View Full Version : Do vegans need to worry more about nutrient deficiencies than meat eaters?

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Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:13 AM
And who says meat doesn't have nutrients?
Nobody says that. Some people mention that the source of their nutrients is found in plants: neither humans or animals normally eat meat eating animals.

A vegan diet isn't necessarily healthier than an omni diet, but it usually is simply because most vegans care more about their intake and their health than most omni's.
That's a part of it, but one cannot deny that lots of people have serious problems that are directly related to animal products. Check eg. this thread: High B12 levels associated with an up to 3-fold increased prostate cancer risk (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16897&highlight=cancer) (or the links inside that thread).

The healthiest diet of all is obviously one that includes small amounts of animal products.

First of all, since circa 40% of all people living on a standard diet have low amounts of B12 (http://thyroid.about.com/cs/newsinfo/l/blb12anemia.htm) - and these people eat a lot of animal products - "small amounts" won't guarantee anything. The problem is that if you increase from 'small amounts' to medium or high amounts', you are definitely risking suddenly being part of the statistics that show the links between consumption of animal products and all the diseases associated with them.

I mean, B12 is the most obvious example of this...
I disagree. Whatever B12 related topic that is being discuss, one has to remember that due to all the B12 reducing elements in our modern lifestyle, we can't say anything general about what the healthiest diet is (in term of B12), because if you a meat eater eat 10... "units" of B12, and 7 of them are destroyed by all the B12 killer out there, he ends up with 3 units being absorbable and effective.

If a vegan from natural plant sources would get, say 3 units of B12, but live differently, none if these 3 units would have been 'killed' before they were utilized by the body. They would both end up with 3 units, but the meat eater would end up with both the side effects of eating all the animal products, and also the additional side effects of the "B12 killers". An average European is sick for about 10 years of his life...

I'm not saying that people should do this or that - but the most obvious part of a healthy solution seems to be to avoid the unhealthy stuff, the B12 killers etc.

And - since we don't live in that ideal, more or less non-destroyed environment eg. these plant eaters (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4013) do, we should supplement with B12 if necessary. That's what they do with the animals humans eat anyway - regularly. I never understood what it is that so great about eating a supplement that has been eaten once already... :)

Using animal products in any amounts products won't guarantee healthy levels of B12, neither will it guarantee healthy levels of other nutrients. It will actually guarantee lower levels of the nutrients that are only found in plants (or only in very small amounts in animal products). This is important, because while every omnivorous nutritionalist are advising people to eat more salad, fruit and vegetables, none of them (pretty much) are known for encouraging people to eat more beef or cheese. Some people suggest eating more eggs (for B12), but eggs are actually known for having very low levels of absorbable B12.

For every portion of egg, meat or cheese you eat, there's less room for plants in your belly, so you'll eat less plants when adding animal products to your diet, and therefore risk becoming (more) deficient in all those nutrients meat eaters normally are deficient in (or have very low levels of). (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24)

Some may assume that they have to eat (fortified) animal products to get enough B12. They may not know that due to soil issues etc, animals aren't any longer 'natural products' - they need supplementation.

Anyway, these people forget the nutrients they will get low level of if they reduce on plant products, and whether they know it or not - they're most likely deficient in a number of these nutrients already, "in spite of" (read: probably because) they eat animal products.

Therefore, it's far from 'obvious' (for me) that the most healthy solution is to add a small/medium/large amount of animal products.

(Now, before any of our non-vegan visitors think that they should start hunting for their own food... don't forget that that we're not even close to having enough wild animals, birds or or fish to supply humans with enough nutrients. If you look at any random area populated by humans, it's very likely that this area won't even have enough animals to keep the local population alive for more than a few days. And.. before you say that this isn't true in really rural areas: no, but it will be true if the population currently living in non-rural areas would start hunting in the wilderness!)

Jan 22nd, 2009, 01:07 PM
Being vegan eliminates over 1/2 of the products in a grocery store, if not more. So the '4 eliminated foods' is BS.

No... it's true for ME! Doesn't mean I ate everything in the grocery store before I was veg*n. I literally only gave up those four foods... And there's a replacement for everything I ate prior to veg*nism.

There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong (nutritionally) with eating wild salmon or truly free range chicken. It's actually quite healthy. And who says meat doesn't have nutrients?

Now I'm not advocating eating meat, but anyone who says meat is inherently unhealthy is off their rocker.

Meat is not healthy. It has been proven over and over again... in many threads all over this forum. Even omnis know that they need to reduce their meat intake. I do agree that meat has nutrients. But there's nothing in meat that we cannot get from plants (w/ exception of larger amounts of B12 and heme iron). I'm definitely not 'off my rocker'... I'm about to get a degree in nutrition/ biochemistry and go to graduate school for it. ;)

Also, omni and vegan diets both have chances to be unhealthy, and equal chances.

I agree, anyone can make the vegan diet unhealthy... high in fat, sugar, etc.

The healthiest diet of all is obviously one that includes small amounts of animal products. I mean, B12 is the most obvious example of this...

This is just plain wrong. Why do we need 'small amounts of animal products'?? :dizzy:

Jan 22nd, 2009, 02:23 PM
so Fuhzy you eat what you consider to be an inferior diet?

i don't think i have eliminated ANY foods because 70% of what i see in my local supermarket isn't reall food anyway, it's processed, packaged rubbish, almost totally void of nutrients.

where i do agree with you is that a vegan diet can be full of rubbish just as much as any other, so really this question should be about a *balanced* vegan diet vs a balanced omni one.

Jan 22nd, 2009, 07:19 PM
A diet that is different than what our bodies have evolved on is obviously an inferior diet. No humans ever got B12 from not washing their veggies, that's a ludicrous idea. Humans need B12, B12 can only be found in reasonable quantities in meat, therefore humans were meant to include meat in the diet. The fact that we now have supplements ALLOWS us to be vegan, but being vegan is not something we were designed to be.

I refuse to look up pro-meat studies because I spend enough time looking up anti-meat studies to fight ignorant omni's. What it boils down to is that diets with limited amounts of lean wild meats are very healthy, and a vegan diet can be just as healthy, it just takes more work, hence my reply to the OP.

Seriously, the lack of scientific thought in this thread is depressing. Just because we support a vegan lifestyle doesn't mean we need to support blind vegan semi-religious agendas. I have the same issue with most raw foodists. What they are doing can be healthy, but it's not some holy, superior path that they have chosen. Just like fundamental religions, fundamental veganism is ignorant and quite often wrong. Veganism isn't some pure sainthood of a lifestyle, it's simply a better choice than most people make.

Again, not saying we should all go have a meat party, just saying we need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our lifestyle and our voluntary food restriction is definitely a weakness...

Jan 22nd, 2009, 09:06 PM
I'm a new vegan. I didn't actually vote though because imho, in these days, everyone should worry. Deficiencies produce diseases and illness (otherwise, why bother worrying about a deficiency at all). But so does overabundance of certain nutrients too. From what I understand so far, it's like a balancing game. There are nutrients vegans and omnis have to be sure they get so as not to develop diseases. There are also nutrients vegans and omnis have to worry about not getting too much of to be sure they don't develop diseases as well. I don't know that any one way of eating is completely perfect in every way nutritionally speaking. But I do believe that vegan eating is more "compassionate". From a personal point of view, I also feel better eating vegan than I did as an omni.

Jan 22nd, 2009, 09:15 PM
A diet that is different than what our bodies have evolved on is obviously an inferior diet.
Not only have we seen a lot of disagreement over the last decades about who we actually can consider our ancestors, but the various known hominoids (21 so far) have lived on different diets throughout history, depending on which part of the timeline (and area) you look at.

Plus, when the first hominoids switched from a mainly plant based diet to include more meat (which many think is what happened), they already started to 'evolve on' something else than their own ancestors evolved on. To insist that we (unlike them) should find a group of human life beings that lived x years ago and that we would be best off with copying what they did doesn't make much sense, eg. because they had a life span of only 30-40 years (max), and were in many ways very different from us.

No humans ever got B12 from not washing their veggies, that's a ludicrous idea.
I don't think anyone really believe much in the B12-from-dirt (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18297) idea. Also - to claim that someone knows the B12 levels in hundreds of thousands of plants anno eg. 100,000 years ago (or only 1000 years ago) doesn't make sense either, unless something can be proven... We can only look at what seems reasonable, and knowing about the dramatic reduction of nutrient levels in soil only during the last 100 years, we already know that nutrient levels in soil and plants were much higher back in history. Plus - people ate only organic food back then, mainly fresh food, no processed food, and weren't exposed to any of the modern B12 'killers' - which alone could explain why some people lack B12.

Humans need B12, B12 can only be found in reasonable quantities in meat, therefore humans were meant to include meat in the diet.
OK - we are starting a lot of new topics inside this thread... please check the various threads we already have about it, eg this one:

Are we designed or 'meant' to eat meat? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7466)

Or check these tags:
Human evolution (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/tags.php?tag=human+evolution)
Meat (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/tags.php?tag=meat)
Natural (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/tags.php?tag=natural)

The fact that we now have supplements ALLOWS us to be vegan, but being vegan is not something we were designed to be.

This is very internet foruming may fail: these topics need to take so many facets of what we know and what we assume into consideration, that just claiming that we "obviously" "were meant to" eat this or that without actually discussing the available facts and see how these so called 'facts' actually change from decade to decade (the theories about where we came from has changed a lot only during the last 10-20 years!!) doesn't make much sense. It's not that long ago that we believed that Neanderthals were our ancestors..., or that humans are an evolutionary development of chimpanzees.

Seriously, the lack of scientific thought in this thread is depressing.
I agree!

Just because we support a vegan lifestyle doesn't mean we need to support blind vegan semi-religious agendas. I agree! But if you look at all the theories about our ancestors, where they came from, which of them that are closest to us and what they actually ate in the various periods we know a little bit about, you'll soon see that the same 'blind/religious' agendas exist everywhere. Lots of people claim that we 'were meant to eat meat' or that our ancestors ate meat, or that we should eat what they did, say, a million years ago - without documenting anything. There was a pretty long period last century where a collective group of international scientists believed in a theory that was based on some findings... that showed up after some 20 years to be totally fake!

What normally happens is that people like you or me claim something as 'obvious' - or even criticize others for not being scientific enough, without actually backing up why we think something is "obvious".

This thread have gone off topic (kind of), so again: please continue in one of the many threads we already have about diet and human evolution.

Here are some of them:
Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19734)
The Diet of Early Humans: Vegetarianism and Archaeology (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14172)
Did humans always eat meat? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16509)
Were early humans vegetarians? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14171)
Early man 'couldn't stomach milk (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13902)
Was meat-eating essential for human evolution? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6537)
B12 - is there something wrong with nature? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=670)
Science Daily: Extra Gene Copies Were Enough To Make Early Humans' Mouths Water (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20929)
B12: How natural is the vegan diet? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3763)

Some entertainment for Fuhzy: :-)


May 11th, 2011, 04:31 AM
I voted yes on accident. :( I am so sorry. I would redo it if I could but I don't see how. I don't think vegans need to worry more because I think nutrition is something everyone should worry about whatever their diet. When I was an omnivore (not so long ago at all) I gave no thought to nutrition so I don't believe at all that I was getting more of the nutrients I needed then as opposed to now. Maybe there are some vitamins that vegans need to pay special attention that they get but I bet many omni's were like me and aren't getting the vitamins and minerals that they need either. Plus they are dealing with the unhealthyness of eating meat and drinking milk etc.

May 11th, 2011, 08:33 AM
Hi Aylanna, I moved your vote to where you wanted it.

Clueless Git
May 11th, 2011, 05:20 PM
Do you believe that vegans generally need to worry more about nutrient deficiencies/health than they did before they excluded animal products from their diet?

It is entirely logical that the safest way to make sure that you eat everything a body consists of is to eat a body .

Personaly I have always taken it as being a neccesary part of veganism to make sure that we eat some of everything so as we get some of everything. More pick'n'mix than 'one stop shop' as it were?

Worry is not quite the right word though. Memorising the food groups and simply making sure that I eat a variety from each never seemed like much of a problem to me.

Not entirely pleasantly; The logic that eating a body is the easiest way to get all that a body needs dictates that the more like our own the body the body we eat is the closer it will meet our needs. Basicaly that logic leads to the conclusion that cannibalism, particularly of direct relatives, is the 'safest' diet of all.

Much amusement can be had by leading anyone who feilds any argument resembling "safest is best" down that particular slippery slope ...

May 11th, 2011, 05:38 PM
I voted no, even though I do believe that nutrition is something everyone should be concerned about, whether they be meat-eaters, vegetarians or vegans.

But I do think that vegans are more aware of what they put in their bodies (reading labels etc) and generally are more enlightened on the topic of healthy eating than many meat-eaters. When I ate meat and dairy and eggs, I didn't give a damn about nutrition and ended up weighing about 10 kg too much. Now, as a vegan I'm much more careful about getting the proper amount of each nutrient and that my food mirrors my ethical views.

May 12th, 2011, 08:21 PM
I think the only reason we would need to make more effort than meat eaters to make sure we're not deficient in any nutrients is because veganism is the first thing omnis blame if we get sick, no matter what the cause. If I'm tired some people assume it's because I'm not getting enough iron or protein, not that my neighbours were playing loud music until 2am.

Therefore I try to make sure to eat healthily even though my natural inclination is to live off cake and chips :) Then when people try to blame my diet for anything that goes wrong with me I can pretty soundly refute it.

Haven't voted because it's a yes from me, but not for the reasons Korn elaborated on.

May 20th, 2011, 05:19 PM
My non-vegan step-sister got B12 deficiency. None of the many vegans I know have it...

May 21st, 2011, 11:53 AM
Hi Kaneda and welcome to the forum.:thumbsup:

Hope your step sister is ok now.


May 21st, 2011, 09:04 PM
While I think EVERYONE should make sure they are getting enough nutrient, I don't think us
vegans have to worry about it any more than meat eaters do. Meat eaters have more to worry
about. And although us vegans get a bad wrap for being smug I see more smugness In meat
eaters than vegans. And because they can be so smug and overly proud in their lifestyle they
may have the mind set that they are immune to any deficiencies. That idea can hurt them
because it lead to being under educated about important vitamins. It would be like a teenager
thinking he is immune to death so he goes drunk driving.

Jan 18th, 2012, 01:31 AM
What a person chooses to eat and how much attention that person pays to what he or she is eating helps make those determinations. A bad vegan might eat french fries all day and that would certainly not constitute a healthy, balanced diet. Someone such as myself who keeps track of what he's eating would likely have had a well balanced diet whether vegan or not. Given the unhealthy eating habits of a large portion of the American (and some others) population, vegan or not -- is not the determining factor. On the other hand, certain vitamins or minerals may be more difficult to acquire, simply by removing certain foods from the diet -- something that should be obvious when choosing to remove foods from a diet.

Jan 20th, 2012, 07:00 PM
I just realized I responded to a three year old post.
That's perfectly fine! Most of hour threads (and polls) are rather 'timeless', so even if the original poster have found the answer s/he was looking for, others may be interested in new replies. :)

Raw Vegan
Aug 5th, 2013, 08:51 PM
Through out all my research, I believe vegetarians should be more knowledgeable about Vitamin K2 than B12. There are so many ways to get B12, but with K2 there are only a few sources and they include Japanese Natto, and fermented foods. This is one of very few supplements I take because I don't know a true source from a vegan diet. If anyone can give an extra opinion on K2 that would be great.