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I live in new zealand, am 20 years old, and am in my third year of human nutrition degree, maybe going for dietetic snext year. im vegan at the moment and have been for almost 2 years, and have been vegetarian for 5. Im concerned about my job prospects though, especially in NZ where meat and dairy consumption is high and of course we have some of the highest prevalances of heart disease, osteoporosis, in the world.I know that lower consumptions these foods will benefit health, but I'm concerned that if i advocate a plant based diet I won't be seen as credible.
I don't want to have to work in an environment where i have to feed people meals that I know are harmful to them. When I first started my degree, I decided I wanted to work for a company like PCRM or something, but they have nothing of the likes of that here, or at least to my knowledge.
When I first transitioned to a vegan diet, I felt way better, my skin improved, I lost weight, felt happier, among several other things-not getting sick as much. Recently, over the last few months or so my health is going downhill... my skin problems (severe exzema etc) are returning and I am starting to not believe in this diet as much as I previously did. I know that the production of these foods are not ethical in todays society, but since I have been studying nutrition and doing more and more research I have been hearing some disturbing things about the vegan diet , particularly in regards to vitamin B12, D, and other nutrients.
I know that a vegan diet had been shown by neal barnard and the like to reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases, but I have been thinking recently that maybe a strict vegan diet is not the key to ultimate health, but that maybe a low consumption of meat, particularly fish, is benefical to health. I take b12 supplements regularly, but I have been told that any diet that recommends a supplemnt is not sound nutritionally. I don't want to discredit this diet, alicia, or this way of life... in fact I have been promoting it and helping people with this way of life for a while, and have been very passionate about it. I am confused and don't really know what to do, and need some inspiration.
love Melody xx
Melody - do you realize that, as far as I understand it anyway, the reason we need a B12 supplement is because the soil has been so depleted and we have become so ridiculous about 'sterilization' to the point of scrubbing veggies clean of everything? B12 should be available to us naturally by eating vegetables grown naturally. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. We need B12 because of what we have done to the environment. Most people in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient and are being advised to take supplements. Many ominis are deficient in things and are told to take supplements. Most people today are probably deficient in something because of how they eat (or not going into the sun!). Vegans only need a supplement because of environmental depletion, not because our diet is normally deficient. Furthermore, if you think about adding fish in, which it is your right to do, think about the total environmental destruction that is happening as a result of commercial fishing practices and the fish farms that have expanded in which fish, like cattle before them, are being fed an unnatural diet of corn, which makes them unhealthy, and then is passed on to those who eat them. Not to mention mercury concerns, as well as the evidence of increasing amounts of microscopic plastic in the oceans which are being digested by fish. This is the reality of the world we live in. We are not paleolithic hunters living off of hunted animals, we are (largely) a capitalistic people living off of animals that have been bred in an unhealthy way to maximize profits. So, we can choose to eat the unhealthy animals (leaving ethical concerns aside), or we can choose plants and supplement with B12. Just my two cents from a layperson's perspective. (And think about religions that are vegan or vegetarian which have existed for centuries or more - they're still around.)
I work for a nutrition program in the low income elementary schools in Colorado. Our main focus is the promotion of friuts and vegetables. We use the government created "MyPyramid" tool in our curriculum, which promotes meat and dairy as part of a healthy diet.
This is a confilict with me since becoming vegan. But these low-income kids are not going to be receptive of the promotion of a vegan diet at this point. We have to start where they are, they come from families who eat a highly processed diet, and little fruits and vegetables, in most cases. Promoting fruits and vegetables is the first step in this education. Which is a BIG step! You probably know that eliciting a small change in diet is a huge step.
Once families are accepting of more fruits and vegetables they may be more open to the idea of a vegan lifestyle. But first there are many hurtles to jump. In educating a meat and potatoes person with no intention of switching to a vegan diet, you have to be careful. I would approach it on an individual basis, whether they are ready or not.
I am hopeful that in the future we will see a wider acceptance of a vegan diet for the treatment of disease and on a wider scale for health. Much luck in your schooling, I do tend to see that curriculum is based on the current trends in diet sometimes and not on science, also the powers of the meat iand dairy industy .
Thank you everyone for your responses! It means alot to me. I am well aware that many people on an omni diet , or a vegetarian diet, still need supplements, and that doesnt automatically make you healthy. I used to believe that the b12 thing was an issue due to our soils being depleted of good bacteria, etc, butI have been doing research and some people have come to the conclusion that that would not supply people with enough b12 for this to be an adequate solution to the issue.I personally love spirulina, and include it in lots of smoothies i make for breakfast/after i go for runs in the morning, but I am not positve the b12 is in a form usable by the body---the b12 is a analogue that may not be usable by the body. Nevertheless, I think it is beneficial to consume spirulina anyway.
My mother is a doctor and she is worried about me, seeing lots of vegan children with rickets recently, and other extremely seriuos health problems from suscribing to a vegan diet. Research shows that even with supplementation of some nutrients, vegans are not all protected from deficiencys of the nutrients in concern. Im not saying that everyone will have bad health from following a vegan diet, it is definitely better than the standard western/SAD in many respects. The promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption definitely sounds like the best first step to take, rather than telling everyone to stop consuming all red meat, icecream, etc, ...baby steps.
HOWEVER my health is declining rapidly over the last couple of months, and it is not due to an issue with my diet.. im very aware with what i need to be supposedly healthy on a vegan diet, due to my personal interest and university study and have suscribed to this about 95 % of the time, and taking b12 supplements. I eat lots of fruit, green veggies/of all colours, sea vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, pseudograins, nuts and seeds, including some raw veggies but not soley.
my iron levels are lower than they were as a vegetarian and i am risk of becoming anaemic., my skin is dry and tbh absolutely terrible, I don't sleep well, don't have as much energy as I used to, among other complications. I way over eat carbs and am always craving food, particularly sugar and carbs, all of the time and i have begun to put weight back on.
I am going to go back to a pesco-ovo-vegatarian diet for a little while to see if this improves anything, and if i cannot bring myself to eat fish, at least an ovo vegetarian diet. I am concerned about the environmental contamination and the overfishing, but that is our problem, not due to what naturally occurs in the fish... it is due to environmental contaminants and overpopulation of humans. Vegans definitely have their heart in the right place, but I used to attribute any bad feeling I had to "detox" or something else fromconsuming minisuccue amounts of sugar, amounts that physicologically would have had almost no effect on my body, and other such things.I would rather feel well 100% if the time. If you've been follwoing it for a while and don't feel great, then even if you have problems ethically, you should take a step back and at least consider that a 100% plant based may not be treating you well. I don't mean to insult any vegans in saying this, so sorry if im coming across disrespectful, that is not my intention. Doleres, I feel like I agree with what you said 100%, thank yo, and thankyou to hazel and tracy also for your opions, its very helpful
love melody xx
Melody - I would still seek the advice of other medical professionals who follow a vegan diet and are healthy. As I said, I do believe part of the issue with eating animals from a health perspective is the environment, and unless you raise your own there's no way around it. Ethically, no I don't believe in eating animals, but I would be much 'happier' about things if animals were raised naturally and humanely, and eaten only as occassional supplements to meals so that they could be raised in numbers that are sustainable, though I still believe it's wrong. But we don't live in that world, and I personally don't see how it can be healthier to eat unhealthy animals that not only have been fed an unnatural diet and hormones and antibiotics, and then are pumped full of fear at the time of slaughter, than to eat a plant-based diet. It's not like backyard chickens who run around and aren't slaughtered and just have their unfertilized eggs taken (though I personally still wouldn't eat them). To think of everything that I would be eating along with the farmed animals makes me doubly ill, and I would not want to feed that to myself or my children or anyone else, I just don't see how that can be healthy, but that's my perspective. I do think it would be beneficial if another health professional could respond to you, and maybe give you some insight, about your health and dealing with others. I know Justin Bean has mentioned this before, and there's that newer doctor on here, Jenna - Plant RX or something like that. Maybe you could find their profiles?
I know both of those people and have spoken to both of them from time to time, particularly justin. They are both lovely people. If I eat any animal products i want to go 100% organic/free range/cruelty free as possible, to avoid growth hormone and all the disgusting things they put in our food. I trust my body as the best inidcator of health, and if i feel healthy,m then I'll believe than what I'm eating is healthy,. So if i feel worse after transitioning to a very small amount of animal products other than strict vegan, I can always change back, this is essentially an experiment. I have been trying to become as healthy a vegan as I can but it has not been helping me enough, to the point I am extremly frustrated and annoyed and am willing to try a different lifestyle for a while, even if the only thing I discover is that I feel better as a vegan- at least I'll know that for sure that that's what I need to do.
as an extra note- i still believe all dairy is detrimental to health/contributes to osteoporosis, etc. Im pretty sure im allergic to it anyway.
Thank you for posting your feelings here. These are important questions that you raise and I can see you to be very brave for doing so.
I recently came back from a wonderful experience. A cruise in the Caribbean that was intended for those pursuing similar types of diets that we discuss here. About half of the participants came from the tradition of macrobiotics. The other half would describe themselves as vegans. A few followed Aruvedic, or some other system. These groups may or may not have certain aspects of their diets in common.
Macrobiotics often include whitefish, Aurvedic dietary principles include keifer, and many vegans consume highly processed foods like cookies and ice cream.
What all of these various approaches share is a conscious decision to exclude this or that from their diet. The specific exclusions and their reasons are what is highly variable.
Macrobiotics is a system of many have turned to upon being diagnosed with a serious illness. It is possible to reverse common disorders by changing the diet in this sort of way. The same can be said for the Aurvedic tradition. Vegans by comparison tend towards a moral consideration. They are often motivated by the desire to not harm other living things. This does not tend to exclude their tendency to harm themselves. Almost every night, on a cruise dedicated to " healthy" eating, there was either a cookie, ice cream or pizza party.
I am not naturally a wet blanket. I do not feel comfortable criticizing what other people do. I understand that people like to party and that food is a way to indulge oneself. At the end of this long rant I do not have an answer or your many questions only the desire to support you in your experiment.