Taking Responsibility for the Health of Vegan Children

Taking Responsibility for the Health of Vegan Children

peanut butter on toast for kidsNo doubt you’ve heard about the legislator in Italy who is proposing to make it illegal to raise kids as vegans. Italian lawmaker Elvira Savino wants to see jail sentences of up to seven years for parents who feed their children only plant foods.

The proposed bill describes veganism as “a diet devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth,” It’s ludicrous. Given what we know about nutrient needs, there is no reason to think that children of well-informed vegan parents are at risk for poor health. It is not especially difficult to create a diet that will ensure adequate nutrition for vegan children.

But, as I’ve said on this website many times, you do need to know a little something about meeting nutrient ... 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 >

New Vegan Nutrition Primer on Iron

New Vegan Nutrition Primer on Iron

lentil soupIron deficiency anemia is a serious and common public health problem for people eating all different kinds of diets. While vegans don’t seem to develop anemia any more often than people who eat meat, we do have higher iron needs. It’s hard to know just how much higher those needs are for individual vegans, though, since requirements depend on a number of other factors—including how much iron you have stored in your body and what the rest of your diet looks like.

You probably already are eating a diet rich in this mineral, but the key is to make sure you absorb as much of it as possible. My newest vegan nutrition primer on iron provides guidelines for meeting iron needs and improving its absorption ... Read More >

7 Reasons to Eat Meat? Here Is Why They Are All Wrong

In some ways, it’s good news when someone writes another article about “why we should eat meat.” The arguments are so weak that it just reinforces the truth: meat eating can’t be defended.

The most recent of these pieces lists seven reasons why writer Christina Sterbenz “refuses” to stop eating meat. So, let’s look at them.

1. Meat has heme iron which is more easily absorbed.

Vegetarians do have lower stores of iron—which may be to our advantage—but the evidence suggests that meat eaters are just as likely to develop outright deficiency.  And, the fact that iron in plant foods is sensitive to both enhancers and inhibitors of absorption is no doubt a good thing since iron may be bad for us ... Read More >

Iron Nutrition: Why the Rules are Different for Vegans

One of my vegan cooking gurus, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, recently posted directions for producing perfectly browned tofu. She advises making it in a well-seasoned cast iron pan. I don’t have a cast iron pan, but am thinking about getting one. I eat tofu every single day, and love when it’s perfectly browned, so it deserves its own cookware.

Lately, though, people seem to be abandoning their cast iron pans. They are worried about the iron leaching into their food and causing iron overload.

It’s true that cooking in cast iron (and also stainless steel) can increase the iron content of your food. (1)  It’s also true that high stores of iron may be unhealthy, promoting both heart disease and cancer, although this is a theory ... 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 >

Recommended Supplements for Vegans

Just days before everyone was talking about the Voracious [ex-] Vegan story, I received a severe scolding from a reader for my stance on supplements (this was in response to my post on omega-3s). She was adamant about the fact that “whole plant foods” can easily provide everything we need.
An effort to prove that a whole foods vegan diet is the ideal or foolproof diet of all humans gives rise to all kinds of potentially harmful myths. These include the unfounded position that vegans can meet vitamin B12 needs by consuming unwashed organic produce, or that we have lower calcium needs than omnivores, or that it’s been “proven” that no one needs long chain omega-3 fats in their diet.
If these claims make ... Read More >

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 ... Read More >