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Pinto Beans or Tofurky? How Food Choices and Motivations Affect Vegan Health

Pinto Beans or Tofurky? How Food Choices and Motivations Affect Vegan Health

Vegan BurgerWhen it comes to vegan diets and health, a couple of misconceptions often pop up on blogs and in social media. One is that whole-food plant-based people are healthier than plain old vegans. Related to that is the belief that vegans motivated by ethics choose less healthy diets than those motivated by health.

Is it true? Do ethical vegans care more about animals than their own health? Research—or in some cases, the lack of research—casts some doubt on this.

Obviously, you can be vegan and still eat a pretty junky diet. There is the accidently vegan food as well as junk food developed just for vegans who like a treat. It’s not all that hard to eat a compassionate diet that is hyper-palatable, fun, and ... Read More >

Introducing Nutrition Primers from The Vegan RD

Introducing Nutrition Primers from The Vegan RD

vegan nutrition primersMany of the questions that come to me via email, this blog and through social media are ones that I’ve answered somewhere at one time or another—in my books, in blog posts or in other articles online.

Sometimes the information that people need is spread out across several resources, though, and I thought it might be helpful to consolidate it all into one place with a series of nutrition primers. My goal is to share information in response to the most frequent questions I receive, and to do so as concisely as possible, while still covering everything you need to know. So, it’s less information that you’ll find in my books, but more than what you might find in blog posts.

The first one is ... Read More >

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines: What Will They Mean for Vegans?

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines: What Will They Mean for Vegans?
Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary

Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary

For those who advocate for animals, the report from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is a bit of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, the report makes a clear recommendation for Americans to eat less meat and, in fact, to eat less animal food in general. The committee says that “a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal based foods is more health promoting.” They specifically name vegetarianism as one of three healthy dietary patterns.

While the committee has shifted recommendations away from outdated ideas about limiting total fat, they have re-confirmed that Americans should continue to cut back on saturated fat—the type found most ... Read More >

The Vegan Feminist Agitator interviews The Vegan RD!

The Vegan Feminist Agitator interviews The Vegan RD!

10Q-ginnymessinaMarla Rose’s Vegan Feminist Agitator blog—which is part of the excellent Vegan Street website– is one of my favorites.

Marla is such a brilliant writer and thinker and I was honored to be interviewed last week as part of her Vegan Rockstar series. Please take a peek at the interview which includes my thoughts on activism, why I think all vegans should feed stray cats, and how I (try to) manage stress.

... Read More >

Finding the Best Vegan Vitamin B12 Supplement

Finding the Best Vegan Vitamin B12 Supplement

vitamin B12As you might imagine, I get into a lot of discussions about vitamin B12 on facebook and twitter, and also via email. Vegans have many good questions about this nutrient. And sometimes some not-so-good opinions about it.

This past year I found myself chatting with the editor of a vegan publication who insisted that my perspective on B12 supplements was outdated. She was convinced that supplements were unnecessary and knew this because of what she had learned on a holistic health cruise.

Okay, well I’ve never been on a holistic health cruise. And I have no doubt that some are better than others. It’s just that, when it comes to vacations, I lean more toward Yellowstone National Park or maybe poking around antique stores along ... Read More >

Why Do Some People Fail at Being Vegan?

Why Do Some People Fail at Being Vegan?
Photo courtesy of Humane Research Council

Photo courtesy of Humane Research Council

It’s no secret that many people give veganism a try only to quickly abandon it. But the findings from last month’s Humane Research Council survey were especially sobering.

According to their study, a cross-sectional survey of 11,400 U.S. adults, nearly three-quarters—70% to be exact—of those who have tried a vegan diet end up abandoning it. The numbers are even higher for vegetarians. Alarmingly, the survey found that there were five times more ex-vegetarians/vegans than current vegetarians/vegans.

Now this is a single study that has not yet been peer-reviewed. As such, it’s not the final word on ex-vegetarianism. Also–and I think this is important–the survey did not ask people if they had gone vegan or vegetarian for weight control. Those ... Read More >

Going Vegan for the New Year: Easy Steps to Get You Started

Going Vegan for the New Year: Easy Steps to Get You Started

Little pigIt’s New Year’s resolution time and maybe you or someone you know is resolving to adopt a vegan diet. But how do you do it so that the change will stick? It’s a big deal, after all, that encompasses a whole bunch of new habits.

And you have to know a few things beforehand, including some nutrition basics.

A recent study by the Humane Research Council found that those who transition to veganism more slowly have a better long-term success rate. That’s not surprising to me. Dietitians know that it can be easier to maintain and build on small-step changes than to dive into a complete overhaul of your diet.

The concern about a more gradual approach is that people will make a few changes ... Read More >

Vegan Diets, Cancer and Disease Shaming

Vegan Diets, Cancer and Disease Shaming
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Findings from the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund

My husband and I are big Costco fans. We love to nose around to see if they are carrying any new vegan products, argue over the wisdom of buying a 50-pound bag of sweet potatoes, and endlessly discuss whether we should purchase a home surveillance system so we can spy on our cats when we’re traveling.

One fun thing we don’t get to do is try all the freebie samples that the nice ladies in their plastic caps hand out. Once in a while we’ll score some chips and guacamole or—far less exciting—a slice of Anjou pear. But for the most part the offerings aren’t vegan. On the plus side, it saves ... Read More >

Dietitian Perspectives on Protein, Calcium and Vegan Bone Health

Dietitian Perspectives on Protein, Calcium and Vegan Bone Health

Note: this article is co-authored by Jack Norris, RD and Ginny Messina, MPH, RD and appears on Jack’s blog as well as this one.

kale2Vegans typically have lower calcium intakes than other vegetarians and meat-eaters. But just how much does this matter?

The popular thinking has long been that it doesn’t matter much at all. According to the acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis, vegans experience smaller calcium losses since we don’t eat animal protein. The theory is that calcium is “leached” from bones to counter acidic conditions caused by animal protein.

It’s supported by studies that find higher levels of both calcium and acidic compounds in the urine when people are fed big doses of animal protein (1). This is also supposedly why hip fracture ... Read More >

Vegan Diets, Sperm Concentrations and Fertility: Why There is No Need to Worry

Vegan Diets, Sperm Concentrations and Fertility: Why There is No Need to Worry

Father with newborn babyThe internet loves a good story on alleged health hazards of vegan diets. This week, it’s all about how vegan and vegetarian men have low sperm concentrations. The alarming research is from Loma Linda University, and it was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine(1).

Should you be concerned about the fact that the vegetarians and vegans in this study had sperm concentrations that were lower than those of the meat-eaters? I don’t think so for a number of reasons.

First, this research has not been published, and it may not yet have gone through any type of peer review. And the abstract is short on details that will be important in that review. Like whether or not the authors ... Read More >

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