To be perfectly truthful, I rarely invoke health as a reason to become vegan. Veganism is not a diet: it’s an ethical response to, and refusal to participate in, systemic violence and exploitation. Human health and wellbeing is obviously very important, but not at the expense of the wellbeing and life of another animal.
What’s more, though I mostly eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, I definitely eat more than my fair share of pizza, cookies and ice cream: i.e., it doesn’t necessarily follow that vegans are inherently healthy. I am also against any ideology that idealizes certain body types and associates health and wellbeing with being thin and/or able-bodied.
Just like omnivores, vegans come in all shapes and sizes and encompass the entire human experience. You don’t have to eat a diet of raw vegetables and quinoa to avoid facilitating animal cruelty. Plant-based cookies save animal lives too!
You don’t have to eat a diet of raw vegetables and quinoa to avoid facilitating animal cruelty. Veganism is not a diet: it’s a refusal to participate in systemic violence and exploitation of animals.
Having said that, this animal’s life is also worth taking care of, and as I hurtle towards my forties I am trying to eat more conscientiously and (gasp) have even considered checking out this ‘exercise’ thing I’ve heard people raving about.
I’m by no means an expert in nutrition, but becoming vegan has prompted me to do a lot of reading and research, and I’m 100% convinced that eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is not only better for the animals and the planet, it’s also better for our personal health and wellness too.
And, yes, to answer one of the most common nutritional questions, I get more than enough protein (not to mention iron, calcium, vital omegas and almost every other vitamin and mineral) on a plant-based diet!
With that said, like many vegans, I do take a B12 supplement and was surprised to learn that the vitamin is neither made from plants or animals but is actually produced by bacteria that live in the soil and intestines of animals (including humans). Because they live in cages or are crammed into concrete structures, most farmed animals have little to no outdoor access and are actually supplemented with it too. In fact, as this article explains in more detail:
“Most of the world’s synthetic B12 is consumed by farmed animals. Even organic and pastured animals receive supplemental B12 or cobalt. This means that in industrialized societies, most meat, eggs and dairy are not any more “natural” as sources of B12 than the fortified foods or supplements vegans consume. In both cases, the B12 derives from a synthetic supplement.”
While I think it’s dangerous when people say that veganism is a cure for every illness and ailment, the fact is that scientific evidence amply and strongly supports the benefits and superiority of a plant-based diet. To learn more, I recommend the following studies and documentaries:
Dr. Greger’s NutritionFacts.Org is the only non-commercial, nonprofit, science-based website to provide free daily updates on the latest in evidence-based nutrition. In my more conscientious moments, I try to follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist.
The China Study
Based on one of the largest comprehensive studies of human nutrition ever conducted, with an enormous amount of data collected over a span of twenty years, The China Study explores the relationship between nutrition and diseases like diabetes and cancer, among others.
The data concludes that animal proteins promote the growth of cancer, heart disease can be reversed with a plant-based diet, and there are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.
In short: “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest.”
Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives (available on Netflix) examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the chronic diseases that afflict us can be controlled or even reversed by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.
What The Health
What The Health is “the health film that health organizations don’t want you to see.” This investigative documentary exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars and keeping us sick.