As a dietitian, I end up saying a lot of things that some vegan activists just don’t want to hear. When I write that some vegans don’t get enough calcium or that getting adequate zinc might be a challenge, it can sound kind of negative.

But a big part of promoting a positive image for veganism lies simply in being healthy. When scientific studies uncover health problems among any group of vegans, it discredits plant diets and gives people one more excuse to eat meat or drink milk. That’s why choosing to believe that you can get all the vitamin B12 you need by eating whole organic foods or sea vegetables has the potential to hurt farm animals. So does insisting that vegans have lower needs for calcium than meat eaters.

It’s also why I am super picky when it comes to recommending nutrition resources for vegans. I want all vegans to have the best information possible. That’s partly because I’m a dietitian, but also because I’m an activist. My own nutrition website is designed for people who are just getting started with vegan diet, and who need something super fast and easy. For more in-depth information on vegan nutrition, the single best source on the web is Vegan Outreach’s Vegan Health by dietitian Jack Norris. You’ll also find some good and interesting information on Dr. Winston Craig’s website.

Obviously, we can’t manage every single aspect of our health. Some things fall victim to genetics or environmental factors that are beyond our control. But we can at least make sure we’re eating balanced diets. That means letting go of wishful thinking, working with actual facts and being practical. But that’s what activism is all about.