Countering Claims Against Vegan Diets

Several months ago, I was asked to respond to an article about the “dangers” of vegan diets that had been published in At the Wedge, the newsletter of the Wedge Community Co-op in Minneapolis. It was written by a holistic nutritionist who, among other things, counsels “recovering vegans.”

People abandon vegan diets for all kinds of reasons, but those who are “recovering” from this way of eating obviously believe that being vegan damaged their health and that it may very well damage yours, too.

This isn’t a term that crops up in mainstream nutrition circles. I’ve never heard it from any of […]

By |2011-11-08T13:20:45-05:00November 8th, 2011|Tags: , , , |17 Comments

U.S News Rates Vegan Diets (and Gets a Few Things Wrong)

U.S. News brought together a team of  nutrition experts to rank popular diets commonly used for weight control. According to the report, the best diets were “relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease.”

At the head of their list were the DASH and Mediterranean diets — not too surprising since these are well-studied approaches to eating that have a good track record for protecting against disease. The surprise was that a vegan diet ranked pretty low on the list (below Slimfast and Jenny Craig!) While it seemed that the […]

By |2011-11-03T15:47:44-04:00November 3rd, 2011|Tags: , , |21 Comments

Vegans are Compassionate at Every Size

Some 2 billion pairs of eyes will be focused on Kate Middleton as she takes the long walk down the aisle of Westminster Abbey tomorrow, and apparently she’s been slimming down in anticipation of that scrutiny. Naturally the media is all over Kate’s recent weight loss, speculating that it was achieved through France’s (and soon to be America’s) new diet craze from Dr. Dukan. The Dukan Diet is an updated and equally unhealthy twist on Atkins and it promises weight loss by restricting food choices to a few plant […]

By |2011-04-28T10:25:42-04:00April 28th, 2011|Tags: , , |28 Comments

Weight Control the Vegan Way

Vegans are less likely than omnivores to be overweight or obese on average, which is a nice selling point for veganism. In general, our diets are somewhat lower in fat and much higher in fiber—two important factors for weight management.
But not everyone loses weight when they go vegan, and promising people that they will is unfair. There are plenty of vegans who struggle with their weight. Some overweight vegans feel guilty about their body size because they believe that they aren’t a good advertisement for veganism. But anyone who makes an effort […]
By |2011-04-01T09:47:54-04:00April 1st, 2011|Tags: , |50 Comments

Healthy Vegan Diets Can Include Meat Analogues

A little hot dog stand in my town advertises on a big bold hand-written sign that they have vegan hotdogs. (They used to sell “veegun” hotdogs; I’m not the one who corrected them, but I’m glad somebody did.) Even though I live in a hippie town where this sort of thing isn’t unusual, it makes me happy. Vegan fare at a hotdog stand gives me hope for the future.
The first “meat analog” was invented by John Harvey Kellogg in 1895 and it definitely wasn’t a hotdog. He ground peanuts into peanut butter […]
By |2011-02-17T10:10:43-05:00February 17th, 2011|Tags: , , , |44 Comments

Low-Carbohydrate Diets for Vegans

By now you’ve probably seen the latest research from Harvard University and National University of Singapore showing that different types of low-carbohydrate diets have different effects on health.

In this large study of nearly 130,000 people (all health professionals), a low-carb diet that was rich in animal foods was associated with increased risk of mortality. In contrast, a low-carb diet that was higher in plant foods reduced all-cause mortality risk, especially from cardiovascular disease.

Most vegan advocates spun […]

By |2010-09-09T12:22:33-04:00September 9th, 2010|Tags: , |33 Comments

Vegans and Mortality

I had a question from a reader about the 2005 study on German vegetarians that showed higher mortality for vegans compared to other health-conscious eaters.

The researchers asked nearly 2,000 subjects about diet, exercise and smoking habits, and then followed up over a period of 21 years, tracking deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer and other causes. Overall, the death rate was similar for lacto-ovo vegetarians and meat-eaters (most of whom had moderate meat consumption), but higher for vegans.

But while that fact was reported in some news media, the researchers didn’t even mention it in their […]

By |2009-04-23T13:36:00-04:00April 23rd, 2009|Tags: |3 Comments

Vegans and Diabetes

Dietitian Jack Norris has published an excellent overview of research on vegan diets and diabetes on

Please note Jack’s comments about fat in his discussion of the findings. I agree with him that adopting a very low fat diet over the long term may not be advisable. I’m also not convinced that severe fat restriction is helpful in managing diabetes; other research suggests that replacing carbohydrate in the diet with monounsaturated fats improves diabetic control. Higher fat diets may also improve blood cholesterol (as long as the diet is still very low in saturated fat).

Finally, weight […]

By |2009-04-17T09:03:00-04:00April 17th, 2009|Tags: , , |4 Comments

Good News About Vegan Bone Health

Just published this month in the journal Osteoporosis International, a new study revealed that bone health was similar between vegan Buddhist nuns and omnivore women even though the vegans had much lower intakes of calcium and protein.

The study involved 105 vegan nuns and 105 omnivore women in Viet Nam. Average calcium intake was 375 mg per day for the vegans and 682 mg for the omnivores. (Some of the vegan women did use very small amounts of milk in meals.) Vegan women also had low protein intakes averaging around 35 grams per day compared to more moderate […]

By |2009-04-16T11:53:00-04:00April 16th, 2009|Tags: , , |4 Comments

For Vegans, Good Health is Good Activism

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 […]

By |2009-04-09T16:56:00-04:00April 9th, 2009|Tags: , |2 Comments
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