A few weeks ago I saw a blog posted by someone who used to be vegan but has gone back to eating animals. I’m not going to mention her by name – she’s had way too much attention already – but she’s not the first person to make big announcements about her dietary flip, and she won’t be the last. It happens every day. Vegans start eating meat, omnivores stop eating meat, dairy and eggs. Hollywood superstars start a raw diet. Fred down the road goes paleo. Mary turns to the Atkins diet. Sandra gets her stomach stapled and lives on a liquid diet. A bunch of firefighters start eating a plant-based diet. People changing diets is nothing new. So why is there sometimes a big flurry on social media when someone who made a name for themselves by “being vegan” eats meat? Does it mean there is something wrong with the premise of an animal-free diet? Or that vegans everywhere should follow suit “for health reasons”? No. Of course not. Being vegan, when done sensibly, is a healthy way to live.
So why am I blogging about this topic? Honestly, it’s because some of the things I read in the ex-vegan’s blog made me laugh out loud – and I’m not just referring to her “Learn How to Attract Money and Miracles into Your Life Now” scheme. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not criticizing the lady for changing her diet – everyone has the right to make their own choices – but some of her reasoning made me wonder about her motives in doing this so publicly. And with so much anger. She refers to vegans as “dumb” and “brainwashed”. But honestly, this is coming from a woman who ate food she bought for her cats! Yes, it was cans of tuna, not Friskies or Wiskas, but really? She was so desperate for animal products that she ate her cat’s dinner? And even omnivores should be wincing when she describes eating a rare cheeseburger, ignoring the potential for food poisoning from ground, undercooked meat.
But the bit in her blog that really made me sit up and question her reasoning was this:
“It is abundantly clear that it is NOT POSSIBLE for most humans to get the nutrition they need on a strict vegan diet. …Because even the most well-informed nutritionists have no idea about the unknown factors … what we don’t even understand yet about how combinations of nutrients lead to optimal performance in human beings.” What on earth is she talking about? Even the most well-informed nutritionists have no idea about the unknown factors? Er….OK. Whatever. But even more remarkable was this statement: ” There may be a few people on this planet who can maintain optimal health long-term on a vegan diet….And I am willing to bet a lot of money those people who can maintain optimal health on a vegan diet are few and far between.”
Now here’s the thing. In America alone there are 7.3 million people following a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 1 million of those are vegans. In addition 22.8 million people in the U.S. say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet. That’s a lot of people. http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/. I belong to a few vegan groups on social media, which have 8,000 members between them. There are lots of other vegan groups around, but I have a limited amount of time available for social media things. I started to wonder if, unknown to me, all the other vegans in these groups were taking the 25 or so supplements the angry ex-vegan-blogger had been taking, so I asked them. And the result? Most of us take B-12. Some take plant-based iron supplements. North Americans sometimes take vitamin D. A few people with special requirements due to ongoing non-vegan-related health issues take other supplements. But no-one who replied to my question was a pill-popping junkie. I know this proves nothing, but it just shows that happy, healthy vegans exist.
Given that there are a million vegans in the U.S, why are the headlines not filled with articles such as “Vegan runners pass out at the start of the Boston Marathon due to lack of protein.” “Vegan mountain climber stops after 1 meter due to lack of energy.” “Brain-fog causes vegan bus drivers to get lost” ? There are many happy, healthy, not-famous, not angry, not pill-popping vegans quietly eating plant-based diets and living normal lives. We’re the ones who won’t be in the headlines or making our fame and fortune on social media. We’re writers, home-makers, marathon runners, lawyers, dentists, sales associates, doctors, body builders, TV watchers, engineers, dancers, teachers, office workers ……. normal people going about our normal lives, without eating animals. One more angry ex-vegan doesn’t invalidate the vegan diet. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. But in the meantime more and more people are discovering how good it can be to eat a plant-based diet.
Want to know more? Check out these articles. They’re not all pro-vegan by the way 🙂 And no, I haven’t put a link to the angry ex-vegan who’s eating cat food and rare burgers.
Vegetarianism In America http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/
16 Million People in the US are Now Vegan or Vegetarian http://news.therawfoodworld.com/16-million-people-us-now-vegan-vegetarian/
Vitamin B-12 http://www.vegan.com/b12/
New Study Reveals Surprising Benefits of a Vegan Diet http://www.fitbie.com/2015/03/02/new-study-reveals-surprising-benefits-vegan-diet?cid=social_20150309_41754526&adbid=574940987794944000&adbpl=tw&adbpr=80033564
Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets? http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/11/do-ex-vegans%E2%80%99-stories-make-the-case-against-vegan-diets.html
I’m not vegan anymore http://alexandrajamieson.com/im-not-vegan-anymore/
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