"vegans are prone to..."

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by parmalee, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    I've encountered claims of this sort on countless occasions over the years:

    "Vegans are prone to a whole slew of health complications."

    And while this may be true, I've never encountered any evidence which actually demonstrates that vegans are in fact any less healthy than the general populace. Moreover, I live in a nation where two-thirds of the populace are overweight and suffer associated health problems, and I'm fairly certain that vegans are disproportionately under-represented amongst such.

    So, is there any such evidence?

    Personally, I've known a few people who, for one reason or another, could not subsist in good health on a vegan diet--but not many. I've done so with no ill-effect for over 25 years. On few occasions, I've eaten dairy and/or eggs, i.e., in restaurants, as a guest in someone's home, etc. Also, I've lived in the bush a fair bit, and on rare occasion have eaten bugs. But otherwise...

    But the thing is, while I've read plenty on the subject, I personally don't pay a whole lot of attention to nutrition. My general dietary rule has always been this: eat mostly FOOD. IOW fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc. are food (obviously). The further you get from this, the less likely it is to be food-- packaged things with a list of things that don't really sound like food probably aren't. Also, I'd have to pay attention to all the things which may be derived from animal products, and most importantly--in my case--I'm epileptic, and I've had some pretty severe reactions to unusual sounding ingredients. Yes, there may be some correlation/causation issues--but why not err on the side of caution?

    (Also, I'm poor and cheap: good packaged food is expensive, and the cheap stuff is just gross.)

    Besides not having any health problems (apart from epilepsy owing to head trauma), I'm--IMHO--in all-around excellent health: I'm active (though I've never "exercised" in my life) and could (and have for months on end) get on a beater bike and ride 120 miles or more on any day, pulling a hundred pound trailer carrying my dog and all kinds of shit.

    In order to spare someone the time and effort of having to type out a missive on how many acres of arable land, or how many gallons of water, it takes to grow a soybean (I've grown 'em, I know)--or, that humans have canines and such-and-such a digestive system--I'll repeat my sole query, in bold:

    Is there any substantive evidence demonstrating that people subsisting on a vegan diet suffer any more health complications than do the general population?
     
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  3. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Gandhi was a vegan. He demonstrated no health anomalies and lived a normal life span, with sufficient physical vigor to lead a huge social movement.

    Before Japanese began adopting western customs, such as fast food, they seem to have been healthier, that is, now they demonstrate higher rates of hyperlipidemia and its associated cardiovascular disease.

    Considering that a huge segment of the world's population has historically practiced vegan eating habits, it would seem highly unlikely that there are harmful consequences, or we would have diseases named for places or people in the Far East.

    The other side of this issue is that all the essential nutrients found in meat are found in vegetables. We have probably been mislead to think that protein is essential, since it has to be broken down into amino acids in the digestive tract. But all the amino acids can be found in plants. So eating a balanced complement of veggies rich in amino acids provides the same dietary intake as meat.

    We would expect the reverse to be true, that vegans should experience less cardiovascular disease, or illnesses associated with high protein such as gout, or problems caused by insufficient fruit and vegetable intake, such as vitamin C deficiency--or even colon cancer.
     
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  5. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    My friend has been a vegan for years, and he served a combat tour in Iraq.
     
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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    I wonder how the foods were?

    Years ago I had a short hospital stay and they could not accomodate my diet! Seriously, I even said that dairy and eggs would be ok, but they kept bringing me all this ridiculous shit--like pancakes with a certain artificial sweetener which is notoriously epileptogenic (whatever the word is--I mean seizure inducing).
     
  8. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    There are two kinds of vegetarian MREs and between then you can make one vegan meal. He also bought food on the street until they forbid it. And I used to send him boxes of pasta and other non-perishable foods.
     
  9. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    A properly balanced vegan diet is one thing, yet many who follow the path have not done sufficient research.

    The following 5 are the most common deficiencies to look out for.

    1. Vitamin B12
    2. Iron
    3. Zinc
    4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    5. Calcium

    I once boarded a horse that was brought into this country from an overgrazed pasture and looked very undernourished. Despite weeks of proper feed and care, he was not seeming to gain condition. I had his blood worked up and he was found to be deficient in Vitamin B12. A few months of weekly subcutaneous injections and he was a completely changed animal.

    The following short article by a doctor of Naturopathic medicine summarizes much of what I have researched on this topic over the years.

    http://www.kitchentablemedicine.com/the-top-five-nutrients-vegetarians-should-watch-out-for/
     
  10. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    The thing is, by following my dictum: eat mostly FOOD--which is also the conclusion of Michael Pollan's most recent books--most of these deficiencies are easily avoided.

    The difference between processed grains and whole grains, for instance, is far more dramatic than was conceded, or recognized, in previous decades. And the irony is that the food industry goes to great lengths to process the shit out of everything, and then they turn around and supplement these "foodstuffs" with all the things they've removed in their processing.

    Case in point:
    That's not "processing" of course (the overgrazed pasture, that is), but it's very much related.



    Have you read Lierre Keith's The Vegetarian Myth? It's an interesting book, unfortunately it's marred by innumerable factical errors and some of Keith's political grievances, which aren't especially pertinent to her arguments. A good read nonetheless.
     
  11. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    I have several of Michael Pollan's books and I think his In Defense Of Food is quite excellent.

    Whether vegan, vegetarian or omnivore, I think we all should eliminate the majority of processed food from our diet.

    The challenge lies in feeding the multitudes who now, for the most part, live a great distance from where their food is grown and because of the time and distance involved, a certain degree of processing may be required for more perishable items.

    I work in retail grocery and in a sense, I am quite conflicted about the knowledge that most of the products are processed in some form or another, canned, packaged or frozen ready-to-eat 'food-like substances'.

    On the other hand, I perform a valuable task by working graveyards, a task that most others do not wish to perform, and people are free to choose whether they buy the healthy products or the processed crap.

    Markets respond to customer demand as I witness now that our organic produce is becoming competitive with the non-organic varieties.

    Unfortunately, people shop for convenience and what pleases their tastes, seemingly unaware that flavor enhancers added to their food have reinforced their desire for it.

    The latest trend now is low fat and low salt varieties of cupboard staples. The following post from a thread I started on another science forum illustrates my point.

     
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    12,804
    For vegans that is true for everything EXCEPT B12. It's very difficult to get enough via vegetables, and is probably the one thing you have to supplement.
     
  13. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    A quick scan of the biomedical literature demonstrates that there is a large amount of scientific studies performed on the health consequences of vegetarian diets. Studies of vegan diets seem less numerous, but they are definitely there.

    The overall medical/scientific consensus seems to be that vegetarian diets are associated with health status at least as good as comparable non-vegetarians. Vegetarians display a reduced morbidity for some prevalent diseases, eg. cardiovascular diseases. There are a variety of underlying reasons but low BMI and low saturated fat consumption seem to be important factors. Vegetarian diets are not associated with reduction in cancers as is often portrayed.

    The downside to vegetarian diets is the possibility of specific nutritional/vitamin deficiencies that may require supplementation.

    Here are two representative reviews; there is much more out there is you want to look.

     
  14. Arioch Valued Senior Member

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    A bit OT but I'm still waiting for them to fix the BMI scale. According to my BMI I am overweight(almost obese) however I only weigh about one sixty and it's virtually all muscle and bone mass(my body fat percentage is about four percent, which is normal from what I understand). So if I'm healthy, not actually overweight, and short, I'm somehow almost obese? How the fuck does that make sense?
     
  15. elte Valued Senior Member

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    1,253
    I was wondering how people were doing on meatless diets. Others seem to have better results than I because I was staying sore all the time after not very much bike riding, until I added fish to my diet. I'm glad others at least have it turn out with better results.
     
  16. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    Yes, BMI is an imperfect metric for determining how “fat” you are. But regardless of how BMI is calculated, the underlying principle is the same: the fatter you are the more disposed to health complications you become.
     
  17. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

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    554
    Veganism

    Could we discuss the vegan diet here, please? I've done a search and there is precious little on the topic here. While I have recently read Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals and it is a significant factor it my newfound interest in becoming a vegan (pronounced, vee-gin, BTW), it is mainly for my own health and clearheadedness that I wish to become a vegan. I am aware of the widespread belief that vegans are often anemic and too skinny, but I am not convinced. There is also a common view that vegans are rather self-righteous and fascist, suffice to say i will endeavor to avoid such behavior.

    So please share what you know about the vegan lifestyle. I live in Southeast Asia, so fresh fruit and vegetables as well as tempeh and tofu are readily accessible to me, but what other food choice suggestions might you have, please.
     
  18. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    Diets are somewhat similar to religion when it comes to the beliefs and enthusiasm of their followers, in my opinion. Some people try a variety of diets or 'food lifestyles' as I think of them, depending on their needs of the time.

    In raising dogs and horses, their requirements for energy changes over the course of their life and depends greatly on their activity. Activity for these species is important to digestion and health and I don't think that humans are much different in that regard.

    Climate and the types of food readily available will also shape our preferences as does culture for many.

    To be strictly vegan does not appeal to me living in this cool northern region, though I do eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and observe that I have more of an appetite for meat during the colder months. The more active that I am, also seems to influence my desire for meat protein.

    Just an observation. I am satisfied in thinking that I am a flexible omnivore. Restrictions and alternate food choices may well be forced upon us all in future by climate change so I shall keep my options open.

    All things in moderation, I was taught, preferably things closer to their natural state.

    Good luck with this new path of exploration.
     
  19. Epictetus here & now Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, you have mentioned that you live in the Yukon or some such sub-arctic hell. (Hell for me who quite deliberately lives in the equatorial tropics

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    )

    For your climate, you are absolutely correct. I wish I could remember the title, but years ago I read a book by a Frenchman who lived among the Eskimos in the 19th century. He gives canned Camemberts, carrots and French bread to a French missionary who had lived for years among the Inuit, and the priest mutters, "Thank you, you are very kind," upon receiving each gift, but later admits to the newcomer that living in the Arctic has destroyed his taste for such things, whereupon he scratches into a hole in the igloo wall where he has stored some fish. He sucks the frozen morsel in his mouth like candy and explains that such food is al that will do in that climate and that he feels weak and bloated if he eats anything else but fish, game meat, sea or whale.

    Not to get off topic, but another memorable part of the book is once he learns the language traveling with a Inuit family, he overhears his companion talking to another Eskimo who asks what 'white men are like'. His Inuit companion says, "Oh, they're just like children! No sooner do we stop to camp than he want s to know when we're leaving. And no sooner do we set out than he wants to know when will be stopping to camp."

    Quite ironic for the Frenchman who had been thinking of the Inuit as childlike in many respects!
     
  20. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    2,862
    There aren't any cultures in the world that are vegan totally. Every society eats meat sometimes and you mention the Eskimo well they don't eat vegetables for they can't grow anything in that climate or on the Tundra very well. Eating only one thing , to me, isn't a good thing to do for there are things in everything that are useful in your body. I'm an omnivore and eat vegetables as much as I can but enjoy fish even more. Veganism is something that is for people who enjoy eating that way and that's fine with me.
     
  21. elte Valued Senior Member

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    1,253
    A problem with eating meat is that pen-raised animals that get fed corn don't provide meat that is much better than a direct corn diet.
     
  22. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    The following link is a very good starting point. But I would ask you why would you choose veganism over just vegetarian? I know they say you can get all the protein you need, but it would help a lot if you could have a daily protein drink and whey protein is more available and probably cheaper than any non animal or dairy protein drink.

    Veganism in a Nutshell

     
  23. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    I do soy protein isolate smoothies, and that's...well...only slightly pricier than whey. I remember reading that egg protein's the most absorbable, but I likes me soy.

    I dunno if veganism makes you more clearheaded (if so I can use all the help I can get on that one)...but it does improve your sense of smell.
     

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