Vegan Diets Are Safe for Children

Vegan Diets Are Safe for Children

preschooler eating pastaLast week, the Wall Street Journal reported about a preschool in Jersey City, NJ that offers only vegan food. The article kind of made me cringe. It made veganism look like a somewhat nutty, somewhat elitist diet that denies kids cupcakes at birthday parties.

But at the very least, it didn’t question the safety of vegan diets. An article in Slate magazine did question it, though. Science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer said that she “couldn’t help but wonder: Can kids actually get the nutrients they need on a vegan diet?”

One way to find out would be to ask actual experts on vegan nutrition. For example, Ms. Moyer could have called Dr. Reed Mangels, who has a PhD in nutrition, teaches at the University of ... Read More >

Vegan Diets are Dangerous? Here is What the Research Really Says

Vegan Diets are Dangerous? Here is What the Research Really Says

Messina Plant PlateDoctors at the Cleveland Clinic suggest that vegans should know something about diet planning in order to make sure they are meeting nutrient needs.

Their conclusions were published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The paper doesn’t say anything that is particularly alarming, and, with a few exceptions, there isn’t much in it that I would take issue with.

But the Cleveland Clinic press-released the findings, giving the media a chance to scaremonger about vegan diets—and you know how much they like to do that.

As is often the case, headlines didn’t exactly reflect what is in the paper. For one thing, it wasn’t a “study.” It’s a very short review, which means that it is a discussion of already-published research and doesn’t ... Read More >

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 >

Vegan Diets and Heart Health

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) publishes—in addition to their peer-reviewed journal—a glossy bi-monthly magazine with short articles on food and nutrition topics. It’s a nice magazine (although needless to say, the content doesn’t always make me very happy.)

The latest issue is devoted to vegan diets. I was invited to write an 800-word article on vegan diets and heart health for the magazine’s website, which you can read here. Unfortunately, they omitted the references I included with the article (it’s for dietitians, after all) so I’ll list them at the end of this post for those who are interested.

You can also read an article on the website that actually links to Vegan Outreach. I love this since you don’t find too many ... Read More >

Notes from the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition

I spent 3 days at the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition this past week in Loma Linda, CA. Held every five years or so, the event is hosted by the School of Public Health of Loma Linda University and is considered the premiere conference on plant-based nutrition. It brings experts and researchers together from all over the world and its proceedings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the most prestigious of all nutrition journals. I was honored this year (and a bit terrified, since I felt very much out of my league) to be a speaker.

Material presented at the conference included reviews of earlier research as well as new findings from the most current studies. Even where the information was ... Read More >

Ten Tips for Staying Happy and Healthy on a Vegan Diet

Ten Tips for Staying Happy and Healthy on a Vegan Diet

There is a long list of reasons why people fail on a vegan diet and return to the world of cheese sandwiches and fish fillets. They might have developed overt deficiencies or vague symptoms of poor health. Some ex-vegans say that they experienced depression or foggy thinking or fatigue without animal foods. Others struggled with challenging social situations or with cravings for animal foods.

The following ideas for staying happy and healthy on a vegan diet are all things I’ve written about before, but I wanted to condense them into a sort of checklist for those who are struggling to stay vegan. It may not cover everything (let me know if there are things you think I should add) but I think it addresses the ... Read More >

When Vegans Get Cancer

The only thing that can make me forgive Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees for going over to the dark side (disco) in the late 1970s is the fact that he was a vegan—an “ardent vegan” no less, according to Wikipedia.

Gibb, who was only 62, died last week of colon cancer. It’s unfair when anyone dies of cancer at such a relatively young age, but especially so when they are doing all of the right things—Gibb didn’t drink alcohol either—that should protect against this disease.

I’ve lost three friends to colon cancer. Two were vegetarians who died in their early 50s, and one was a vegan who died in his early 40s. It definitely feels a little surprising when vegans die from this disease, ... Read More >

Vegan Diets, Critical Thinking, and 9 Blogs You Need to Read

I had the great pleasure of speaking to the members of the Vegan Chicago Meetup  last week. In addition to being warm and welcoming, this is another group on my list of organizations that aim to promote an evidence-based approach to vegan advocacy. Before my talk on the Seven Habits of Healthy Vegans, event organizer Dave Sutherland introduced the group’s Vegan Chicago Baloney Detection kit—a guide to critical thinking for vegans, which is based on material from Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World.

Detecting baloney is no easy thing. Resources on veganism are packed with good and not-so-good information, and how are you supposed to know the difference? (It can even be difficult for health experts. If the critical evaluation of research isn’t part of your ... Read More >

Fat in Vegan Diets and Tips for Optimal Nutrition

In case you missed it, Jack had a good post last week about fat in vegan diets.

And if you’re looking to maximize nutrient intake with attention to just a few details, take a look at my post on the 7 Habits of Healthy Vegans on One Green Planet. (This is a very condensed version of a talk I’m giving in Chicago next week. Hope you can be there if you live in the area!)

... Read More >

Vegan Nutrition: Sometimes the Devil Really is in the Details

Dietitian Elisa Rodriguez published a great interview with Jack Norris on One Green Planet last week. In talking about our book Vegan for Life, Jack noted that there are benefits to a “holistic” view of nutrition, but that his biggest contribution has most likely been in helping vegans understand that “micronutrients matter.” That’s because “being deficient in vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, omega-3s, iron, or zinc results in real consequences.”

It’s tempting to think that eating a variety of whole plant foods—the big picture or holistic approach—without attention to detail, is good enough for meeting nutrient needs. But that’s an approach based on philosophy, and there is no empirical evidence to back it up. And nutrition isn’t a philosophy; it’s a science. Which means ... Read More >

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