View Full Version : The most fun article about veganism in 2013?

Dec 30th, 2013, 02:45 PM
Hi all,
I think I've come across an article which may qualify for being the least thorough and most un-informed article I've seen about vegans and vegan food in 2013. Most of alls, it focuses on stiff which is irrelevant.

It's here:

It ends with "I'll always be a bacon lover" - and that's probably the most truthful statement on that page. :-) At the bottom of his page, there's a link to a (red) meat-and-spaghetti recipe.

Veganism is becoming more and more of a mainstream thing, and as a result of that, maybe some people panic and start to post what they believe is trustworthy criticism agains what we do (or rather; against what we don't do: use animal products). Maybe all this actually is a result of the increasing mainstream-ness of veganism - so let's blame it on people like Al Gore and Bill Clinton, who actually make a lot of difference when they switch to a vegan diet. Those who feel... 'threatened' by veganism (I'm not saying that the writer of this article does does), maybe they possibly feel even more threatened (in lack of a better word) now when veganism isn't only being promoted by hippies, punks and environmental activists, but also by accepted and/or supported by "ordinary" people, an increasing amount of celebrities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_vegans), and *a lot* of athletes (http://www.greatveganathletes.com/), doctors (http://www.pcrm.org/) and dieticians (http://www.eatright.org/).

The writer, Nick Pineault, brings up topics like soy, DHA/Omega-3, nutrient deficiencies, B12, and expects that he will get "a lot of emotional comments", which gives me a feeling that he isn't aware of the fact that these things have been discussed among vegans for ages (eg on this forum, links will follow).

From the article:

- If you don’t want to consume animal products for any reason — animal cruelty, personal beliefs, religious practices — that’s OK. You’re free to do what you want with your diet.
- If you do choose to avoid all animal products, you have to be very careful about your nutrient intake — especially B12.

Yes, vegans and everybody else needs to make sure they get the nutrients they need, and B12 is definitely on the list of things that vegans should pay attention to.
That's why we have a dedicated subforum for B12 on this site, which includes eg. this thread: If you want to read only one article about B12, read this one (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?28127-quot-If-you-want-to-read-only-one-article-about-B12-read-this-one-quot). There are obvious reasons why B12 deficiency may occur in anyone living in a modern society, and these are among the reasons why B12 is on the list of nutrients vegans need to pay extra attention to has been explained ad nauseam on this and other sites.

What Nick Pineault seems to miss, is that nutrient deficiencies are *extremely* common among non-vegans. I know that he probably knows this, but his perspective is still skewed. B9 (folate) deficiencies, for instances, is so common that in USA and Australia, folic acid (a form of folate) fortification is mandatory, in that folic acid is added to wheat flour in order to address the problem. This isn't common for B12, but I know that there's a similar solution in Israel for B12 (they require B12 fortification in breads), and more countries may follow.

Here's (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15189123) a link about B12 deficiency as a worldwide problem. This (http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2000/000802.htm) article from 2000 suggests that 39% of the participants in a study had "low normal" levels of B12, and also this:

Nearly 9 percent of the study population fell below the current deficiency level. And more than 16 percent fell below 185 pmol/L. “Many people may be deficient at this level,” said Tucker. “There is a question as to what the clinical cutoff for deficiency should be".

These low/deficient/borderline levels of B12 exist in a nation known for it's extremely high intake of animal products, so anyone who thinks that just eating animal products will ensure that you get average levels of B12 must think again. More about reasons for B12 deficiency here. (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?196-50-ways-to-develop-B12-deficiency)

Again, vegans, like everyone else, need to make sure they get the nutrients they need. However, the risk of becoming deficient in one or more nutrients seems to be a lot higher among non-vegans (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?24-Nutrient-deficiencies-more-common-in-meat-eaters-than-in-vegans), based on observations from a lot of independent studies.

Back to mr. Pineaults article...

1) Most vegan foods suck
Wait... what are "most vegan foods"? :-) Go into any grocery store, and you'll see tons of vegan foods: fruits, legumes, seeds and grains, vegetables, spices and so on. These are the main ingredients in the vegan diet, and these are the ingredients which have been used for hundreds, and probably thousands of years in countries like India, Mexico and Thailand to make their local food. Indian food doesn't taste Indian because Indian cows or chicken taste different, it's the vegan ingredients which matter.

And before Nick P possibly chimes in and says that the main nutrients in these food comes from animals: Not only is that wrong, but where do you think the animals get their nutrients from? They eat only plants, food supplements and bacteria + maybe some occasional ants and other insects...

Of course it's OK to mention that some vegans may, in some cases even to a large extent, live on processed foods, or on vegan imitations of animal products, which isn't particularly healthy or successful. But try to make something tomato or apple like out of animal ingredients, and you'll fail too! If you are against certain kinds of vegan food, just don't recommend these foods. Me feeling is that non-vegans usually eat a lot more junk food than vegans. If that's true - does that qualify for an article about why one cannot recommend a non-vegan diet? Of course not, due to the lack-of-relevance.

The lack of relevance reveals itself already in the beginning of the article, where he first claims to present why de does not recommend veganism by saying that most vegan foods suck, and then adds that most foods that meat eaters consume suck too. How this could be an argument pro a non-vegan diet or against a vegan diet is beyond my brain capacity. :-) But read on, he doesn't say that it's an argument against living on a vegan diet: he plays safe and only says that he explains why he doesn't recommend a vegan diet. But does he recommend a non-vegan diet? If not, why the negative colorisation of the vegan diet?

He goes on about processed foods, gluten, GMOs etc, but have probably missed another relevant fact; vegans seem, in general, to be a lot more interested in avoiding GMO/processed food etc than non-vegans.

The next 'argument' is that soy is not healthy, He "hates" tofu. Not surprisingly, he quotes the often discussed Weston A. Price, and concludes that the only soy products he recommends are "those that have been fermented the traditional way: "miso, tempeh, natto, fermented tofu, tamari sauce (or soy sauce)". That's interesting, because this list is almost identical to the list of soy products which many macrobiotics and vegans hoped they could use as reliable B12 sources in the 1960, but which soon was found to represent a risk of blocking the intake of real, active, bioavailable B12 due their possibly high levels if the now well known inactive "B12 analogues" (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?317-B12-and-B12-analogues-in-multivitamins-animal-foods-and-spirulina), which by the way can be found more or less everywhere: in the ocean, in multivitamins, in milk, in eggs and in burgers. And in the human liver.

Nick - if you, like me, hardly use soy, the healthiness of soy products isn't even worth a discussion. It isn't really relevant in a discussion about whether vegan diet is recommendable or not. If soy is unhealthy, and since many factory animals are fed on an somehow artificial, almost 'supplement'-like diet including a lot of soy, maybe it's a better idea to spend energy to argue against eating those animals instead, because some 95% of the Western population consume animal products.

But Pineault doesn't seem to touch the the main health arguments against animal products in his article, and certainly not the environmental issues involved in eating animals, which makes his explanation about why he doesn't recommend vegan diet not-so-interesting.

3) A lot of vegans are trying to avoid what's actually healthy.

This isn't an argument at all. If some vegans do this, and some other vegans do that - just ignore it; their actions can never serve as an argument pro or against recommending a vegan diet. There is no such thing as a vegan diet, just like there's no such thing as a non-vegan diet.

His fourth "argument" is that "Veganism can lead to dangerous nutrient deficiencies". I already commented the risk of developing nutrient deficiencies, and Nick helps me here - by agreeing the risk of become deficient isn't something which may happen to vegans only: "Again, this is not unique to veganism".

As he says, "Most people in the US have nutrient deficiencies — whether they are meat-eaters or not." If it's not unique to veganism, it shouldn't be on your Top 4 list of reasons why you don't recommend a vegan diet, should it, because it's not relevant? The double passive trick doesn't work! :-)

He brings up Omega-3, and writes that plant-based Omega-3 can't replace Omega-3 from fish etc. We already have many threads/posts on that topic on our forum (see below). But fish get their Omega-3 from algae. Instead of taking fish oil capsules containing the DHA/EPA amounts you need, you can take vegan capsules based on algae.
Omega-3: Vegan DHA / EPA (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?9872-Omega-3-Vegan-DHA-EPA)
Vegan Omega-3: Flax seeds / linseeds (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?2926-Vegan-Omega-3-Flax-seeds-linseeds)Omega 3 fatty acids in food? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?1522-Vegan-Omega-3)'
Fish Oil Does Not Improve Heart Health (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?31342-Fish-Oil-Does-Not-Improve-Heart-Health)
Fish: health benefits? (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?8071-Fish-health-benefits)

Here are some vegan DHA/EPA capsules:
Here's one I use:

One contributing factor behind the fact that fish eaters today can get the Omega-3 they need from fish oil is that a lot of people don't do that. Link: Not Enough Fish In The Sea (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?12276-Omega-3-Not-Enough-Fish-In-The-Sea). If everyone should follow the advice about using fish capsules/oil to get sufficient amounts of Omega-3, they'd soon have a problem finding enough fish.

Dr. Fuhrman about DHA/EPA/ALA:

This is also interesting:

The Vegan Society about essential fatty acids:

examiner.com about the best vegan sources of DHA and EPA:

I already mentioned something about B12. Pineault fails to mention the risks involved in a too high intake of B12. (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?169-B12-overdose-megadose) Humans nowadays consume a lot more animal products than they did back when they had to go fishing/hunting to get animals products. The last 10,000 years have been very different from the preceding 100,000 years. There are a lot of severe health problems (diabetes, cancer, heart disease etc) which are linked with high intakes of animal products. If he wants to discuss the healthiness of a vegan diet (which would be highly relevant in this context), it would make sense to address the many studies which document an association between intake of eg. meat and eg. cancer. I could posts some links, but there are so many to choose from... Please try to google red meat and cancer, or have a look here: 20-30 types of cancer and animal products (eggs, fish, milk, meat) (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?27770-20-30-types-of-cancer-and-animal-products-(eggs-fish-milk-meat))).

The above stuff is important: B12 is important for cell division, growth. Cancer is a disease where cell division/growth is out of control. There could be a link between the two, and some studies already suggest that there are links between cancer and a high intake of animal products/B12.

Pinault also mentions A, K2 and B6. I believe that we already have threads about these vitamins on the forum, but I may add more later. The bottom line - and even his own conclusion - is "Being a vegan or a vegetarian is not necessarily healthy, but not necessarily unhealthy either." I think we all agree.

One can be a vegan and live on popcorn and Pepsi, and one can be a non-vegan and still have a high focus on nutrition and be moderate when it comes to the most risky animal products. But since these products aren't necessary for us, and since both vegans and non-vegans may develop deficiencies if they don't know what they are doing - why don't you actively recommend a vegan diet, Pineault – simply based on the uncertainty aspects alone (cancer etc) - or for the environmental reasons? These are fully valid even if you think that it's OK that humans kill billions of animals even if they don't need to.

We have seen, over the last few decades, that the 'experts' - both the wannabes and those who know enough about nutrition to come up with substantial statements which can be backed up with scientific data - more or less have changed their mind. When I first stared to eat vegan food around 1970, not only would one would be lucky if one came across a book or an article where a dietician or doctor would support, let alone recommend a vegan diet; there simply wasn't much to read about it. Today, PCRM, with their 3000 physicians are very clear about recommending a vegan diet, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals, mainly write about the benefits of eating vegan. They are of course smart enough not to portray the vegan diet as some miracle cure, and it would be totally wrong if they didn't point out that there are certain nutrients one needs to pay extra attention to as a vegan, which, again, of course is true for people on any diet.

The core of their (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) view on vegan diets is mentioned here (my emphasis):

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence- based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.

The most clever part of Nick Pineault's article is that he doesn't actually claim that animal products are necessary, or recommends that we should use them - he simply tries to explain why, from a health perspective, he doesn't recommend a vegan diet. The real problem is that he doesn't address any of the main arguments against animal products, which - from a health perspective - are the studies people on a vegan diet often refer to (about cancer risk, diabetes risk, heart disease risk, arthritis risks etc).

The 'hate tofu' stuff and the thing about 'most vegan foods suck' becomes highly irrelevant when we know that medical experts all over the world have been seeing more and more links between consumption of animal products and exactly those diseases we don't really know how to heal successfully. If you are against tofu, just don't eat tofu, and tell people that they should avoid it. But tofu as such has nothing to do with veganism.

And, btw, here's a counter-comment about the article (abstract) above from ADA, from a meat eaters perspective:


We'll certainly read about someone who claims that one cannot build muscle on a plant based diet in 2014 as well, even if the strongest mammals (elephants, horses etc) and lots of strong human athletes avoid animal products. We may see someone who thinks that humans are smart because we have big brains, and that this is because our ancestors ate meat, but forget that there are plant eating mammals with much bigger brains than us. We may find people who forget that the animals meat eaters eat get their nutrients without eating animal products. Or stumble upon someone who thinks we should eat what our ancestors ate - even if they don't. Or, possibly,we'll find someone who think that the fact that we are capable of killing an animals means that "we are meant" to do it. With some luck, we may come across someone who thinks that the earth is flat as well. :-)

But most of all, we'll absolutely going to come across meat eaters on internet who love to spend time on criticising us for something we don't do: use animal products :-)

Dec 30th, 2013, 07:32 PM
Excellent post Korn!

Pretty much agree with all your points.


The 'hate tofu' stuff and the thing about 'most vegan foods suck' becomes highly irrelevant when we know that (..................)

read = "the writer simply sounds like a big child who still has to have the lumps taken out of his food". LULZ

Dec 31st, 2013, 03:55 PM
Great post again Korn.
As with all these articles, the writer knows somewhere in the back of his mind that he really should be vegan, as we all should, but doesn't want to be and so will concoct just enough information to decry it in order to be convincing to his half-assed self.

Dec 31st, 2013, 05:28 PM
The writer of that article has also quoted from "the Weston A. Price Foundation", a group set up by the meat industry to try and sell more animal products.
I agree that veganism is getting more acceptance, some friends of mine were on BBC radio leicester this morning to promote the Leicester Vegan Challange where we are encoraging people to go vegan this new year. The presenter said she is going to give it a go!

Clueless Git
Jan 4th, 2014, 01:57 PM
I always love anything that includes the argument that naturaly sustainable meat production is the answer.

Simply because the fact that you can't naturaly sustain a naturaly unsustainable population of vegetarians, let alone one of pseudo-predators, is the root of the problem.

The notion that a naturaly sustainable population of vegetarians, sufficient to feed a naturaly unsustainable population of pseudo-predators, is even remotely possible simply demonstrates ZERO understanding of even the most simplified of food pyramid charts at all.

My reply to Mr Pinenut would simply be that whatever pleasure he derives from bacon comes at the cost of the far greater pleasure of a clear thinking mind.

- - - Updated - - -

Great post again Korn.
As with all these articles, the writer knows somewhere in the back of his mind that he really should be vegan, as we all should, but doesn't want to be and so will concoct just enough information to decry it in order to be convincing to his half-assed self.


Someone needs to produce upside down food pyramid charts bearing the caption "call me when you figure out how this doesn't work".