Refuting “Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets”

Once again I’ve come across an acquaintance on facebook posting about how bad vegan diets are and I’m writing a blog to refute another article. This is a different woman than the one who posted about bacon being a superfood. This one I haven’t been friends with for a while because she generally has a volatile attitude online. Her status update that went along with the link was as follows:

To all those vegans (and some vegetarians) who think they are better than I, either due to their standard of morale, or think they have a one up on me nutrient wise…Bitch! You’ve just been Slapped!

This is the link we’ve apparently been “Slapped!” by. Some of the points I’ve already refuted in my “Bacon A Superfood?” post.

The article starts of with stating that vegans are B12 deficient saying that 83% of vegans are deficient compared to 5% of omnivores. The study the article sited said 83% deficiency “was found in subjects who did not consume vitamins.” So as far as I can tell from the study linked to the article they found 29 vegans who did not supplement B12. It’s pretty common logic among vegans that we should take a B12 supplement. Even the most basic Google search will tell you this. The numbers in the article indicate that there is a 5% rate of B12 deficiency among omnivores and that 17% of non supplemented vegans were not deficient. So while B12 deficiency is more common among vegans who don’t supplement it with vitamins or fortified foods, it is certainly not restricted to vegans.

On Calcium, they say calcium from plants is impractical because you would need 16 servings of spinach to get the calcium in one cup of milk. There are many plant sources of calcium besides spinach, along with fortified foods. Foods fortified with calcium are soy, almond and rice milk, nondairy yogurt, fortified orange juice, cereal bars and many brands of tofu.

Links on alternatives to milk:

On Iron, they list dairy products as one thing that blocks iron absorption right after they implied dairy was a superior source of calcium than plant foods. I’m going to do a post in the future specifically on iron but I’m going to give a bit of personal experience here. When I was a kid a doctor told my mom I was anemic. I ate quite a bit of beef as a kid, but not many legumes or leafy greens. In my adult life I have donated blood religiously and they check iron levels every time I donate. There have only been two instances in the past decade when my iron was slightly too low to be able to donate. But it has never been low enough for me to be diagnosed with anemia.

On Vitamins A and D. The article says to get the same amount of Vitamin A from getting one serving of liver per week a person would need to eat 2 cups of carrots, 1 cup of sweet potatoes, or 2 cups of kale each day. I really fail to see how having to eat more vegetables is a problem. Carrots, sweet potatoes and kale are excellent things to be eating regardless of whether or not you eat meat or dairy. Carrots and kale are ok on Paleo diets as far as I know. And I don’t know many people who eat liver at all, yet alone one serving every single week.

The article frequently points out that vegans having to supplement nutrients and make sure our food is fortified but when it brings up Vitamin D it says nothing about the fact that many people get Vitamin D from milk when Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in cows milk. It has to be fortified with it since the early 20th century.

I think it’s a bit odd that this article keeps saying that you need to supplement like it’s a bad thing, being that the woman who shared it worked at a local General Nutrition Center for a few years.

Edit: I found a blogpost from The Vegan Registered Dietician going a bit more indepth than I did on the article

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1 Response to Refuting “Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets”

  1. lucidhealth says:

    Ha, good point on vitamin A. I doubt there are many people who couldn’t use and extra cup or two vegetables on a weekly basis.

    As an alternative to B12 supplements I’ve read that there are nutritional yeasts grown on a molasses medium that can provide B12 in excess of daily recommended intakes. Don’t know anyone who has tried this though. In any case 40% of vitamin B12 intake by people in the US comes from non-food sources, dulling acquaintance’s argument somewhat.

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