Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Ex-Vegan Movement

There is this page I follow on Facebook called the Fat, Gay, Vegan.  The guy who runs it is pretty groovy!  This morning, he posted a link to a blog post from an ex-vegan (who really sounds more plant based than vegan) in which she talks about how, over the past few weeks, she has become a meat eater again.  The lady who runs the blog goes by Erika Awakening, and is, in addition to now being very anti-vegan, also a pick up artist who teaches men how to attract women.  That's right - she's an MRA.  (But that's not something I am going to delve into on this blog.)

Throughout Erika's anti-vegan blog posts (yes, she now has multiple anti-vegan posts), Erika talks about many "issues" that she experienced while being vegan.  She talks about how:

*Vegans are so angry all the time
*She started losing hair on a vegan diet (yes, she refers to it as a vegan diet throughout all her posts)
*She apparently looked like an emaciated bag of bones (her description of how all vegans look)
*Her hair started going gray at an alarming rate
*She was having chronic headaches and pain

These sound like pretty serious issues - but I would certainly not attribute them to following a plant based diet.  (See what I did there?  Plant based diet!  Yep - being vegan is a lifestyle, plant based is a diet.)  In the blog post titled My Break-up with Veganism, Erika mentions all the issues she had with her diet.  But, she never actually talks about what she was eating while plant based.  Was she actually eating plants or was she a junk food vegan?  Also, was she getting enough calories each day, or was she consuming a near starvation diet?

The average sedentary female burns roughly 1600 calories a day.  Active females burn more than that.  It is recommended that every female, regardless of their activity level consume at least 2000 calories a day.  This ensures that they will have enough calories to want to be active, and to meet their nutritional needs.  If Erika was consuming less than 1600 calories per day (and she may have been, but I can only speculate) this could have caused a lot of health issues for her.  Also, if she were surviving mainly on vegan junk food, this could have caused health issues as well.  (One only needs to look at Morgan Spurlock and his infamous month long experiment with McDonald's to know what an unhealthy diet can do to us.  I know - Spurlock was consuming animal products during that experiment, but unhealthy food is unhealthy food whether it's vegan or not.)

Erika also talks a lot about how vegans are angry all the time.  She has a very low opinion of vegans, and genuinely believes that they are angry and have cognitive deterioration and emotional imbalance.  Erika full heartedly believes that vegans brains are deteriorating because they are not eating animal products.  I find this to be diametrically different to everything I know about vegans - all the vegans I know are some of the kindest, most level-headed and most intelligent people I have ever met.  One of my close friends recently graduated as a straight A student and passed her NCLEX - she's now a nurse.  Her husband is equally intelligent.  So are other friends I have that are vegan.  They, contrary to what Erika seems to believe, show no sign of being angry, short tempered, or of lesser intelligence than meat eaters.

A lot of what Erika talks about on her blog are the nutritional deficiencies that she believes vegan are experiencing because they follow a plant based diet.  She talks about omega-3 and omega-6 deficiencies, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin K1 and K2 deficiency and just an overall concern for vegans health.  Since nutritional deficiency seems to be a huge concern for Erika, let's take a minute to talk about it.

Vitamin K1: This is found in largest amounts in leafy greens - you know: lettuces.  If you eat lettuce on a regular basis, you have nothing to worry about.

Vitamin K2: most commonly found in cheeses and fermented foods like natto.  Obviously, consuming dairy is out for vegans, but you can take supplements.

Vitamin B12: This can be a concern for vegans because B12 is most commonly found in animal products.  However, there are many foods that are fortified with B12 (including soy and almond milks, veggie burgers, chik'n burgers, and other fortified foods) and there are vegan supplements one can take as well.  If you eat enough fortified foods, or take a vegan supplement, you''ll be fine.

Omega-3 and Omega-6: Commonly found in fish, omega's help keep your cells healthy and can stave off inflammation.  Keep in mind that consuming MORE omega-6 than omega-3 can inhibit your bodies ability to turn DHA into EPA.  The following foods can help you get enough omega-3 and keep your omega-6 low enough that the omega-3's actually help your body: Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, mustard oil, seaweed, beans, winter squash, leafy greens, cabbage family, berries, wild rice, herbs and spices, mangoes, and honeydew melon.  Visit this website if you want to know more.

I'm not going to turn this into one big nutritional lesson.  Let's just say: With a properly balanced diet full of lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and other healthy foods, people on a plant based diet can lead healthy, productive lives.

Overall, I find that Erika is just grasping at straws and searching for any way she can to justify eating animal products again.  I found, after reading through some of her blog posts and many of her replies to readers comments, that she sounded very bitter and angry towards vegans - that's just my perspective though.  I hope she can work through her issues towards vegans and realize that we are not the enemy and we are not out to get anyone.  Peace!