Strict vegan is unhealthy

I stopped eating chicken, pork, and beef three years ago after I saw Earthlings.  I still ate things that had simple or no nervous systems--milk, cheese, egg, seafood--so as to minimize the pain I inflict upon others.  Salmon was probably the biggest one.

That was going okay, and then I learned about how egg production results in the holocaust of male chicks.  Google "male chicks" and you will see what I mean.  I learned about how cows were injected with chemicals, confined to a cage, and forced to constantly lactate.  I learned about over fishing, mercury, PCBs, and other human-caused contaminants in seafood.  So one year ago I tried going strict vegan in an attempt to avoid it all.

As I felt great and didn't get sick once for the first two years, and since I kept reading everywhere about how meats caused this cancer and that cancer, I also thought it would be a healthy transition.

Now?

I lost 30 pounds.  I got more wrinkly skin, sunburned more easily, and required more sleep to function.  Since I was taking a bunch of tough engineering classes and working long hours in the lab as a grad student, I thought it was the stress and lack of proper sleep.  I also wondered if I was just getting old.

Now it's the summertime.  I am not taking any classes.  I am working in the lab at a good pace.  I am sleeping plenty.  Still no good.  I actually slept more than average (>9 hrs), which is a sign of poor health. 

My best friend reminds me, as she has been doing the entire year since I turned strict vegan, that I am still unhealthy.  Having isolated the sleep and rest variable from the equation, I had to conclude that food was the issue.  I realized that I haven't talked to other strict vegans out there to learn about their experience.  In fact, I don't personally know of any.  So I searched online and lo and behold there are plenty others who share my exact experience.  These people are educated, and they really tried to be a healthy vegan.  It just didn't work out for them.  I'd like to especially highlight Dr. Ben Kim's.  He reportedly went strict vegan for 5 years.  The Dalai Lama also eats meat, if you don't already know.  He tried giving it up, but it didn't work for him either.

The issues I've dealt with--speaking only for myself, of course--is that I need to consume more quantity and that I need to consume more fats and oils.  A vegan diet is less calorie dense than a diet with meat, so a vegan should eat more throughout the day.  I ate a lot in general.  I ate a lot of walnuts, nuts and seeds in particular for one year.  It didn't work.  As a meat eater, I didn't have to consciously eat more fats and oils and eat more in general.

In conclusion, my vegan diet has been unhealthy.  At least for me it has been.  Hopefully this blog will add to the statistics of what others have reported online of their vegan experience.

As a transition stage for now, I'm going back to shrimp, small fish and salmon.  Since their nervous systems are not as complex as that of the common chicken or cow, I hope to inflect relatively less pain.  If you have some ideas or suggestions, please let me know.  Note that anchovies and sardines contain the lowest amounts of mercury out of all seafood.

If everyone were to eat the types of seafood I mentioned above, however, then wouldn't that cause an unfair burden on the fish of the world?  The best answer I can think of to all this is to eat whole unprocessed, ethically-raised meats.  As long as we consume only as much as we need, it is the best tradeoff between our health and the negative effects of meat consumption.  At the end of the day we do the best we can.

10 comments:

  1. If you need more "quantity" in your diet, just eat more food in general. I don't know what your training on nutrition is or what you think constitutes a serving size, but I do know that it took me a year or so to really understand how much food and what types I needed to consume to balance myself.

    If your diet is bad over all, just adding in seafood isn't going to help. A serving of fish is nearly equal, calorically, to a serving of beans. Yes, salmon has omega 3s, but so do seaweeds - where do you think the fish get it from!

    Check out www.veganhealth.org

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  2. Thank you for your input. If possible, could you provide your age and how long you've been a vegan for? I think this is important information to judge your support for veganism.

    I ate until I couldn't eat any more and it's still not enough. I love seaweed and will continue eating it. However, Omega 3 DHA is found "in very small amounts in seaweed", according to the link you provided.

    At that site, the only full body photos of someone who was vegan from birth until any age close to adulthood are of an unhealthy looking teenage girl. Who knows what will become of her or the other younger children when they grow older.

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  3. check out Mercola.com for more good info-Though I am not strict vegan I try to eat raw foods as much as possible. I believe there are good sources depending on your area for organic free range chicken eggs, though I know some people who raise there own chickens for this purpose. Also raw milk if available in your area is generally a great source of protein & vitamins otherwise lacking if ur on a strict vegie diet. There r some who view eating flesh as a sacred act that helps the eaten 2 ascend-but I certainly agree that the inhumane conditions & slaughter of most commercially available flesh has completely contaminated these foods and have consequently rendered them more harmful than nutritious.

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  4. Most other vegans that I know and read about (including myself) report much more energy and better health. I'm also talking in the mix there some very long-time vegans, one for 30 years for example. I did read a vegan nutrition book by a registered vegan dietition though. Did you consider going to a vegan nutritionist?

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  5. You have not shared what foods would make up your meals on an average day. Were you juicing fresh vegetables regularly? Did your diet include any processed or fried foods? Did/do you eat superfoods on a daily basis? Do you drink alcohol or smoke? If you're trying to be a healthy vegan on romaine lettuce, fruit, nuts, bread, and premade supermarket vegan cuisine you're body will definitely shut down on you...

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  6. I have been vegan for nearly 3 yrs. The 1st 2 were great & I experienced dramatic changes in health and thought vegan was the ultimate diet for thriving & never planned to change. i love all animals dearly & volunteered at many farm animal sanctuaries, creating bonds w/ rescued farm animals as i have with my own rescued domestic animals/family. it has completely broken my heart to face the likely truth that a vegan diet is not enough for me and even detrimental to my health at this point. please know that this comes from someone completely on board with the ethical factors of veganism, and formally 100% on board with the health benefits. i now believe that this, for me, was the result of a cleanse. i went from eating lacto-ovo vegetarian for 10 yrs with a fair amount of processed/junky foods to a very healthy vegan diet. this included fresh fruits, whole grains, beans, quinoa, lentils, nuts, lots of veggies, faux meats, edamame, etc. and nearly all organic. i seemed to just crash about 2 yrs into this despite carefully planning all of my meals and having the requirements (protein, iron, calcium, etc) add up on paper + a daily vegan mutlivitamin. I was suffering from extreme exhaustion and fatigue to the point of not getting through the day and needing 2 hr naps just to do so. I did not feel refreshed after these naps. I had to force and push myself through my workouts which I did every day and have always been active. I do not smoke or drink. after bloodwork came back normal, i wrote this lack of energy and fatigue off to allergies. then it was winter and i still felt the same, even worse. i was weak, tired and moody. i started thinking it was the TYPE of vegan diet I was on (cooked food) so I went RAW vegan. I felt amazing and was flying for a few months, and then I crashed really fast to even worse exhaustion and looked so pale and sullen. I became hypo-glycemic, FREEZING cold at mid day, incredibly bad PMS for weeks before my TOM, and depressive to name a few. I also suddenly, for the 1st time in 14 years had cravings for meat that would not cease until i gave into them.

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  7. cont...
    i have eaten things in the last few weeks that i never would have imagined in my worst nightmares. of course i have acquired the least awful considering (certified humane, organic). I have cried so many times (every time I ate an animal product), but despite my emotional aversion my body wants it. I have seen so many positive changes already physically, but I wonder if it is even worth it considering the psychological cost. I have recently read "the vegetarian myth" which did not sway me since i came to this fork-in-the-road and chose to try the other path before i'd even heard of the book. But there are some valid points in this book!

    Also, I do not smoke, or drink more than a glass of wine with dinner and am very focused on health and balance. I also have a thyroid problem which just keeps getting worse (needing more meds), and i really wonder if soy has something to do with that. be it directly influencing the gland, or interfering with other absorptions etc. i have always made sure never to eat soy within several hours of taking my thyroid supplement and i didn't overeat soy products, but they were a big part of my vegan diet in almost all faux meats, cheeses, butters, milks, oils, etc. It is hard to avoid these in a 'conventional' vegan diet and even in one where you try to avoid soy!

    I think there may be something to the 'complete' proteins of animal products, and 'micro' nutrients we may not know about yet. i feel so bad that i am even writing this, let alone breaking my own values. I am absolutely tormented, which is why I think something physical has to be the cause else I wouldn't be in this predicament. I am still keeping my mind open, and hoping to find that I am wrong and there is another explanation and that a vegan diet is all we need. maybe it really is for some, but i have real doubt/gut instincts now for myself. i wish so much it were so easy to prove/know. what a terrible thing to go through and i really empathize with you, turtle.

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  8. sorry for so many sections, but there is a size limit! i also wanted to say that i never "cheated"...not at all, ever, in the whole time i was vegan. and i did tweak and change the diet many times and have included superfoods like spirulina, nori,seaweed, maca, etc etc etc throughout. i did so much reading on vegan nutrition and meal plans and followed/used as guided PCRM's recipes, Skinny Bitch's recipes, PETA's veg cooking site, etc. I really feel that I have given it a more than fair shot and my whole heart and soul was in it.

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  9. Thank you for thoughtfully sharing your experience here. When we adjust our lifestyles for ethical reasons, we put considerable effort and pain into making it happen. I respect what you've done and how you think, and I deplore suggestions that we didn't try enough or that we didn't do it properly. I am a scientist/engineer. We can conduct studies and create models all we want. If it doesn't work when put into practice, then there's something wrong. Listen to your own body, not just what others say. At the end of the day, we're doing this because of love--love for trees, animals & people. We need not forget to love our own bodies as well.

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  10. Trees are people too! Seriously though, go buy a Wendy's BACONATOR and you'll realize that veganism was just a waste of your time hehehe. Seriously though, depriving your body of certain amino acids, fats and proteins because your a pu**y about blood is retarded. Thank god you vegans don't have the fat reserves in your bodies to have children or we would all be fucked. By the way, when something happens and you need help... hope that the person trying to save you hasn't taken onto the vegan fad or they will be too weak to help you.

    The complete lack of understanding of basic nutrition on this bopard is astounding, I would almost if veganism is related to anxiety like bulimia and anorexia (all 3 are much more likely to be suffered by women).

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