If you are 100% vegan, you may think: "I love animals so much; I cry about their scared, sad faces and their violent deaths. The rape of dairy cows and the removing and killing of calves for veal is so evil. Not to mention the horror of how egg laying hens are treated. Laying their own uterus! What did pigs do? Were they Hitler in their last life? It's violent and it's specisim. I want no part of it."
I get it. Is anything less than 100% here worth doing for the animals? Step outside of the passion and the ethics and the righteousness of it for a moment and think: What if some people just can’t hack it at 100%?
Can they still help end factory farming?
I say: Yes, they can!
It's very, very horrible, what we do to other beings and to the earth. I want all creatures to never, ever suffer.
But truth be known: I love people more than cows, chickens, pigs, lamb and fish and all the rest of the creatures out there. I love truth and honesty too.
Why do I love people more?
Humans have forks.
Yes! The fork wielding humans are the only ones to make a difference in the lives of other, non-human animals.
Here, as much as we should be compassionate towards non-human animals, we also must be compassionate toward humans. Do we love the lion less because she eats gazelles? The lion has no choice, you say? Yes, some humans have no choice either.
This is not an erudite essay so I'm going to just go with the flow. Transitions might not be smooth. Fair warning.
I am an ex-vegan. I was a vegan for nearly 6 years and a vegetarian before that since 1986. (I had 87 in here incorrectly. I went to India in 87, but I stopped eating animals in 86.) At the time of this writing, I ate two eggs so now I'm not a vegan. Right!
Up to now, and currently, I have not experienced any major health issues being vegan or vegetarian, personally. When I went vegan 6 years ago, I didn’t lose weight. I gained. Instead of becoming a skinny bitch, I was fat and friendly. I’m still friendly, just not as chubby. I hardly ever see the doctor (knock on wood) and my teeth are fine.
I ate the eggs earlier today to prove a point and to be able to write from that special place of so-called authority that ex-vegans have.
Is the vegan diet the best diet for all humans and is it the most natural?
The vegan diet, or a plant only diet, is not the best or most natural diet for all humans. Although, at some point, it very well could be.
Some humans thrive on it and some don't. Some notice no difference. Some people’s health improves. Mine did. I used to have very lumpy and painful breasts; that is gone. I used have a fair amount of acne and also I’d get colds more frequently. That has improved. However, that is me.
Some people and their children get sick on it. Tooth decay, brain fog, IBS, fatigue, depression and other issues which my previous self (just a week or two ago) thought could be fixed with a supplement or two or three. That is not always true or best.
If I hadn't met a family just yesterday at the vegan Thanksgiving pot luck, 2010 in Santa Rosa, CA, with two children gestated, nursed and raised on a pure, vegan diet with supplements, I doubt I would be writing this now. I might have, but it was literally as if the Universe begged me to write this after meeting this family.
Both children were small but their parents were small too, short, so that didn’t set off any red flags. The oldest, at approximately 9 years old, had a lot of her permanent teeth capped due to tooth decay. Tooth decay! This is what is highly disturbing.
I was wrong. Wrong to believe and to previously assert that a vegan diet is good for everyone.
And so is Dr. McDougall, MD when he says:
In order to minimize your risk of any health problems, I recommend you and your family follow a diet based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. To avoid the extremely rare chance of becoming a national headline, add a reliable B12 supplement. By making this addition to a healthy diet you can’t go wrong, nor will you suffer from any justifiable criticism of your McDougall Diet delivered by well-meaning family and friends. Source here.
From what I understand, this plant based diet he advocates, and has staked his life’s work on and invested his very soul into was “discovered” when he put the sick Polynesians back on their traditional diet and saw their heart disease and diabetes go away. Their traditional diet of starches, vegetables, and fruits healed them.
To think that it’s a diet for all climes and times and all people is misguided.
Yes, I am well aware that he has helped so many people. I'm using him as a device to illustrate a point, so bear with me.
What if he had met some Inuits who were eating the Standard American Diet (franken food) and they had the same diseases (hypertension, heart disease, diabetes), and he found that by eating their traditional diet of marine animal flesh, some tubers, seaweed, and grasses, they reversed their heart disease and other problems? Inuits eating their traditional high cholesterol high saturated fat diet, have very little, if any, heart disease. http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2001/09/21/inuit_diet010921.html
Then, let’s postulate, he went down to Northern California and set up shop advocating eating seal seal meat, whale meat, and seaweed. Wouldn’t that be misguided?
Here’s another one: Let’s say he met some Nanoran villagers, in the West African nation of Burkina Faso, who were eating the franken food crap diet and found that by putting them back on their traditional diet of millet grain, sorghum wheat, legumes and vegetables with a little meat protein and some termites, their health returned. Then he set up shop in NorCal and stated: Sorghum wheat and termites are the answer!
That would be misguided too.
Let’s get back to the tooth decay. First of all, how did I know what questions to ask the vegan mom? I've been reading about a few failed vegans lately and instead of being pissed (well, a little pissed) or holding on to my beliefs like some kind of religion, I mostly wanted to deeply understand. Deeply understand.
Love and understanding never condemn, but seek to help and encourage.— Meher Baba
I’m only interested in the health issues the ex-vegans experienced. I'm not going to discuss any of the aspects of the psyche that gets wrapped up in the "ism" or religion of it. Essentially the disillusionment and the underlying philosophy when it doesn't meet individual expectations. In fact, I want to state: we don't need another religion.
I learned there is a good amount of tooth decay with children raised on some vegan diets. It happens with some adults, too, after they adopt a vegan diet. Particularly, a mostly raw diet. This is a vitamin D deficiency from what I could gather. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium for teeth.
So take a pill, right? Wrong.
Perhaps that works for some, maybe a lot of people, but not everyone. We are adaptable, but we all have different physiology. And it might not be just D, it might be that cholesterol is needed and saturated fat — yes, I said saturated fat — is needed for some people to absorb nutrients in their food.
Did you know that there is a whole host of health problems when your cholesterol is too low. Suicide, depression. Look it up.
Yes, I know Donald Watson, the father of veganism, was a healthy, British man who lived along time. He’s Donald Watson, not me or you.
Some people need saturated fat and cholesterol to keep their intestines operating properly so that they can get the micro-nutrients and vitamins from the plants. I highly doubt they need a massive load of saturated fat and cholesterol, but they do need some. If their own intestines are not operating optimally, they can get these vitamins from animals. Beta carotene, for example, is what we use to form vitamin A. If you are a healthy bugger (or your guts are), eating some foods, like yams or carrots, will work for you. You will turn the beta carotene into the actual vitamin. If your intestines are not working so optimally OR your culture has relied on getting A from animal sources, then it’s highly probable that you will not thrive on a pure plant based diet. You can adapt, but 100% will not work for you. Yes, there is vitamin A palmitate, from palm oil, I was just providing an example of how conversion works.
Some people can’t utilize vitamin K from veggies. Liver is the answer for them.
How did I elicit this tooth decay information from the mom at the vegan gathering? She invited my daughter to the vegan play group. (My daughter is not vegan, she’s ovo lacto vegetarian.) So I asked her how long her children have been vegan, (since birth), she’s nursed while being vegan. How is their health, I asked. They have very few colds, no ear infections, generally healthy. They looked really small to me and waif like, but I know omnivorous kids who are like that too, so it didn’t mean too much to me. Ahh, yes, no ear infections and none of the typical stuff found with kids eating a diet based on junk. I could relate to that. Then I asked about their teeth. Well, her daughter, whom she nursed, had a lot of her teeth rot out. Her second child, her son is much better. They started taking more D3 (not D2) and B12, from what I could gather, during her second pregnancy. Her son still had a fair amount of tooth decay. It was much better after more supplements.
(Incidentally, supplements were not invented for the microscopic proportion of vegans on this earth, omnivorous eaters are also deficient in vitamins too, even though they eat meat, eggs, and dairy.)
I had some tooth decay when I was a kid and adult. I ate liver and onions, meatloaf, steak, chicken, and pork chops as a child. I had meat every night and eggs a lot and cheese, cheese, cheese, and I ate refined sugars and steakums and Oscar Myer baloney. I did not have a lot, just some, tooth decay. Having that much tooth decay to require capping many of her front teeth is a huge thing.
While taking the vitamins (actually D is a hormone) helped the second, nursed child, that is not the answer for all people.
I've seen healthy vegan kids, I don't know if they were nursed or gestated vegan. One was the daughter of a registered dietitian in Florida and she looked half or completely Asian. The other vegan kids were on a hippie commune in Summertown, TN in the late 70s. I lived there briefly. They played outside (D3), ate Nutritional Yeast with B12 in it, and looked strong. The adult males worked in construction all day and the kids were, by appearances and my 12 year old eyes, healthy. I don’t know much more about this commune now, but they have a great cookbook.
Other vegan friends with no reason to lie or to exaggerate have seen entire families healthy and thriving on a vegan diet. However, some are not at all thriving. Their stories are written off and sometimes deleted from the forums. Is this a religion, folks? No!
There are healthy vegans. Quite a lot of them. I am a member of the veganbodybuidling.com forum and I’ve met vegan body builders, so I know vegans can be very healthy and muscular. Above all, the healthiest vegans I know came from the approach of love for animals, seeing themselves in those other beings, and they are not holier-than-thou food police veganazis.
You might be thinking, this woman with the dentally challenged children was doing it all wrong. But the thing is, she and her husband were doing everything “right” on paper. On paper. On paper, communism looks pretty good too.
From my research, I saw with alarming frequency, that most reported health problems occurred with some variations of raw food vegan diets. However, a very low fat vegan diet (with cooked food) also is one that popped up with a good bit of frequency. One raw diet that I noticed was not healthy was long term adherence to the Hallelujah Diet. One raw diet, or almost raw diet, that is NOT nutritionally deficient and is good for Olympic athletes is the Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier. There is a variety of vegan diets and some are exceedingly better than others. The ones with fat are best and most healthful from what I could gather. Brendan’s uses hemp protein and hemp fat.
Some folks think, that just because the Bible says, and therefore God says, that in Genesis 1:29 to eat plants and nuts and seeds that it’s good enough to be healthy now.
A little information about adaptation explains why. Humans are currently omnivores with lots of herbivorous biological traits. Since the beginning of us, we eat what's around, basically. There was no shipping, fast food, or eating blueberries out of season.
If we could catch it and/or gather it, it was eaten. Inuits eat marine animals, which/who contain lots of fat and cholesterol. Inuits also eat seaweed, berries and tubers and some grasses. This is what is around them. In their environment, the Inuits fatty diet keeps them healthy. It is extremely rare for the Inuit people, who eat a high cholesterol diet and a high saturated fat diet, to have heart disease! This flies in face of the demonized cholesterol stuff we hear about. Last I checked, the Inuits are human beings.
Now let's take an Asian living in a warm climate who eats a diet mostly of veggies, starch and a little protein from fish, perhaps. They are healthy and it is extremely rare to have heart disease.
The Asians would likely have a heart attack or a gall bladder attack if they even ate one Inuit meal.
Both Inuits and Asians are human beings and on paper a balanced, whole foods vegan diet, with b12 supplements, should do the trick.
But it won't.
Humans are not machines.
I would also bet that the Inuits need the dietary cholesterol. What? They need cholesterol? Yes, they need it. It's an essential nutrient for some people.
It’s all about adaptation.
For successful, fast adaptation to a vegan diet, my bet would be on the humans whose ancestry was largely plant based: the Asians. (Like me!) They would fare the best with little supplementation provided they stay in a warm climate. The Inuits would suffer a whole host of health problems with a switch to a diet for which they are not adapted genetically. They would have to do it very slowly. Very slow. But they would adapt, if they moved South.
We are mixtures of DNA from all over the place. We are all different. This little bit of common sense gets lost in the myriad of diet information out there.
That difference extends to how we absorb nutrients and which ones we absorb. By the way, the ability to absorb or convert certain nutrients can be improved drastically through the addition of lots of good flora, or probiotics, from a variety of strains.
What is not a traditional diet for any civilization is a diet based on eating genetically modified, hormone pumped chicken and turkey, cows eating corn and chicken shit and feathers, fish grown in concrete cesspools, and pigs (my favorite) and all the other animals filled with antibiotics and hormones to get them big, fast. Most of these animals don’t see the light of day, can’t play or express their natural behaviors, they are in total misery in their concrete, nasty shit filled, crowded, stressed out, diseased environment. This doesn’t even begin to describe how factory farming is atrocious, systemic evil for the animals and the people who eat the animals.
Also is what is not a traditional diet for any civilization is eating processed crap like processed cheese, deli meat sausage and hot dogs with nitrites, and GMO soy everywhere. And corn. My God, there’s GMO corn all over the place. This stuff is not traditional in any culture, it’s a science experiment gone horribly wrong. This is what I call Franken Food. Let’s not forget, lots of sugar and, far, far worse: sweet poison neurotoxic substances like aspartame. I could go on and on about aspartame’s nastiness.
I forgot to add, that it’s not traditional to consume franken-dairy morning, noon, and night. Some cultures don’t consume much, if any, dairy at all. However, it’s not the lack of dairy or the inclusion of dairy that causes health issues. Remember the termites. That is to say, the inclusion of termites keeps the people in the village in Africa healthy. The termites, by the way, have B12. The inclusion of high amounts of marine animal blubber keeps the Inuits healthy. It's highly probably that the inclusion of clean, natural dairy in a peoples accustomed to it, will derive health benefits from it. The removal of dairy helped me, but its inclusion might help another. There's no cookie cutter diet for everyone.
Whether someone is healthy or not on a vegan diet, I suppose, is a mixture of physiology and attitude, and good intestinal health.
Are your ancestors Inuit? Are they Asian? Before Factory Farmed meat and Franken Food, what did they eat to be healthy and work in the fields? Do you work in the fields? Do you exercise a lot? Are you in doors a lot? Get any sunlight?
People are, by and large, I’m sad to say, herd animals. Sheeple is the term I use. This country outsources jobs but many of us outsource thinking.
Instead of using common sense, looking at what our individual, particular ancestors ate and more importantly what we optimally feel good and thrive eating in our current environment and mode of life, we go running after this diet and that diet as the "perfect diet".
Or we are so appalled at how this world treats animals, we want zero part of that holocaust*.
Or we want to be a skinny beeatch.
What I’ve attempted to address, so far, is that humans are adaptable and the optimum diet for each individual is likely to be a traditional one that their particular ancestors ate taking into consideration current occupation, exercise, and outdoor time as well as locale. Of course this traditional diet didn’t include include factory farmed animal meat or high fructose corn syrup, for example.
Even if your ancestors ate meat, eggs, and dairy, you can still be healthy on a vegan diet. Adaptation is the key to why. While we won’t adapt to factory farmed meat and franken food, we can adapt to eating a mostly plant based diet and be perfectly healthy, by doing it very, very slowly.
Here’s an analogy: Cow’s milk is not something that Asians consume very much. In fact many people are intolerant to it. It’s something we have adapted to eating and we can also un-adapt to it.
If you want to see the end of factory farming, you have to vote with your dollars. You can support your local farmers and get meat, eggs, and dairy from them, hunt, raise your own animals, keep some chickens for eggs, or you can start eating a plant based diet.
If you are not doing well on your current vegan diet, stop and start over again more slowly. Do this over the course of a few years, perhaps longer or shorter depending on how you feel. Another option is just use the minimum animal products that you need to have good health.
My mother, who is Caucasian, is doing fine with a little fish, a little dairy, and some 7 bucks a dozen eggs here and there. She did this over time, not immediately. She is appalled by factory farming.
If your ancestors ate a lot of meat, they likely worked hard all day long outside in the fields. Do you?
Just because you are not in the pure vegan club, doesn’t mean you’re not any less important to the animals. You can make a HUGE difference. Perhaps even more of a difference than a pure, holier-than-thou vegan. Yes, you do make more of a difference than them. They can keep their religion, let’s help animals!
If your goal is to become vegan or quasi-vegan and you feel tons better eating meat, eat it from pasture raised animals fed their natural diets and sunshine and fresh air. And cut back a little per month over the course of a few years. Then you can experience that your own body can adapt to fewer and fewer and eventually no animal products without harmful side effects. And take probiotics too. I think they are under recognized for their amazing health benefits. You need to also make sure that essential nutrients are being eaten and absorbed. So even if you can’t become 100% and only 70% (for example), don’t worry.
That is: even if you have to keep eating a little meat or eggs your entire life, you don’t have to be perfect to seriously stick it to factory farming.
And stick to factory farming we must!
I have adapted to not eating dairy. I stopped producing lactase, I am now lactose intolerant after 6 years as a vegan. I had some cream in some Chai by accident and I got the classic symptoms. My body lost this adaptation because it wasn't necessary. I can get it back too. Your body will adapt to what you want to do: which I hope is eating fewer and fewer animals and their products.
Just because in the West the traditional diet includes pastured animals, butter, cream, and eggs this doesn't mean it will always be that way.
I hope and pray that some day everyone won't eat animals and use them as slaves anymore. Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek hoped so too. And, before him, H.G. Wells wrote:
"In all the round world of utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughterhouses. And in a population that is all educated and at about the same level of physical refinement, it is practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig. We never settled the hygienic aspect of meat-eating at all. This other aspect decided us. I can still remember as a boy the rejoicings over the closing of the last slaughterhouse." — H.G. Wells
Since we are highly adaptable animals, we humans with the forks, we can adapt to veganism or a modified version of it. We won’t ever adapt to franken food and factory farmed meat. It’s prevalence is one reason why there’s so much more dietary related disease. Stress is another factor contributing to the explosion of a number of diseases. That is another topic.
My point is that we can adapt to eating a plant based diet or a mostly plant based diet. It is not wise or healthy to ignore our individual differences and simply drop meat and all animal products without consideration for our individual genetic constitutions. We can adapt to eating mostly plants. Faster for some, slower for others.
I want healthy vegans and partial vegans and meat eaters who don’t eat meat from factory farms!
In closing I want to say:
THINK FOR YOURSELF!
I might be a great person and all, but you must think for yourself. Research all the stuff I’ve written.
*The word "holocaust" is defined as "destruction or slaughter on a mass scale." In modern times, the word is applied most often to the plight of European Jews at the hands of Hitler, but the word was not invented for this event.
Even so, to compare the slaughter of non-human animals to the slaughter of humans is not to degrade the deaths of humans but to dignify the deaths of non humans.
This is a was said by Dan Piraro in his blog comments. Dan is the absolutely brilliant cartoonist behind Bizarro. He’s a vegan who has not suffered from brain fog or any diminished neuron activity, the man is a genius.