Ian Thomas Young
I was never able to look at Veganism or even Vegetarianism in an objective way because I viewed them as animal rights activists for PETA. Don’t be offended (I am just being honest) but the word ‘Vegan’ always conjured up images of unhinged zealots throwing red paint on passersby wearing furs, and hippies meditating at a raw foods retreat. Also, because of their hatred of meat and dairy consumption PETA funds various medical professionals and authors to encourage them to write books and make videos on eating approaches that disavow the eating of animals or animal byproducts which impugns the purity of the author’s motives.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that open-minded foodies and those investigating healthy eating approaches immediately reject proponents of alternative diets when it’s discovered PETA funds them. And even if PETA isn’t involved, as you read the books of some of those counseling a vegetarian/fruitarian/vegan eating discipline they will romanticize about a world without animal consumption and the benefits that will reap for everything from a greener environment to the slowing of climate change to the abolition of wars. Not that those ideals are bad but what some see as politics will taint the health component of the message in their minds.
But, I know a few vegetarians and vegans and it’s apparent to me that they must be doing some things right. All of them are slim, healthy-looking , and of normal to above mental acuity based on the conversations I’ve had with them. And, this is the kicker, they are all physically active. They run or go to the gym regularly. That’s not exactly the pale, weak, frail, underweight, brain-addled picture I had constructed in my mind of them.
There are many diets and eating approaches and some of them work. One size doesn’t fit all, though. We are all different. We have different genetic backgrounds, cultures, food sensitivities, different blood types, and different medical needs. But even if giving up meat and dairy is too extreme of a change, cutting down on saturated fat will always be a good idea. As an example, I tried the Paleo and Atkins approaches which involved eating an obnoxious amount of meat. After a couple of weeks following those regimens I felt sick which was disheartening because I LOVE meat. After that, I decided to seriously cut down the regular quantity of meat I eat and I feel so much better. And even if I went veggie I would have to stay away from wheat and grains because they play havoc with my body.
And like all diets, there are the cheaters who give the diet a bad name. Vegans need to stay away from fatty processed foods and too much bread which are easy to over eat. Eating too much fruit because of the sugars can be an issue too. Ovo-lacto vegetarians need to be careful not to eat too much cheese as well. That’s why there are some chubby veggy-peeps. But those that are careful quickly lose weight which means that the vegetarian/vegan diet maybe a great first line of action for the morbidly obese. After they slim down they can incorporate some meat and dairy if they so choose.
Vegetarians and Vegans need to make sure they have enough omega 3s and Vitamin B12. Ground flax seed for omega 3 if they won’t eat fish and B12 supplementation to bring down levels of heart-attack causing homocysteine which are very high among vegans especially. They also need to fastidiously watch they are eating enough iron-rich vegetables or supplement to be sure. It would be prudent for them to have their blood tested for proper levels of iron, B12, homocysteine etc.
One interesting takeaway from my research that could be good to follow no matter what your eating approach is this: If you eat a lot of fat you should minimize your eating of carbs, and if you eat a lot of carbs you should minimize the consumption of fat. The body metabolizes your food much better if you do that. Which might explain why many on both sides of the Low Carb/High Fat, and the High Carb/Low Fat debate report success.
And, obviously, when changing to a wildly different diet you should always consult a doctor especially if you are a diabetic or taking medications for other ailments.