Happy Q+A Tuesday! A question many people have asked themselves or discussed with others from either side of the spectrum.
Q: “Hey! Curious what your thoughts are on veganism. Saw that documentary ‘Vegucated’ and I’m curious about how challenging it would be to meet nutritional needs on a vegan diet.” –Lissa C. in Winnipeg, MB
A: Hey Lissa! I did see Vegucated and I found it to be good but ridiculous at times, especially at points where the filmmaker tried to convince the participants to become vegan by luring them with fake bacon and Teddy Grahams. This is what is called “junk food veganism” because sadly, although tasty, there are no redeeming nutritional qualities to those foods. That being said, I think incorporating more whole plant-based foods is always a great idea because many North Americans don’t eat enough of them, where instead we eat a lot of poor quality meat, and plant-based foods are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. As with many diets, eating vegan warrants a bit of planning to ensure adequate intake of all nutrients, especially protein, iron, B-vitamins, and omega-3 essential fats. Combining any two or more legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and seeds gives a complete amino acid profile for protein intake. I would still recommend taking a B-complex and iron supplement daily as an insurance against deficiency. I really feel strongly about the benefits of a (at least mostly) dairy-free diet but feel as though some people will benefit from a small amount of meat in their diet to ensure adequate protein, iron, B-vitamins, and omega-3s in the diet. Of course there are great plant sources of these nutrients but they may be hard for some to break down and assimilate properly due to digestive dysfunction, which is something that can be addressed with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.
[And now for my soapbox moment…]
As for the moral reasons for not eating meat, I really feel that veganism exacerbates dependence on the petroleum industry to produce and transport both vegan-friendly foods and apparel products, which in the end is not friendly to all kingdoms of life on our planet, including us humans. I feel that producing processed vegan foods (eg. non-organic soy, tofu, fake bacon, or facon, and all the other processed non-meat alternatives, etc.) and petroleum or plastic based alternatives to leather hide products gets us no further ahead with environmental issues as does factory farming. I think they are about parallel in my esteem. I know of some amazing conscientious farmers who graze, pasture, and raise their livestock to live a life as close to that in the wild including the absence of drug or hormone use. And yes, inevitably, the time comes when those animals enter the human food chain, but it’s no where near as large scale and disgusting as factory farming. The reality is that many of us would not be here today had it not been for our ancestors’ consumption of meat. And I think that the point we’ve been missing and that has been lost for generations now is the honouring of the life of the animal and the recognition and respect for the role it plays in the cycle and sustenance of life. But by all means, everyone has their convictions. And I say if you are interested in veganism, try it for a month or so and see how you feel. Get your bloodwork done yearly to check against deficiencies. Not to say that meat eaters are never nutrient deficient, however, there are key reasons for deficiencies which can be addressed on an individual basis with a nutritionist. Everyone is different. Remember… Seven billion diets for 7 billion people on this planet. This is just one nutrition lady’s point-of-view.
Thanks for reading with us on this Q+A Tuesday! Keep sending in your questions. 🙂