My decision to stop being a vegan was based on a gut feeling–literally and figuratively: the blog post(s) that I’m about to provide you with are simply based on all of the research I’ve done since making the decision to stop being a vegan.
I’m writing it all here not to promote any kind of orthorexia or nutritionism or restrictive eating or dogma–I’m writing it here because there are people who want to understand the potential health implications of a low-fat plant-based diet.
I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist–just a girl who is sick and tired of being sick and tired–and sick and tired of watching so many people make decisions based on half-truths, emotional appeals, and ingrained biases that ultimately leave them sick and tired too.
But I Supplement!
Look, I get it. We live in the modern world. We’ve depleted the soil. We’ve filled our fish with toxic levels of mercury. Our cows are stressed and our chickens are unhappy. Our fruits and vegetables have undergone all sorts of mutations and our modern tomatoes are nothing like the heirlooms that our grandparents ate.
No matter what kind of diet we follow, we are missing out on some essential nutrients. So I hear you when you say that it doesn’t matter whether we’re vegan, paleo or anything in between–we all have to supplement some essential something that is missing in our diets.
But that doesn’t mean that supplementation should come before real food. In fact, if you’re spending more time counting out pills than you are making breakfast in the morning, there’s something very wrong going on.
When I was a vegan, I was lucky enough to be one of those crazy internet addicts with an eye on all of the important vegan blogs and news sources, so I was aware of all of the nutrient deficiencies I was setting myself up to suffer:
B12, Iron, Vitamin D, Protein, Zinc, Omega-3s…Walking into my local GNC, I felt like I had a giant sign on my forehead that said, “SELL ME ALL THE THINGS.” And the fact that I was also suffering from the worst acne of my life, constant fatigue, bloating, and a host of other very unpleasant side effects that were definitively NOT in the “list of amazing side effects of being a vegan” section of any of the books I read, certainly didn’t help my drug store spend.
I felt like I was constantly throwing money at a problem that I thought was normal. But honestly, if you take a step back and look at the millions of years of human (and prehuman) history, in what universe did anyone ever need a cabinet full of pills to make it through the day?
And if you don’t want to look that far back, then at least imagine the medicine cabinets of our great-grandparents. What would you find there? Maybe a bottle of fermented cod liver oil? Aspirin?
What makes me so terribly sad is that this beautiful, ethical movement requires us to make so many sacrifices. We want better treatment of animals, but we’re perfectly happy to harm ourselves.
Supplementation is not nutrition. The very definition of the word “supplement” tells you it’s not a replacement for real food:
“Supplement (n.): Something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole.”
So again I ask: in what universe does eating this way make sense? I mean, outside of the recommendations from health gurus who show up on the Doctor Oz show? Yes, if you’re transitioning from a diet full of processed crap to a diet full of fruits and veggies, you may lose weight, reduce symptoms of diabetes, lessen your risk for heart disease, and even reverse cancer, but it is NOT a long-term solution for health and longevity, even if you intend to buy stock in the Vitamin Shoppe (and you might as well, with the amount of money you’re going to have to spend there each month!).
Supplements definitely have their time and place, but they should not be a necessity in order for you to live well or live optimally. And not all supplements contain the optimal form of the nutrient you’re deficient in, so you may not even be absorbing what you swallow. In other words, you might end up with a nutritional deficiency and very expensive urine.
The simple fact of the matter is that you need to be eating more than fruits and veggies–and many vegans do. But even then, they’re falling down the rabbit-food rabbit-hole and hurting themselves with anti-nutrients and toxins that negate all of the supplements they’re swallowing in their breakfast smoothie anyway.
To be continued…