vegan. She doesn't want to even eat honey due to the bees dwindling in numbers. She has been on this diet for a while, and my husband and I are supporting her in whatever she wants to do to live a healthier lifestyle. So she may be in the 2/3 category. I still haven't read the book.

message 5: by Rachel (last edited Aug 11, 2011 12:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rachel Robin, be sure that your daughter reads the book. She needs to know what foods she needs and what vitamins she needs for supplements, to be 100% healthy and thrive on a vegan diet.

There are a lot of myths about vegan diets, believed by vegans and non-vegans; this book is good because it focuses on the knowledge that we do have. Where the evidence is sketchy, the authors are very quick to point it out. Also, the authors advocate playing it safe in terms of taking supplements to be sure that you're not missing certain vital nutrients.

A good example is the case of Vitamin D. Very few people get enough sun exposure to get enough "natural vitamin D," and vitamin D is found naturally in very few foods (whether animal or plant-based). But it's very important to get your required dosage of vitamin D every day. That's why almost everyone, be they meat eater or vegan, needs to get vitamin D through fortified foods, or through supplements.

Cow's milk is not a natural source of vitamin D, but it is typically fortified with this vitamin. Let's take as an example, someone who drinks 3 glasses of vitamin D-fortified cow's milk every day; they are probably getting a pretty good dose of this vitamin (maybe 90% of what they need). Now ... let's say that person goes vegan. If he or she doesn't substitute the vitamin-D fortified milk with another vitamin-D fortified beverage or other vitamin-D fortified foods, or vitamin D supplements .... then he or she may develop a vitamin D deficiency. In this case, the deficiency wouldn't be because the person stopped drinking cow's milk, it would be because the person stopped drinking a vitamin-D fortified beverage.

I think this kind of distinction is important to know about! It's the kind of subtle thing that someone may not be aware of, when transitioning to a vegan diet.

The book is very clear that there is one nutrient that is not available in plant foods (or from sunshine), and is not otherwise produced in the body. It is vitamin B12. Vegans definitely need to supplement with that, and it should be a sublingual or chewable tablet ... according to the authors of Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet, the B12 found in vitamins that you swallow whole, is not easily absorbed into the human body.

Of course, meat eaters often need to supplement with vitamin B12, too. It's a very important vitamin, and it's very important to get enough.

But the authors are very honest about the idea that a vegan diet is not really a "natural" way to eat ... that is, it's not exactly "going back to our roots," in terms of ancient customs. All throughout history, people and primates have eaten meat, insects and/or animal dung ... and that's where they have gotten their B12. Nowadays B12 can be grown from bacteria culture in a laboratory, so that's where vegans get their B12 today.

Vegans often bemoan this fact about B12, as many people love the idea of going "all natural." Me, too! But it's wise to remember that "all natural" is not always "all good." For example, in the ancient custom, people practiced polygamy with a populace who didn't bathe regularly ... I'm glad we don't have to live in the same "natural manner" as they did!

Lindsey Elton wrote: "About 1/3 of the Human Race can make it on a pure vegan diet; they don't need meat to keep in top peak performanc..."

Really? What peer-reviewed, cross-cultural, multi-generational study has been designed and implemented to prove this? That is an awfully huge claim that needs huge proof. I doubt all the people out there thriving on healthy vegan diets are part of this one third. I'm guessing this one-third claim is supposed to be based on a person's ancestry? What are the odds of all those healthy vegans coming from the same ancestry? We do know what nutrients all humans need to be healthy, and this book shows how to obtain all of them through non-animal based foods.

I'm not attacking you. I appreciate how respectful your comment was, but I am concerned with unproven claims about vegan diets stated as facts.

Personally, I'm vegan for 100% ethical reasons. I experienced no change in my health when switching to a vegan diet (probably because I get plenty of calories and make sure to supplement with B12 and other vitamins/minerals I may be low in - but I should have been doing all that on my nonvegan diet anyway). If someone is vegan strictly for health reasons, there's really no reason to switch to a 100% vegan diet, since it has not been proven yet that a 100% vegan diet is healthier than say, a 90% vegan diet.

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