Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets?

When I read the recent blog post by Tasha, who used to be The Voracious Vegan, it felt like déjà vu all over again. Just a couple of months ago I was blogging about another woman—Lierre Keith—whose vegan diet made her so sick that she had to go back to eating meat and, in the process, she learned about how “nutritious” cholesterol is, became an advocate for a type of sustainability that depends upon animal foods (ie, learned that it’s more ethical to eat animals than to be vegan), and realized that in the final analysis, “life requires death.”
There is so much that is eerily parallel in these stories—not just the vague descriptions of the health-related experiences but also the evolving philosophy regarding food justice, and some very, very similar language.
I have to admit I’m always a little suspicious when an ex-vegan dives headlong into a love affair with meat. I understand that someone who believes they require meat may need to tweak their overall perspective to make it feel ethically okay to eat it. But, there is a big difference between choosing to include small amounts of meat in your diet for health reasons versus absolutely reveling in meat consumption as is reflected in Tasha’s recent twitter post: “Bacon, bacon, bacon…how did I ever live without you for so long?” Or this: “Lunch – bacon egg cheese and jalapeno quesadilla. I’m so happy to be eating food that I love.” Or the admission in her blog post that, when she took her first bite of meat after 3 ½ years, she was “moaning with pleasure and joy.”
That doesn’t mean I think she has made any of this up. I do think, though, that a desire to eat meat coupled with sickness due to nutrient deficiencies could make anyone more susceptible to a message about the alleged dangers of a vegan diet. And because those messages are out there, and they are very attractive, I think we’re going to continue seeing stories like this.
Tasha found herself getting sick after 3 years as a healthy vegan, but it’s not until some 4,500 words into her post that she shares that—at the same time and by sheer coincidence—she was also beginning to talk to or read about “revolutionary ecologists,” and was learning that eating meat is the real way to decrease one’s carbon footprint. 
On October 4, she tweeted: “Time to reexamine my priorities. Discussions with feminist anthropologists, economists, and agronomists, have me discovering that agriculture, and especially annual grasses agriculture, is just as unethical, violent, and unsustainable as the animal agriculture I’ve been railing against for years. And this environmental devastation, violence, and havoc is nothing new; it’s been going on for 10,000 years.”
If you’ve read The Vegetarian Myth, this will all sound very familiar.
Also on twitter, she has words of praise for Derrick Jensen, who published The Vegetarian Myth (and says that the book saved his life). And then—more coincidence: She ends up under the care of a physician whom Tasha finds “surprisingly knowledgeable about vegan diets,” but, to me, sounds like she walked straight off the home page of the Weston A Price Foundation website. (The WAPF is the group devoted to diets high in animal fats, based on the “research” of a dentist in the 1930s. Their theories are not at all in sync with basic principles of nutrition science.)
Tasha’s doctor “explained how the health problems we are plagued with in the Western world are not caused by animal products, far from it.” And “According to her, avoiding healthy, organic animal products was not only unnecessary for good health, but in most cases positively detrimental to our well being.” Then her doctor talks about a long list of compounds, some of which have been erroneously touted by the WAPF and other anti-vegan groups as missing in plant foods and necessary for health.
Although Tasha had been taking B12 supplements, her doctor tells her that “supplements aren’t a substitute for whole foods.” Actually, as far as B12 is concerned and for those who have severe iron deficiency anemia, supplements are way better than whole foods. And because the body has to work harder to digest and absorb B12 from animal foods, the B12 in pills and fortified foods is actually much more easily absorbed. (There could be other reasons why Tasha wasn’t getting adequate B12 from her supplements; maybe she wasn’t chewing them or was taking doses that were too small or she had pernicious anemia. None would be a reason to start eating meat.)
And when Tasha couldn’t stomach prescription iron pills, her doctor recommended that she eat several eggs a day. Eggs for treating iron deficiency anemia? Yes, they’re a good source of iron, but the protein in eggs inhibits iron absorption, so this isn’t the first food that comes to mind for treating a severe deficiency. These are all issues that make me think that Tasha’s doctor was one more factor in convincing her that a vegan diet was unhealthy.
But it also seems clear that Tasha has bought into the myths behind The Vegetarian Myth. For example, kind of out of the blue—really, a total non-sequitur—she writes:  “I know that the lipid hypothesis is completely fallacious.” The lipid hypothesis is the theory that saturated fat raises cholesterol and heart disease risk. Lierre writes about it extensively (rejecting it, of course) and it seems curious for it to be plunked down in Tasha’s post, where she also talks about “nutritious cholesterol and wholesome saturated fats.”
Nobody talks about “nutritious cholesterol” other than the WAPF gang and their protégées like Lierre. So while the post starts out making the case that some people just can’t get enough iron and vitamin B12 without animal foods, it steadily evolves into a full-blown embrace of the importance of animal products overall for both health and the environment.
 And then there is the kind of instantaneous healing that occurs with the first bites of animal food. In The Vegetarian Myth, Lierre says “I could feel every cell in my body—literally every cell—pulsing. And finally, finally being fed.” Tasha says “I had only eaten a small piece of cow flesh, and yet I felt totally full, but light and refreshed all at once.” Eating meat also instantly improved her heart rate!
I don’t doubt for one second that Tasha experienced these feelings when she ate meat; I just know that it had nothing to do with what she had eaten and everything to do with her expectations about what the food would do for her. As I said in my review of The Vegetarian Myth, you have to actually digest and absorb the nutrients in food before you’ll feel any of its effects. And if you are consuming nutrients to reverse a deficiency, it will take weeks to feel the benefits.
The whole “listening to the wisdom of one’s body” philosophy is not scientific. Your body is notoriously bad at telling you exactly what you need. You can go for years on a diet that is deficient in calcium and your body won’t say a word about it until you hit your 50s and get osteoporosis. Likewise, you can have a marginal B12 intake and feel great, even though elevated homocysteine levels are busily wreaking long-term damage on your tissues.
Often, your body won’t start to complain until you are well on your way to a serious deficiency. Tasha was apparently deficient in both vitamin B12 and iron. Iron deficiency can be hard to treat especially since prescription doses are often difficult to stomach. But reversing a severe deficiency with food alone in the space of just a few weeks seems unlikely unless she was really eating a lot of red meat and liver. She seems to tweet mostly about eating bacon (not an especially great source of iron), eggs (they inhibit iron absorption) and dairy (it’s devoid of iron and also inhibits iron absorption). So none of that sounds like a blood-building diet to me. It’s true that the protein in meat boosts iron absorption but there are a lot of things that can be done to improve iron status on a vegan diet, and I wonder if Tasha’s pro-meat doctor explored them.
 This is all conjecture, of course. I don’t know the extent of Tasha’s deficiencies or what she was eating. In her more than 7,000 word post, she’s rather vague about these details, as is Lierre Keith in her book. I do know that a lot of vegans think they are eating healthfully when they really aren’t. And I believe that a lot of vegans get sick and return to eating meat when all they needed was more sound information about vegan diets and less misinformation from the pseudo-scientific anti-vegan world (as well as the pseudo-scientific pro-vegan world.)
Do some people need to work a little bit harder to get adequate nutrition from a vegan diet? Sure. Young women with heavy periods may find it a challenge to keep up with iron needs. But are there healthy people whose needs absolutely cannot be met on a vegan diet? Maybe; I certainly can’t say that this is 100% impossible. What I can say is that Tasha’s post doesn’t make the case for this. It’s too vague, filled with too many questionable observations about nutrition, and is too clearly indebted to The Vegetarian Myth. I think there is a very good chance that she could return to a vegan diet and do well on it if she had appropriate nutrition advice. 
But yes—some people do get sick from their vegan diet. And in some ways, the vegan community—or at least segments of it—are largely at fault for this. People like Lierre Keith do tremendous damage to the cause of animal rights because their stories appeal to others who are not thriving on a vegan diet. Some people are just bouncing around from one dietary philosophy to another, of course, and are especially susceptible to those stories. But others would stick with their vegan diet if they had the right information. That means that vegan activists need to do much more to make sure that good vegan information is available. And that is a segue to another post for later this week.

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225 Responses to Do Ex-Vegans’ Stories Make the Case Against Vegan Diets?

  1. Sara November 21, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.  The ex-vegan article was going around my facebook yesterday and annoying the heck out of me.

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:24 am #

      Virginia;
       
      Please accept my thanks too for writing this article.   So many people generate and absorb folklore about so many subjects on the internet.   It is rare for someone who knows what they are talking about, who has the credentials to set people straight.   It does help and in this case for an important subject.   Thank you so much

  2. Miso Vegan November 21, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    GREAT response.  Too bad she didn't turn to you, instead of a WAPF follower.

  3. elaine November 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    This is a great post.  There were other ideas swirling around in my head, though, when I read Tasha's (LENGTHY) post.  One of them was that *if* her B12 was severely low, she could have started to experience thinking problems.  If so, her ability to a) thoughtfully process information, and b) convey it to others really could be affected.  I've read (you would have to tell me if this is true) that if B12 deficiency goes ignored long enough, some of this mental decline is NOT reversible.  It's easy for her to blame it on her vegan diet, though OF COURSE it's possible to get enough vit B12 if you eat carefully AND TAKE SUPPLEMENTS.  Simply taking them, however, might not have made enough of a difference if the deficiency had gotten quite severe — she would have still been experiencing problems associated with vit B12 and had an easy way to blame the diet, when in fact it was the neglect of a problem that went unaddressed for too long.   In that case, to the sufferer, it becomes "obvious" that the problem was the diet.  I sympathize with her, even if I suspect that a) it's not a typical story, and b) will be used by anti-vegan folks.  In any case, I wish her continued success with her health.  She may return to veganism later; it's been known to happen.    I hope the vegan community can support her in some way and not just trash her experience. 

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

       I certainly can't say that's not possible. But, I don't know–she seems to be functioning pretty well and it would take serious damage to cause those kinds of problems in thinking. I still think that a lot of people just talk themselves into thinking that they can't be vegan for a whole lot of reasons. And her insistence that she can get B12 from "whole foods" but not supplements doesn't make any scientific sense.

    • Stella May 26, 2012 at 6:28 am #

      Hey, supplements are not for the Martians, they exist you know ( to prevent any B12 deficiency)!!!!!!

    • Peter January 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      Perhaps if she had eaten less philosophically she could have avoided the entire problem to begin with.

  4. Shari November 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Histirionics and attention getting.  Sorry, that's how it read to me.

    I am not one to denigrate one's choices (or "decisions"); I am probably a crappy vegan because I don't preach and hit people over the head with animal rights and all the rest.  I do my thing, try to be an example when I can.  I juggle multiple lives, and I like it when they intersect and people learn.
    My point is this:  I don't care if you've started scarfing down meat.  I do, but it is your "decision.  However, I didn't like the posturing, the drama, the self-serving hyperbole.  And all the salivating and pretense.  I personally can't imagine going from vegan to bacon stuffer over night.  Good grief.  And the applause over this drama.  Like watching a train wreck.

    Honestly, why that was being RT'd as an "IMPORTANT" blog entry was beyond me.
    Hysterical, dramatic, over wrought, poorly written.
    She makes no case for anything, except for the fact that she's a major drama queen.
     
    Been there.  Done that.  See through it.  Wish her well.  As I do all creatures.
     
     

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:30 am #

      @Shari;
       
      You bring up a good point about the public drama over a dietary shift.   I've known a number of ex-veg*ns.   Most simply decide the diet is not for them and move on.   They don't write blog posts about it, they don't publish newspaper articles about it, they don't publish books about it and they don't dwell on it even for months afterwards.   I think the publicly dramatic ex-veg*ns  are working through some other issues, IMO.

      • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

        I tend to agree. I can see that someone might make a small post saying that they were adding some animal foods back to their diet for health reasons. But 7,000 words? And all the angst when it turns out that she believes that being vegan isn't even the right thing to do? Definitely quite a bit of drama here!

      • A November 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

        Tasha may be overly dramatic, but in her defense (in response to the posts saying things like "most people who are ex-vegans just move on and don't blog about it") she is a food blogger. and until recently was a specifically vegan food blogger. So what did you expect her to do when she made this pretty major change?

        • Sandy November 23, 2010 at 6:38 am #

          I feel like I've been scammed.  I've been vegan since 7/24/08 (with the occasional slip up eating gummi bears), and I've been suffering from Stage 2 Adrenal Exhaustion for a long time (recently diagnosed).  My nutritionist has been begging me to eat meat again, but after going back and forth, well, Ginny's post sealed it for me.  When I read Tasha's post, I thought – wow, what timing – but upon further review, I kept thinking two things.  1) how is Tasha able to ride around in a tank top and shorts in SAUDI ARABIA? 2) How on earth can she get pork in a "Kosher" country?  My sister lives in Jerusalem, and there's no way to get pork there.  So how does Tasha get bacon?!
          Between what Ginny had to say, and realizing the obvious about living in SA and being able to do things that women there can't do, Tasha's post convinced me NOT to follow her lead.
          Thank you, Ginny!!!!

          • The Robertsons of Mumbai November 25, 2010 at 4:44 am #

            I believe that she lives on the Saudi Aramco compound, and they are allowed to wear what they want, and have a shop (or shops) for buying food, etc.

  5. J. Muir November 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Hi Ginny,
    Thank you for this post.  It's really appreciated to get some feedback from a qualified nutritionist.  I was deeply disturbed and saddened when I started to read the "Vegan No More" story.  I thought, how sad for you.  Moving on in life.  Then I got to the part where the author felt it necessary to try to disprove veganism for its health, ethical and environmental aspects; that is where I started to get skeptical.  If, as you say, if it is possible that there are some people who, despite all the information you provide about nutrients, still fail to thrive on a vegan diet, then we should be okay with that; but it doesn't disprove that a vegan diet is healthy, just, and indeed more environmentally friendly, and safe for most people.
    Another odd parallel is how both Keith and this blog author admit to feeling 'victimized' from other vegans, who apparently alienate and attack any vegan who falls off the bandwagon.  This claim of oppression from vegans stretches a little thin, for me, and it obliterates the fact that vegans are a very tiny minority indeed, surrounded by a general public which is very supportive of the choices that Lierre and Tasha have made.
    I've concluded like you that we need to make more accurate information available about vegan diets.  That means not touting inflated health claims (veganism will cure your cancer?), countering misconceptions, and providing accurate information about healthy and safe ways to manage a vegan diet.
    By the way I've never made any *special* effort to eat healthily in my 6 years of veganism.  I eat quite a lot of carbohydrates, and do quite a lot of physical work.  I eat a lot of vegetables, but not many fruits.  I consume vegetable oils, and coffee and chocolate and desserts.  My iron levels were perfect when I got blood tests done a year ago, and every other level was fine except B12 was "a little low".  I've been supplementing with B12 (in a guaranteed-content nutritional yeast) and will get blood tests done again when I can.  I've never used 'miracle' products like goji, maca, etc., because they are shipped long distances, but have a growing interest in hemispherically-appropriate plants like dandelion, rose hips, and blueberries for their nutritional 'superfood' status.
    Well I'm getting a little off-topic.  Thanks again for putting "Vegan No More" in perspective, both here & through Twitter conversations.

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

      I think the inflated health claims are a real problem–because when they don't pan out, people get disillusioned with veganism. And a vegan diet–even a really good one–is not a guarentee that you'll never get sick or gain weight or have your skin break out!

  6. elaine November 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    The attention-getting quality to the post could actually be part of how her thinking has been affected.  See this for example:  http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0301/p979.html  I'm not saying I *know* this to be the case, just that some of what could easily be passed of as "drama" could actually be a manifestation of how she's suffered neurological/thinking problems as a result of a severe deficiency.    I'm not sure that many of us have actually "been there done that" when it comes to a deficiency as severe as she describes.   …

  7. Stephanie November 21, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    This is a great posting.  B12 used to be produced internally by humans fermenting the food they ate in the appendix area, many of us have lost this evolutionary ability and taking periodic supplementation will address it.  Using meat actually won't work as well since our ability to process it is so reduced.  The vitamin code B12 is so potent you can't even make it through an entire bottle before you show signs of overconsumption, there are many other great kinds out there as well.  Keep rocking the discussion!

  8. Christopher November 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I admit I had never read the voracious vegan before, but there seems to be a common thread in a lot of these ex-vegan stories, namely that the ex-vegans all seem to put a lot of stock in pseudo-science. Just one of the examples she mentions, Daniel Vitalis, is a ridiculous crank and huckster who sells, among other things, a product called Raw Water. 
    I'm really grateful for blogs like yours and Jack Norris'. There's so much bad information spread by vegans and anti-vegans alike, that it's nice to have a dose of real science to make decisions by. 

  9. James Kimbell November 21, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    This is something I think about a lot, and still every time I read anything on this topic, I can feel my the more primitive parts of my brain pulling me in less and less reasonable directions: our side is the right one, the bad guys just don't get it, and every fact must line up to my convenience. When going vegan, I was too ready to credit every anti-calcium article I read, even though I was going vegan for reasons totally unrelated to dietary minerals. It just would have been nice for everything to fit that easily!
    When someone is switching from veganism to meat-eating, I'm sure those feelings flare up, too, and the person is ready to believe every Lierre Keith talking point, covering every branch of science and ethics.  But that's crap. If the day came when I learned I couldn't survive on 100% plants, that wouldn't mean that a pig's suffering was any less bad, and it wouldn't mean grains were humanity's biggest mistake, or a mistake of any size. Those things are true or false on their own merits.
    There are benefits to going the hard way, biting the bullet and looking for truth rather than comfort. For one thing, you'll be better prepared for adversity – if that day came and my health was declining, I'd much rather contact Jack Norris than Doug Graham. Norris has thought about this stuff in an open, nondefensive way, a way that makes for better results in the long run. Also, you gain respect from the outside. Rhys Southans has said several good things about Jack Norris since interviewing him, and this leaves his readers with a good image of a vegan, even if their overall impression of veganism is bad.

  10. Katy November 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post – this issue needs much more attention and research. As a environmentalist and primarily vegan eater, I was very frustrated by The Vegetarian Myth. As much as I agree with discouraging the eating of mono-crops, avoiding the agricultural industrial complex and supporting local farmers, why this has to be in direct opposition of a vegan diet is beyond me. This is not an either/or argument – we should be working together, sharing information and supporting each other with compassion and not judgement.

  11. Shari November 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    To the person who obliquely referred to my "been there, done that."
    You.  Do.  Not.  Know.  my emotional or medical history, and since I am not writing a ten page confessional on the internet, but will be publishing a book, that hopefully bears a resemblance to an even handed take on things, I feel confident in asserting, "been there, done that."  Yeah, I do know.
     
    Been there.  Done that (and more).  See through it.  The conversion confessional is an old literary trope.  it's interesting, overused, and she's seemingly unconscious of what she's doing, which makes all the difference.
     
    Best.
     

  12. Rutabaga November 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    This is such a wonderful post. After reading her post earlier today I was fuming. She can make whatever decision she wants to clearly, but to cast all vegans in such a negative light (especially her unfounded claims about how we all cheat… wtf) was just absolutely unacceptable. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together!

  13. April November 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank you so much, Ginny, for a well-written rebuttal to arguments from those who are no longer vegan. I too was momentarily swayed by Keith, et al, but now I am back transitioning to a vegan diet (for the most part, I'm vegan on most days). Thanks to your sound, scientific information, I feel confident that I'm making the right choice.

  14. Anna Pippus November 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    thank you so much for writing this. i found her posting and its popularity very upsetting and was hoping you would write a response. thank you.

  15. Cee-Cee November 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    She rubbed me the wrong way when she was a vegan, too. I always felt like everything she wrote was completely self-serving and disingenuous. Not at all surprised that she's done a 180. Anything to get attention.
     

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:41 am #

      @Cee-Cee
       
      Good point.  I've had similar observations about other people.   Histrionic vegans who are sloppy with the facts are also histrionic and sloppy with the facts if they quit.

  16. Veganista November 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    When I first read Tasha's post, I felt sad for her  health problems and the fact she felt compelled to modify her diet.  Then she started to justify it by saying it's more sustainable to eat meat sh"e could just buy "down the road".
    First of all, she lives in Saudi Arabia, where if I'm not mistaken, bacon is not produced there.  At least it wasn't when I was deployed there.  Yes, that was nearly 20 years ago, but I don't believe that has changed.  Her Twitter feed is filled with the virtues of bacon.
    Second of all, she lives in Saudi Arabia, by her own admission, on a compound that is a man-made oasis. They spend an incredible amount money to recreate an "American" suburban environment so oil company workers and their children can feel comfortable,  How is that sustainable?
    I used to read Tasha's blog.  Not for the rants, though, just for the recipes.  Not anymore.  If she wan'ts to eat meat, it's her decision, and I respect that.  The premise that she is being more sustainable is incredibly  laughable.

  17. bitt November 21, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Thank you for the well thought-out response. So appreciated. Lierre and Vitalis have taken grips over many former raw vegans and others who just don't feel right on their current path.
    Personally, after several years on a vegan diet, I was also iron deficient. I wasn't absorbing it in my gut very well through oral supplements. I ended up getting shots to boost my levels. Now I am absorbing foods and supplements better and my levels are still up. It took awhile, so you must have the patience to wait for the iron to increase. It makes a huge difference in energy. Thank you for pointing out the foods she is eating are not the best sources of iron.

    As others have said, I too think that perhaps people who go back to eating meat from a vegan diet will choose a sustainable source, but Tasha and a few other internet ex-vegans with blogs have gone right back to eating factory farmed meat and it's really reprehensible.

  18. Dana November 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Thanks for giving us your thoughts, Ginny. This topic will probably come up at Thanksgiving! I often hear the argument that veganism cannot be natural since we have to take B12. Being omni doesn't guarantee they are not B12 deficient. I'd rather take a B12 supplement than end up on cholesterol-lowering medication and stroke-prevention medication, which would be more likely if I were to return to eating animal products.

    • Gary Loewenthal November 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

      Notwithstanding the fact that most people who have deficiencies and take supplements are meat-eaters, I think taking a b12 pill to avoid making animals suffer is not only natural, but reflects our better nature.

  19. Tracy November 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Ginny, thanks so much for writing this. I have to admit, reading Tasha's post put doubts in my mind as to the healthfulness of a vegan diet. So I can imagine that people who aren't as invested in veganism and animal rights would very possibly go back to eating meat after having read it. As a registered dietitian, you're doing an immense amount of good by helping us laypeople understand nutrition and refute false claims. I'm going to update my blog post about this issue with a link to this post. Thank you!!

  20. Aj November 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    THANK YOU GINNY! I knew this post of Tasha's was coming when I saw a comment from her over at Choosing Raw to this effect. I read her post, at first incredibly empathic regarding her ill health and the fact that she was being pressure to give up her ethical and moral beliefs. I was so angry by the end of the post. Not only because she appeared so easily swayed and did a complete 180 but also because of the incorrect information being touted as fact. We have few facts in the world of nutrition and health, much as we do in any field pertaining to living creatures. However, what she was passing off as fact was information I have learned in the nearly 4 years since becoming vegan that is not upheld by science. Thanks to you and others like Gena at Choosing Raw and Colleen Patrick-Gourdreau, I feel more equipped to sift through incorrect information presented as fact intended to justify an omni diet. Thank you for adding your well-qualified voice to this discussion. You imply that there must be more than just nutrients at work with Tasha's about-face. I agree. As someone in the mental health profession, I can attest that a placebo effect can be as strong, if not stronger than the effect of the actual changes intended by the introduction of a medication or nutrient. 

  21. Lindsay November 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    OUTSTANDING! I am so glad you wrote this post! I could not have said it better myself. I think the truth is, is that there is more to Tasha's story that she left unsaid.
    I think she had an underlying desire to eat meat–and is using her health as an excuse or justification, at least in part, if not totally. I also think that she did not have a balanced or healthful vegan diet to begin with. An ED? perhaps. I'm not sure–I don't know her and I'm not her doctor… point I'm making: 
    You can have deficiencies on ANY diet, including meat and dairy laden diets, if you are not eating a balanced diet of varied foods to get nutrients. or taking supplements.
    My sister has always have SEVERE anemia, and tried every holistic approach–including eating absurd amounts of steak and eggs trying to get her iron levels under control. It didn't work. AT ALL. My sister will probably always be on iron medication, but one thing I can say, is that her later choice to be vegan has only HELPED her, helped her body in ways she never thought possible before. 

     

  22. Animal Interrupted November 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much. I agree that she comes across as a bit of a drama queen; it sounds like she's trying to convince herself, not us, that she's made the right choice.
    But I believe her when she writes about her symptoms. Incidentally, I had the exact same symptoms when I was a meat eater, and had an eating disorder… Anyone else find it odd that she apparently  "lives for working out" and even when she was feeling ill would work out anyway and spend the day recuperating from her workouts. "Even an hour on the elliptical wasn’t enough for me." So, she'll "listen to her body" when it tells her to eat a steak, but not when it tells her to stop exercising obsessively? 
    Personally, I gained weight, energy and strength when I went vegan. But I take supplements religiously, eat as much as I want and don't force myself to exercise.

  23. Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day November 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm #

    Thank you for this response. I sadly read her blog yesterday… it just seems that there is often a group of people who fall victim to the next food trend..    It think if she weren't repeating " party lines " I could take her more seriously, but when an entire group of people just repeat the same thing that their "guru" of the month is saying I just shake my head. I saw it happen in the raw movement, people falling on leader or another and blindly accepting his/her 'science' as law. 
    The fact that she is actually saying veganism harmful to the environment really pisses me off. 

    • Lauren November 21, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

      Melomeals said it best! I couldn't agree more, next food trend and following these so called "gurus" it's sad..

      • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:52 am #

        I would like to add my "ditto" to Lauren's.

  24. jordanpattern November 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!
    I can rebut a lot of the vegan myths out there, but the nutrition and health stuff is out of my area of expertise. I really appreciate that you have taken the time to provide a clear, reasoned, and most importantly, fact-based response to yet another irrational cop out from another ex vegan.

  25. Marji November 21, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Thank you for dispelling some of her rationalizations and inaccuracies. When you have severe health problems, claim eating animal products will fix that and THEN eat products that DON'T help, like eggs and dairy re iron, the argument for eating bacon to save your life feels a bit hollow.

  26. Anon Vegan November 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

     
    I think it's funny that if the comments on a blog reflect the audience of that blog, then Voracious Eats when it was Voracious Vegan had a readership that was so supportive of deciding to eat meat. You would think the blog's audience would be mostly vegan.
    Unless… all the vegan comments either went unpublished or were deleted after being posted.
    Am I ready to put on a tinfoil hat? Do I think the meat/dairy industry put a sleeper agent in to the vegan blogosphere three and half years ago to cause this disruption right before Thanksgiving 2010? I wouldn't put anything past them, but that seems a bit farfetched. However, it is really weird that it wasn't enough for Voracious to totally dump on the idea of veganism, but she also had to implicate "prominent and well respected members of the vegan AR community… [o]ne a published and much loved vegan cook book author, the other a noted animal rights blogger," knowing it would cause speculation and fingerpointing.

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

      Yes, I thought that implication was pretty horrible, too. Lierre Keith said basically the same thing in The Vegetarian Myth–that when she told her vegan friends that she was eating meat again, many of them told her that they had been doing the same for health reasons. I don't buy it in her case or in Tasha's. I'm sure there are plenty of vegans, prominent or otherwise, who "slip up, " now and then for one reason or another. I cannot see a prominent cookbook author and AR blogger admitting to someone who has just turned against veganism (and in an email, which could be made public) that they were eating meat!

  27. Ginger November 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm #

    I feel like I'm reading a Fox News article.  Misquote much?  Bend the truth much?  Tasha has stood by you and re-posted your articles time and time again and this is how you treat her?  I thought vegans were all about compassion. Compassion for animals, really?  Have you heard the term 'Human Animal'?  You people are about as compassionate as Pol Pot. Tasha knew that there would be a backlash from the most fundamentalist vegans, but this has really become a circus.  The self-proclaimed hardcore among you have even threatened her family.  Compassion or Mansonesque?  It seems to me that Tasha said OUT LOUD the thoughts some of you are trying to suppress and that is really what is causing all the anger, hostility, and dismissiveness.  I tried veganism on for size and it didn't fit.  I am really glad it didn't because of the behavior I witnessed from the vegan fundies.  I have never seen a group of people so judgmental, self-righteous, and fanatical as you lot.   
     
     
     

    • Tracy November 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      I'd like to know what was supposedly misquoted. Also, didn't Pol Pot and Manson murder people? This blog post is simply a licensed dietitian's critique of another public blog post about health and nutrition. It's also odd that you're glad that you can continue to contribute to the murder of animals … because you don't like vegans.

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

      Ginger, you might like to know that I contacted Tasha and asked if I could work with her to see if I could help her find a way to be healthy on a vegan diet. I did so because I knew from her post that she had a lot of misinformation about nutrition and therefore, felt that she may have been giving up on veganism when she didn't need to. She very politely declined my help. I told her at that time that I was writing this blog post because I wanted to correct–for other vegans–the inaccuracies in her post, and she told me that was fine. 

      My concern is not that Tasha is eating meat–it's that many vegans have been very shaken by what they read there, questioning whether vegan diets can really support health for everyone. I wanted to point out why the post actually did not make a case against veganism.

  28. Red Sun Rising November 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Thank you for this post. Several things came to mind as I read the “A Vegan No More” epistle from “Voracious”. It sent off several alarm bells that made me extremely skeptical about who the voracious vegan really is. 
    1. She sought the advice of 1 doctor. One. Not even a nutritionist. Not one appeal to a plant based diet professional or to the vegan community for suggestions on an expert to consult for a second opinion.  Sorry, as a 9 year thriving vegan, if I had a problem, a vegan nutrition expert like John McDougall would be the first person I would be contacting. I'm sure he would be happy to consult with her, even from Saudi. I would seek the advice of every major vegan professional in the field before I would make such a claim. NO WAY would I accept a single source as gospel on something supposedly as important to her as she melodramatically professed and especially if that source was a military doctor, even a female one, most likely biased against a vegan diet, as the final opinion. As a veteran, I know something of the culture. As a feminist who has Carol Adams linked to her site, so does she.
    2. Way too vague about details that matter. Seriously, exactly what kinds of supplements (strength, frequency etc) and with what foods did she take them? IMHO if one who has been representing a principled disciplined movement as a recognized blogger is going to think they can erode the whole discipline based on their single experience (as in to make the claim that it doesn’t work for everyone), they had better be willing to be very detailed about what steps were taken before they attempt to invalidate it, (maybe even to the point of producing scanned medical records- I know I would). Playing the victim role about the vegan community’s eminent “attacks” as a cover for disclosing any real details seems pretty stinky.  The decision to not ask for advice from the community and would rather alienate us by portraying vegans as hateful. Hmmm. Very, very suspicious. 
           Ginny, would you be so kind as to comment on some things I've heard and read that are relevant to the vegan community regarding B12 deficiency?
    a) I’ve heard that because our bodies recycle B12 and use so little of it, that it generally takes a good 7 years to begin to become depleted, I understand that is an estimate. Is it likely that someone would become B12 deficient or anemic in 3.5 years to the degree she claims? I realize this is conjecture, but just wondering what your take on this? Is her hair loss claim indicative of this? Do high desert temps have any play on this?
    b)  Are some forms of B12 supplements more absorbable than others? I hear Methyl B12 is more absorbable than Cyano B12.
    c) Is it possible to reach B12 toxicity? Do you know of any symptoms?
    3. The choice of language was very concerning to me, there was viciousness to it, the stereotypical hostile claims non vegans make about vegans, the charges of cheating vegans to stay healthy, coming from a vegan, and an unabashed total 180 turn to gluttony seemed to smack of a hidden agenda. There were other references about sanctimoniously enjoying her superiority in her ivory tower….that really made me think, “I don’t like this vegan. She sounds fake, no vegan I know would sit back and blog such nonsense, especially one claiming they are pursuing a PhD program.” Which leads me to:  1) either the quality of her educational program is really poor, or 2) this girl is not in a PhD program. Her acumen and general conduct doesn’t reflect that caliber of academe.
    4. The total gluttonous promotion of now eating every animal under the sun as fair game?
    5. The Lierre Keith verbatim and attention seeking drama.
    6. Saudi Arabia creates a convenient sanctuary from further probing into this person. As I read through her posts, with the inconsistencies mentioned by me and other commenters here; something definitely smelled rotten in Denmark.  Tasha seems more of a fictitious caricature.
    7. On the first day of the blogs release, at the time I read it, there were 42 responses on the board. All but 2 were sympathizers. Only 1 of the 2 said, “what you were told was wrong”. This made me think “Really? That many non vegans are following this girl?”
    Final Analysis:
    I caution the extent at which animal exploiters will go to spin and inject confusion and misinformation on veganism should not be naively dismissed. I agree with Ginny that this is just the beginning. Writing her off as just being easily impressionable is a possibility, yet I darkly suspect this is a more nefarious industry response and a new style of war over our minds and that it is actually a systematic attempt to invalidate and overturn the ADA Position paper stating a well planned vegan diet is healthy for all genders at all stages of life. This smacks as someone who was never really a vegan but, appears to me that this was more of a premeditated plant in a new variation of Rick Berman and the Center for Consumer Freedom style astroturfing infiltration. I do not expect “Tasha” to ever return to the vegan community. 

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

      I don't expect her to return to the vegan community either. Others have suggested some kind of "plot" behind all of this. I think that is unlikely, but not impossible. What seems much more likely to me when people abandon a vegan ethic for an entirely different one is that they are kind of diet-hopping–trying different things on and then moving on when something else looks more attractive. And if they don't feel well on a diet, for whatever reason, then another philosophy/diet is going to look all that much better.

      I do believe that it is possible she was deficient in B12 and there are lots of possibilities. Some people have a good supply of stored B12 to last many years and some don't. The idea that we don't need to start supplementing until we've been vegan for three years is very dangerous, but it's one that gets circulated in the vegan community a lot. Maybe she waited too long to supplement. Maybe she wasn't chewing her B12 pills and wasn't absorbing them for that reason. Maybe she was taking too small a dose. If she was using methylcobalamin, she would have needed a very high dose.

      So yes, I don't have any reason to doubt her deficiencies. I just don't see why she needed meat to cure them. And the idea that she thinks cholesterol is "nutritious" means that she believes a lot of things about animal foods that aren't at all true.

    • cherie November 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

      If you are saying, in your first question, could veganism for 3.5 years have caused anemia and B12 deficiency, that would assume that she started out with "normal" or acceptable B12 and iron levels PRIOR to being vegan, which, from what she's eating nowadays, I highly doubt.  She should try to eat some green leafy vegetables.  ! 

  29. MP November 22, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    I have a great idea. How about: you eat what you want, and Tasha eats what she wants, and you both STFU. Brilliant, right?

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

      @MP
      That idea would would work if people's dietary choices effected only themselves.  It doesn't work that way.  A person's dietary choices has effect on other people, animals and the planet.  As with any other habit that effects others,  people are going to comment on it.   FWIW, when you tell people to STFU in a conversation it is the same thing as telling them that they won, because if you had a rejoinder based in fact or logic you would have used it instead.

    • Vegeta November 24, 2010 at 11:59 am #

      Couldnt have said it better MP. =D  Diet nuts remind me too much of religious nuts.

  30. Chrissy (The New Me) November 22, 2010 at 4:22 am #

    Thank you for this. I have been a long time reader of Tasha's and have to admit, I was taken in by her confessional and felt a lot of compassion for her and her decision – even though I didn't agree with her ideas and some of the details rubbed me the wrong way. Your rebuttal is informed, even handed, and objective, and I while I still feel compassion for Tasha, I am even more confident in my knowledge that my mostly-vegan diet is the most healthful and world-friendly one for me.

  31. beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    I went vegetarian over 30 years ago as part of a health kick.  I stayed with it except for about 2 years in college.   I temporarily quit because I thought I could get more buff and more fit eating carnist.  That didn't happen and I didn't get the meat induced orgasms that ex-vegans who publish such articles claim to get.  Given that I actually enjoyed eating vegetarian ( legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruit ) and ate mostly that way while eating meat I went back to eating a vegetarian diet and haven't left since.    I tried a vegan diet in the early 90s.  I felt more energetic so I have kept with it since then.
     
     
     
    I've personally know a large number of ex-vegans and ex-vegetarians.  In my anecdotal experience they all swear they were careful about their nutrition, but having known them and having had the personal opportunity to observe their habits I know that was not the case.  In fact, most of these people were nutritionally wreckless.    
     
     
    I've read about research studies that demonstrated that even nutrition experts don't eat as well as they think they do.  People routinely underestimate how much they eat and overestimate the quality of what they eat.   This is why weight loss & fitness experts tell people to keep food diaries when they have major changes to make.    It is also partly  I don't believe the ex-veg*ns, with no written records who claimed they ate super well.     I don't, unless I track what I eat.
     
     
    So, after more than 1.5 decades of eating a vegan diet and about 3 decades of a vegetarian diet…….none of it being "careful" except for isolated periods using a food diary,  I feel great.   I have none of the cardiovascular issues which run in my family.    Everyone in my family wears glasses or contacts.    I have no need to despite reading in poor lighting and sitting in front of a computer screen for years.   I have never been on a regular prescription drug.  Most people my age seem to take something.  The only health problems I have are old injuries.   I weigh the same as I did in highschool.   I've gotten away with dating women 15 – 20 years younger than I am and people swear I don't look my age.
     
    I wish I had a dollar for every ex-vegan with a rare genetic abnormality that makes them unable to thrive on a vegan diet. 
     
     
     
     
     

  32. beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    About those ex-vegan "orgasms" from eating meat:

     
    I don't repeat this often, as it isn't flattering.  I went vegetarian when I was 14 as part of a health kick.   When I was in college I quit for about 2 years,  because I thought eating meat would make me more buff and make me more fit.    That didn't happen.   I also didn't experience any rush of energy or feelings of well being after eating meat again.
     
    Sorry for repeating this point.   I wanted people to see it and I believe the more you write on the internet, the less people read.

  33. beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    Hey Everybody.   
     
    If you haven't,  read a copy of "Eating Animals" by Jonathon Safran Foer.   You would not know it by the way the book has been marketed, but Foer does a stunning refutation of the "eat naturally raised meat to help the environment" argument you hear so much these days.  Foer researched his book for 3 years and hired a fact checker to QC it before he published.
     

  34. beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    I followed the link to the Voracious Vegans article.  She closed comments on it and a follow up post she wrote.

  35. ForTheVoiceless November 22, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Very well said !  The WAPF lobbyist group are definitely the go-to propagandists for those who were formally on a meatless diet but chose to sell-out, and are desperately looking for ways to rationalize it. I wouldn't even call them former "veg/vegans" because truly transitioning to that compassionate way of life requires an actual shift of consciousness that involves expanding ones circle of compassion to include all species as much as possible, and is not something that can just be reversed once achieved. The sell-outs were just on meatless diets. The Price lobbyists (and I say lobbyists because that's exactly what they are, an agricultural lobbist group that promotes the consumption of animal parts and fluids on behalf of the farmer "members") love to make believe that the environment is their main concern, yet they and their "literature" can overwhelmingly be found in the most vegetarian-friendly spheres such as natural food stores, etc, as opposed to the mainstream spheres where the vast majority of the population are buying and consuming the vast majority of the most destructive "foods" on the planet. Thank you so much for helping to expose the Price propagandists for who they really are, and for what their sad, selfish agenda truly entails.

    • Veg Lady November 26, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

      I agree about the consciousness part.  I will never ever eat meat again.  I've been veg for over 20 years and I am doing fine.  I love it and I could never ever put animal flesh in my mouth again because I simply love them too much. 

  36. Lisa S. November 22, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    I guess in the end, for me, it comes down to respecting a person's choices. I'm not trying to defend vegans, non-vegans, ex-vegans, et. al, just that we all have choices to make. Our reasons may not stand up to public scrutiny (when do they ever?!) but hopefully they are choices we can live with.
    I applaud her public announcement of becoming an ex-vegan, not something I'm sure I could do – I'm more a fan of disappearing off the blogoscope!
    I do think that stories told by ex-vegans can seem very very attractive to those vegans whose hearts weren't 100% into it in the first place. It's hard being on the outside… At the end of the day, I think it comes down on how we want to treat our fellow person. My choices are my own, no amount of preaching & screaming at me is going to change my diet, or any that of anyone else who firmly believes what they are doing is right for themselves.
    The propaganda is out there from both sides of the argument – the question is can you sift through it all, find what *you* need, and make the decision that is best for yourself? I really hope so.

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

      Well, again, I'm not so concerned with her choice as I am with the fact that it is based on erroneous information that can cause others to see veganism in an unnecessarily negative light. And trying to make it seem as though eating animal foods is a good thing to do–and better than veganism–is something I have a little bit of trouble respecting!

    • Dian Hardy November 24, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

      At the end of the day for me it comes down to how we want to treat our fellow persons and the other animals.  As was said earlier, our choices do have an effect, on our world and those who live in it.  Starvation, environmental degradation, obesity, the suffering of food animals, all are impacted by our choices.  Choose for the life of the planet not just the decision that is best for yourself.

  37. Dustin Rhodes November 22, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    This is going to sound completely judgmental on my part, but one thing I've noticed about all of the ex-vegans: they all seem to be health nuts who spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about their diets. They all go into great detail about how "perfect" their vegan diets were (before they got sick and moved on to The Real and True Perfect Diet). I honestly wonder if this isn't some kind of psychological imbalance, because most people don't obsess about food that much.
    Another completely non-scientific observation: the healthiest vegans I've met are the ones who don't obsess about food, and don't follow any sort of vegan food dogma. Sometimes they are even vegans who eat excessive amounts of processed foods. One of my friends has been vegan for more than 20 years, and is the picture of glowing health—and the amount of faux meat he eats most would find shocking. 
    I think obsessing about food is probably not healthy. I think some people get fixated on trying to be the perfect eater, and in the process become very unhealthy; the actual food is probably only part of it. (Yes, I know I am not qualified to say this, and perhaps it's not even true—but it seems to be).
    Every time I hear vegans go on and on about the health benefits and what you should eat (to live to be 100!, etc), I am instantly on alert. Indeed, I almost always assume it's only a matter of time before they abandon it and move on.
    Thoughts?
     
     

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 11:00 am #

      @Dustin;

      You don't sound judgmental.   I don't think you are right either.   Too many counterexamples.
       
      I went vegetarian over 30 years ago and vegan over 15 years ago as part of a health kick.   I've since come under the influence of other reasons for doing it.    The first militantly ex-vegans I encountered were in college.  They were the epitome of the IN-YOUR-FACE  AR activists.
       
      Nina Planck, in her NYT article claimed to be involved with AR
       
      I've met a few animal rights activists who were vegan or were tempted to stop when they moved near chickens who they knew were treated well and they began rationalizing eating eggs.
       
      I'm not 100% sure, but I think Lierre Keith was very political or at least into AR.
       

      • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

        But whether people are vegan for political or health reasons, I think Dustin is absolutely right that an obsessive focus on the healthfulness (or lack thereof) of different foods can cause people to become way too restrictive with their choices. This is purely anecdotal–and it's something I want to blog about over the next couple of weeks–but it really does seem that those who are a little bit more liberal with their choices–allowing themselves to eat some processed foods and higher fat foods and taking supplements when they fall short– tend to do better. Those who are 100 percent committed to never eating anything that isn't a whole food–and who might not supplement properly in the belief that those whole foods provide everything they need–seem to be more at risk. So kind of ironically, I think AR vegans–with their veggie burgers and beer and Daiya cheese–can end up being at lower risk for deficiency than the health vegans!

        • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

          Virginia;
          I agree with the idea that not being a dietary perfectionist allows people room for comfort and that comfort contributes to dietary stability.    The problem with Dustin's point and your other points is that not all health enthusiasts are obsessive to that point.

          • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

            Oh, I agree, of course. Definitely not all–I'm just saying that those who adopt a vegan diet for health reasons are sometimes more likely to give up more foods or types of foods than is necessary in order to be healthy. Those who are just concerned about eating ethically, are not as likely to go super-low-fat for example.

    • beforewisdom December 17, 2010 at 6:51 am #

      Hi Virginia, Dustin;
       

      I hope this new comment finds you both well.   There is yet another new ex-vegan story out there, quoted below.  The ex-vegan was "political", not a health enthusiast.  She even attended one of the farmusa.org AR conferences.
       
      For what it is worth:
       
       
       
      From:
      http://jacknorrisrd.com/?p=1656
      I received a ping back from an ex-vegan and ex-animal rights activist, Paleosister. She writes:
      > “Jack Norris, who I remember seeing speak at AR 2003 and greatly admired, writes that we should try to consume as little animal flesh (and other animal products) as possible. Quite frankly, you’re missing the point, Jack. The world is being destroyed due to agriculture; entire ecosystems are ruined—the habitats’ of animal populations destroyed—because of the foods vegans and the left are promoting.”

  38. beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Here is an interesting article a friend sent me, about a blind study done on some college students.  The researchers told the students that half would be drinking vodka and tonic and half would be drinking tonic water.  In reality, they were all drinking flavored tonic water.  Yet, the group that was told they had vodka and tonic experienced cognitive changes similar to drinking.    Could the newly meatgasmic carnists be experiencing a placebo effect?   After all,  real researchers take pains to do double blind studies because the placebo effect is that strong:
     
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2634499.stm
     

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

      Oh, it's totally a placebo effect. It really couldn't be anything else. People always think that this is an insulting "oh it's all in your head" kind of observation. But as AJ indicated above, the placebo effect is a very real thing. And expectations can really affect how people perceive things. Which is, of course, why so many studies are double-blinded–so that the researchers themselves won't draw wrong conclusions based on what they expect to happen.

  39. tasha November 22, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    what a load of dung

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

      Free lesson in rhetoric:  when all you write is an insult you tell people that you have lost the argument but are too weak of character to admit it.   If you had another point to make, you would have made it instead of insulting someone with an outburst.

  40. Cel November 22, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    Thank you for writing this article to counterbalance the horrible nonsense in that woman's blog. You rock. :)

  41. amy November 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I saw the ex vegan post on Facebook and reddit, and for some reason it annoyed the hell out of me. Then, I read her post and didn't find one critical comment, yet she said she had received all this hate mail. It just didn't seem right that not one thoughtful vegan responded to her drama queen antics. So, thank you for this article.  I'm not a vegan or even a vegetarian, but I respect those of you who are. 

  42. Jennifer November 22, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    I came across your entry first, and then went and checked out Tasha's. As a vegetarian whose body does seem to do better with small amounts of animal protein, I'm sympathetic to the idea that not all bodies thrive on a vegan diet, and to the idea that we don't really know everything we need to know about nutrition yet. However, I found some of her claims to be a bit extravagant. If I'm a bit skeptical about the claims of perfect glowing health from a vegan diet, I'm also skeptical about condemning vegan and vegetarian diets as unhealthy. One claim that struck me as odd was about how her hair became much thicker after three weeks as an omnivore. Hair just doesn't grow that quickly.

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

      Oh, somehow I missed that point about the hair! That's a good observation.

  43. Haley November 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Thank you so much for writing this.  There was so much about that post that was disheartening to me; mainly because Tasha was one of my favorite vegan bloggers.  The switch was so drastic and her ideologies changed so quickly that I chalked it up to someone identifying fully with one movement, finding they could no longer adhere to it, and, thus, needing to successfully tear down every belief to identify with something else.  It is one thing to say, "I got sick. I need this."  It is another thing to grab onto faulty data as a way of proving some point.

    Regardless of reasons, I would think if you truly loved animals and you were forced to consume them, it would not matter how good they taste…there would be a small tinge.  As a vegan, if I were forced to eat meat, I would not be gloating about it. Even if her arguments were all correct, isn't there still a sense of "I am behind this creature's death?"  Her blogs were so vegangelical! Then again, she states that she thought people who didn't follow her strict veganism were "bad people."  This poor argument was necessary so she could excuse herself from that category.  There's a lot more going on in her blog than just health.  I feel like she's lost a huge sense of her "academic credebility" … or credibility, generally.  And, again, it has nothing to do with whether or not she has to eat meat, but there is no sense of sincerity in that 7,000+ word excuse.

    • Ginny Messina November 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

      Me, too. If I ever felt I had to go back to eating animal foods for any reason, I would choose to eat as little as possible and I would never glorify it. That's the big thing that makes me question a lot of ex-vegans.

      • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

        That has been the case with every publicly dramatic "I had a meatgasm!" ex-vegan I've seen.  They don't settle for including dairy products or eggs in their diet.   They go full hilt carnist.   That is a flag there is something else going on.   Maybe it is about the point you made earlier about someone wanting to eat meat and needing to find a pretense for an excuse, instead of just doing it under the idea it is their business and no one else's.

      • Mike November 23, 2010 at 11:18 am #

        I don't quite understand why her blog makes people so angry. I think it took a lot of courage for her to admit that her vegan diet was not working for her and since veganism was not healthy for her and therefore might not be healthy for everyone. I don't see why it has to be so black and white and histrionics has nothing to do with it. There are plenty of vegan blogs out there that are far more histrionic. From what I've read it seems like she was following a healthy vegan diet for several years with appropriate supplements and plenty of exercise. It seems like she really did give it a chance but it was obvious it was not going to work.

        I think it's horrible that you condemn her for not feeling guilty about eating animals. I think it is great that she is empowered enough to realize that she shouldn't feel bad for being who she is. Would you make a small child feel bad for wetting his bed? Do you make women feel bad for menstruating? Her apparent 180 degree turn came from the simple fact that she realized it would be hypocritical to vigilantly promote a diet that suddenly doesn't seem like it as healthy as she formerly believed. On the contrary, to her, it seemed like her vegan diet was actually causing her serious health problems. Whether you believe that her diet was the cause of them or not, I applaud her for publicizing her experience.
        You can go through life believing that humans are inherently evil and pursue a masochistic diet until you waste away but let the rest of us live as we chose. I'm not saying all vegans are that way, but it seems like there are a lot of them out there. Why else would they care so much about another person food choices?

        • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

          Mike, we care about another person's food choices because those who eat animal foods contribute to animal suffering and to the idea that animals are here for us to use as we please. But certainly, if someone had no choice but to eat animal foods, that would be different. I don't believe that's the case with Tasha–or at least I didn't see anything in her post that caused me to believe she can't be vegan. That's really what my post was about.  

      • Veg Lady November 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

        Yes, because you care enough about the animals and the consequences of a meat diet that you would be thoughtful about it.
         

  44. RoboMonkey November 22, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    "what a load of dung"
     
    lol.  That's your rebuttal?  You're not even going attempt to make a valid argument or provide sources that back you up?  Sad.

  45. Rhonda November 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this rebuttal. I've read Tasha's blog for a while now, and have been sad for her for months because of her obvious, severe and untreated anxiety and depression issues. I think a big factor in what we've seen with her is that she's convinced herself that changing her diet will magically fix her depression and anxiety (she even said essentially that in her post) and has built a huge justification around that theory, because she's desperate for it to be true.
    If that's the case, she deserves our sympathy and support — not for her new diet, but for the possibility of her seeking proper treatment some day, feeling better for real, and being able to evaluate her dietary choices with a clearer head.

  46. cherie November 22, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Her crediblity has already been undermined.  I wouldn't believe a word she says.  One minute she's "vegan" and feeling healthy and wonderful; the next veganism ruined her health.  When called out on her inconsistencies, she says she felt compelled to lie.  Really?  And now people are "threatening her" but she has no proof that this actually happened.   I don't think she or her life are that big of a deal.  Maybe she'd like herself to be highly thought of in whatever community she remains for the next two years before moving on.  I doubt any omnivores cheering her on actually respect her, unless they are so blindly by their praise for the bacon that they don't see what a liar she is.  (assuming it's a "she")

  47. Ex-Ex-Vegan November 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    What really intrigues me about these popular, frequently circulated ex-vegan articles is that the ex-vegan automatically gains credibility as one who had attempted veganism and had the experience and then failed or walked away, regardless of the reasons (if given), logic (sound or flawed), facts (true or false) presented, Two days, weeks or months ago when the ex-vegan was a vegan, he or she was not worth listening to, just another nut on the fringe.  But give up veganism and suddenly you're a reliable source and your opinion is valuable.
    I'm an ex-ex-vegan myself for five years now. When I was an ex-vegan, omnivores did try to encourage me to talk smack about those crazy vegans, to distance myself, to claim that I tried being like them but came to my senses.  When I really thought about and confronted why I wasn't vegan, though, I couldn't justify myself or be proud.  I realized only that I had strayed from my principles about animals as property.
    I've been an ex-ex-vegan for five years and, when I read the countless accounts of former vegans who smack their newly-credible lips on dead pig and cow flesh with a free conscience, I want to tell my ex-ex-vegan story.  I'm sure no one would listen, because most people who eat meat want to hear the ex-vegan saga that affirms their choices, but maybe I should anyway, somewhere. It would be nice to let the ex-vegans know that you can always come back to your senses.

    • beforewisdom November 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm #

      If you want to write your story, I will publish it on my blog.
       
      If for nothing else, ex-ex vegan stories provide a counterbalance to the newly "meatgasmic" stories.   Those authors look less credible if other people who went back to meat didn't have a meatgasm or health improvements.   I went vegetarian in high school and ate meat for about two years in college.   My health and fitness didn't improve.   I didn't  Lierre Keith's or Tasha's meatgasm either.  No noticeable changes.

      • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

        I think you should gather some ex-ex-vegan stories to put on your blog!

        • beforewisdom November 27, 2010 at 8:50 am #

          I don't know any ex-ex-vegans .   If you come across any feel free to point them to my site.  I will be glad to set up a special section of my blog just for their stories.

  48. josh hooten November 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm #

    a couple folks pointed out that we should all respect each others choices in what we eat.
    but it isn't a two way conversation, it's a three way conversation. vegans, largely, are speaking up for the third party who can't speak up for themselves, that being the animals.
    i wish that was more obvious.

  49. Ian November 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    The entire post seems very strange to me. As Michael Moore was mentioning there are agencies that will pretend that they are grassroots groups for a huge fee and they will take certain sides on issues. This sounds like one of these situations. The meat and dairy boards have tons of money from the billions of dollars that our wonderful government pours into the farming industry so we can make sure our citizens are well fed. They do not want to lose ground so they might want to hire groups like WAPF and others to create fake vegans who just could not exist without meat in their diet. I believe we'll see many more of these to come.

  50. danakscully64 November 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

    Thank you for this! I couldn't even finish her blog post, my IQ points were dropping fast. Nutrition has always been a hobby of mine and I knew almost everything she was saying was BS.

  51. Bea Ⓥ Elliott November 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    I love this response to the "drama" of the "first bite" of animal protein: "you have to actually digest and absorb the nutrients in food before you’ll feel any of its effects." 
    Exactly! Thanks for the entire post – Some great gems of wisdom! :)

  52. Lillian November 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    I knew her blog was BS due to her fast 180.  If a doctor wants you to add food to your diet, you do it slowly and wait for possible negative reactions.  Steers revenge is real.  Not all vegetarians get it and they might not get it from all types of meat that they ingest accidentally or not accidentally.  It didn't seem logical to me to do such a fast 180. 
    She seemed like she was a fanatic and she needed a new thing to be obsessed with.  She didn't want to be vegan or near vegan anymore so she had to now eat meat at every meal.   She needed a new health kick. 

  53. Greg November 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    I had never heard of the Voracious Vegan before I read your post but a quick glance at her recipes tells me that she was not eating for optimal health. She utilized ingredients such as all purpose flour, white sugar, vegetable oil, food colouring, and highly processed food items like TVP, margarine and meat analogues. Eating a vegan diet isn't synonymous with eating well. I suspect that the re-introduction of flesh into her diet will not see her health issues disappear.

  54. Neven Jones November 22, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Great post. My iron was lower when I was eating meat then it is now, I got it to increase by adding lemon to my morning green juice. Sometimes we can convince ourselves to eat a certain way because we want to, not because it makes sense nutritionally. She probably just wanted to eat meat and needed an excuse.

  55. Ian November 22, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    A very to the point comment from Josh Hooten.  This debate is missing the fact that the strongest and best reason to go vegan is for the sake of farmed animals.  The only health issue is: can we be healthy and vegan? Not: is a vegan diet the most healthy diet?  If being a healthy vegan means putting more thought into balancing our diets (at first, after a while it becomes automatic) and taking a supplement or two, then we should simply do this and not be defensive about it.  In time there will accumulate plenty of data on the long-term health effects of a vegan diet and much of the current debate will be redundant; new vegans will have well-proven advice with ample evidence about the how to be a lifelong healthy vegan. The glee with which ex-vegans return to eating meat is enough to raise doubts about their "process".  Some regret about feeling the need to eat animal food, along with care to determine exactly which animal food was needed, and what the smallest quantity required was, would be more convincing regarding their sincerity and lack of self-delusion.
    And thanks for Herbivore mag Josh, it is sorely missed.

    • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

       I agree. A lot of the misinformation about vegan diets is due to the fact that so many try to prove it's the healthiest way to eat. And I also agree that the only issue is "can we be healthy and vegan?" I'm working on post about that right now in fact.

  56. CJ November 22, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    I'm not going to try to argue with all of you, mostly because it would be a waste of my time (even if I were informed enough to do it, no one would listen anyway… I'm not blaming the Vegan community, I'm blaming humanity).
     
    BUT.  I must say that it IS quite amusing that, when confronted with a viewpoint we have not experienced, our immediate reaction is to try to find a way to discredit said opinion.  I find it amusing how ridiculous the lengths are to which our minds will go to attempt to disprove these viewpoints we can't agree with.
     
    Brain damage? really?  …What in that article could even remotely suggest that the author had BRAIN DAMAGE accept that you don't agree with her?
    Furthermore, I see the exact same commentators complaining that A- she was way too long-winded (and somehow, therefore, overdramatic) and B- she was "a little hazy on the details."  
    2 thoughts:   1. …If you only have so much room to post a lot of thoughts, you may get hazy on the more boring details which your wider audience won't want to read anyway.  2.  SHE ALMOST DIED.  People tend to get "overdramatic" when a bad lifestyle choice nearly killed them.  Dramatic, maybe.  Overdramatic? …You need to actually read the story, empathizing, putting it into perspective, because you clearly missed the point.
     
    My suggestion is to stand back and neutrally view the article.  attempt to take off those glasses clouding your world view.  MAYBE, if you can get to an objective viewpoint, you will still disagree with her.
     
    But insinuating that she simply "did it wrong" without knowing the facts, or going so far as to calling her brain damaged… Suggests that maybe it's YOUR brain that's not quite functioning correctly.

    • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

      Nobody called her brain damaged. One person suggested that a severe B12 deficiency–which Tasha said she had–might possibly affect her thinking and therefore make her more susceptible to crazy nutrition information. I can't say that's impossible, but I did respond that I doubt it was a factor here.

      I did neutrally review the article, though, from the perspective of a dietitian–and saw so many incorrect statements that aren't supported by the science, that it made me think she was getting some really bad information about her diet.

  57. Rob November 22, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    Thanks for this excellent counterpoint to Tasha's post.
    Also, you said "maybe she wasn't chewing them." I feel like a complete fool for asking this, but what the heck… should I always chew my vitamins? I generally don't.

  58. Dipesh November 23, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    This merely proves that not everyone's body can cope with veganism or vegetarianism. I've always felt that anyone with a history of eating a western diet will struggle due to the overemphasis on meat-eating. I've been a vegetarian for over 12 years, but i've been a semi-vegetarian all my life due to my Indian lineage. Never had a suppplement, most people shouldnt need to if their diet is balanced. But some people need it, some people's physiologies cant cope at all and revert back to meat eating, theres no shame in it. Why do things have to be so black and white, the fact that you are at least trying to make a change for yourself and the world should be good enough for everyone.The people who've insulted and abused Tasha should be ashamed of themselves.

  59. Mihl November 23, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    Thank you very much for this great post!

  60. Shellyfish November 23, 2010 at 4:49 am #

    Thank you for taking the time to address this, Ginny.  I've been so angry, I just couldn't be constructive.  You have been. ;)

  61. Kate@andwhenshesays November 23, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Thank you so much for this post – it really helps clarify some of the points I had been pondering as a fairly recent vegan convert and someone who has been recovering from disordered eating. It's so good to see a professional providing legitimate information on this really controversial topic!

  62. Hurf November 23, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    … Iron absorption is inhibited by plant phytates and tannins. These compounds also chelate iron, but prevent its uptake by the absorption machinery (see below). Phytates are prominent in wheat and some other cereals, while tannins are prevalent in (non-herbal) teas.
    Also,
    Most cells in the rest of the body are believed to acquire iron from plasma transferrin (an iron-protein chelate), via specific transferrin receptors and receptor-mediated endocytosis (Klausner, et al, 1983)
    http://sickle.bwh.harvard.edu/iron_absorption.html
     
    Check your facts people.  That took me a whole 5 minutes to google.

  63. Jesus November 23, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Thank you for this blog! It's hard to believe she was ever really vegan. I know if i had a health problem and someone said "meat was the answer" i would fight to prove them wrong. Not post a public blog that is only going to HURT people's health and animals as well.
     
    I don't know if she really believes she needs meat, is a fraud, or what, but i know to make such a claim you need PROOF. Something we haven't seen yet and her case is completely illogical.
     
    Also if you read back on her tweets and blogs – she spent time starving herself for a world hunger problem. She also tweets about exercise a lot, maybe to excessive points. That combined with not eating right is most likely the reason for her deficiencies.
     
    I will be glad in a week or two when this all is a faded memory of a lost girl helping perpetuate a myth. Then further, 100 years from now when people look back on our societies stupidity and laugh just as we laugh because people believed the sun revolved around us at one point.

  64. Morgan November 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Thank you. It seemed (at the very least, to me) that Tasha was one of those who needs to justify every dietary decision that she makes, which is terribly frustrating. She tries to say that eating meat is actually good for the environment, which is absolutely the most absurd thing that one could ever hear from someone who had claimed to have done any research on the subject.
    Eat meat or don't, but don't convince yourself of lies (or try to spread them, for that matter) to make it better for yourself.
    Again, thank you.

    • Jesus November 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      @Shari
      I completely agree she is being over dramatic for attention.  She also stated she received death threats but i did not see any.

      She then said she was blocking anyone who questioned her blog as a precaution. I said – "your blog and twitter have all your info on it, shouldn't you be deleting those for protection?" She laughed about that.
       
      So obviously it's a bit of a show, she's making the most of her 5 minutes of fame.

      • russet November 19, 2011 at 2:57 am #

        Even if there were death threats, why was she so upset? After all, death is just part of the cycle of life, isn’t it?

  65. Dustin Rhodes November 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    @Ian
    I agree with what you say, but let's face it: a lot of vegan advocates are promoting it purely from the health angle. And worse yet, most of them seem to be full of it. In my decade of being in this movement, I have heard more ridiculous health claims attributed to veganism than I care to recall. Many of them I still here, even though there is not a shred of science to back the claims (like an ultra low fat, starch based diet being the IDEAL diet for EVERYONE).
     
    I have also noticed that many, if not most, of the people who come to adopt these restrictive sorts of vegan diets almost always leave after a period of time. Then they end up trashing veganism. And the audience–omnivores–are only too eager to hear that veganism is a sham.
     
    Ginny Messina, sadly, is a rarity in the animal rights movement—a person who's interested in science, reason and truth when it comes to diet. Even a lot of "AR people" (the people who are in it solely for the animals) are guilty of spreading misinformation because we often simply accept things, even if they don't make sense or the information defies our personal experience.
     
    I'll admit it: I used to believe a lot of it too. I thought I would be miraculously healthy following a vegan diet–because that was the common wisdom and it remains so. I believe someone else mentioned it in this thread, but I honestly didn't experience ~anything~ from becoming vegan. I probably ate an adequate diet as an omnivore and now the same as a vegan. I eat normal food. I get plenty of exercise…and that's about it. Oh, and I take my B-12. I feel fine. Sometimes great. But like most humans, not always. In other words, I think I am perfectly normal.
     
    But I don't think veganism is going to necessarily prevent all forms of cancer; I don't think I am impervious to being run down or aging or any number of conditions associated with…being human.
     
    I think ex vegans like the voracious vegan and lierre keith really harm this movement—because what they say is what so many people want to believe: that veganism is terrible for you. But there are so many of us who do just fine. When I wrote a review of Lierre Keith's book on Amazon, by the way, I was INUNDATED for months by e-mails from Weston Price nutjobs, so I think this conversation is necessary; and if you publish your story on the internet (or a book) for all to read, we all have a right to help sort fact from fiction.
     
    Any way, I appreciate Ginny Messina very much, this blog in general, and most especially this conversation. It's way over-due. (And I do wish the very best for Voracious ______, but I hope she can understand why most of us are skeptical, to say the least).
     
    Dustin

    • beforewisdom November 24, 2010 at 6:43 am #

      And worse yet, most of them seem to be full of it. In my decade of being in this movement, I have heard more ridiculous health claims attributed to veganism than I care to recall. Many of them I still here, even though there is not a shred of science to back the claims

       
      A good example is the Friends Of Animals Vegan Starter Guide which promotes raw foodism
      http://www.friendsofanimals.org/img/Vegan_Starter_Guide.pdf

    • Paul Fernhout December 30, 2010 at 9:17 am #

      Dr. Joel Fuhrman, in his books like Eat To Live, makes several health claims based on the medical literature for an at least 90% vegan diet heavy on vegetables, fruits, and beans, with some nuts, seeds, and whole grains and some supplements like B12, D, and DHA, (and maybe Iodine, Zinc, etc. like from a multivitamin). He makes claims related to reversing heart disease, reversing type 2 diabetes, reducing cancer risk, reducing stroke risk, reducing rheumatoid arthritis, and other health benefits.

      Still, he also criticizes many vegans and vegetarians for not focusing on nutrient density (his approach). He suggests vegans and vegetarians often go too heavy on starch in the diet and too light on eating a variety of vegetables (especially dark leafy greens) and fruits, which hurts their health. He suggests they may also miss out on good fats from nuts and avocados while instead using processed oils. He has developed recipes like for salad dressings that include whole nuts or seeds (ground up or blended) to provide healthy fats. He recommends water sauteing or steaming instead of stir frying in oil (as frying can produce cancer causing compounds like acrylamides) .

      While I’m assuming he eats vegan, he focuses on the claim that getting 90% or more of calories from whole plant foods is the most important thing. He suggests the vegan who eats a lot of processed foods, a lot of salt, a lot of refined sugar or flour, and too few vegetables (as with that ex-vegan?) will probably be worse off healthwise than someone who eats a lot of vegetables and fruits and has a little meat or dairy once in a while. But he still essentially recommends being 100% vegan for optimum health (even as he admits science may not yet be able to prove the health benefits of the last 10% of calories as vegan for all people). So, he recommends as a minimum being an informed “Nutritarian” 90% or more vegan following his nutrient dense eating style, but as most vegans are not following such an approach yet, and he claims that some health studies or anecdotes about vegans or ex-vegans in general don’t apply to his specific Nutritarian approach.

  66. Ian November 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    I'm not sure what Hurf and  other posters claiming that vegan diets are nutritionally inadequate for some people think that they are proving.  Finding a website via Google that agrees with your pre-existing viewpoint is not finding proof of that view.  You can find "proof" of pretty much anything from Google. The paper that Hurf linked to does not, I'm afraid, prove anything.
    As far as I know there is no evidence that any population group is genetically/constitutionally unsuited to a vegetarian/vegan diet.  Arguments based upon small groups or particular disease conditions are not extendable to the population as a whole. There may be some health conditions that lead to there being a grey area as to whether animal food is necessary for those individuals, but in these cases the moral case does not change and animal food in those cases is in fact medicine and should be taken in the same way as all medicine: only when needed, only of the kind that is needed, only as much as needed and only for as long as needed. 
    Nutritional science is incomplete, imperfect and constantly changing – as is all science, which is its greatest strength. If you adjust your diet according to the latest scientific research, cherry-picked to fit in with either your wishes or your worldview, you will be all over the place and putting way more energy into this subject than you need unless you're an RD/MD or similar!
    There are many, many long-term or lifelong vegetarians or vegans who are extremely healthy and vital.  As individuals if we are changing from an omnivorous diet to a vegetarian/vegan diet we will have to figure out what works for us in terms of pleasure, satisfaction, digestion, etc but unless we are pretty gormless finding a healthy vegan diet should not be a problem if we pay a little attention and do a little research.  A little time spent  in the food/diet world will show you that there are plenty of omnivores obsessing about their diet and supposed inadequacies/deficiencies/toxins etc.  Obsessive crankiness about diet is everywhere,  and the narcissistic obsession with ones own individual health is tediously prevalent. It's not that difficult. If your diet as a vegan is problematic for you then work on it and if necessary get advice from a source that is both sympathetic and qualified (to find someone who is truly both of these may take some work).  Read Becoming Vegan; follow this blog and Jack Norris's blog and without being self-hating understand that becoming vegan is not about your or me but is a compassionate decision made on behalf of all the animals being farmed (yes, even as "happy meat" on traditional family farms) and hunted and fished without necessity.
    Lastly, please, stop worrying, relax, buy some cookbooks and enjoy your food.

  67. Silvia November 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    I respect Tasha for being brave and going public with her decision.
    Yet her sheer reveling in meat and the "I missed bacon" tweets really leave a bad taste in my mouth.I have a sense she indeed was conflicted, but was truly  hoping for a "way out" of veganism or vegetarianism before the health crisis happened.
    For full disclosure, I am ovo-lacto vegetarian, but mostly eat vegan. Yes, I do agree that given the realities of the industry, consuming eggs/dairy is as ethically compromising as meat, yet, alas, not the principle of it.
    Sadly, the likes of Tasha constitute great justification and self serving fodder for omnivores in a food consumer society that chooses to be ignorant and is virulently angry, borderline violent, against those that dare question their habits. 
    I was poring over the web to find responses to Tasha's "defection" and this is truly exemplary of intelligence and civility.  Thank you.

  68. Amber November 24, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    She is a sell out to the meat industry. I hope she is getting paid a lot to want to give up her morals in such a way…

  69. Bill W. November 24, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    Well, the main positive that came out of Tasha's post is that I found this site, which I had not encountered before.
    I have one question that I hope someone can answer for me. I had not heard about the need to chew vitamins before. My wife and I had just been taking a vegan multivitamin, but it is not chewable. It seems highly complicated, so I was wondering if I could just get some advice on what chewable people are taking to get their B12? Are you taking a multi or just the B12 supplement? A specific brand recommendation would be fantastic!

    I think our diet is pretty sound, but we'd been taking the multi just to cover our bases. Thanks in advance!

    • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

      Chewable is best since some people may not digest and absorb the B12 from pills that are swallowed whole. But really any brand that provides between 25 and 100 micrograms of B12 is fine. Look for one that has the little USP symbol on the label, because that shows that the content has been verified.

  70. beforewisdom November 24, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    It isn't everyday that a person gets a registered dietitian and an author of several nutrition books offering their help free of charge.    The fact that the Voracious Vegan turned down this offer of help, despite having 3 years invested in a vegan diet sends up a flag.  

  71. Maureen November 24, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    I was extremely disappointed to follow Tasha's journey back to eating meat primarily because her philosophy and ethics have taken a 180. No, I haven't walked a mile in her shoes, however, there are just too many oddities to her story as pointed out in this blog post and by many others. Many things don't add up. If she had been struggling for months with energy, then how on earth would she be able to do the <a href="http://voraciouseats.com/2010/06/21/eat-eat-eat/&quot; target="_blank">Insanity workout for 1 hour daily</a>? That was at the end of June and she started "reexamining" priorities early October.
    Anyway, count me in as someone else disappointed and disturbed by the amount of misinformation in her story that is now being touted as gospel by anti-vegans.

  72. Camilo V. November 24, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    I tend to trust this post more because there's less drama here than in Sasha's story. However, animal rights and vegan propaganda often bothers me in the same manner because it usually doesn't reach me in scientific, factual messages like the one I just read, but in passionate ramblings full of assertions wild enough as to be challenged on the spot.
    I am also still skeptical because of the iron dilemma; You mention that sustaining iron levels on a vegan diet might prove difficult and that they were vegan alternatives to eating meat to counter this that Sasha's doctor didn't explore, yet neglect to mention what those alternatives are. This is a point that I would really like to see backed up with some facts and numbers, and it feels to me like an opportunity has been lost there.

    • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

      Well, she might have tried adding foods that are highly fortified with iron, like instant oatmeal (I don't know why it has so much iron, but it does!) or lower-dose supplements consumed with orange juice to boost absorption. Lots of people can't stomach the prescription iron meds which are very high in iron, but most should be able to take a pill providing 18 mgs or so. Also, the addition of L-lysine supplements can boost iron and I'm wondering if her doctor tried that; many don't know about this.

  73. auntieciv November 24, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    I just posted this at Press Action and realized it's probably better posted here:
     
    Ginny, you had me until you said: 
    – 
    The whole “listening to the wisdom of one’s body” philosophy is not scientific. Your body is notoriously bad at telling you exactly what you need. 
    – 
    This is a scary statement. First off, it reminds me of hardcore relgious rhetoric. “Trust us! Don’t listen to your body!” As if nutritionists and dieticians know something about my body that I don’t. All we have to do listen to is our body. The brain in your gut and the one in your chest are just as important as the one in your head. I’d say you can’t get any more direct wisdom than that. I see your point regarding how ailments show up later in life – but I would argue the body absolutely gives different indictions of deficiencies. We just choose to ignore them because we don’t really understand the signals our body sends. You’re right: it’s not “scientific” – but, then again, we really shouldn’t put “science” and “wisdom” in the same category. Wisdom can’t be measured. Somewhere along the line they changed it: now it’s all about smart and intelligent. So I absolutely disagree that the ‘intelligence’ of scientists is more important that the ‘widsom’ of my body.

    Regarding your overall thesis: I see where you’re coming from. But I don’t necessarily agree. I have read The Vegetarian Myth and while I can’t argue one way or the other about whose science is correct – I do have my own wisdom and experience. So I have a question that no one seems to be able to answer:
    If we’re talking about local, sustainable agriculture: and a person insists on eating only raw fresh fruits and vegetables: what do you eat in the winter? I’m not suggesting anyone’s diet is wrong – but isn’t it safe to assume that our diets should CHANGE along with the season? Unless you’re eating raw potatoes in the winter, I can’t get past this disconnect.

    • Ginny Messina November 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

      Listening to your body is a good thing to do regarding hunger signals. And your body can also tell you that something is wrong–ie, you might realize from the way you're feeling that you are possibly suffering from a nutrient deficiency. So in those regards, you can get information by listening to your body. But if you are consuming marginal amounts of nutrients, you won't always know this by listening to your body. Nor do food cravings tell you what you <i>need</i> to be eating. And feeling really great after you eat a certain food doesn't mean that the food provides something you were deficient in.

       

      And yes, sometimes the scientists really do know more about your body! Again, B12 and calcium are good examples of this.

  74. Kim November 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Thank you!  I read that ex-vegan's article as well, and I was wondering how eggs were going to help her! 
    I was about to freak out and start taking big iron pills even though my iron levels are normal!  I've only been vegan for a couple years.  Now I think I'll still to MY doctor's advice, who does not say I should be taking iron.  I have never met a doctor who did not support my vegan diet.

  75. Dustin Rhodes November 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    @BeforeWisdom The Friends of Animals Vegan Starter Guide does not push people to become raw foodists. The reason the section was included was just to be welcoming to raw foods folks; we all know the vegan community is full of them. None of us here at Friends of Animals are raw foodists, or even advocates of raw foods (exclusive) diets.
     
    That said, the guide is currently undergoing a complete revision, and although I am not working on it myself I don't believe the next edition will have anything about them (if it does, it will be more carefully worded). Clearly, the whole enzyme thing has been thoroughly debunked; and I'm not convinced vegans should promote anything that isn't safe for everyone—i.e. children, pregnant women, etc. But I still maintain that the starter guide was never intended to push a dietary agenda–beyond the vegan one–on anyone, but rather to simply recognize that they exist.
     
    Personally, I am unequivocally opposed to raw foods (as a lifestyle) advocacy. I think the whole movement, if it's fair to call it that, is silly and crazy and probably very detrimental to human health in the long run. That's because I don't believe that food and eating should require that kind of attention, which is an underlying theme of this thread. And the claims raw foods people make are just silly.

    • beforewisdom November 24, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

      Dustin;
      Including that section is the same thing you are complaining about with the health vegans who are obsessive about their diets:   introducing issues to new vegans that are not necessary and possibly endanger their well being which may contribute to them not being vegan anymore.

    • beforewisdom November 24, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

      BTW.   I don't want to seem pissy.   You are making arguments that there are counter examples for and I am tired of those wrong arguments.   I think you are a talented writer and I've enjoyed your writings elsewhere.

    • cherie November 26, 2010 at 9:29 am #

      Don't you mean the claims "SOME" raw foods people make are silly?  Really, is the raw-bashing necessary?  Some cooked food vegans make silly (opinion/colloquial) claims as well, but I don't run around grouping them as one person.

      • beforewisdom November 27, 2010 at 9:00 am #

        No Cherie, I do not mean "some".   The majority of raw food authors and raw foodists believe things that are not only scientifically unvalidated, but things that contradict basic biochemistry known for centuries.  They make things up and others believe what they make up.   A number of the false beliefs raw foodists have are nutritionally dangerous.   This is bad for veganism as raw foodism ( a diet ) is frequently conflated with veganism ( an ethical belief ).
         
        There are people who vegan diets with cooked food who have mistaken beliefs about nutrition.  This subgroup of people who eat vegan diets is much, much smaller……….and less extreme, than the majority of raw foodists, most of whom who believe things that would not survive the opening of a biochemistry text book.
         
        I mean no personal disrespect or offense to you.  I'm explaining my opinion

    • Simone November 26, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

       Hi Dustin. I am not a raw foodist myself, but I have learned much from them and greatly enjoyed the recipes.  If raw foodism is so silly, how do you account for books like "Becoming Raw" by registered dieticians Brenda Davis and Vedanto Messina?  Or the documentary "Simply Raw"  where they take 6 type 2 diabetics, put them on a medically surpervised raw vegan diet for30 days and before the end of it have tremendous health effects, including a reduction in their need for insulin?  Or Jinjee and Storm Talifero. Storm, having been raw for over 30 years and has the body and health of a 30 year old?(he's 61.) http://www.thegardendiet.com/
      I do agree that  promising over the top dietary cures and health claims should not be made without proof, but to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak is not a good idea either.  :-)

      • beforewisdom November 27, 2010 at 9:10 am #

        Hi Simone;

        About your reference to "Becoming Raw", to my knowledge that is the only book about raw diets that is based in fact.   Most of the authors have scientifically unvalidated claims and claims that contradict basic biochemistry known for centuries.   The author of "Becoming Raw" does not live off of a completely raw diet herself.   She has enough (justified) caveats about a raw diet in her book that a number of raw foodists feel that the book is a subtle negative endorsement.
         
        In regards to "Simply Raw" and type 2 diabetes,   any healthy diet that helps people lose weight will improve type 2 diabetes.   Raw vegan diets tend to be high in bulk and low in calories.   The results those people got had nothing to do with the temperature at which their food was prepared and everything to do with eating *less* and possibly eating more produce.  IMHO.

        Lastly, many people on all kinds of diets look very good for their age.   I don't think that is so much of a miracle of their particular diets ( though it is a big contribution ) as it has to do with having a healthy diet at all which most do not and avoiding bad habits that prematurely age people's appearance.   Sun exposure,  inadequate exercise, smoking, drinking, etc.
         
         

    • Ginny Messina November 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

      I think what Dustin is saying here–and I agree with it–is that there isn't actually any scientific evidence that raw foods diets are better for anyone than regular vegan diets. So the claim that these diets are somehow superior is probably what he is referring to.

      Brenda's and Vesanto's book gives guidelines for meeting nutrient needs on a raw foods diet, but it really doesn't make the case that going raw has any special merits. And their information is for non-pregnant adults only.

      I agree with Dustin that it doesn't make sense to promote a type of vegan diet that is safe for only one segment of the population; it doesn't really help us in our efforts to make veganism more mainstream. And, any type of vegan diet that adds more restrictions can raise the risk for nutrient deficiencies.

      While there are plenty of books and other media making claims about the health benefits of raw foods, there isn't anything in the actual scientific, peer-reviewed studies.

      • Cherie November 27, 2010 at 9:41 am #

        Yeah, I guess the banana or cacao industry will have to fund that study.  lol  The absence of a peer-reviewed study doesn't infer that a particular choice of diet (and let's not forgot that cooking food is a newer fad than "raw" supposedly is) is not healthy or safe.  I don't find a raw foods lifestyle, or a vegan lifestyle, for that matter, restrictive.  I guess it all depends on what you consider a food option for your body, and I choose the highest nutritional value foods for myself.  I don't really care about enzyme theories, though.

      • Simone November 27, 2010 at 11:23 am #

        Thanks for your replies Ginny and Dustin.  You make very valid points. I do own Becoming Raw, but I have not finished reading it yet.   I think I have read that both of the authors have a diet that is about 70-75% raw..  I did not know that many in the raw community fewed the book as a negative endorsement.
        I do feel some frustration with the "all cooked food is poison" perspective.
        As far as the raw food diet not being safe for all ages, I wonder though.  Jinjee, Storm's wife has given birth to 5 children  I think.  She has chronicled her experience in her blog and in the dvd they made about their life (homelife, doctor visits, etc) as a  raw foodist family.  She's talked about the difference between her "cooked" vegan pregnancies and her raw ones.  Her health was better and her body recovered much more quickly with her later raw pregnancies.  
        It's interesting that you mentioned the lack of scientific literature on the safety of raw foodism.   Wasn't that also the case a few years ago when veganism was being questioned?  Are we now becoming the dietary establishment?    
         I have heard that there may be studies going on now.  So, it will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next few years.
        I do agree that much of the dogmatism and over the top claims that come out of the raw food world should be held suspect.  But, if not for those "crazy" raw foodists, would we have ever known the benefits of sprouts, green smoothies, and those amazing raw desserts?   :-)

        • Cherie November 27, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

          There are more than Jinjee and Storm that have raised raw children.  :)

  76. BalancedEater November 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    Your vitriol towards Tasha is the exact reason vegans are largely ignored and rightfully so. You act self-righteous and all-knowing when your facts are cherry-picked or incomplete.
    As i hold a doctorate in physiology and am actively involved in research I can say her doctor was spot on about how different people are and how some can be much more susceptible to lacking certain things in their diet than others. A perfect analogy would be why anesthesiologists have such high premiums on malpractice insurance… people have dramatically different responses to drugs. Due to differences in CYP450 isoforms, one person might be able to metabolize a large dose of a drug and feel very little effects while another person may not be able to metabolize a much smaller dose and die from it.

    The same can hold true with every other function in the human body including the ability to efficiently digest, absorb, store and excrete vitamins, minerals and nutrients. As a dietitian you surely were taught that a balanced diet including dairy and meat products is the best for the human body. To make any other argument is like someone with a PhD in evolutionary biology cherry-picking parts of their education to support Intelligent Design.

    • Jona November 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

      BalancedEater:
      1. if you have objections to the arguments in the post please be specific. What exactly are you objecting to?
      2. You write that "[a]s a dietitian you surely were taught that a balanced diet including dairy and meat products is the best for the human body." That is a very strange claim indeed! If it was true then you should easily be able to back it up with quotes from up to date academic textbooks from major publishers used to train dietitians. Please do so and post them here. In the meantime, here is a quote from ADA position paper, Vegetarian Diets, Volume 109, Issue 7, Pages 1266-1282 (July 2009)

      "It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."

    • Ginny Messina November 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

      Which facts are cherry-picked or incomplete?

      And what would be the reason for thinking that a diet including meat and dairy is best for the human body? That can't possibly be true of dairy since large segments of the world's population don't consume it. And, other than B12, what is in animal foods that humans need and can't get from plants?

  77. daniel November 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Great post.  Thanks for being a voice of reason.

  78. Silvia November 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Another critical factor Tasha didn't consider is that she frequently takes up "hunger projects" that mimic the impoverished diet that so much of humanity unfortunately endures.
    I suspect that subjecting herself to such nutritional depravation played a role in her undernourishment -not the vegan diet per se-but nowhere in her post does she consider the impact of such experiments/solidarity campaigns. 
    In addition, she also seemed to consume inordinate amounts of vegetable fats/processed products to recreate dairy-based treats. That stuff ain't good for nobody!

  79. beforewisdom November 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    I think everyone deep down feels uncomfortable eating meat.   If someone makes the big move to give it up and then goes back on something that positive they will tend to look like bad to themselves.  I think that is what is behind the publicly meatgasmic ex-vegans railing on vegan diets and vegans.  It is way of avoiding looking at what they gave up on.

  80. beforewisdom November 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    I doubt she is being paid.  Vegans and vegetarians make up less than 1% of the American population.   I think it is more likely that she wanted to eat animal products again and decided to deal with the internal conflict by looking for BS rationalizations which meatards like the Weston Price group provides.

  81. Krissy November 25, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    These ex vegans are crazy.  If you're gonna start eating meat don't pretend its better for the environment. Beyond a doubt meat consumption has a higher carbon footprint.  I can see the lazy protein argument but these people can't deny that if they werent rich westerners they wouldnt have the luxury of buying cheap factory farmed meat or in the best case scenario being part of a milliondollar eco ranch.  A lot of these vegans only did it cause it was trendy and let me guess they have nautical star tattoos.

  82. Paula November 25, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    I have read Tasha's long post and the timing of it is uncanny, as I have been vegan for 3 years and am having difficult health problems which I will try with every fiber of my being to resist letting my doctor(s) tell me it's my vegan diet..   Besides some long standing and painful anatomical problems, which I think are unrelated to my vegan diet, my ESR has been around 100 for the last 3.5 years (before I went vegan) … recent blood test it was highest at 124.  The mysterious thing is that My C-Reactive Protein has always been normal.  The rest of my bloodwork is very good … my iron is a little low.  I am seeing an expensice D.O. internist in Manhattan and  I just have a feeling this gal is going to try to put me on the path of at least eating fish and possibly a gluten-free diet (although I tested negative on that) and she gave me (to keep)  the book "Dangerous Grains" to read saying that if anyone needed to read it it was me.  (I had breast cancer 12 years ago).
    Anyway, sorry to go on and on … Tasha's post got me more upset because I related to her initial non-negotiable stance and angst … I can't imagine putting animal flesh or fluids to my mouth. 
    I do agree with you about her unmitigated zeal to consume animal products being suspicious.  There's not one reference in her thinking to at least acknowledging thanks to the animal (as Native Americans would do) and some sorrow at having its life taken for her.   That's where I would be at in my mind if I were forced to be in her shoes. 
    I think her philosophy is an after-the-fact, real, or perceived, necessity of health.  I think it's a mind-game that she has to play. I just wished that she had not gone back to reducing the animal to nothing.

  83. Susan G. November 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I used to get sick ALL the time through-out my whole life. I'd get colds, and the flu multiple times a year. I can even count how many nights I stayed up vomiting from the stomach flu and the one week I was in and out of the hospital with a terrible stomach virus. Well I've been vegan for a little over a year now and haven't vomited once (aside from once when I was way drunk) I haven't gotten a cold and my mood has become more positive. And I'm not even a super healthy vegan. I eat way too many carbs and way too much oil. But just cutting out that horrible stuff my life has improved greatly. So their stories are unconvincing.

    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple November 27, 2010 at 7:53 am #

      Hopefully the diet works for you.  Hopefully, in 5, 10, or 15 years, you won't wake up with a severe deficiency. 

      • Cherie November 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

        There's a lot of things I hope don't happen.  I hope my cats don't lose their eyesight.  I hope my sister comes to visit me this year.  I hope I find a pair of jeans that fit.  I hope you don't harm animals.

        • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple November 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

          I eat animals, if that's what you mean.  My family (brothers, uncles, not the spouse) hunt them even. I don't eat very many (one of my employees saw me eating beef two weeks ago, and said "you eat beef? I've never seen you eat beef."  After 1+ years of working for me.  To give you an example.
          I have a few friends who were vegan or vegetarian for decades and then got very ill due to dietary deficiencies that supplements could not correct.  It happened to them (all women) around the age of 40 (one a couple years before, and one a couple of years after).
          Just saying, you don't know what's coming down the pipeline.
          Finding jeans that fit?  That's a WHOLE other issue.

          • Cherie November 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

            You don't know what's coming down the pipeline that people can blame on your omnivorous diet, either, was my point.  "Hopefully" this or that – we can't predict the future.  To try to infer that a vegan or vegetarian diet is associated with more risk of problems than an omnivorous diet (cancer, heart disease, and stroke come to mind) is pretty ignorant and arrogant, in my opinion.  It's not like every vegan eats the same way or gets the same amount of rest and sunlight; same as omnivores – they are all different.

          • Monica March 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

            I went vegan 6onths before turning 40. All my life I suffered from frequent (at least once a week) headaches, and after my 3 pregnancies I started suffering from horrible migraines. In 5 years I have had probably less than 10 headaches (and for most of them, I didn't need any meds, they just kind of went away within a few minutes), and ZERO migraines. I also got pregnant at the age of 42 and it was the healthiest pregnancy of my 4: all my levels of iron, b12 etc, were perfect (no special iron supplements added, just my regular nutritious vegan diet and vegan multi) while for instance, with  my first pregnancy, when I was 28 and eating omni, I suffered form mild anemia in my last trimester. I Gave birth at 43 and I am currently doing great, at almost 45. I only wish I could sleep more…
            My point is that I make sure what I eat has nutritional value (almost always… )  and is varied.
            By the way, my hair, even now that is colored, is still  thick and beautiful.  

  84. Rob November 26, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    Is veganism such a fragile way of passing our time on this planet that the defection of a single follower, no matter how vocal they are, is cause for alarm?  Pleeeease!  The sun's shining, it's Friday and life really is worth so much more. Let them be and let it be

    • Ginny Messina November 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      Rob, my real concern is not that one person gave up on a vegan diet, but that her much-circulated story about it contained a whole lot of inaccurate information–some of which had many vegans worried. I think it's worth correcting that information!

  85. Gill Stannard Naturopath November 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    The majority of people in the West who have a B12 deficiency are omnivores.  Due to prescription meds or low stomach acid, the lack of intrinsic factor in their stomach means they can eat meat til the cows literally come home but they cant metabolize the vitamin.  Because they are omnis rather than vegans their doctors often don't think of screening them until they have advanced neurological symptoms and potential long term damage.
    Most vegans and vegetarians in my experience are pro-active with their health, getting regular blood tests and taking supplements.  Their carnivorous friends could learn from this!
    BTW there are many forms of iron that don't constipate or nauseate you, just go to your healthfood store instead of pharmacy. 

  86. Vinny November 27, 2010 at 4:41 am #

    Hey Ginny
    One question. You have actually stated that some people do get sick from a vegan diet..so what do you suggest to these people?? Because I really want to become a vegan but I'm not sure if it I should..

    • Ginny Messina November 28, 2010 at 10:10 am #

      I suggest that these people seek help from a nutrition professional who knows how to plan a well-balanced vegan diet. It's usually just a matter of identifying which deficiencies a person has and then building a diet that will add those nutrients back. I'm going to blog in the next few days about which nutrients vegans need to pay attention to.

  87. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple November 27, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    "Often, your body won’t start to complain until you are well on your way to a serious deficiency. Tasha was apparently deficient in both vitamin B12 and iron. Iron deficiency can be hard to treat especially since prescription doses are often difficult to stomach."
     
    Well, I guess we'll never know, since you weren't her RD.  I wonder at times how some vegans on the web can be so fanatical, when the ones I know in real life aren't necessarily like that.
    But I have two friends who recently returned to eating meat.  One, a nutritionist who was writing a book on veganism, found herself ill at 42, as a result of 20 years of veganism.  (Low on B12 and Vitamin D).  The other, a vegetarian, had iron and B12 deficiences that injections could not fix (though eating 4 oz of free range organic beef a week – did).
    I just LOVE the armchair analysis of other vegans "she wasn't doing it right", "I don't believe she felt so bad", "she must have gotten the idea from a book".  Yeah.  Okay.  You keep believing that.

    • Ginny Messina November 27, 2010 at 8:12 am #

      Well, thank goodness your "nutritionist" friend is no longer writing a book about vegan nutrition! Anyone who returns to an omnivore diet because they are deficient in B12 and vitamin D is probably not too informed about the subject. Most omnivores get their vitamin D the same way that vegans do–from sun exposure and fortified foods. There are very few natural sources of vitamin D in the food supply (cow's milk does not contain vitamin D unless it's fortified). And vitamin B12 deficiency is easily reversed with supplements; it is not a reason to start eating meat. And the person who could cure her iron deficiency with 4 ounces of beef a week?? I don't think so.

      • Cherie November 27, 2010 at 9:46 am #

        I agree, and it's also pretty ignorant to say that she had a B12 or Vitamin D (or whatever) deficiency due to a vegan diet.  No, she had a B12 deficiency (vitamin D, etc.) because she didn't expose herself to sunlight, her intake was low and/or her absorption rate low.  When omnivores don't get enough protein, people don't blame omnivorism; they blame the fact that the person didn't eat a balanced diet or didn't get enough calories.  You can't say that the person wouldn't have made the same choices had they a different dietary label for themselves; and only after KNOWING of the deficiency and behavior modification is it remedied.

      • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple November 27, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        " And vitamin B12 deficiency is easily reversed with supplements;"
        Except when it's not.  Like in my friend Kelly's case.  Supplements. Injections.  Didn't work.  Just saying.  Blood tests and all that.
        And from below (Cherie). "No, she had a B12 deficiency (vitamin D, etc.) because she didn't expose herself to sunlight"
        Sure she didn't.  An hour a day walking outdoors.  Um okay.  Armchair detecting strikes again!!  The vegan had the most balanced and natural diet of any single person I've ever met.  In fact, cooked me the best meal I've ever had to this day.  I still dream about it.  Introduced me to quinoa and started me longing for my very own Vitamix.

        • Ginny Messina November 28, 2010 at 10:17 am #

          Marcia, unless someone is eating several servings of salmon or mackeral every day, or getting adequate sun exposure, they are going to fall short on vitamin D. The reason cow's milk is fortified with vitamin D is because this nutrient is so poorly available in the food supply. Without fortified foods, most people who live in northern climates would be deficient. So vegans and omnivores–with the exceptions of those eating lots of salmon or mackeral–both get their vitamin D from fortified foods or supplements. Vitamin D researchers believe that current RDAs for this nutrient are far too low. If that's the case–and it looks like it is–just about everyone will need supplements or sun exposure to get enough. So a vitamin D deficiency is not a reason to return to eating animal foods.

          Also, as people age, the main cause of B12 deficiency is an inability to absorb it from animal foods. That's why the Institute of Medicine recommends that all people over the age of 50 get their B12 the way we vegans do–from supplements and fortified foods.

  88. Cherie November 27, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    Does anyone remember the story of the "vegan" family who starved their baby?  Well, when we actually found out what they fed the baby, it was soy formula (with I believe vitamin D3 added) and fish oil.  They weren't even vegetarian.  But the "vegan" word sure made headlines.  Stupid people become vegan all the time; stupid people become omnivores as well after being raised vegetarian.  Stupid or uninformed people making certain choices, including veganism or eating a plant-based diet, does not discredit our lifestyle, and certainly doesn't negate the fact that billions of animals do NOT have to be harmed for us to live.

  89. Chris [The Man-Nurse Diaries] November 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    I have a few questions, and seeing as you're a dietitian you seem like a good source to ask. What do you think of the fact that a vegan diet doesn't include sufficient B12? I question how a diet can be natural or normal for human beings if they can't get an essential nutrient from it, and instead have to rely on industrially-produced supplements?
    If the human body requires B12, it was obviously designed by nature with a B12-inclusive diet in mind. Or do we not care about this? Vegans seem unclear on whether veganism is about health or about sociopolitical goals. I would rule out veganism per se as a healthy diet because it can't include B12 unless you have a huge industrial microbiology industry which can mass-produce it, like we do in the US. You couldn't be a healthy vegan without that, right? But I guess if you feel that veganism is only a modern response to modern meat farming, rather than a healthy human diet, then is this a nonissue?
    Do you, as an RD, really think that eating the complete proteins found in meat won't make some people feel better? I mean, eating fish makes me feel better and more energized. I'm not an ex-vegan. I guess you could say it's a placebo fish-gasm, but I think that's kinda stretching.  Are complete proteins bad? I can  imagine some vegans who eat a carb-centric diet would relish the feeling they'd get from eating whole foods.
    I guess I don't get the thrust of your article. You're trying to say that veganism is "still healthy" even though you can moderately eat meat for health reasons; but on the other, you make it sound like no ex-vegan could be an honest ex-vegan leaving for health reasons, and that a normal human diet can't make you feel good.
    I also don't buy at all your claim that she must have had congenital pernicious anemia or that a B12-deprived neurological condition is what led her to abandon veganism. I don't think you're being fair at all there. 

    • Ginny Messina November 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

      I think you may have misread some of my post, Chris. At no point did I suggest that Tasha must have had pernicious anemia; I merely mentioned that as one possible reason why someone taking supplements could get B12 deficiency anemia (and pointed out that it wouldn't be cured by eating meat.) Nor did I suggest ever that she abandoned her vegan diet because of a neurological problem. (Someone else suggested this in a comment to my post, and I disagreed with it.)

      Nor did I say that no ex-vegan could be an honest ex-vegan. I said that this particular story lacked information that would have convinced me that a vegan diet was impossible for this person, and it contained enough misinformation about nutrition to make me realize that she was just getting bad info about a vegan diet.

      And why would I think complete proteins are "bad?" But, since plant foods provide all of the amino acids that are needed by the body and the body also maintains a storage supply of animal acids, the old idea of "complete proteins," isn't really considered important any longer. I'm kind of surprised that, as a health professional and an anti-vegan, you aren't more knowledgeable about protein.

      Everything about the way we process vitamin B12 suggests that we evolved to get by on pretty small amounts. So the B12 issue doesn't make the case for a meat-centric diet at all. It suggests that we probably did eat small amounts of meat as we evolved. But with our knowledge about nutrition now, we realize that all of the B12 in the world is made by bacteria (not manufactured by animals). So we can choose to eat a more compassionate diet with the addition of vitamin B12 supplements.

      • Cherie November 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

        Not to mention that animal feeds are supplemented with B12 as well.  So even if you eat meat, you're getting supplemented B12 secondhand.  B12 isn't magically in the soil of animal feed lots but lacking in soils that are used to grow plant-based food.  :)

        • Jona November 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

          That is a useful comeback Cherie! Do you have some reference with more details on it? I’m curious how much B12 is supplemented animal feed globally in comparison to the amount needed if all humans went vegan. Chances are many, many times more but details would be useful.

          • Cherie November 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

            Just find websites that sell animal feed.  It's right in the ingredients.  :)

            • Jona December 7, 2010 at 10:42 am #

              I did some searches but found no clear references, probably due to bad searching. If anyone in the know has a direct link to details on (non-animal based) B12 being added to animal feed, especially a reference that gives a representative picture of how common that is for the animal feed industry in general, then I’d be thankful.

              • Rhys January 18, 2011 at 2:35 am #

                I don't know what global supplementation provided to animals is but here are some of the B12 products used http://bit.ly/faFeIF to augment animal feed.

      • Ireene September 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

        Kathleen Jannaway wrote in Abundant Living “B12 is only synthesised by certain strains of bacteria and protozoa that live widely in the soil and water, and in the intestines of mammals. In humans the bacteria have moved too far down the intestines, away from the stomach which excretes a so called ‘intrinsic’ factor without which the vitamin cannot be used. (Perhaps this move occurred when frugivorous pre-humans began to eat meat?) Dr Frey Ellis was hopeful that in children, vegan from before birth, the bacteria would re-colonize the higher regions of the intestines.
        … B12 deficiency symptoms are rare in vegans and fairly common in elderly omnivores lacking in intrinsic factor. If intrinsic factor is insufficient injections of B12 have to be given.
        It is not surprising that humans thrive on a vegan diet because it accords with their basically frugivorous physiology, probably changed little since their pre-human ancestors …”

  90. Amy November 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    I'm not so crazy about the ex vegan bloggers. You're right they make people nervous Ginny. But the fact of the matter is that people change their diets all of the time and they don't make so much fanfare or commotion over it. It seems pretty wacky to me.

  91. yseult the fair December 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    Ginny–keep up the good work! As always, I appreciate your calm and reasonable voice and helping me sort the facts from the propaganda.
    And Marcia–just had to chip in–Tasha and people like her can't make public displays of their diets and not have people comment or speculate. Tasha has profited from the vegan community and I believe she owed us more than this exercise in theatrics. Whether she chose to eat meat or stay vegan, I just wish she had used better judgement and not turned to such flakey sources.

  92. Brandon Becker December 7, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    Thanks for writing this post; your science-based perspective is much appreciated.

  93. Kayla December 7, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

     
    I was curious if you would be able to provide some links to the scientific sources you used to come to your conclusions. As a biologist, I’m very interested in reading up on the science you used. I’m sure you must have delved deeply to find these facts. I sent a similar message to Tasha about how she came to her conclusions about the unhealthy nature of a vegan lifestyle. She never responded so I really hope you will.
    As much as we scientists wish, nutrition is not an exact science. The ability of people to absorb nutrients varies wildly between and even within genetically similar populations. I was not able to find any information about how the proteins provided by eggs block B12 absorption. In fact it is typically listed as one of the top 10 sources of it. Perhaps the doctor suggested eggs do to the fact no animals are harmed and can easily be obtained from free-range chickens.
    Additionally I was not able to find information that the body is better able to absorb B12 from non-animal sources. I found the exact opposite actually. They stated that our bodies are not able to properly absorb artificially concentrated nutrients. Even further than that, they said that we are even less likely to absorb artificial B12 from vegan sources. The reason many vitamins and supplements provide 1000% of our daily need is because in some instances we are absorbing barely 10%.
    I do, however, agree that any issues Tasha may have had due to a deficiency would not have been healed in such a short time period. I also agree that she delved too deeply into the meat eating. As an omnivore myself, I do recognize that we consume much more meat than we need to survive. But the fact remains that our bodies are better designed for an omnivore lifestyle and to switch to strictly herbivore is not without issues.
    As much I may have disliked certain segments of Tasha’s post, I think we can both agree that we should be advocating a more local lifestyle. Anyone who is vegan for the environment is being sort sighted if they are importing from across the world. 

    • Ginny Messina December 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks for these comments, Kayla.

      I didn't say that the protein in eggs blocks B12 absorption; I said that it reduces iron absorption. There is quite a bit of research on this dating back to the 1960s. The article by Cook and Monsen in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1976;29:859 is a good place to start. And I mentioned this only because a health professional who is well-versed in nutrition would know about this relationship and wouldn't have recommended eggs to reverse an iron deficiency.

      And, I'd love to know who the "they" are that say B12 is less well-absorbed from vegan sources! Vitamin B12 in animal foods is bound to protein molecules; it needs to be released from the protein before it can be absorbed. Crystalline B12–the type in supplements and fortified foods–isn't attached to protein and therefore, the body goes through fewer steps to absorb it. In aging, the ability to absorb protein-bound B12 is reduced in many people, but there is no effect on B12 from supplements or fortified foods. If you look at the Institute of Medicine's report on the Dietary Reference Intakes that addresses vitamin B12, it states very clearly that protein-bound B12 is less well-absorbed than crystalline B12. The report also includes the recommendation that people over the age of 50 get most of their B12 from either fortified foods or a supplement.

      I don't know of any evidence that our bodies are designed for an omnivore lifestyle. And I can't comment on the environmental aspects of veganism since I don't have any expertise in that area. My main interest is in advocating veganism and helping people plan vegan diets that meet all nutrient needs

  94. Alexandra December 8, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    Ginny, I seem to remember you posting that eggs block B12 absoption as well.  i questioned it in my mind at the time, but didn't post.  Now that Kayla challenged you I re-read the post and see that you have changed your words.  
    You could have just admitted that you made a mistake.  Instead you went the snaeky route of denying it and editing what you wrote.
    Where's the integrity? 

    • Ginny Messina December 8, 2010 at 7:44 am #

      C'mon, Alexandra. Why would I have said that egg protein blocks B12 absorption in the middle of a paragraph addressing iron? Sure–I could have made a typo which is a legitimate mistake. In this case I didn't, though. This is exactly as the sentence appeared when I made this post. In fact, you can take a look at this post (http://letthemeatmeat.com/post/1689774640/the-vegan-rd-virginia-messina-lambastes-bacon-tweets) written on November 26, which references my comment about eggs and iron.

  95. Paul Fernhout December 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Reading through Tasha’s blog post, it sounds like Tasha’s doctor did not test for iodine deficiency? (It’s not mentioned.) That might have caused some of her issues including hair loss? Does anyone know if Tasha ate sea vegetables (which usually contain a lot of iodine)? Could it be her doctor spoke so confidently but missed testing for iodine?

    A health conscious vegan cutting out regular salt (often iodized), as well as animal products (which concentrate iodine you do want along with perhaps some stuff you don’t want like dioxin), and also not eating a variety of whole foods might in some cases be at risk for iodine deficency (especially in some parts of the world like the UK). But that is something that could be easily solved with a supplement. I’ve read that soils low in iodine may be related in part to recent farming practicies, so this need to supplement with iodine isn’t neccessarily an issue about what happened “naturally” thousands of years ago. Just like B12 deficiency is related in part to people eating less dirt with their produce (and so consuming less bacteria that produce it).

    if Tasha’s doctor has been less sure about meat being essential, and had really known more about veganism, maybe she could have helped Tasha work through these nutritional issues rather than convincing her she needed to eat meat? (That said, even gorillas get a few percent of their calories from termites and such; if the whole industrialized world went 95% vegan and the rest was organic, that would be a good thing, and then we could talk seriously about the other 5% of calories and ethics.)

  96. Geth January 5, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    I'm not a vegan and I'm not going to say I'm a vegetarian either. I like to call myself a flexitarian since I eat animal products as home -because of my parents- but when I'm on my own I eat vegan/vegetarian. I'm really just responding to the report of Lierre's and Tasha's reaction to eating meat after not eating it for years. I did go vegetarian for a year -although I failed to have a healthy diet since I was too immature at the time and certainly did not have enough information that emphasised the importance of say iron and and how exactly I was supposed to get that. After a year of not eating meat, my first bite was absolutely disgusting. The funny thing is, is that it was my favourite pre-vegetarian dish. Even after eating meat for a while now I still don't like it. I seriously doubt I'd ever re-aquire my tastes for blood. I can't even stand cow's milk anymore of which thankfully my parents allow me to drink soy milk instead. So really, this is me saying you're right. Their reaction was more psychological than anything.

  97. Amy January 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I was a vegetarian for 9 years and vegan for 4. I was diligent with my diet and ate a good variety of nutritious whole foods, including seaweeds and ferments. I didn't drink alcohol or caffeine, and ate very small amounts of sugar and refined grains (flour, etc) occasionally. I rarely ate any processed food. I love to cook and even taught vegan coking classes.
    Unfortunately, I learned the truth of your statement that "your body won’t start to complain until you are well on your way to a serious deficiency". For a while I just felt tired, but that turned into confused and depressed. Then I had aches that felt like my bones were breaking from the inside. I was cold all the time. I was always short of breath. I didn't have periods. I could go on and on with the symptoms. 
    Turns out I was severely iron deficient and malnourished (happy to forward you a copy of the test results). The hematologist ran part of my blood work twice, because she had never seen such a low ferritin score for someone not in the hospital. She speculated that if I went much longer without treatment and I'd wind up in a coma.
    My dietician and my doctor both made it clear to me that, while supplements would help, I needed to eat some meat and other animal foods to build my blood back up during that time. It took a few months to develop a taste for meat, but once it kicked in, I could eat a pound of cooked ground beef all at once, even though I was taking the rx iron 3x/day. 
    After a few years of the rx iron, red meat, and other changes to my diet, my blood is healthy again. Now I only really crave red meat a few days a month. The feeling is easily satisfied with a couple of ounces of meat now and usually coincides with the onset of my period.
    I don't delight in eating animal flesh and yet I don't regret it, knowing it saved my life and it makes me healthy. I eat as low on the food chain as I can, choosing small portions of animal foods that are cleanly and humanely raised and produced.  I still love and eat tons of vegetables – as Mollie Katzen says, I am -pro-vegetable – but I am certain that an all-vegetable diet is unhealthy for me. 
    I feel sad that most vegans who hear my story choose to find ways to gloss over it or say I am cahoots with some anti-vegan crowd for telling my cautionary tale. No one diet is right for everyone. 

  98. J.Lynn January 30, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    All I can say is….WOW, thank you for this post. 

  99. Brian Ellis February 22, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Chris the man nurse stated: "If the human body requires B12, it was obviously designed by nature with a B12-inclusive diet in mind."

    So now nature designs organisms? Didn't you learn in biology class that evolution is an unguided process. Also, just because something is natural doesn't mean it is ethical. The whole point of veganism is that people can be healthy without imprisoning, exploiting and killing animals – and because of this when we decide to kill animals for food we are partaking in an unnecessary act of violence.

    • Robert February 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      Ethics and human nutrition have nothing to do with one another. As far as human evolution is concerned humans have relied on animal flesh (including insects) as a superior source of calories, fat and protein and B12. That is the only thing that counts in the survival and evolution of a species.  

  100. veganprimate February 27, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Thank you!  I had the Voracious Vegan bookmarked but hadn't read it in a while.  I was surprised to read that she was no longer vegan, and a lot of red flags were raised when I read her paean to eating meat. 
    Doctors notoriously are ill-informed about vegan diets and when they prescribe supplements, they prescribe high-dose supplements.  Why couldn't she have tried an iron pill from the vitamin aisle in the store?  As for her body not absorbing B12, as you said, there are different reasons.  Sometimes low stomach acid will do it. 
    And the fact that she started eating some sort of animal product every day was worrisome.  If she has low iron and B12 that won't respond to supplementation, certainly a small piece of meat a couple times a week ought to do it, not bacon and eggs every day. Bacon?  Bacon has never been a health food, not even among carnivores.  Cured meats are one of the worst things to eat.
    I'm so glad I ran across this blog b/c I can now bookmark it.

  101. Rae February 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    As a former vegan and current vegetarian who believes that people should do what is right for their bodies, I think you are unfairly attacking poor Tasha (outright) in your post and comments. Some of you think she was "self-serving" and "overly dramatic" but are posting lengthy comments about how angry her post made you on another blog. Who is the dramatic one?

    I respect people no matter what they eat. To think that everyone can survive on a vegan diet is not only wrong but ludicrous. Eating vegan is a first world luxury. Give up your preaching, your own "pseudo-science" and don't attack people who change their diets. Let them be.

    • NRG November 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

      Rae-you can believe whatever you want but the evidence supports that a Vegan or vegetarian diet is the safest and healthiest for all humans. Cultures that consume animals destroy themselves and the planets resources along with mercy toward other living beings. So it is not wrong or ludicrous to follow a proper diet-you are what you eat so don’t encourage eating Death but plants can only give Life! After all millions of Hindus and Buddhists cannot be ludicrous in their peaceful lifestyle.

  102. Kimberly-Ann April 19, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Give me a break, people. You're going to let one little ex-Vegan article get you down, so you feel the need to write a huge article lashing out at this poor girl?

    There is NO right answer. What it all comes down to is that Veganism works for some, but it doesn't work for everyone. And that's just the reality of it. Just because she is sick, doesn't mean you will be too…

    Both sides are extreme. She DOVE right back into meat, and you're saying there is NOTHING wrong with Veganism. Why can't there be a happy medium? Why can't we all just… think for ourselves and do what is right for our bodies? Our bodies will tell us if what we are doing is working or not. Veganism isn't bad! But Veganism isn't the golden answer for everything, either!

    Just my two cents.
     

    • Rachel May 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

         " I just know that it had nothing to do with what she had eaten and everything to do with her expectations about what the food would do for her."
         Actually, you dont know that Ginny. Just because you scrutinized what she she wrote down, doesn't make you an expert in her case. You didn't treat her, don't have acces to her medical records, you never spoke one word to her so you have no right to make erroneous, unprofessional statements. .
         "And because those messages are out there, and they are very attractive, I think we’re going to continue seeing stories like this. "  This isn't a message or conspiracy to knock veganism down, they're REAL LIFE accounts of people who tried to live a vegan diet and it only ended up seriously damaging their health. Not bc, they did 'it' wrong or had a secret hidden agenda to sabotage their bodies on the sake of giving veganism a bad name, but bc NOT EVERYONE CAN SUSTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE ON IT SO YOU SHOULDN' BE SO JUDGMENTAL. Just bc you do well on a certain diet, doesn't give you the moral or medical authority to tell someone you've never met what they should be doing. PERIOD.
      "Whether she chose to eat meat or stay vegan, I just wish she had used better judgement and not turned to such flakey sources."   Ummm flaky sources like HER DOCTOR,the person who spent 10 yrs in medical school and not some random asinine commenters like @ yseult the fair    on the net who think they can tell someone what to do?? Being on a vegan diet made her sick-you refuse to accept that-but it's true. She tried everything she could to sustain herself to the point she had to seek medical help. It's condescending attitudes like that that have no place in the world. Tasha chose to do what she thought was the best for her health, she feels miles better, so how much do you know??
      I can totally see the 'cult' aspect to veganism-and I'm a vegetarian!! It's people like you who give veganism a bad name, NOT the ones that tried it and 'failed'.  At the end of the day, there are people that are vegans and feel amazing, there are people that omnivores that feel amazing and there are unhealthy vegans and unhealthy 'SAD' dieters. The achilles heel in your vegan plight is that it isn't the optimal diet  for everyone and you continually refuse to accept that. When you find yet another account of someone that didn't do veganism 'right', you jump down their throats and browbeat them in a desperate attempt at trying to untarnish its 'immaculate' reputation. Guess what? It's not perfect, nothing in life is perfect and there is no one size fits all lifestyle in the almost 7 billion ppl in this world.
         As the saying goes "What is one mans medicine, may be another mans poison". So please show a little respect for people who don't do things exactly 'your' way.

      • Ginny Messina May 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

        Rachel, I don't think I jumped down anyone's throat here. What I did was question whether Tasha really couldn't be healthy on a vegan diet–not because I know everything about what she ate or what her medical status was, but because many of the things she said regarding nutrition and health, as well as some of the advice her doctors gave her was simply not in sync with actual nutrition science. This is not about questioning people who don't do it my way–it's about questioning conclusions about vegan diet that are based on erroneous and assumptions about nutrition. I would never say that it's impossible for someone to not do well on a vegan diet. All I said was that this particular situation didn't convince me that Tasha couldn't have done well as a vegan. There's a big difference.

        • Jesse January 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

          I can accept that a strict vegan diet may not work for everyone. Its also important to note, that if you cannot thrive on a vegan diet that does’t mean you should jump into eating factory farmed bacon, or any meat all.

          The things that you may not be able to derive from a vegan diet can be obtained from organic dairy or fish from a sustainable supplier.

          Like you say Ginny, theres so much disinfo from anti-vegans and pro-vegans alike. Being extreme in your beliefs to the point of ignoring facts is never a healthy state of mind.

  103. Jenny May 17, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Some very interesting posts here.
    Here's my two pennyworth !   I'm 61 and vegan, and have been for I'd say 20 years and vegetarian prior to that !  I grew up instinctively loathing everything about meat but was forced to eat it (or try) because it was thought that you couldnt live without haem iron.
    During teens and young adulthood I was always getting sick and had very low iron and B12 levels and this was whilst eating meat and dairy.
    Gradually, I became a compassionate vegetarian and then when the light went on in my head, later became a vegan.  Tests done in my 40's and 50's whilst on a fairly healthy diet and being vegan showed my iron levels good and B12 not worryingly low.  I have good energy and look younger than my years and do not take supplements other than vitamin D. I have an underactive thyroid which means I feel cold and can get tired when overly busy but all of this is a hereditary problem.  I feel that I am extraordinarily healthy for my age and whilst I cannot obviously categorically state this is because I dont/cant/wont eat meat or dairy, neither could anyone prove that I would have been as healthy or healthier than I am, had I been a carnivore all of my life.
    The point for me is that really I simply cannot have any part of the cruel abuse of animals in farming and whatever happens to me  after making that decision is just something I have to deal with. For me it is absolutely the right way to live and I would urge anyone with the same concerns  not to be afraid of stoppping eating the bodies of animals. I wouldnt ever try to persuade anyone else however, because it has to come from each individuals own conscience and someone else's opinion is valueless here.
    If veganism was wrong, basically I'd be dead by now !  Consider…………

  104. Sarita January 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    I’m not sure how you can make it through Tasha’s novel of a post and say that she hadn’t spent enormous amounts of time and energy researching her decision to go back to an omnivorous diet.

    • Mary@FitandFed April 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      It definitely is quite the meme right now, the ‘sick vegetarian goes paleo and feels great!’ story. I’m sure that the cutting out of sugar and refined grains has benefits for a lot of people, as it does in Atkins. Which doesn’t make Atkins or any other overly meat-based diet like the current wave of paleo a healthy diet overall. Actual Paleolithic peoples, at least the non-arctic ones, ate plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as meat. The meat they had, wild game, was very lean compared to any meat you could buy in a grocery store.

  105. Diogenes May 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    Does anyone ever think that we are all different and not everyone can lead a healthy life on a vegan or paleo or raw diet? Everyone has different body chemistry. What works for some does not work for others. I don’t agree with Tasha that we should all be eating meat, but vegans also need to back off. When I was vegan, I felt horrible mentally and emotionally. My IBS flared and I excruciatingly painful periods. I ate dark leafy greens, nuts, and took supplements, but nothing helped until I started eating meat again. My mother, on the other hand, did exceedingly well being vegan. She felt better and looked younger. What does this tell me? Everyone is not the same. I do not agree with Tasha that we should all eat meat and dairy, because not everyone can lead a healthy omnivorous lifestyle. The same goes for being vegan. I would like to be more environmentally friendly and animal friendly, but I am not going be ill for the rest of my life over it.

  106. Doug Spoonwod June 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    “The lipid hypothesis is the theory that saturated fat raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.”

    This isn’t correct. The lipid hypothesis of atherosclerosis says that high blood cholesterol levels contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. See here and Steinberg’s _The Cholesterol Wars_: http://www.jlr.org/content/45/9/1583.full.pdf+html That saturated fat intake raises heart disease risk consists of a “diet-heart” idea which relies upon the lipid hypothesis, and that saturated fat can and often does raise blood cholesterol levels. Trans-fats can also do so, as can sources of refined carbohyrdates, as can concentrated sources of sugar, as can dietary cholesterol in certain situations.

  107. Colleen June 11, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Hi, I know this is old but I’d thought i would reply as a former vegetarian. Its totally natural for someone to dive into a total obsession with meat when they revert, I did. The love affair is temporary..i was obsessed with bacon for weeks. But i don’t agree with much of your post, I am someone who has nutritional deficiencies who doesn’t do well on a vegan diet. We exist and its heartbreaking. Going through anemia and B-12 deficiency is awful. I was confused, tired, and had severe muscle pain. I did improve after eating meat, because supplements are not an alternative to real food, they are an addition. Kudos to people who thrive on vegan diets, but for those of us who choose alternative diets, its not because we are misinformed, or just no ‘doing it right’ or we have pro-meat doctors or nutritionists. All my vegan friends tried to tell me i was doing it wrong or not trying hard enough. I decided enough is enough and i wanted to eat real, healthy, local food. For every healthy vegan out there, there are multiple ones who aren’t. If a diet is that hard to maintain, maybe its not a good diet for everyone out there. Vegans cannot seem to respect this though. I eat small amounts of meat, lots of vegetables and legumes, and smalls amounts of soy. All of my food is real, not processed like most vegan substitutes out there. Ethical eating is not restricted to vegans. I am much happier and healthier now, and none of my food contains ingredients I can’t pronounce, like most of my old vegan meat substitutes that were shipped halfway around the world for me to feel superior to others about. It is rather hypocritical to rail against all the misinformation about the “pro-meat” world out there and just shut down all arguments as being un-informed or not chewing vitamins properly. You’ve got to be kidding.

  108. Nora November 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    This is a prime example of why consumers should not turn to doctors or NUTRITIONISTS, but a registered dietitian. RDs dedicate 4 years of undergraduate studies, a year long internship and pass a national exam to become a credentialed expert in the field. Doctors have 3 weeks of nutrition classes, and the term nutritionist is not regulated- in fact, many “programs” are nothing but dvds or an online self study course. I am a registered dietitian myself and I have been a vegan for 7 years. The only nutrition deficiency I have ever had was vitamin D, not uncommon for a white female living in the northern US. I really wish Tasha had consulted with a dietitian who would have provided her with factual information and guidance. Ginny, you hit on every point perfectly in your article. I could not have said it better myself.

  109. Nora November 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Also..did Tasha ever research potential underlying issues? I had weakness, a lack of energy, terrible bloating and stomach pain..come to find out, I have celiac disease. Which can cause nutrition deficiencies as well. Things are not always cut and dry. I am vegan and wheat free and I feel amazing.

  110. Emm December 8, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    Tasha’s posts neglect to mention that she has been a LIFELONG anorexic. This in itself causes very serious health problems, so I am sure that anorexia rather than veganism contributed to her serious health problems. Call it what it is , please!

  111. tim williams February 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Hi,
    I’ve read no ex-vegan stuff, most of my friends are vegan or vegetarian and I have had no cause to think my nearly vegan diet would be nothing but healthy for me.
    Symptoms lead me to understand I am suffering from B-12 deficiency and possibly pernicious anemia.
    A friend suggested your site for info – so I entered “pernicious anemia” into the search engine and this article is what came up.
    I was looking for some positive solutions to the problem of a required vitamin that does not naturally occur in vegetables and instead got a rant about anti-vegans.
    I think a good, honest assesment of the B-12 risk and some warnings to take good supplements would be a more appropriate search result.
    This is a serious condition and people should all know the risk and know what to do to avoid it. It may be too late for me (not that I’ll start eating meat now) but not for others and it can be easily avoided.
    I onece asked myself; “if I didn’t have to kill anything to survive, why would I?” the only answer for me was to stop killing things – I intend to maintain that philosophy – I hope that if others are better informed it will be less challenging for them to do likewise.
    Love and peace,
    tim

    • Ginny Messina February 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      Tim, pernicious anemia is not the result of inadequate B12 intake. And if you search this blog for vitamin B12 you’ll find many posts that provide guidance for meeting B12 needs on a vegan diet.

      • tim williams February 5, 2013 at 9:33 am #

        Thank you Ginny, you are quite right.
        And the potential damage of inadequate intake can cause the same tragic results as the disease. Though prevention and restore is much simpler if it is a mere deficiency.
        I was struck that after four years in a mostly vegetarian community that this one major concern, that will likely not be addressed by a vegan diet, was not front and center. I only learned of it through experiencing it.
        A sort of warning label seems appropriate but I sense that any shortcoming of a philosophical belief or political position tends to lessen the desire for full disclosure.
        Just as these ex-vegans cherry pick and fail to acknowledge the fallacies of their position.
        I appreciate that the site takes the initiative to have B12 info available and that the author at least considers that there are variables to each individual’s metabolic responses.

  112. Karen February 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Can you think of any way to stop people from leaving veganism even though they have cravings and cravings mean your body must really need a certain food(aka they like the taste of meat and just really want to eat it again) The lastest disappointing example http://alexandrajamieson.com/im-not-vegan-anymore/

  113. Lauren March 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    I just want to know why you think, if humans are meant to eat a vegan diet, why they would need supplements to survive? Supplements which WOULD NOT exist without an industrial society to manufacture them for you? This is just crazy.

    • Ginny Messina March 6, 2013 at 8:15 am #

      No, it’s not crazy. Many people–including omnivores–need vitamin D supplements. And a large percentage of people of people over the age of 50–again including omnivores–need B12 supplements. I guess that means that we’re not supposed to survive past the age of 50!

  114. Cavechic March 24, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    The medical community is making too much money off bogus RX for cholesterol to admit to its health benefits. Cholesterol is a healing hormone. The reason why it builds up in people’s arteries is because they are being damaged by grains and sugar. The cholesterol rushes in to heal the artery which causes the build up of plaque.
    If an organization makes money off keeping people sick and on medications, why would they tell a truth that could leave them broke? WAPF does not make money off keeping people sick the way the medical community does. (America’s, ‘healthcare’ system is the 5th largest economy in the world!) The WAPF has nothing to lose by telling the truth.

  115. Susanne June 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    I will mention that, it is true some people need the meat, as I found out the hard way. I 100% agree with her turning into a meat lover after being a vegan is kinda crazy. First time I had meat again was the worst experience, it stayed pretty terrible for a long long long time, and substituting that little that i needed a day is all i can still process. But if a person can be a vegan and get everything they needed thats an amazing feat! Every body is created different. Some people can’t live without meat, most people can!

  116. Kristl June 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Hi,
    I recently stumbled upon your website and have been enjoying reading it. I have a question about this particular thread/article; at one point you say that the protein in eggs inhibits iron absorption but later you say that the protein in meat boosts iron absorption. I don’t want to sound stupid, but is there a difference in the protein in eggs as opposed to that in meat?

    I am vegan by the way, and I get a lot out of your website. Thank you for your time and for what you do for the animals.

  117. Kristl June 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Also, I wanted to say that I have never heard anyone claim that a vegan diet is a first world luxury, as someone said above. I was under the impression that meat is more of a luxury than vegetables, fruits, and grains; hence, it is generally the most affluent countries that eat the most animal products.

  118. Jadie June 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    Thank you for this thoughtful and reasoned exploration of the extreme obsession with meat and the ferocious defensiveness of meat consumption that outspoken ex-vegans like Tasha so universally demonstrate. I have yet to see a case where all the veracious, desperate explanations don’t really just boil down to a simple “but I waaaaaannnnttt it!” rationale, and the and accompanying tantrums take the form of attacking people who have the maturity and self-discipline to follow their principles over their taste-buds, and desperately seeking to justify their behavior in every possible way they can, regardless of science, fact or reality.

    First of all the number of people who came to veganism purely for health reasons and found that their health was vastly imrpoved (and in many cases, that veganism literally saved their lives) is infinitely greater than the small number of vegans who claim that veganism made them ill and start ravenously stuffing their face full of as many dead carcasses as they can possibly get their hands on. Secondly, there is not a single “illness” that these ex-vegans complain of that isn’t MORE common in carnists than it is in vegans. “I was tired and anemic.” Well guess what… billions of carnists are anemic and tired. Even vitamin B12 deficiency is extremely common among carnists… because even though meat is covered in bacteria, the human body has difficulty absorbing animal sourced B12. Saying that the reason for an illness is a lack of meat is simply illogical and uneducated.

    Cases like Tasha’s do make perfect sense from a psychological perspective, though. If your private need and longing overwhelms you to the point of desperation, you can pretty much choose to make yourself believe whatever you want. The human ability to reason is improperly used to justify bad behavior equally as often as it is properly used to make rational, sound decisions. Of course, most people are able to master basic self-control and moral reasoning by the time they reach adulthood, but many do still struggle. This is why people get arrested for lewd and lascivious acts in public, for example… their desire for a moment of sexual gratification simply overwhelms their understanding of the potential consequences (ending up in jail). Similarly, some people may become so desperate for the taste of flesh that they were conditioned to enjoy early in life, that their desire for a moment of gustatory pleasure will overwhelm their understanding of the harm the harm it will to them, to others, to animals, and to the environment. I we should at least be glad that these people weren’t raised in cannibalistic cultures. And of course, when a generally reasonable person decides to abandon all they know about morality, science and reason for a frivolous and purely selfish desire, they have to work extra hard to convince themselves and others that there is some reasonable explanation for their behavior.

    The need for the support and reassurance of others is a fundamental human need – and tends to be all that much stronger in people making decisions they ultimately know are wrong. So it is simply a natural tendency for people like Tasha to rush headlong into seeking the any approval and congratulations they can obtain, and carnists with an agenda are only all too happy to lavish praise and attention in order to use people like Tasha to promote their cause.

    But in terms of embracing the consumption of rotting flesh to the extreme degree that these people demonstrate, it’s pretty much a requirement. Most of those who abandon veganism were heavily focused on veganism as a diet, and never really explored the larger issues involved in any real depth. However, just by virtue of being exposed, they usually have at least some vague understanding of how veganism helps to alleviate not only problems or morality, animal suffering, and human health, but some of the greatest humanitarian concerns of our time as well, such as world hunger, pollution, economic injustice and global warming. In order to ignore and abandon this vague knowledge for reasons of personal selfishness, all that is required is making a greater effort to earn about carnistics arguments than you ever did the rationales for veganism. Then of course you just have to cling to these justifications and strongly as possible, demonize all the people were able to live by their principles, and of course, avoid learning about anything that might counter your newly adopted world-view.

    This also explains why people like Tasha so easily fall into completely fallacious arguments, such as “vegans kill animals too! Field mice are killed my plows!” These silly, childish arguments completely ignore basic reason and well-established facts. For example, the fact that carnists consume up to 20 times more grains and cereals than vegans, because the animals they eat are fed far more grain themselves – just to produce a few ounces of meat – than any vegan could ever possibly consume. In fact, over 70-80% of all edible grains and cereals produced worldwide are fed to cattle and other animals being grown for meat, even while people continue to starve. So if you want to save field mice from plows, and plants from harvest necessarily, then you should obviously be vegan.

    Basically, the extent to which some of these ex-vegans so obsessively and fully embrace and promote carnism reflects the extent of the effort they must make to convince themselves and everyone around them forsaking morals for a fleeting moment of pleasure is not only justifiable, but necessary. It’s the same “three n’s of justification” that Dr. Melanie Joy talks about, and that have been used to support oppressive, immoral ideologies from slavery and male dominance to heterosexual supremacy and carnism. And since the mythology of meat being “normal, natural and necessary” is deeply embedded in the dominant culture, it’s easily convince oneself of the validity of carnism if you are highly motivated to do so for personal pleasure anyway.

    And of course there are also people like Alexandra Jamieson who argue that their cravings for meat obviously meant that their body “needed” meat… completely ignoring the fact that most of the things people strongly crave are decidedly unhealthy… junk food, processed foods, illicit drugs, cigarettes, beer, sugary drinks, fatty foods, candy, etc. Conversely, we all know that broccoli and kale are exceptionally healthy… but few of us ever crave those foods even when we are deficient in the vitamins and minerals they provide.

    I know it’s really easy and convenient to buy into the “meat is natural, normal and necessary” myth, but in these cases it just doesn’t add up. It’s also really unfortunate that the ex-vegans in question put such an enormous amount of effort into justifying their carnism, and much less into learning about health and nutrition.

  119. SunFlower March 23, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    I know this post is a little old, but I thought I would put in my two sense as a person who was vegan for nearly 4 years and had to re-evaluate my diet. Please forgive the lengthy post:

    When I first became a vegan, I did it for health reasons (don’t get me wrong, I love animals, but health was the driving factor). I was depressed and suffering from severe acne and I felt that going vegan would be a great way to clean up my diet. Green smoothies, tons of veggies and fruits and I was high as a kite! I felt AMAZING! I started going mostly raw for a few months, but this is when my acne was at it’s worst. Looking back, I believe this was from all the fruit I was eating, which was aggravating an inflammatory response that I was having with my skin. I was also having major digestive issues from the raw greens and such.

    Fast-forward, ditched the raw for just a vegan diet, felt a lot better, skin calmed down, although still slightly inflamed. I was a very conscious eater, I got most of veggies from a local organic co-op. Lots of sprouted quinoa and beans, fermented tempeh..etc.

    The picture I am trying to paint is that I was not a pasta, potato chip eating vegan. I did my research on nutrition and ate VERY well.

    Fast-forward almost 3 years later, it was winter and my lymph nodes became swollen for almost 6 months straight and I was getting a sore throat every few weeks. Digestive issues became to creep up so I tried taking the sprouted grains out of my diet.

    Then it hit….IBS. I didn’t know that much about IBS accept you were in the bathroom a lot. When the symptoms started, I was very sick. Extreme fatigue, even after sleeping for 11 – 12 hours a night. I was literally eating a meal and it was coming out of me less than 3 hours later. I would not wish this on my greatest enemy. I started to bleed from the bowels and that is when I seriously thought this was the beginning of the end for me. (which is very scary at 27 years old).

    I had to make a decision, which was difficult, but the idea ringing in my head was: if this was the healthiest diet, how could I have gotten so sick? This was not a stomach flu or a cold, I was sick and it was a deep sickness, something that took a long time to manifest.

    So I started with homemade chicken soup. I made the decision if it didn’t help me in a month, I would go back to veg only. I had this soup a few times a week. I started to feel better with my digestion. I moved on to fish, then beef over the next few months. IBS symptoms went away. A few more months and swollen lymph nodes went away. Honestly, I have not looked back after switching to a non-vegan diet.

    I still eat tons of veggies and I eat only grass-fed, free-ranged organic meat and eggs, but I feel so much better and much more resilient.

    I know many people thrive on vegan diets and many thrive on non-vegan diets. I just don’t agree when either side makes it seem like their diet choice is healthy for everyone and anyone. Yes, the vegan diet made me feel great at first, but long term, it really damaged my health. I have seen others that went through the same thing. Do not demonize them and nit-pick their stories, just like they should not nit-pick yours.

    Some people have thrived on a vegan diet and others have gotten very sick. Keep that in mind before stating that the vegan diet is the healthiest diet. Yes, for some, but not for all.

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