In the past few years, we all have seen influencers and bloggers promoting and advising their audience to go vegan. And many are more than ready to welcome the challenge; ditch the meat, meat products, dairy, eggs, cheese, basically everything that might have been an animal or a part of an animal before it landed on your kitchen table. I was one of them too.
However, just as many bloggers and influencers tend to sugarcoat what it’s like to be a vegan in the first place; they leave out a lot of relevant information. Therefore, we are here today to debunk all the vegan myths and explore the dark side of veganism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely pro-vegetarian diets, raising awareness about the animal welfare and ecological impacts of our nutrition, but sometimes we need to put our body first.
And now that we have the intro out of our way let’s start our debunking mission.
Veganism Not Done Properly Can Destroy Your Body
The first thing that someone starting a vegan diet might notice is an energy boost with the removal of the processed meat compensated by eating a bigger variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts. These are perfect, clean foods that will boost your vitamin, mineral and fibre levels.
Can you get the amino acids you need on a vegetarian diet?
Although it would be brilliant for both your own health and the planet to make a plant-based diet, if not done carefully it can end up in depriving your body of essential nutrients when the diet is not done 100% right.
Okay, this may sound outrageous, but isn’t veganism supposed to be good for our bodies and health? In theory, yes; in practice, thinking ahead about your meals and snacks can be harder than expected. If we look back into history, there is not a single wide-spread society known to thrive off of animal-free diets. We all should limit the consumption of meat, but the quality animal products such us organic dairy, ecological eggs or others, alongside vegetables will make us thrive.
Animal products are essential for the development and improvement of our bodies. We all need protein, amino acids, minerals and many other indispensable elements which are crucial for your body’s proper functioning. There is no doubt, that the way the animals are treated in the age of nutrition mass production is a crime, so we need to get more informed and conscious about where our animal products come from, and also simply eat them less.
We may not be aware of the dangers of veganism because our bodies are capable of adapting to any type of fuel initially, but in the long run, veganism can easily affect your muscles, nerves and overall physical and mental performance. There have also been cases where women suffered from issues regarding their period, due to iron-deficiency, caloric restriction, loss of blood and depression caused by lack of nutrients.
Oftentimes it’s better to include some animal-based proteins such us chess or eggs, taking care so they come from the organic sources. If you really want to quit all the animal proteins and go vegan I encourage you to check out our vegan bodybuilding plan, suitable for any active person.
Veganism and Eating Disorders
There are many scientific proofs and studies when it comes to the connection between veganism, vegetarianism, and eating disorders. For example, the majority of college vegetarians and vegans are more likely to feel guilty after eating, to be more preoccupied with being thin and more likely to use laxatives and extreme exercise to lose weight. Moreover, the majority of college vegans also develop depression and anxiety disorders much faster than the meat eaters.
College students who are either vegetarians or vegans also tend to diet more, engage in binge eating and vomiting as well as obsess over their appearance and weight. However, let’s be clear; veganism doesn’t necessarily cause eating disorders, but those who practice veganism are more prone to developing anorexia, bulimia, and similar conditions. According to MindBodyGreen, orthorexia is also one of the states that are closely related to veganism; this is basically an obsession over healthy and clean eating.
Vegan Diets Can Lack in Protein Quality.
It is a well-known fact that a vegan diet doesn’t provide nearly as much protein as our bodies need. This is true for a vegetarian diet as well but to a lesser extent. Nonetheless, it is extremely problematic because low protein consumption leads to protein deficiency, causing edema, fatty liver, hair, skin and nail issues, poor recovery and growth, as well as weak immune system and loss of muscle and bone density. According to a study, new data suggests that the lack of protein and calcium intake in vegans can lead to poor bone health and a higher risk of bone fractures.
If you are reading this article and thinking These are utter lies, then let me fill you up on a story. The author of this article used to be a hardcore vegan, until one day I was going for a run. I was running for a good 45 minutes until I felt a striking pain in my right foot. I couldn’t stand, nor was I able to run anymore, so I called a cab and decided to take a day off. The next few days my foot got extremely worse, so I had to visit the local hospital. There, my doctor diagnosed me with a bone fracture and a so-called March fracture, so I ended up in a cast for the next three months. You may assume the reason for this; my body had no proteins; therefore, my bones and muscles were extraordinarily fragile and lacked density.
The funny thing is, I thought I was taking in protein through soy products and other plant-based options, like the pea, rice, and hemp. Nonetheless, that wasn’t enough to keep my body up and running.
Vegan Diet Lacks Specific Amino Acids.
Another major issue with veganism, usually overlooked by those who promote it, is the lack of specific amino acids in this diet. Amino acids are crucial for the ‘building’ of protein in our bodies, and since vegans don’t consume foods rich in amino acids, according to HealthyEating, they’re at risk of:
• a weakened immune system,
• low hormone production,
• lysine deficiency,
• anxiety and depression,
• muscle wasting
• weakness and fatigue
• change in the texture of hair and skin
• and much more.
Supplementation was believed to be one of the main ways to get a proper protein and amino acid intake for vegans. However, even supplementation can be extremely difficult. If you embark on the journey to find vegan sources of the essential amino acids, like proline or hydroxyproline, you won’t be happy with the results, as there are none.
When it comes to amino acids that are mainly found in animal products, like taurine, vegans may also experience some troubles. Taurine is usually found in meat, fish, eggs, shellfish, seaweed, and milk. By consuming this food, you are getting the necessary dose of taurine on a daily basis. The only way for vegans to get a taurine intake is through brewer’s yeast, an ingredient used in the production of beer and bread. And you guessed it; the majority of vegans don’t consume these foods as well. So, the conclusion is that vegans aren’t getting enough of the necessary nutrients, which can be extremely harmful to their health.
Vegetarianism vs. Veganism
Now that you have an insight when it comes to disadvantages of veganism, and you still want to lead a green lifestyle, maybe it’s time to turn to vegetarianism. A vegetarian diet is the closest thing to a vegan diet but is much healthier and beneficial for your body. It may have its negative sides as well, as aforementioned, but the advantages are more prominent and definitely a healthy alternative to veganism. So, let’s take a look at some examples on why vegetarianism is a better choice, according to krishijagran:
• A vegetarian diet can increase lifespan: since you are consuming more fruits and veggies, alongside some of the animal products, you are creating a perfect balance in your body, hence, a longer lifespan
• Reduces the risk of stroke and obesity: vegetarians always seem more conscious about the things they eat, so by adopting a vegetarian diet, you’re ultimately lowering chances for a stroke or obesity
• Reduces risk of diabetes; vegetarian diet allows you to maintain your blood sugar level and flow, so a healthy vegetarian diet is nutritious and contains less fatty acids
• Provides high fiber content: vegetarianism encourages the use of fruits and veggies that contain high fiber content, which enables proper digestions, improves metabolism and eliminates toxins from the body
• Reduces depression, moodiness, and irritability: according to some researches, vegetarians are much happier than non-vegetarians or even vegans
Tips on consuming proteins without eating meat
Going green, as we’ve seen, can be quite challenging and at times even unhealthy due to the lack of proteins and amino acids that are found in meat. However, there may be some tips and trick on how to implement proteins in your nutrition while saving the animals of the world. Here are some protein-rich foods that you can start using today:
• Lentils and beans; 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of proteins, and 1 cup of cooked beans contains 15 grams of proteins
• Tempeh, tofu, edamame: these foods are great substitutes to meat as they contain probiotics, vitamin B, calcium, iron, and protein as 10 to 20 grams per 100-gram serving. They are also great for different cooking styles, so you can quickly implement them into your diet.
• Whole grains: a half a cup of cooked whole grains contains approximately 8 grams of protein, so make sure to eat a lot of quinoa, rice, wholegrain pasta, and oats to fill in for the lack of meat in your diet.
• Nuts: a small, handful of nuts daily can provide you with 8 grams of protein; try eating different nuts throughout the week, like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and cashews.
• Non-dairy alternatives: if you’re looking for non-dairy sources of proteins and amino acids, try using soy milk and soy yogurt; each cup contains around 10 grams of protein. If you use your soy milk or yogurt with whole grains, like oatmeal for breakfast, you’re looking at an even higher protein intake.
As a former vegetarian, turned vegan, I can confirm that veganism didn’t work for me in any way. I was always sick, moody, irritable, not to mention, hungry. My vegan journey lasted four years, and in those four years, I have developed the majority of the aforementioned conditions and diseases. I am not trying to say that veganism is a lousy dieting plan, but it is worthy of checking into all the possible effects it may have on your health and body. Moreover, if you still want to maintain a green lifestyle, but you’ve decided to move from veganism, try a vegetarian diet instead. Therefore, before going vegan or vegetarian, make sure to consult with a medical practitioner for more advice and insight into the disadvantages of veganism and advantages of vegetarianism.