Happy New Year plus two weeks give or take a few days. According to the people who investigate these things, a lot of New Year’s resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside. Many who vowed to give a vegan diet a try might find their resolve weakening just about now.
I shared a few tips for making the transition with my delightful friend JL Fields on her radio show Easy Vegan last week. But there are lots of things that newbie vegans can do to make their diet feel more practical and sustainable.
1. Embrace your cooking style.
Last 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 >
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 >
Iron 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 >
Eating healthy whole foods is important—and so is paying attention to individual nutrients. Lately, though, that’s become an unpopular thing to say. It’s what food activists like Michael Pollan refer to as “nutritionism.” That is, he and others say we should stop worrying so much about nutrients and just eat food (or “real” food as they refer to it). As physician David Katz says “If you eat whole foods, the nutrients sort themselves out.”
But this is not exactly a science-based observation; it’s an opinion or at best a hunch or casual observation of the world. Pithy observations like this make for engaging writing and perky sound bites, but not always great advice.
To be fair, though, unlike Pollan whose understanding of nutrition is practically ... Read More >
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 ... Read More >
Vegan diets aren’t dangerous. However, people with irrational ideas about nutrition are. The stories of vegan parents who starved their babies because of mistaken beliefs about infant feeding are clear proof of that. It is horrible and it’s heartbreaking. But it has nothing to do with veganism.
Why is it that journalists can’t figure this out? Mary Elizabeth Williams’ article in Salon was another attempt to tie the actions of a handful of misinformed parents to veganism. She made the case that some babies in vegan families have suffered because they were fed inappropriate diets. And, then, she suggested that “whatever a parent’s personal beliefs, they must be continually adjusted and evaluated based on a child’s needs.”
I can’t argue with either of those observations ... Read More >
My new food guide The Plant Plate made its debut on VeganForHer.com today. This is a colorized version of the guide that will be in the book Vegan for Her (which will provide a little more detail on using the plate.)
The information is almost identical to the food guide that Jack and I created for Vegan for Life. But I wanted an appealing graphic and was thrilled to find artist Ari Evergreen from Shirari Industries to illustrate it for me. (Side note: Ari went vegan after finding a Vegan Outreach pamphlet that someone left in a coffee shop. Now she uses her art in her activism for both human and non-human animals. So thank you to VO and that savvy activist who left the ... Read More >
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 >
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 >